Sep 132021
 
Share Button
New York Giants Fans (September 12, 2021)

Dejection – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

Week 1 of the 2021 season began with a matchup against the Denver Broncos. Year-2 Head Coach Joe Judge took on year-3 Head Coach Vic Fangio, a defensive mastermind who hired a familiar face to run the team’s offense in 2020. Former Giants Head Coach, Pat Shurmur was back in town to call plays for the Denver offense that saw a change at quarterback this offseason. Teddy Bridgewater, owner of 35 career wins and a 66+% completion percentage, started a game under center for the fourth team in just his seven seasons. He was never a failed project at any point in his career. The former first rounder suffered a career-threatening injury prior to the 2016 season and threw just 25 passes over the next two seasons combined. After 15 starts for Carolina a year ago in which he completed just under 70% of his passes (5th in the NFL) and finished with 92.1 rating, he was now starting over Drew Lock for the defense-centered Broncos.

Much of the attention revolving around Denver heading into this game was the defense. It was a great litmus test for an offense that has a year-3 quarterback, new offensive weapons in Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney, and of course the star running back Saquon Barkley on the field after missing nearly all of 2020 with a knee injury. A 42-yard gain on a pass from Daniel Jones to Darius Slayton put NYG across midfield, but the next two plays netted -8 yards. The opening Bridgewater-led drive ended with an incomplete deep pass to Courtland Sutton covered by one of the newest cornerbacks in the very expensive secondary, Adoree’ Jackson. The next NYG drive went 3-and-out, being capped off by a sack allowed by Nate Solder. It was Solder’s first sack allowed since the 2019 season. He did not play in 2020.

DEN took used ball control, a theme of the day, on the next drive. 15 plays, 62 yards, and 8:42 of game clock led to a 23-yard field goal by kicker Brandon McManus. McManus was traded by the Giants to DEN in 2014. The early 3-point lead wouldn’t last long. NYG converted two straight 3rd downs, one at the hand of a Ronald Darby pass interference and one on an 8-yard pass to Sterling Shepard. Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett called a 1st down pass for the third straight time and this one put points on the board. Sterling Shepard took a pass on a crossing route, broke a Patrick Surtain II tackle, and rumbled his way into the end zone. NYG was up 7-3.

DEN marched right down the field again with the help of a bonehead personal foul penalty on second-year corner Darnay Holmes. Logan Ryan then made one of the top plays of day, as he stripped the ball away from tight end Albert Okwuegbunam after a catch-and-run inside the NYG 4-yard line. Even though it was early in the game, it was game-changing at that moment. A defense that couldn’t stop the opposing offense needed a play like this, and Ryan produced it. The negative, however, was the NYG offense going 3-and-out without even looking halfway competitive from the poor starting field position.

As the 2-minute warning approached, Bridgewater found Sutton on a 14-yard gain on 4th-and-2 to cross midfield. Three plays and 35 yards later, he found wide receiver Tim Patrick for a short touchdown on misdirection. There were just 13 seconds remaining afterward, meaning DEN practically got the ball right back after scoring a touchdown (because NYG started the game on offense) and dominating the time of possession 18:59 to 11:01.

The NYG defense needs to be the backbone of this team. They’re supposed to be the side of the ball that steps up when things look bleak. They did come up with a big turnover in the first half, but they were allowing too many conversions and chunk plays. Starting off the second half with a stop was crucial, as DEN already had a 3-point lead. It did not pan out very well. DEN went on a marathon 16-play, 75-yard, 8:12 drive that included FOUR straight 3rd-down conversions. It was a drive that saw DEN receiver K.J. Hamler drop an easy touchdown and another receiver, Jerry Jeudy, go down with a serious ankle injury. Neither ended up being capitalized on, as DEN put another touchdown on the board on a 4th-and-1 pass to Okwuegbunam, where he broke a Blake Martinez tackle attempt and reached for the pylon. It was 17-7 well into the 3rd quarter and NYG had run just 20 offensive plays all game up until this point. It was time for them to step up.

They were well on their way. NYG converted three straight 3rd downs, the Jones-Shepard connection was getting stronger and stronger, and Barkley (with the help of the OL) pushed a pile past the first down markers. The crowd was getting into it and NYG was heading into the red zone. On a 1st-and-10 scramble, Jones fumbled and lost the ball. DEN had it back and just like that, “Same Old Giants” came back into everyone’s mind. DEN turned that possession into 3 points after, you guessed it, another successful 3rd down conversion.

NYG was down by 13 as the fourth quarter was under way. Their 14-play drive brought the clock all the way down to the 6:30 mark. They had a fresh set of downs inside the DEN 10-yard line. This had a “very last chance” feel to it. Those four plays gained a total of 1 yard. Three incomplete passes and a 1-yard run. The final two passes had no shot and screamed a lack of innovation and creativity. DEN got the ball back, and on the fourth play of the drive, Melvin Gordon took a rushing attempt 70 yards for a touchdown. DEN was up 27-7 and the NYG faithful headed for the exits with 4 minutes left in the game, a weekly tradition when NYG plays at home unless fans of course sold their tickets to the Dallas faithful when the Cowboys are in town.

The final two drives put some lipstick on the pig of a performance NYG put out. We saw a few nice grabs by Kenny Golladay and eventual garbage-touchdown by Jones as the clock ran out to make the final score look even better than what we all watched for 3 hours.

NYG loses, 27-13.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 22/37 – 267 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 90.7 RAT / 6 att – 27 yards / 1 TD

Looking at the stat line, it would be natural to assume Jones played a decent game. I went in the other direction. He was way worse than the stat line, and considering the fumble at such an inopportune time, it was a well-below average game from Jones. This is THE year for the third-year quarterback from Duke and it was a poor way to start it off. He was inaccurate on several throws, he had two interceptions dropped, and the fumble was inexcusable. That was arguably the top turning point of the game, and you just can’t have that from the leader of the offense. Jones continues to be slow to react, he continues to struggle when his primary read isn’t there, and he isn’t putting a defense on its heels. 1 down, 16 to go for Jones who is in a season-long job interview for his future.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 10 att / 26 yards – 1 rec / 1 yard.

Understandably so, Barkley looked very rusty. He was losing his balance and footwork, he dropped a pass, and he failed to see running lanes on two occasions. It is important he got in and out of the game while avoiding any physical issues. That is a big mental part of coming back from a serious injury for a player who is fully dependent on cuts and bursts. I expect to see him on a similar pitch count Thursday night.

-Hats off to Devontae Booker. He didn’t impact the game in an obvious, playmaking manner. He rushed for 7 yards on 4 carries and caught a pass for 6 yards. However, he was a factor in the passing game as a blocker. He made 3 big-time blocks, 2 of which that put DEN defenders on the ground.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Sterling Shepard: 7 rec – 113 yards / 1 TD.

One of the best games we have seen out of Shepard’s career. He was a menace for the DEN secondary on 3rd down and after the catch. The majority of his yards came with the ball in his hands. I noticed throughout preseason that he looks more physically developed this year. He is going to break a ton of tackles with how aggressive and quick he moves, in combination with his strength.

-Kenny Golladay made a catch early on in the 1st quarter but was very quiet until the game was pretty much over. He made a couple of really nice grabs with a defender all over him. He looked like a guy who will improve the odds of those 50/50 balls substantially. He finished with 64 yards on 4 catches in his NYG debut.

-Darius Slayton had 65 yards on 3 catches, 42 of those yards on the first drive of the game on a deep ball. His speed is there but he continues to play a soft game against contact with defenders.

-Rookie Kadarius Toney’s usage was odd. After not being a factor for nearly the entire training camp and preseason period, Garrett engineered two scripted plays for him. One resulted in a loss of 6 yards, the other resulted in a gain of 4 yard. Then, we essentially did not see him until the 4th quarter when the game was all but lost. After a bizarre spring and summer with him in relation to this team, that just didn’t sit well with me.

TIGHT END

-Really poor game by new tight end Kyle Rudolph. He allowed a TFL and a pressure as a blocker, and just didn’t impact the game in the trenches. Minimal push, minimal sustainment. He looked rusty and stiff. He added 2 catches for 8 yards. I was expecting more.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-One of the positives (yes, there are positives from this loss) was Andrew Thomas. Bradley Chubb missed the game with an ankle injury, thus backup Malik Reed was the predominant opponent lining up across from the second year tackle. Thomas was superb in pass protection, showing heavy and sticky hands, good balance, and outstanding pad level. Nice warm up battle for the tall task he will face Thursday night against Washington.

-Nate Solder returned from his year away from football. He started right where he left off, strengthening the notion he just isn’t a starting caliber player. He allowed a sack on a short drop back, 1 TFL, and 2 pressures. He can’t bend at all, and it shows. Will Hernandez, who plays right next to Solder as he shifted over to the right side, was equally awful in the passing game. He allowed 2 pressures and a TFL. A case can be made he was responsible for a sack as well. After a strong (but very short) preseason, the arrow appeared to be pointing up for him. Well, it didn’t remain that way in this one as his heavy feet and delayed reaction time was abused on several ugly plays. His poor play didn’t impact the situation often, but it was still very disappointing.

-Matt Peart and Ben Bredeson rotated in. Bredeson actually saw the majority of the snaps at left guard. He looked a little out of control, but he did maul his man a few times. Peart allowed a TFL and a sack, the latter being more communication based as Von Miller ran right by him and put Jones on the ground as Peart remained in his 2-point stance. If nothing else, it will be found on countless blooper videos I imagine.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-The big boys up front, in all honestly, played a solid game. You won’t see it in the box score, and I think they could have finished better in the pass rushing department, but it was a solid effort from multiple guys. Dexter Lawrence made DEN guard Graham Glasgow and center Lloyd Cushenberry look like high schoolers several times. Great push from him that netted 4 pressures. Leonard Williams added a TFL and 2 pressures, one of which led to a sack.

-Austin Johnson finished with 5 tackles and a pressure. He did get credit for a sack, but it came on a play where Bridgewater tripped over his own blocker and fell to the ground. Johnson was the first to touch him, thus getting credit for the sack. Logan Ryan and Williams were really the main contributors there. I thought Johnson was all over the box though, impressive game.

-Danny Shelton added a pressure but missed a TFL attempt that would have been a key play.

LINEBACKER

-Good to see an active Lorenzo Carter on the field. He didn’t finish the way I was hoping for, but he made DEN adjust to him and that is a good sign. He struggled at setting the edge as well, as did rookie Azeez Ojulari. It was a mixed bag for the second rounder, but I really liked how active he was. He finished with 3 tackles, 1 sack, and a pressure. He was flagged for head-contact on Bridgewater, a major no-no in this league. I expect both to improve from here, but I still question how consistently they can beat one-on-one blocking as pass rushers.

-Blake Martinez had an up-and-down game. He finished with 9 tackles, 1 TFL, and 2 pressures. However, his missed tackle on the Okwuegbunam touchdown (a 4th-down play) was inexcusable. He also struggled in coverage.

-Tae Crowder finished with 4 tackles and may be one of the most physical defenders on this team. He put a couple of DEN offensive linemen on their butt a few times. He is the best athlete they have at the position, and he appears to be much more powerful than a year ago. A very good sign. Reggie Ragland split snaps with him and had 7 tackles, most of which were against the run, between the tackles.

CORNERBACK

-James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson are the two most expensive starting cornerbacks NYG have had on the same field at the same time (not including hybrid DB Logan Ryan from a year ago). They did not earn their paychecks respectively. While they avoided the big-play touchdowns, they were often a step or two too late in coverage as the DEN offense torched them on 3rd and 4th downs. Grading corners can be tough because opportunities are so few, but at the end of the day, they were outplayed by the young DEN pass catchers.

-Darnay Holmes is such a roller coaster. He plays fast, he plays aggressive. Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham does several things with him but he, nearly every game, makes a bonehead mistake. He was flagged for a personal foul as he blatantly threw Jeudy out of bounds way after the play was dead. Judge promptly took him out and ripped him a new one on the sidelines.

SAFETY

-What I consider to be the strength of this defense and the biggest hope this unit has – the safeties – were torched by the DEN tight ends. Jabrill Peppers was beat on 3rd down three separate times, although he did have a TFL and pressure. Julian Love was late in coverage on a couple of occasions as well.

-Logan Ryan and Xavier McKinney were solid. Ryan led the team with 10 tackles, a TFL, and made one of the plays of the game on his forced + recovered fumble near the end zone. McKinney broke up 2 passes but got lucky on a couple of occasions where Bridgewater underthrew a target who blew by him. He also missed a tackle.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 1/1 XP
-P Riley Dixon: 3 punts / 54.0 avg / 39.3 net

3 STUDS

-WR Sterling Shepard, OT Andrew Thomas, S Logan Ryan

3 DUDS

-OT Nate Solder, TE Kyle Rudolph, CB Adoree’ Jackson

3 THOUGHTS ON DEN

(1) Watching, re-watching, and then re-re watching the game, I came away with one thought. We really have to give credit to how well DEN quarterback Teddy Bridgewater played. He was incredibly accurate no matter where he threw the ball. He got the passes out in a hurry, and he created a lot on his own. Bridgewater isn’t a very good athlete, but he played an athletic game. On multiple instances he moved just enough to avoid sacks before making quality throws on the move. He really knows how to take what the defense gives him to a point where it can be woefully frustrating for the opposition. Maybe he took in a thing or two from playing under Drew Brees because that was a very Brees-like performance.

(2) Many don’t realize just how much Drew Lock held this team back last year. They actually could have been a solid offense but a horrid start and Lock being bottom 5 in most advanced metrics just killed their shot in the tough AFC West. I’ll be curious to see if he ends up getting a shot down the road, but I know Shurmur really liked him coming out of Missouri a few years ago. That said, he gave up on Lock in a hurry.

(3) DEN and NYG both have one of the most expensive secondaries in the NFL (top 6). The difference? DEN also puts enormous resources into their pass rush while NYG is left hoping their day 2 / day 3 picks that have not proven anything can rush the edge. DEN’s defense is going to keep them in a lot of games this year and it may be the most ideal spot for a quarterback like Bridgewater. I wouldn’t discount this team from a 9-10 win season especially because they have a very easy schedule lined up.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) I don’t want to write up, for the 1,000th time, how little Week 1 means in the grand scheme of things. A successful season in 2021 is 8-9 or 9-8. They are 0-1 with 16 games left and it was a frustrating game to watch, absolutely. Green Bay lost to the Jameis Winston-led Saints 38-3. Buffalo lost at home to the .500-at best Steelers by a touchdown. Tennessee lost 38-13, at home. I think the one credible fear and gripe NYG fans can yell from their balconies if they feel the need to do so revolves around the fact that it really seems like we are watching the same issues year after year. A vanilla offense, a shaky-at-best offensive line, minimal pass rush, and a defense that struggles in clutch scenarios.

(2) Joe Judge trying to throw a challenge flag on a scoring play was a borderline inexcusable mistake. I haven’t read about his post-game thoughts on the subject, but even my wife who is a casual bystander during football games said, “Aren’t you not allowed to do that?” NYG went on to lose a timeout because of it. That did not end up meaning anything, but it was a juvenile mistake.

(3) The offensive line rotations at RT and LG can be viewed one of two ways. One, it is messing with the most vital component of offensive line play: chemistry. Two, nobody is stepping up and proving snap-to-snap, week-to-week reliability. I’ve discussed the holes at OT and OG multiple times since the end of last year and we are still in the middle of it. I am not sure if the answer(s) are on the current roster, but multiple guys need to be given opportunities with the hope of, well yes, luck. NYG’s only hope here is someone far outplays the level they’ve already played at. Nearly out of the blue. “Fingers crossed” is usually a poor way to build a football team.

Sep 122021
 
Share Button
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 12, 2021)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

DENVER BRONCOS 27 – NEW YORK GIANTS 13…
The New York Giants got crushed by the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, losing 27-13 in a game that was not as close as the final score. The Giants start the season 0-1. This is the 10th time in the past 11 seasons the Giants have started off 0-1.

The Broncos out-gained the Giants in first downs (24 to 19), total net yards (420 to 314), net yards rushing (165 to 60), net yards passing (255 to 254), and time of possession (35:08 to 24:52). Both teams turned the football over once. Denver was 7-of-15 (47 percent) on 3rd-down conversions and 3-of-3 (100 percent) on 4th-down conversions.

The game was actually close in the first half. The Giants received the football to start the game. On 3rd-and-5, quarterback Daniel Jones connected with wide receiver Darius Slayton on a 42-yard completion to the Denver 30-yard line. However, two negative-yardage plays pushed New York back, resulting in a punt into the end zone.

After both teams exchanged punts, Denver put together a long, 15-play drive that gained 62 yards, taking almost nine minutes off of the clock, but only resulting in a 23-yard field goal early in the second quarter. The Broncos led 3-0.

The Giants impressively responded with a 7-play, 75-yard drive that was aided by a defensive pass interference penalty on 3rd-and-7. Four plays later, Jones hit wide receiver Sterling Shepard for a 37-yard run-and-catch play for a touchdown. For a moment, the Giants held their only lead of the game, 7-3.

It appeared that the Broncos would easily regain the lead on their next possession, gaining 71 yards and reaching the Giants’ red zone. But safety Logan Ryan forced the tight end to fumble after a 6-yard gain to the New York 4-yard line, also recovering the ball in the process. However, it was only a temporary stay as the New York offense only gained three yards before punting. With 2:25 left before the half, Denver easily drove 57 yards in seven plays and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to give the Broncos a 10-7 halftime advantage with just eight seconds left on the clock.

The roof collapsed on the Giants in the second half. Each team had four second-half drives.

Denver:

  1. 16 plays, 75 yards, 4-yard touchdown pass.
  2. 10 plays, 69 yards, 36-yard field goal.
  3. 4 plays, 94 yards, 70-yard touchdown run by Melvin Gordon.
  4. 3 plays, 4 yards, punt.

New York:

  1. 10 plays, 60 yards, fumble by Jones at the Denver 13-yard line.
  2. 14 plays, 69 yards, turnover on downs at the Denver 6-yard line.
  3. 7 plays, 31 yards, turnover on downs at Denver 21-yard line.
  4. 8 plays, 64 yards, touchdown with no time left on the clock.

A close game at halftime quickly turned into a blowout with a meaningless New York touchdown at the end.

Jones finished 22-of-37 for 267 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, and one killer fumble. His leading receiver was Shepard, who caught seven passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. Jones was also the leading ground gainer for the Giants, with just 27 yards on six carries and a touchdown. Running back Saquon Barkley was held to 26 yards on 10 carries.

Defensively, the Giants not only allowed 165 yards rushing, but Bridgewater was able to complete 28-of-36 passes for a 115.7 quarterback rating.

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATION, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
WR C.J. Board was activated from the Practice Squad for this game.

Inactive for the game were TE Evan Engram (calf), WR Collin Johnson, LB Quincy Roche, LB Justin Hilliard, CB Sam Beal, and CB Josh Jackson.

The Giants reported no injuries from the game.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Joe Judge and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Sep 102021
 
Share Button
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (August 29, 2021)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE:
On paper, this is a match-up between two teams with very similar strengths and weaknesses. Both teams appear to have had very strong offseasons in acquiring new players to shore up obvious flaws.

The Broncos are loaded at the skill positions, but have a huge question mark at quarterback. They are more settled on the offensive line however.

Defensively, after a subpar season in 2020 (21st in yards allowed), the Broncos are expected to be one of the NFL’s top defenses, with strength at all three levels. Of note, they have a couple of dangerous pass rushers and are loaded in a revamped secondary.

The expectation is that both teams will play it close to the vest in this one, relying on their running games and defenses to keep pressure off of their respective quarterbacks. In such contests, mistakes and special teams plays usually prove decisive. Don’t expect a lot of scoring.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Saquon Barkley (knee – questionable)
  • WR Kenny Golladay (hamstring – probable)
  • WR Kadarius Toney (hamstring – probable)
  • TE Evan Engram (calf – out)
  • TE Kyle Rudolph (foot – probable)
  • TE Kaden Smith (knee – probable)
  • LT Andrew Thomas (ankle – probable)
  • NT Danny Shelton (neck – probable)
  • LB Justin Hilliard (foot – probable)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (ankle – questionable)
  • CB Josh Jackson (calf – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
I’ll be frank. There are so many unknown variables at this point that it is extremely difficult to anticipate what to expect. How much will Saquon Barkley play and how rusty will he be? Same story will Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Kyle Rudolph? These guys missed so much time, one has to assume they are still at the beginning stages of developing chemistry with one another. Will the offensive line continue to be a train wreck or unexpectedly begin to show improvement against the likes of edge rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb? What the heck do the Giants have in Daniel Jones?

Due to injuries and talent issues in the secondary, Denver’s defense was not good last year. But Von Miller missed all of the season and is back. And the Broncos completely transformed their secondary with the additions of Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby, Mike Ford, and Patrick Surtain. In addition, slot corner Bryce Callahan is one of the better players at his position. Miller is 32, but he still has 106 career sacks. Chubb has 20.5 sacks in three seasons, despite missing most of 2019 with an injury. They can get after the passer and will put tremendous pressure on both Andrew Thomas and Nate Solder. Daniel Jones won’t have much time to throw against a secondary that is expected to be a top-5 unit.

So what’s the obvious strategy? Run the football. Minimize killer plays such as holding penalties, sacks, and turnovers. Don’t be stupid with the football and rely on your defense to force the other team to make mistakes. The one question mark Denver’s defense has is their ability to stop the run. Test it. This will have the added advantage of putting less stress on the still-developing, mostly youthful offensive line and allow them to play to their strength (run blocking).

The great unknown here is the status of Barkley. There is a major drop-off from Barkley to Devontae Booker. In addition, when Barkley first came back from injury in 2019, he appeared a bit gun-shy and that was with a far lesser injury. Barkley has virtually no significant contact since being hurt. How will he respond? How many touches will he get as a runner and receiver? How rusty will he be?

When the Giants do throw the football, Daniel Jones should mostly use the short passing game and rely on his weapons to do damage after the catch. One would think Barkley (unless he is on a stringent pitch count), Sterling Shepard, and Kyle Rudolph would see a lot of touches.

Which leads us to the quarterbacks. Daniel Jones (the 6th player taken in the 2019 Draft) versus journeyman Teddy Bridgewater (5th NFL team in eight seasons). Yes, Bridgewater has the stronger offensive line and that can make a world of difference (see the Giants up-and-down play last year). But Jones needs to be the better player on Sunday. He is supposed to be the better player. Jones is not going to light it up against this Denver defense, but don’t lose the game. And put ENOUGH points on the board to win it.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The Giants were 12th in yards allowed and 9th in points allowed defensively in 2020. This was despite a revolving door of barely adequate players at corner opposite of James Bradberry and edge rusher when the Giants lost both of their starters early in the season. New York’s strong offseason was sabotaged a bit due to injuries to CB Aaron Robinson (still on the PUP) and LB Elerson Smith (on short-term IR). But the defense is still expected to be stronger in year two of Patrick Graham’s system. Adoree’ Jackson (who is still nursing a ankle injury and may be a bit rusty in this one) is a major upgrade at corner. Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are better pass rushers than what the team rolled out last year when they went down. And Azeez Ojulari was added in the draft. The Giants have a nice combination of experience, youth, talent, and versatility at safety, enabling Graham to run a variety of packages. And despite the loss of Davin Tomlinson in free agency, New York still appears stout up front, led by Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence.

Which brings us to a Denver Broncos team that appears loaded everywhere except quarterback. They have the running backs (Melvin Gordon, Javonte Williams), tight ends (Noah Fant, Eric Saubert), and wide receivers (Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler, Tim Patrick). The offensive line is anchored by left tackle Garett Bolles, whose play has improved dramatically. The rest of the line is steady enough to do the job.

So in a nutshell, all Bridgewater needs to do is “manage” the game and not screw up. Denver’s coaches won’t want to put the game in his hands so, like with the Giants, expect a more run-centric game plan on Sunday and probably an emphasis on the short passing game with run-after-the-catch gains. Bridgewater does get the ball out quickly. Denver is loaded at wide receiver, but the Giants’ strength is their secondary. That said, the secondary can’t sleep on deep throws. Denver has wideouts who can run right by you.

Run defense will be key. And Patrick Graham is a bit worried that his run defense is not where it should be right now. “We’re so behind on the run game just in general in terms of the football – off-season, training camp, because in the off-season we don’t really do it,” said Graham on Thursday. “I know this, where we’re going to be on Sunday, hopefully, a few Sundays from now and 10 Sundays from now we’re going to be a lot better. I have confidence in the players that are here because they understand how we want to play the run… We’ve got to set an edge and build a wall… I don’t know how Sunday is going to go, but if we work it and we’ve just got to make sure that we keep striving to get better.”

Last year, Graham’s defense would have issues starting and finishing halves. In a game where points will be at a premium, New York’s defense needs to start and finish strong. If they bend, don’t break in the red zone. And turnovers probably will decide the game. See ball, get ball.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
The great unknown here still is who will return kick and punt returns for the Giants. C.J. Board is on the Practice Squad but could be brought up. Will Judge really have Jabrill Peppers return punts? Will Kadarius Toney be thrown in there at either return spot?

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett on the Bronco’s defense:They have a system they believe in. (Broncos Head Coach) Vic Fangio’s been a great, great defensive coordinator in the National Football League for a long time. He and (Broncos Defensive Coordinator) Ed Donatell work really well together. They have a system that they used in a lot of different places. So, I think it starts with that, but then the most important stuff is who’s implementing that system. They’ve done a really good job building that defense. They’re really good on the front. They’re really good at the linebacker level. They’re really good on the back end. So, we have challenges all over the place on Sunday.

THE FINAL WORD:
I can’t overemphasize enough how precious points will be on Sunday. Settling for a field goal instead of a touchdown in the red zone could very well be the difference in the game. Likewise, a turnover in the red zone could prove devastating. This works both ways. New York’s offense needs to put up touchdowns and New York’s defense needs to force field goals. And I’m pretty darn sure that the team that turns the football over more is going to lose.

This is a winnable game for the Giants, but they have to start off strong, not make too many mistakes, and finish strong. The Giants also need (and should expect) Daniel Jones to out-play Teddy Bridgewater.

Oct 182017
 
Share Button
Dalvin Tomlinson, New York Giants (October 15, 2017)

Dalvin Tomlinson – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 23 – Denver Broncos 10

RECAP

Heading to Denver in prime time after a 7-day run that saw the loss of 4 of the team’s top 5 wide receivers and starting weakside linebacker to injury in addition to the suspension of their slot cornerback appeared to be a situation that was going to be as bad as it can be. Denver has was won 25 of their past 30 games on their home turf, including all 3 this season. The number one defense in the league matched up against an offense that has been struggling mightily. A secondary and pass rush that has been shutting down passing games with ease and the top ranked run defense with the backing of a home crowd on a Sunday night. This had the makings of just ugly for NYG. In typical NFL fashion, Eli Manning yet again proved but he and the league are as unpredictable as ever.

The Giants dominated the time of possession early on. They forced two three-and-outs defensively. And with Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan now calling the plays, there was a consistent and steady flow off the bat spearheaded by a running game that went from evolving over the past few weeks to domination in Denver. The Giants made it down to the Denver 8-yard line, 1st-and-goal, with rookie Evan Engram taking over as the team’s primary target in the passing game, catching 2 passes for 37 yards. Aldrick Rosas kicked a 25-yard field goal to give the Giants the initial lead, something they wouldn’t give up the rest of the game.

On Denver’s third possession of the game, they began near midfield thanks to a catch interference by Michael Hunter on a punt play. Former Giants kicker Brandon McManus, whom had already missed 3 field goal attempts at home in 2017, went wide right on is 35-yard attempt. There was blood in the water and NYG too advantage of it. Led by a 47-yard run by Orleans Darkwa, the Giants marched down the field and capped the drive with a 5-yard pitch-and-catch for a touchdown from Manning to Engram. NYG had a commanding 10-0 lead early in the 2nd quarter.

Once again, Trevor Siemian and the balanced Broncos offense appeared to be driving until he threw an interception to safety Landon Collins. Collins returned it 21 yards setting up the Giants on their own 35-yard line. A quick three-and-out partially because of a 3rd down delay-of-game penalty gave the ball back to Denver who, once again, drove down the field via play-action passes and attacking the top Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Their red zone woes continued, however, and they settled for a field goal attempt by McManus, this one he made. 10-3 Giants with just over 4 minutes left in the first half.

The Broncos defense forced the Giants into another three-and-out as the momentum appeared to be shifting. A big play from the Giants defense was needed. On 3rd-and-10, Siemian continued to throw to Jenkins’ side one too many times, as the Giants top cover man picked off a pass to the left and returned it for 43 yards into the end zone. The Giants took a 17-3 lead into halftime with Siemian in the locker room early getting his non-throwing shoulder checked out which he appeared to injure trying to tackle Jenkins.

New York and Denver exchanged 4 play drives to start off the second half. On the Giants second possession, they were led by a 21-yard catch-and-run by Engram, the rookie who will likely view this game as his breakout. His speed and size gave the Denver coverage fits. For the first time this year, Ben McAdoo opted to let kicker Aldrick Rosas go for a 45+ yard field goal. The rookie lined up from 51 yards away and nailed a 51-yarder that would have been good from 60. New York took a 20-3 lead and it was now up to the defense to prevent the 12th-ranked offense in the league from giving the team another blown lead.

The Broncos quickly got to midfield and started to approach field goal range. A sack by the run-stuffing Damon Harrison put a roadblock in the Broncos plans. They opted to go for a 53-yard field goal, which would cut the lead to two possessions. Kerry Wynn broke through the inside gap and got his hand on the low-line drive attempt, getting enough of it to prevent the ball from ever having a shot at even reaching the goal post. The score remained 20-3 as the Giants took over close to midfield.

Manning hooked up with Engram for yet another impact, 19-yard play, getting the Giants to the Denver 38-yard line. On 3rd-and-3, Engram however suffered his second drop of the night forcing NYG to give Rosas another shot at a long field goal, this one 49 yards. Denver’s own hybrid defensive lineman, Adam Gostis, snuck through the line and got his hand on this one, making it the second block in as many attempts for in this match-up.

As the 3rd quarter was drawing to a close, wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas were injured. Sanders was eventually carted off while Thomas was fighting through a significant limp. The team was down 17 points with one quarter left and their top two targets were either not on the field or a shell of their actual selves. Jason Pierre Paul recorded his second sack of the night and then on 4th-and-5, Thomas was stripped by Jenkins and the ball as recovered by Eli Apple. Giants ball near midfield again with a 17 point lead.

A quick three-and-out and a punt gave the Broncos the ball back on their own 15-yard line and they put together perhaps their best drive of the night. Despite losing another wide receiver, Isaiah McKenzie, to injury, they drove all the way down to the Giants 1-yard line. The Giants defensive front came up big and forced a turnover on downs. New York was able to take 2 minutes off the clock, giving the ball back to Denver at their own 42-yard line.

Siemian went 4/6 for 55 yards, capping the drive with their only touchdown of the night to tight end Jeff Heuerman. After a failed onsides kick attempt and good field position, the Giants rode another long Darkwa run into field goal range and Rosas made his third one of the night, this one from 40 yards. The Broncos squeezed one more play in but nothing from that point mattered. Giants win 23-10 in Denver.

QUARTERBACKS

  • Eli Manning: 11/19 – 128 yards – 1 TD/0 INT. With multiple weapons no longer in the picture, the outlook and approach of this offense had change. Manning has always done a nice job with young, under the radar receivers and this game was no different. He wasn’t asked to do much but he did protect the ball against one of the scariest pass defenses in the league at their place. Him and Engram have seemed to develop the relationship this team will be heavily relying on the rest of the season. This is something that I saw developing at training camp and the best has yet to come.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Orleans Darkwa: 21 att/117 yards – 1 rec/13 yards. The highest rushing total for a lone Giants rusher since, get this, January 3, 2016 (Week 17 of the 2015 season)!  Darkwa started off hot and ended hot. His aggressive downhill style is a force when the blocking is there.
  • Wayne Gallman: 9 att/27 yards – 2 rec/7 yards. There wasn’t much of a need for Gallman other than giving the hot-handed Darkwa a breather. The combination of these two can be something to really work with, as their running styles couldn’t be more different.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Roger Lewis: 1 rec/15 yards. With such a limited amount of passes thrown and Engram being their top target, Lewis couldn’t really get involved. Also keep in mind that being matched up against Aqib Talib forced Manning to look away from him. Lewis’ lone catch was a big one, a 3rd-and-10 conversion on the Giants lone TD scoring drive. Next up? Richard Sherman.
  • Tavarres King: 1 rec / 7 yards: In his debut back with the team, King was thrown to 3 times. I expect him to be more involved over the next few weeks, as Eli seems to at least have some trust in him. Travis Rudolph is knocking, however.

TIGHT ENDS

  • Evan Engram: 5 rec/82 yards – 1 TD. This was a huge, huge night for the Giants first rounder. Not just the production, but the fact he stepped up as the team’s primary receiving option and looked dominant doing it is a sign of things to come. The quick speed he has for a player his size may be unmatched in this league and once he gets over the little hesitations I see here and there, there is no ceiling for him. Huge test or him against SEA coming up.
  • Rhett Ellison: 0 rec/0 yards. He played about two-thirds of the team’s snaps. The team’s running success was in part because of him. What I like most here is how hard he runs downfield to throw the extra block. Watching the offensive tape over and over makes me appreciate what he brings to the table as an intangible guy. And I am holding on the concept that he can be a difference maker in the passing game if he gets the looks.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: Considering who these guys went up against, both Ereck Flowers and Justin Pugh had a very solid game. Flowers graded out at 2.78, right around the “average” line of my grading system. The two sacks he allowed were not fully his fault and if anything, were both more on Manning. Flowers actually didn’t run block well and a number that stood out to me were the 5 tackles he allowed, his highest of the season. Pugh graded out at 2.9 and was primarily matched up against Von Miller – that is a major victory for the team’s best OT. He allowed 1 sack 1 tackle on the night.
  • Guards/Center: D.J. Fluker, in his first start of the season, dominated in the run game. His 2.93 grade was the highest of the night, as he was moving guys off the ball consistently from start to finish. He is probably the biggest difference maker in this Giants running game that appears to be taking off finally. John Jerry and Brett Jones graded out at 2.89 and 2.81 respectively, rounding out the first time the linemen have all graded out above the average mark on my sheet in the same game since last year. Jones had some play-changing blocks but also allowed 4 tackles, a high number for a center.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Ends: One of my preseason predictions gone wrong was Jason Pierre-Paul being in the running for Defensive Player of the Year. I wouldn’t call his start to the year “horrid”, but it was nowhere near where I thought he would be. Well he took a step in the right direction finally, finishing the night with 3 sacks and a forced fumble. There was less dancing around to his game and I’ve always felt when he was more assertive, more straight-lined, with his approach that is when we see the dominant JPP. He has another opportunity coming up this week to take over. Kerry Wynn got the start on the other side and played solid run defense, recording a tackle for loss. Rookie Avery Moss played nearly half the team’s snaps but didn’t make much of an impact. The power presence simply isn’t there yet.
  • Tackles: Damon Harrison continues to be the bright spot of the defense. He finished with 4 tackles and a sack where he was moving like a 275-pound pass rushing tackle. His impact is felt almost every play, as he was double-teamed on 78% of the plays he was in. Rookie Dalvin Tomlinson took yet another step forward in his progression, getting off the ball exceptionally well and altering the plans of the Broncos running game. They averaged just over 2.5 yards per carry largely because of these two. Jay Bromley and Robert Thomas actually got close to even playing time at the position to help keep those two fresh and did a fine job inside.

LINEBACKERS

  • After a rough start to the year, Keenan Robinson played his best game of the year. He was very consistent with his assignments against the run and made an impact in coverage, break up 2 passes. He finished with 6 tackles. B.J. Goodson also finished with 6 tackles and 2 pass break ups, although he is still struggling often when it comes to recognizing pass and getting to his spot and/or man.
  • Devon Kennard had a quiet night but his versatility and multiple roles helps this defense in several ways. Calvin Munson was brought in as an early run-down defender and finished with 2 tackles.

CORNERBACKS

  • With Dominique Rodgers-Cromarite serving his one game suspension handed down by Ben McAdoo, someone had to step up. Eli Apple had his best game of the year and one of his best since being in the NFL. He broke up 3 passes, wasn’t flagged once, and was very physical in the run game. Janoris Jenkins was picked on early and did get a beat a few times (including a pass interference penalty) but came up with the biggest play of the night – a pick 6 at the end of the 2nd quarter that gave the Giants a double digit lead.
  • Ross Cockrell and Donte Deayon both saw plenty of time with the Broncos playing the majority of the game from behind. It was Deayon’s first game action and he was very sure of himself and his assignments. Watching the “All-22” tape, I can tell Deayon knew where to be and who to get to. He is an excellent mover in coverage and if he can hold up physically, can bring plenty to the table in nickel/dime packages .

SAFETIES

  • With Denver only handing off the ball off 15 times, Landon Collins’ didn’t have his usual impact in the box. He finished the game with 0 tackles for the first time in his career. However his 2nd quarter interception with the Broncos driving was a major momentum shift in the game that prevented them from putting valuable early points on the board. Collins also was somewhat limited, playing 64% of the teams snaps. Darian Thompson had another solid game, finishing with 5 tackles and more importantly getting near the action often.
  • Nat Berhe and Andrew Adams played about 20% of the teams snaps and didn’t make much of an impact. Berhe did miss a TFL opportunity which has become the norm for him.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K Aldrick Rosas: 3 / 4 – Made 25-51-40 – Missed 49. An important step for Rosas, who really has been overlooked in long field goal attempts so far this year. Rosas’ 51-yarder hit halfway up the kicking net with velocity; it may have been good from 65.
  • P Brad Wing: 6 punts – 49.8 avg. His 46-yard net average is top tier. Wing had a solid night that helped NYG win the field-position battle.
  • Return: Ed Eagan – 1 PR for 20 yards. With Dwayne Harris gone for the year, this is a job that is there for the taking and the shifty Eagan took advantage on his one shot. I like how quickly he can accelerate north/south while maintaining the ability to cut laterally at any given time.

3 STUDS

  • RB Orleans Darkwa, OG D.J. FLuker, DE Jason Pierre Paul

3 DUDS

  • OC Brett Jones, DE Avery Moss, WR Roger Lewis

3 THOUGHTS ON DEN

  • Coming into the year, my biggest worry about this defensively-dominant team was a lackluster offensive line paired with a QB who doesn’t seem to have a ceiling higher than middle of the road. That can be a rough combination and considering Paxton Lynch won’t be ready until next year at the earliest, DEN may have a hard time holding onto that wild card spot. Unless their defense dominates week in, week out, they are going to have a lot of trouble winning enough games.
  • CB Aqib Talib may not be everyone’s favorite person, but re-watching his all 22 tape and with what I have seen on those tapes the past 3 years, I have to say I think he is the best CB in football right now. Granted Roger Lewis may not have been the stiffest challenge Sunday night, but the way he moves before reads are supposed to be made combined with his size, speed, and ball skills is almost unfair.
  • Left tackle Garett Bolles was a very much talked about prospect last year because of his interesting situation. Older than the average rookie, a rough past, sloppy technique at times, short tempered. But in his short career to this point, he may have the left tackle spot locked up in DEN for the next 7-10 years. He looked fantastic.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • Do we need to evaluate the Giants playoff chances every week? No. One week at time and let this thing play out. There IS still a chance and the biggest weakness on this team has turned a corner, the offensive line. Plays are being made by the defense, and Eli Manning specializes in these situations. Keep all of those in mind.
  • 4 of the 5 top WRs were injured last week and all of the sudden this Giants offense looked efficient, consistent, and reliable. Funny how that works. You will never catch me saying they are better off without those guys on the field, but something needs to be said for the fact they were just fine against the BEST defense at THEIR place. Quality offensive line play and a new play caller made all the difference. It would be great to see this offense actually take steps forward to prove to everyone in the building and on the sideline that star players aren’t always needed, a team that plays together to win is all you need.
  • Did Ben McAdoo “save his job”? Well first of all I don’t think his job was ever that much in danger the way some were saying. It simply isn’t the Giants way to fire someone after his second year, the first of which he made the playoffs. But him turning the play calling duties over and suspending the team’s #2 CB after an 0-5 start were both ballsy moves. And they both worked out very well. If he can get this team to a 2-5 mark heading into the bye week, I don’t think there is anything that can happen that would get him fired in 2018.
Oct 162017
 
Share Button
Landon Collins and Jay Bromley, New York Giants (October 15, 2017)

Goal-Line Defense! – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 23 – DENVER BRONCOS 10…
Missing a plethora of injured players, the underdog New York Giants soundly defeated the Denver Broncos 23-10 on Sunday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado. The victory was the team’s first on the season, as New York is now 1-5 overall.

Denver actually substantially out-gained the Giants in first downs (20 to 12), total net yards (412 to 266), and net passing yards (366 to 118). But the Giants out-rushed the Broncos 148 to 46 and the Giants won the all-important turnover battle 3 to 0. New York’s defense also forced two turnovers on downs. Coming into the game, Denver had been averaging 143 rushing yards per contest. And the Giants were able to move the ball on the ground against what had been the NFL’s #1 defense.

It was announced before the game that Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan would be taking over play-calling duties from Head Coach Ben McAdoo. The Giants also reconfigured their offensive line as follows: left tackle Ereck Flowers, left guard John Jerry, center Brett Jones, right guard D.J. Fluker, and right tackle Justin Pugh.

After the Giants’ defense forced a three-and-out to start the game, New York set the tone with a 7-minute, 13-play, 69-yard drive that ended with a 25-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas. Both teams then exchanged three-and-outs. Denver had a chance to tie the game on their third possession, but missed a 35-yard field after a 6-play, 41-yard drive. Sparked by a 15-yard catch by wide receiver Roger Lewis on 3rd-and-10 and 47-yard run by running back Orleans Darkwa, the Giants went up 10-0 early in the second quarter on a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Eli Manning to tight end Evan Engram on 3rd-and-2.

The Broncos responded with a drive into New York territory, but safety Landon Collins picked off quarterback Trevor Siemian’s pass at the 14 yard line and returned it 21 yards. After a three-and-out by the Giants, Denver managed their first scoring drive with a 9-play, 70-yard possession that resulted in a 28-yard field goal. Giants 10 – Broncos 3.

The Giants went three-and-out again and Denver got the ball back with 2:32 left before halftime. But on 3rd-and-10 from the Denver 38-yard line, Siemian’s pass was intercepted by cornerback Janoris Jenkins and returned 43 yards for a touchdown to give the Giants a 17-3 halftime advantage.

After both teams exchanged punts to start the third quarter, the Giants expanded their lead to 20-3 with Rosas’ 51-yard field goal after the offense gained 30 yards on six plays. Denver’s attempt to cut into this lead on their ensuing possession failed when their 53-yard field goal was blocked by defensive end Kerry Wynn. The Broncos immediately reciprocated as Rosas’ 49-yard field goal was partially blocked.

Still trailing 20-3, a desperate Broncos team went for it on 4th-and-5 at the start of the 4th quarter. The Broncos completed the pass for six yards and the first down, but Jenkins forced a fumble on the play that was recovered by fellow cornerback Eli Apple at the Giants’ 39-yard line. The Giants then went three-and-out for the fourth time in the game. Denver seriously threatened with an 11-play, 84-yard drive. But on 4th-and-goal from the NYG 1-yard line, defensive end Avery Moss stopped the running back for no gain with 8:23 to go in the game.

After a 15-yard run by Darkwa, the Giants were forced to punt again with just over six minutes to play. Unfortunately, the defense too quickly allowed Denver to score their lone touchdown of the night, moving 58 yards in seven plays and two minutes. The Giants recovered the onside kick at the Denver 41-yard line with four minutes to go. On 3rd-and-9, Darkwa gained 19 yards – enough to set up Rosas for a 40-yard field goal with half a minute to go for the final points of the game.

Offensively, Manning only completed 11-of-19 passes for 128 yards, 1 touchdown, and 0 interceptions. His leading receiver was Engram, who caught 5 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. Darkwa rushed 21 times for 117 yards.

Defensively, Jenkins scored on his interception and also forced a fumble that was recovered by Apple (who also was credited with three pass defenses). Collins also had a pick. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul led the team with 8 tackles, three tackles for losses, and three sacks. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison also had a sack. The Giants were credited overall with 11 pass defenses.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were running back Paul Perkins (ribs), wide receiver Sterling Shepard (ankle), center Weston Richburg (concussion), defensive end Olivier Vernon (ankle), defensive end Romeo Okwara (knee), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (neck), and quarterback Davis Webb.

Linebacker Calvin Munson (quad) left the game and did not return.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Ben McAdoo and the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Ben McAdoo (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • TE Evan Engram (Video)

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Ben McAdoo will address the media by conference call Monday afternoon.

Oct 132017
 
Share Button
New York Giants Fans (October 8, 2017)

© USA TODAY Sports Images

Game Preview: New York Giants at Denver Broncos, October 15, 2017

THE STORYLINE:
The 2017 New York Giants season is shaping up to be one of the most disastrous in the team’s 93-year old history. Fans who thought it couldn’t get worse witnessed it getting worse last Sunday. Not only did the winless Giants lose yet another game, but they lost four of their active five wide receivers, including the team’s best player, Odell Beckham, Jr.

You think it can’t get worse? Oh I’m here to tell you sunshine that it can. Thirty-six year old Eli Manning will likely take more and more hits on his aging body. It is not out of the realm of possibility that we could see Manning’s ironman streak end and Geno Smith taking over. The team is beginning to show signs of tuning out Ben McAdoo. And as losses mount, expect the injury list to grow. There are already 13 players on Injured Reserve. And six more players have been ruled “out” against the Broncos.

The 2003 New York Giants won four games. The 1983 New York Giants won three games. The 1974 New York Giants won two games. The 1966 New York Giants won just one game. How low will the 2017 New York Giants sink?

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Paul Perkins (ribs – out)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (ankle – out)
  • OC Weston Richburg (concussion – out)
  • DE Olivier Vernon (ankle – out)
  • DE Romeo Okwara (knee – out)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (neck – out)
  • S Landon Collins (ankle – questionable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
If you choose to watch, from a fan perspective, the best way to approach the rest of the regular season is like watching an extended and more serious preseason. We don’t know if Ben McAdoo will be back. Or Jerry Reese. But many – if not most – of these players will.

  • Quarterbacks: Barring a miracle turnaround, the New York Giants will likely have a shot at one of the best quarterback prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. And the prevailing opinion is that the Giants will draft one of them if they get the opportunity. It would be ideal if Davis Webb were a 3rd-round steal and the Giants were able to draft running back Saquon Barkley or a defensive end instead, but the Giants will simply not know what they have in Webb by the end of this year. So expect the Eli Manning era to last at least one more season in 2018 as he serves as a mentor for the team’s 1st round pick and/or Webb. How can this season get worse? Manning gets hurt and we get to enjoy Geno Smith running around like a chicken with his head cut off.
  • Running Backs: Same story with Orleans Darkwa. He impresses early in a game. Then he stops receiving carries. We later learn he got banged up again. The Giants simply can’t count on him. His touches should be going to Wayne Gallman, who has shown flashes of being a legitimate NFL back. The big offseason debate for NYG fans will be the quarterback (and which one) or running back Saquon Barkley. (This of course assumes the Giants will keep losing).
  • Wide Receivers: The Giants are down to four wideouts – three of whom were not on the 53-man roster last Sunday. Roger Lewis, Travis Rudolph, Tavarres King, and Ed Eagan?! Good Lord! At the very least, this is a tremendous opportunity for one or two of these guys to prove they belong in the NFL. Roger Lewis has the most upside, but has proven to be inconsistent. Rudolph is the most consistent, but can he separate from NFL defenders? King and Eagen have bounced around the NFL and this is their last chance.
  • Tight Ends: One would think we’ll see a heavy dose of Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison on the field together. I hope the Giants don’t force feed Engram as a wideout. As Sy’56 has already pointed out, if the Giants split him out wide, and the opposing team puts their best CB on him, he is likely to be held quiet. I would heavily use Engram and Ellison in the passing game as true tight ends/H-Backs. Try to match them up on safeties and linebackers.
  • Offensive Line: As Sy’56 and Cris Collinsworth have pointed out, Ereck Flowers has flashed signs of not sucking in recent games. But he’ll be tested to the limit in this game by pass-rush extraordinaire Von Miller. The question remains… what is his best position? Bobby Hart is struggling on the opposite side. He has 11 games left to prove he belongs in the NFL. At right guard, the Giants have one player who can’t run block (John Jerry) and one player who can’t pass block (D.J. Fluker). Is Justin Pugh worth the money he thinks he deserves or is it best to let him walk? Is Brett Jones a legitimate NFL starter? I’m rooting for a way for Chad Wheeler to play.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
For the third game in a row, Steve Spagnuolo’s defense could not hold a 4th-quarter lead. Now an open rebellion appears to be brewing on the defensive side of the ball. Olivier Vernon out again. Jonathan Casillas not playing this week and Landon Collins questionable? This could get even uglier.

  • Defensive Line: Unfortunately, given the size of their recent contracts, for better or worse, the Giants are stuck with Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon for a while. The cap hit for cutting or trading either in 2018 would be too great. It was hoped that Romeo Okwara might prove to be another rookie free agent steal, but he’s not. And he’s out for this game. Kerry Wynn, who was far too quiet last week, will start again. Meanwhile, the JPP disappearing act continues. Damon Harrison is playing his heart out. He’s got to be frustrated as hell. I personally will be spending more time watching Dalvin Tomlinson.
  • Linebackers: Jonathan Casillas was not playing as well as last year, but him not playing this week is a significant loss for a unit that has struggled to cover backs and tight ends. B.J. Goodson was the talk of training camp, but he’s embarrassing himself in coverage. Keenan Robinson has regressed and shouldn’t be back next year. The Giants may want to start rotating Calvin Munson and Curtis Grant more into the line-up and see what they can do. For any future opponent, I would keep throwing against these guys with my backs and tight ends all day.
  • Defensive Backs: Along with the defensive line, this was supposed to be one of the best units in the NFL and good enough to help carry the team. Now there is dissension in the ranks. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is suspended and he probably won’t be back in 2018, even with a regime change. Despite what the coaches say, Eli Apple was benched. He’s unhappy. Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins don’t sound happy at all about the DRC situation. And now Collins is banged up. The Giants are wasting snaps on Ross Cockrell. He’s not the future. Play Apple and Michael Hunter. They need the experience. Darian Thompson had his best game last week. Let’s see if he can build upon that.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Dwayne Harris was finally getting some chances last week and responding. Then he breaks his foot and is gone for the year. He may not be back in 2018. Travis Rudolph and/or Ed Eagan will return. Ball security could be an issue. I’d love to see Aldrick Rosas get a chance at a historic-type kick in Denver with his leg. Have I said I want Tom Quinn gone?

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Ben McAdoo: “Nobody is giving us a chance in this ballgame. They’re saying without Odell, we can’t score points.”

THE FINAL WORD
Attention NFL and networks – flex the Giants out of all prime-time spots while you still can! Save yourselves!

Sep 192013
 
Share Button
Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 15, 2013)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Denver Broncos 41 – New York Giants 23

Game Review: Zero point zero. If Dean Wormer walked into the Giants meetings this week, he’d likely hand out his lowest of GPA’s, but it wasn’t over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor and it ain’t over now. The Giants were right there, right there, just as they were in Dallas a week ago…within range, a chance to compete and win a football game and they once again imploded when it mattered the most. After a Brandon Jacobs 1 yard plunge in the 3rd quarter that brought the Giants within a single point of their Super Bowl XXI opponent, the Denver Broncos scored 21 unanswered points and sent the Giants home with a lopsided 41-23 drubbing that put the G-men in an 0-2 hole. The pre-season sluggishness this team exhibited on offense has yet to be shaken off, not a very good sign for a team with so much veteran talent at key spots.

The Giants defense started with a thump and ended flat on its back after watching Eli Manning toss four back breaking interceptions. After a Justin Tuck thumping of RB Knowshon Moreno on the game’s opening play, Peyton Manning and his mates marched easily to the Giants six yard line, until the DL rose up again this time in the form of DT Cullen Jenkins, who knocked the ball free from rookie RB Montee Ball and gave Eli and company a chance to start with some momentum. Right on cue, Eli fed off the turnover and dropped a perfect 51 yard post into the outstretched arms of WR Victor Cruz and the Giants seemed to be shaking off the rust that plagued them a week ago in Big D.

After Jenkins’ strip, the defense found its bearings and had the elder Manning working for every completion, before the wheels came off in the 3rd quarter after more costly Giant turnovers. For most of the afternoon, the Giants were going toe to toe with a Bronco passing attack that had Baltimoreans drowning their sorrows in Natty Bo after a 7 touchdown thrashing on opening night. It wasn’t until a Knowshon Moreno 20 yard run over right end early in the 2nd quarter that the Broncos had their first end zone visit of the day. Red zone frustrations kept the Giants from doing much scoring, but they did manage three Josh Brown field goals in the first half while limiting the Broncos to 10 points and an all too familiar 10-9 halftime score.

After a first half in which each defense dared the other to run, John Fox and the Broncos finally accepted. Nineteen of the Broncos 53 yard scoring drive came on the edges yet again as Giant DEs were victimized on back to back to runs to open the second half. With Giant DBs now inching up to support the run on the outside, Peyton Manning finally found a crack in the armor (I would have said chink if I worked for ESPN but I’m smrt!) (sic). Manning worked the edges of the defense, first running Moreno then passes to WR Eric Decker before Wes Welker was suddenly the forgotten man and was left alone for an easy TD to start the second half.

Eli answered yet again, taking the Giants 81 yards to the end zone in nine plays, capped off by the odd sight of Brandon Jacobs wearing #34 and plunging up the gut for six. Manning took advantage of a very handsy Bronco defense, that was flagged for two pass interference and one defensive holding penalty on the drive. With a slim 17-16 edge, Peyton and company got lucky on a Demarius Thomas fumble that was recovered by Moreno and ended up with a 17 yard gain after Prince Amukamara jarred the ball loose and the Giants had a shot at a turnover. Manning quickly set his team and snapped the ball, giving the Giants no chance to review the play. Seven plays 63 yards later, Moreno found the goal line again, racing around right end for a 25 yard TD and a 24-16 Denver lead that would not be threatened again.

The Giants coughed up the ball on a bad Manning pass that glanced off the foot of WR Rueben Randle, and 5 plays later, Manning hit TE Julius Thomas for an 11 yard TD and a 31-16 lead. With a chance to climb back in it, the Giants offense stalled and was forced to punt to the 5’5” Trindon Holliday, who did his best DeSean Jackson impression and blew right through the Giants coverage team on the way to a 38-16 lead that ended up turning a solidly played three quarters into a 4th quarter disaster and an ominous 0-2 start for the boys in blue.

Quarterbacks: After hitting everybody’s favorite dancer with a 51 yard strike to start the game, Eli Manning had another forgettable afternoon. Manning had a few solid throws in a row as the Giants opened the 2nd quarter but was victimized by Hakeem Nicks and his middle finger on a big 3rd and 6 as the Giants were starting to heat up through the air. Eli contributed to the teams red zone woes by over shooting WR Victor Cruz on a play action pass in the end zone, and #10 then fired over TE Brandon Myers’ finger tips and the Giants were forced to settle for 3 yet again. With just 43 seconds in the first half, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in begging the Giants to sit on the ball at their own 15 yard line and go in down by one. After badly overthrowing Myers in the slot, Eli played Dr. Jekyll to his Mr. Hyde, hitting Hakeem Nicks on another deep in (dig) route for 34 yards. Knowing the Broncos were playing a lot of bump and run and trying to knock the Giants off of their routes, Eli didn’t stop working the ball downfield and it paid off with a 21-yard penalty on the heels of Nicks big gain. Unfortunately Mr. Hyde returned on the very next play and Eli badly overshot Hakeem Nicks and was intercepted by another 3 named Bronco, costing the Giants a chance to take the halftime lead. Never one to get down though, Eli drove the Giants to within a point of the Broncos, orchestrating a solid drive at the outset of the third quarter, taking advantage of a very aggressive and penalty-prone Broncos defensive backfield. Down 24-16 though, the dagger may have been another odd miscue, as Mannings pass for Rueben Randle ricocheted off the WRs shoe into the hands of a Bronco defender. Eli wasn’t awful, but 4 interceptions, despite one being a late first half heave and one flying off of a shoe, is not going to get it done when your team simply cannot run the football or hold on to it. The daring that makes Eli so great when it counts is the same daring that makes him maddening when the game is not on the line. We know what we have here, it’s just a matter of those around him doing more so he can do a little less.

Running Backs: RB David Wilson’s first carry was a solid 5 yard effort on a counter to the left, which was followed up with a 5 yard power by old and new Giant Brandon Jacobs and it looked like the running game may be coming to life. Jacobs displayed solid burst on his initial tote, falling forward for a first down, but followed that up with a ball bouncing off of his hands in the flat for an ugly incompletion that reminded me of oh so many reviews of days past. Idiotic TD dances aside, Jacobs’ return was much of the same before he left, a lot of noise, not much production and the announcers marveling at how tall he looked in practice. Give the big fella a pass this week, his OL did him no favors and he’s been out of the game for about for a year. Before this season ends, I promise you Jacobs does a few things to win a game. It may have been a 2-yard run, but David Wilson’s acrobatic Barry Sanders like hand spin late in the first half was the best 6 feet I’ve seen since the first time I saw a party sized sub. Da’Rel Scott chipped in a garbage time TD, but otherwise not much from the former Terp.

Wide Receivers: WR Victor Cruz opened the Giants afternoon with a 51 yard deep post that was perfectly thrown and ended the day with 8 grabs for 118 yards. Jerrel Jernigan may just never get it. On a 3rd and 13 inside the Giants 10, Manning set up outside and delivered a solid ball to Jernigan, who instead of going for the ball and fighting for what should be his, started to slide towards the ball which gave CB Antonio Rodgers whatever (I’m really sick of all of these stupid names, someone has to take a stand) the space he needed to reach over Jernigan and knock the ball away. Hakeem Nicks dropped a wide open dig route on a 3rd and 6 to kill a promising Giant drive, but a dislocated middle finger on the play gives him an out. Nicks did return and ended up with 83 yards on 4 catches but most of his damage was done underneath in the seam areas. Give the Broncos credit, they kept Nicks in check and in front of them for the most part, but that amount of attention should show anyone watching who teams fear the most, and it is Nicks. WR Rueben Randle appeared to have scored after Myers’ catch and fall, but as is the blue print, if you’re a Giant with the football just give it away somehow. Randle finished with only 3 grabs for 14 yards after posting 101 in the opening loss to Dallas.

Tight Ends: TE Brandon Myers seems to be waking up a bit. After a miserable pre-season, Myers seems to be getting his footing, with 6 grabs for 74 yards and a noticeable improvement in blocking effort. Perhaps footing is a bit generous as Myers took what could have been an easy TD and stumbled forward for a 27 yard gain instead of a TD. TE Larry Donnell finished with 31 yards and 3 grabs, but again, mostly after the game had been decided. Give Donnell credit for an athletic penalty on the Giants onside kick that ultimately failed, #84 looked great doing it, but as with most of the effort in this game, it came up a bit short.

Offensive Line: Twenty-Three Yards. Say that to yourself a few times, let it sink in. Twenty-three yards on the ground with a team that forces its opponent to match up with 3 and 4 WR sets and defend the deep ball to keep WRs Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks from eviscerating their defenses. Look no further than the Giants first play on their second possession in which C David Baas seems to forget that it’s a football game and watches as DT Kevin Vickerson blows past him to drop David Wilson for a 3-yard loss. And in case you’re wondering yes, THAT Kevin Vickerson…you know the guy on his 3rd team in 9 years with a total of 62 games played out of a possible 144. (That would be a .430 batting average, not too shabby). You mean the Kevin Vickerson who once made 14 tackles in a single season for the Tennessee Titans, the same one who returned an interception 4 yards once in 2010? Yeah, try blocking that guy! RT Justin Pugh didn’t fare much better against the unstoppable Robert Ayers, who tossed Pugh aside and dropped Brandon Jacobs for another 3 yard loss on the first play of the Giants 3rd possession. In Pugh’s defense, it’s not fair to ask a rookie 1st rounder to take on another .420+ hitter. In Ayers first four seasons he has ripped off 24 starts in a 64 game stretch….pretty…pretty….pretty good. Against players in their 30s who routinely start 40% of their teams’ games, you can only sit back and hope your OL is alive by night’s end. Perhaps more impressive than Ayers ability to start, was his White Goodman like celebration after dropping Brandon Jacobs like it was the Dodgeball Regional Semifinals. For good measure, Baas let Terrence Knighton throw him aside to make a stuff on David Wilson on the Giants’ first drive of the second half.

Overall, solid pass protection, abysmal run blocking against a cast of veritable super stars that the Broncos line up at DT.

Defensive Line: DL Justin Tuck started week two off by knifing in on the game’s first play from the DT spot and dropping K (no more stupid names just letters from now on) Moreno for a 3 yard loss. Tuck’s pass rush was mostly neutralized by the repeated bear hugs from Denver RT Orlando Franklin, but the vet still finished with 8 stops. I won’t blame Gene Steratore, mostly because I think he may have me whacked, but Franklin was using the Hillbilly Jim bear hug as his go to pass blocking move. On the Broncos first scoring drive, DE Mathias Kiwanuka had a bead on Manning, only to be suplexed out of the way by Franklin as Steratore’s crew stood by presumably oblivious to the Giants frustration and possibly ignoring a foreign object. It must be noted though, that the DL seems content to whine about being held instead of trying to create separation with some hand punch and keeping the OL from getting so far inside. Tuck was absolutely the culprit though on K Moreno’s first TD as he allowed, once again, the OL to get inside his pads and keep him from extending his arms down the line of scrimmage to push the play wide enough for help to arrive. This is fundamentally bad football on that play, Tuck simply has to be more aware of where he is and what his job is as the play side DE and he looked quite frankly bored on the play as Moreno scampered by. Franklin was later seen spooning Tuck on a pass rush as Manning misfired on a 3rd down late in the 2nd half.

Rough game for DE Mathias Kiwanuka who was brushed aside all too easily on Moreno’s 2nd TD of the day and was victimized repeatedly on edge runs right at him. Reportedly Jason Pierre-Paul played, but I saw no signs of it. Give credit again to Giant big men, DT Shaun Rogers, Linval Joseph and Mike Patterson. The big three made it tough sledding inside for the Broncos, forcing the Broncos to go wide if they had any designs on ground yardage. Rogers had a 3 play stint in the 3rd quarter with two QB hurries, two hits and one bear paw swatting of Moreno who fell forward after being pawed by the Sumo sized Rogers. Sumo..that gives me an idea…maybe I’ll bring that up next week but it involves hockey and guaranteed shutouts.

Linebackers: LBs Spencer Paysinger and Jacquian Williams started as the only two backers against the Broncos pass happy attack and in those roles both played well. Paysinger and Williams combined for 14 stops and had decent coverage, keeping TE Julius Thomas in check for the most part with 47 yards and limiting Wes Welker’s damage over the middle to 39 yards on only 3 catches. Williams and Paysinger however both got completely swallowed on both of Moreno’s TD runs and once again, it looked like a glaring lack of effort on their part. Both play well in spurts but those edge runs, all afternoon, just had the Giants defenders looking like they were beaten before the play started, color me confused. Mark Herzlich managed to look like Bambi on a frozen pond as Holliday zoom zoom zoomed (damn you Mazda jingles) right past the former Eagle to pay dirt.

Defensive Backs: The Giant DBs have to get a lot of credit here, they came to play with another big challenge. Miscommunication is simply killing this secondary. On the game’s opening drive, Prince Amukamara seemed to be sinking in a Cover 2, ready to leave the deep half for S Ryan Mundy, who hesitated and jumped inside to follow TE Julius Thomas. The problem was, that WR Andre Caldwell AND Thomas were both open, allowing Caldwell to haul in a 36 yard gain down to the Giants 6 yard line on the game’s opening drive. Essentially Mundy covered no one, Amukamara covered no one and the Broncos were in business as the Giants failed to execute a simple coverage switch. Fortunately for the Giants, Prince was able to knock away a deep pass to WR Eric Decker in one on one coverage on an identical play, the difference is, the Giants blitzed and #20 expected no help, and didn’t need any.

Overall, despite the final score, a workman-like effort by Antrel Rolle, Ryan Mundy and Terrell Thomas, who totaled 19 stops and kept the Broncos trio in front of them for the most of the day.

Special Teams: Trindon Holliday is fast, Josh Brown kicks real good. Give LS Zak DeOssie credit, he must have been praying to…well nothing he’s an atheist, that he’d nab a shoelace on Holliday as the former LSU sprinter was racing to a back breaking TD. Outstanding effort by the Giant long snapper, despite the horrific result.

Cram it in your cramhole award: I mentioned to our fearless Editor Eric Kennedy how often I now have to look up names of the players while I am writing these diatribes. This week’s award was close, I almost gave it to Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie because for farts’ sake, enough with the hyphens and no more Cromarties! The winner though is the heretofore known as Snowshoe Moreno. I have renamed him Snowshoe because every time I typed his name, Microsoft Word squiggly red underlined it and suggested the following words instead: Know Shon, Knows On, Knowhow, Know-how or Snowshoe. I think you’ll agree with my choice.

(Boxscore – Denver Broncos at New York Giants, September 15, 2013)
Sep 152013
 
Share Button
Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 15, 2013)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants Fall to 0-2: The New York Giants lost to the Denver Broncos 41-23 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. With the defeat, the Giants have fallen to 0-2.

The game was competitive until late in the third quarter when the Broncos pulled away. But third-down inefficiency (1-for-11 on third down), red-zone inefficiency (1-of-3 inside the red zone), turnovers (four interceptions), and an inability to run the football (23 yards rushing) killed New York. In addition, the Giants’ defense allowed 416 total yards, including 109 yards rushing and never sacked QB Peyton Manning. All three phases failed as the Giants’ special teams allowed an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown that put the game out of reach, and P Steve Weatherford struggled (22 net yards per punt).

After the game, safety Antrel Rolle was asked if he felt the Giants were better than their record. “I can say what we are, but the record shows otherwise,” replied Rolle. “The record shows 0-2, so at this point, we’re an 0-2 team. It’s up to us what we’re going to do from this point on. We can either get in the tank, which is something that we will never, ever do, or we can go out and fight like I hope that we will do and like I see us going out there and doing. We have to pick it up. We have to pick it up in all three phases on the game, offensively, defensively, and special teams and make sure you clear up certain things because there are a lot of things that need to be clear.”

The Broncos received the football to start the game and easily drove 91 yards down field to the Giants’ 6-yard line. But the Giants’ defense forced their only turnover when DT Cullen Jenkins forced a fumble that S Ryan Mundy recovered in the end zone.

On the first play of New York’s first possession, QB Eli Manning hit WR Victor Cruz for a 51-yard completion, but the drive stalled at the Denver 18-yard line and the Giants settled for a 36-yard field goal by PK Josh Brown.

The score remained a 3-0 Giants until the second quarter as both teams exchanged punts twice. Denver began their fourth drive on the Giants’ 40-yard line. Four plays later, RB Knowshon Moreno broke off a 20-yard touchdown run. Early in the second quarter, the Broncos led 7-3.

After both teams exchanged punts again, the Giants started their fifth possession a Denver’s 43-yard line. However, the drive stalled at the 6-yard line and the Giants settled for a 24-yard field goal. Broncos 7 – Giants 6.

After the Giants’ defense forced a three-and-out, the Giants drove 37 yards in seven pays to set up a 41-yard field goal by Brown as the Giants regained the lead 9-7. Denver responded with an 8-play, 56-yard drive that set up a 42-yard field goal as Denver went back up 10-9. The Giants had a chance late in the second quarter to add more points as 34-yard pass to WR Hakeem Nicks and a 21-yard pass interference penalty set the Giants up at the Broncos 28-yard line with 16 seconds to go before intermission. But Manning’s deep pass for Nicks was intercepted in the end zone.

At halftime, the Broncos led 10-9.

In the second half, after a three-and-out by New York, the Broncos extended their advantage to 17-9 as Denver drove 53 yards in nine plays with the possession culminating in a 2-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to WR Wes Welker. The Giants responded with a 9-play, 81-yard drive that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run by RB Brandon Jacobs. With just over three minutes to play in the third quarter, the Giants had cut the score to 17-16.

But then the roof caved in as the Broncos scored 21 unanswered points in a matter of minutes, including a 7-play, 80-yard drive that finished with a 25-yard touchdown run by Moreno; a 5-play, 36-yard touchdown drive after Eli Manning’s second interception; and an 81-yard punt return by WR Trindon Holliday. With 10 minutes to play, the Giants trailed 38-16.

Eli Manning was picked two more times in the fourth quarter as the Giants desperately tried to get back into the game. New York did score with four minutes left as RB Da’Rel Scott caught a 23-yard touchdown pass. But it was far too little, far too late. Denver tacked on a late 47-yard field goal.

Eli Manning finished the game 28-of-49 for 362 yards, 1 touchdown, and 4 interceptions. Running backs David Wilson, Brandon Jacobs, and Da’Rel Scott combined for 23 yards on 19 carries (1.2 yards per carry). Victor Cruz caught 8 passes for 118 yards.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Post-Game Press Conference: The video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s post-game press conference is available at Giants.com.

Player Post-Game Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of the post-game media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Post-Game Notes: Inactive for the Giants were QB Ryan Nassib, RB Michael Cox, TE Adrien Robinson (foot), OT David Diehl (thumb), OG Brandon Mosley, DT Johnathan Hankins, and LB Allen Bradford.