Dec 262018
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (December 23, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

Indianapolis Colts 28 – New York Giants 27

QUICK RECAP

The last time Eli Manning and the Giants played in Indianapolis, it was against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. Fast forward almost 7 years later and Eli Manning is still the quarterback, the lone representative from that Super Bowl winning team still on the roster. Two new coaching staffs, a new General Manager, and countless players have gone through the revolving door since that night in early February. It almost seems like that game against Tom Brady and the Patriots was a lifetime ago, as a lot has changed since then, mostly for the worst.

Their opponent was the team that plays its home games there, the near-playoff bound Colts. This organization hasn’t finished above .500 since 2014, saw their franchise QB go down with a serious throwing shoulder injury, and got nixed at the last second by Josh McDaniels in a coaching search. But 2018 has been a year to remember, as they came in winners of 7 of their last 8.

After a lackluster loss to TEN, the Giants came out firing on all cylinders. They quickly jumped out to a 14-0 lead thanks to a balanced offensive approach that saw Eli Manning spread the ball out across the board. Saquon Barkley’s 1 yard run and Manning’s 3 yard pass to Scott Simonson were the early scores. Combined with 5 pre-snap penalties by IND in the first quarter, this one had domination written all over it.

IND started to pick up chunk gains via the passing game but Andrew Luck tried to do a bit too much as they approached the red zone. He aimlessly threw the ball near the end zone without a Colts receiver in the same zip code. Safety Curtis Riley came down with it for his 4th interception of the season. The Giants offense began to sputter, however, as the IND defense crowded the box and prevented the running game from taking off.

IND put together a 12-play drive that took up most of the remaining time in the 2nd quarter. They spread the ball out, attacking the NYG linebackers in coverage and eventually got into the end zone via an easy 1-yard touchdown by rookie RB Nyheim Hines. NYG took the ball back and marched down the field to get 3 more points on the board. They went in to halftime possessing a commanding 17-7 lead and due to get the ball back after halftime.

The NYG offense continued to struggle early in the second half. They punted the ball to IND following their first drive and Luck led the offense right back downfield. It took just 7 plays to gain 85 yards, capped by a 2-yard pass to Dontrelle Inman to bring IND within 3. They often say the first 2 possessions of the second half go a long way in determining the outcome of a game. IND, despite being down 3, clearly had the momentum.

This is where Manning stepped up and showed, once again, there is enough left in the tank. He went 5/5 for 79 yards, connecting with four different receivers. He got the ball down to the goal line and took a QB sneak past the goal line for the Giants’ first touchdown since their second drive of the game. They took back a 10-point lead.

The IND offense continued to stay hot, as they picked up chunk gain after chunk gain. The NYG pass rush was struggling to disrupt Luck and the back seven couldn’t stick to anyone in coverage. It took just a 7 play drive for them to get back within 3, this time via a 3-yard touchdown run by Marlon Mack. Two plays prior to that score, an Olivier Vernon sack-fumble that was recovered by BJ Hill was negated by a Janoris Jenkins hold in coverage. Even though NYG led the entire game, it had a close-to definite feel that Luck and Colts were in control.

The 4th quarter started off with a 12-play NYG drive that saw them get inside the 10-yard line, but had to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Pro Bowl kicker Aldrick Rosas. The two teams then traded possessions with the margin at 6. With IND starting a drive near midfield with under 4 minutes left, Luck led them piece by piece all the way inside the 5. A 1-yard pass to Chester Rogers put them ahead for the first time with under a minute left.

On Manning’s third pass of their last-ditch attempt to get in field goal range, he threw a deep pass into double coverage that was intercepted by safety Malik Hooker. That was all she wrote.

NYG loses 28-27.

QUARTERBACKS

-Eli Manning: 25/33 – 309 yards – 1 TD/1 INT. Manning also scored a 1-yard touchdown on the ground. Manning, up against a red-hot defense that had a lot to play for, came up with one of his better games on the year without his top target, Odell Beckham. He spread the ball out. He was accurate short, intermediate, and deep. And he was completing a lot of passes on the move. A very solid game for a guy who will be debated all offseason long in relation to his future with the team. I’ll say it now. Unless NYG trades for an established QB, Manning will be the opening game starter next year. He has earned it.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley: 21 att / 43 yards – 5 rec / 34 yards. The IND defense came into today with one focus; do not let Barkley beat them. They had 8 defenders in the box more often than not on 1st and 2nd down, something we haven’t seen yet this year. In addition to that, their run defense has been one of the best all year. Barkley just couldn’t get going and the interior offensive linemen didn’t do him any favors. He did drop a pass and there were two runs where he chose the wrong running lane. The past two weeks have been the least productive we’ve seen in his rookie year and it could end up really hurting his Rookie of the Year chances if it trickles into the finale.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Sterling Shepard: 6 rec / 113 yards. With Odell Beckham out for 3 games, it’s been an opportunity for Shepard to show he more than a complimentary asset. The previous 2 did not work out well for him, as he combined for 4 catches / 51 yards. However in this one, he stepped up big time. 5 of his 6 catches were in the first half when the NYG offense was really flowing, but he was quiet in the second half. Those 5 catches all resulted in first downs and that is one of his strongest attributes to his game. He finds the chains and stays tough in traffic. Very hard guy to cover short and intermediate but I do think there is some untapped upside with him that won’t be seen unless he is with a better quarterback.

-Bennie Fowler and Cory Latimer, two veterans who bring quality size and speed to the table, each had a catch for a first down. Fowler’s resulted in 26 yards, and when I see plays like that, it makes me think he may be worth bringing back for 2019. He can do some things.

TIGHT ENDS

-Evan Engram: 6 rec / 87 yards – 2 att / 26 yards. Engram has really broken out these past 2 weeks and reminded everyone what he can do if given enough opportunities. I’m still not sold on him being an every down tight end, as he once again finished with a below average grade as a blocker, but the speed/burst/agility he has with the ball is downright scary for opponents. He is one of the main reasons why I think this offense has a ton of potential in 2019 as a whole.

-Scott Simonson and Rhett Ellison were both on the field equally. They struggled to impact the running game, as they both finished with below average grades as blockers. However, they combined for 5 catches on 5 targets for 35 yards. Simonson scored his first touchdown of his career on a short rollout pass from Manning in the 1st quarter.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

-Nate Solder, who’s play has stabilized in recent weeks, graded out as the best OL in this game. He allowed 1 pressure and was the cause for a TFL, but otherwise he did a nice job neutralizing the blindside pressure. He still doesn’t get a good enough push as a run blocker, especially when he has to move laterally. Not a big deal, but I did find it noteworthy he was getting moved back when Barkley was trying to hit his gaps.

-Chad Wheeler has steadily been below average throughout the second half of the season. I really hoped he would go in the other direction but I think his tape is going to lead the team to looking for a new right tackle. He allowed 2 TFL and a pressure in this one.

GUARDS/CENTERS

-Really rough day for this trio. Rookie Will Hernandez, who has been the best lineman on this team all year, had his first negative grade since early in the year. Denico Autry and Margus Hunt really gave him problems with their oversized frames combined with fast feet, similar to Calais Campbell in week 1. He allowed 2 pressures and didn’t sustain his blocks long enough in the running game.

-Jamon Brown, who is being proclaimed as a savior the line, had his worst game in a Giants uniform. He allowed 2 pressures, 1 TFL, and was penalized twice. While I do think he can be considered for the starting RG spot in 2019, he has not by any means cemented his name there. When he’s on, he is certainly a difference maker. But the inconsistency he shows game to game is exactly what made the Rams toss him onto the road.

-OC John Greco got the start with Spence Pulley missing the game with a bad calf. His lack of ability is still there. Greco graded out as the second worst blocker of the day, allowing a pressure, a TFL, and recording a block-in-the-back penalty.

EDGE

-Olivier Vernon, a name that will be debated in the coming months when it comes to his status with the team, was very active. He didn’t blow up the stat sheet but he made a couple lateral-hustle tackles against the run in addition to 2 pressures. He also had a sack-fumble negated by a Janoris Jenkins hold.

-Kareem Martin and Lorenzo Carter split snaps at the other edge spot. Neither were very effective but Carter did record 2 pressures. It’s been exactly what I expected out of Carter for his rookie season. He makes plays that stem from his length and speed, but there isn’t enough power or skill to his game just yet. This offseason will be huge for him when it comes to physical and mental development.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-Dalvin Tomlinson and BJ Hill has a solid showing against the interior of the IND offensive line. They were both stout for most of the game, although they were completely taken out of the picture on both of IND’s goal line rushing touchdowns. Tomlinson added a pressure and a TFL and Hill had a pressure as well. These two are solid pieces to the puzzle that will be important moving forward. The question still remains, however. Do they need a more capable run defender between them on first and second down?

LINEBACKERS

-With Alec Ogletree out, BJ Goodson was given the opportunity to be the leader of the defense. He responded with one of his best games of the season. He finished with 6 tackles and 2 TFL. Nothing special there but considering IND ran the ball just 16 times, you can’t expect a ton from a middle linebacker. The reason I called this a standout performance by Goodson was his range in man coverage against the pass and his blitz-production. Goodson made a few plays on crossing-route passes where his speed and reaction stood out. He had 2 pressures and his ability to impact the game on multiple levels stood out here. I still think there is a high ceiling left with this kid.

-Tae Davis got the start again. He led the team with 7 tackles and he recorded the lone sack of the game for NYG. Impressive game for the UDFA. He has certainly taken his rookie lumps and this game was no different. Luck attacked Davis in coverage all afternoon and the IND ball carriers took advantage of his over-pursuit. He missed 2 tackles on the day and was neutralized on running plays.

CORNERBACKS

-Janoris Jenkins leveled off his play after a rough game a week ago. He broke up a pass but was also flagged for a hold on a play where the Giants pass rush forced a fumble.

-BW Webb, whom has exceeded expectations as the team’s starting corner this year, had his worst game of the year in this one. In his few matchups against TY Hilton, he got torched downfield. He couldn’t get enough contact at the point of attack and he just couldn’t keep up downfield speed-wise. He was also flagged for pass interference in the end zone that eventually led to an IND touchdown.

-Grant Haley played nearly every snap in the nickel role with IND throwing the ball so much. He continues to struggle against receivers that have a significant size advantage but his hustle and quickness can make things happen. He has been a pleasant surprise for the past 2 months and has a nice base to build off of this upcoming offseason.

SAFETIES

-Curtis Riley came down with his 4th interception of the year. Looking at his numbers on paper, there will be some who see him as a definite for this roster in 2019. While I do like the speed and aggression he brings to the table, he has shown on more than enough occasions he isn’t the guy you want protecting the back side of the field. Michael Thomas, however, has been a solid strong safety since Landon Collins went down. He did miss 2 tackles in this one, but I trust him to get the job done. He made a couple of smart read-and-react plays that don’t show up on stat sheets.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas :2/2 (Made 40, 27). 18 consecutive made FGs for the Pro Bowler. I was really hoping he would get a shot at a 55+ yarder to win the game. That could have capped what has likely been the best season by NYG kicker in franchise history.

-P Riley Dixon: 3 Punts – 48.3 avg / 47.3 net. Not many know this, but Dixon has been one of the top 7-8 punters in the NFL this year. His net average is a very solid 41.7 yards on the year.

3 STUDS

-QB Eli Manning, WR Sterling Shepard, LB BJ Goodson

3 DUDS

-OG Jamon Brown, OC John Greco, CB BW Webb

3 THOUGHTS ON IND

-The Colts offensive line went from bottom 5 to top 10 in a matter of a year. The two main reasons? Two rookies. 1st rounder Quenton Nelson and 2nd rounder Braden Smith. These two, ironically, were the top 2 OL on my board in the 2018 Draft. They have been steady improving each week and even though they took some rookie hits early in the year, this OL has the look of a dominant group in the coming years.

-Darius Leonard, a LB I graded to be a top 10 overall prospect in the 2018 class, has been nothing short of dominant all year. This is the new age LB who is hard to find, but they are out there. Height, length, speed, an ability to impact plays on all three downs. He has all the range you can ask for, coverage ability of a safety, pass rush capabilities via short area burst, and enough stoutness against inside run blockers. Does NYG need to find one of these guys in the draft? Well they may already have him: Landon Collins.

-All the talk about Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz….etc. Who is the next top dog in the NFL at the QB position? It’s Andrew Luck then everyone else. I mean it. This guy is the best combination of throwing power, accuracy, and decision making. He makes plays with his legs. He is tough to take down in the pocket. And he stays mentally stable as good as anyone I have seen. He plays within the system, he takes what the defense gives. Now that Luck has a formidable offensive line, he should have an easier time staying on the field. Luck is about to take over the league.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-The Giants have one game left, at home, against a team that won’t be in all-out mode. Is this the perfect opportunity to get a start for Kyle Lauletta under his belt before entering an offseason that will be filled with long-term QB debate? The knee jerk answer is yes. But like I said when he was drafted, is Lauletta the guy that is going to determine how NYG handles the position? No. I think this guy is a career backup. Is there a chance he is more? Sure. But you can say that about every young backup QB in the league. Lauletta getting a start may be more about fans wanting something fresh more than him actually being capable.

-At this time last year, the Giants were just praying for the season to be over. There was nothing to be excited about. There was nothing to watch, really. However here we are in a similar, no-shot-at-the-playoffs type situation while division rivals are gearing up for postseason play. But we can all agree this team is indeed better than a year ago with more long-term potential than a year ago. The offensive line is better. The playmaking on offense has shown more. The schemes seem to have more dependability. There are several holes to be filled but we knew that would be the case anyway.

-This may be the last we see of a few of the higher paid players. Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins come to mind first. Should NYG keep these two? Well if there is any thought of them competing in 2019, I say you keep them. They may be overpaid, but I still think they are better than what you are going to find on the market. Let’s not forget one thing – the NYG pass rush improved as a whole once Vernon came back. My vote is to keep him here.

Dec 232018
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 23, 2018)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 28 – NEW YORK GIANTS 27…
The Indianapolis Colts came from behind to defeat the New York Giants 28-27 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana on Sunday. With the loss, the Giants fell to 5-10 on the season.

Indianapolis received the football to start the game but their first three drives ended with two three-and-outs and an interception by free safety Curtis Riley.

Meanwhile, the Giants jumped on top quickly with their first two drives ending in touchdowns. First, New York went 75 yards in 11 plays, the possession culminating with a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Saquon Barkley. Then the Giants drove 87 yards in nine plays, the big play being a 55-yard strike from quarterback Eli Manning to wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Manning finished this possession with a 3-yard touchdown throw to tight end Scott Simonson.

After New York went three-and-out on their third drive, the Colts responded with a 12-play, 78-yard possession that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Nyheim Hines with just over four minutes before halftime. The Giants then extended their lead by moving the ball 53 yards in nine plays, setting up a 40-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas. The Colts could not get into scoring position on their last possession of the first half.

At the half, the Giants led 17-7.

After picking up one first down on their initial possession of the 3rd quarter, the Giants punted the ball away. The Colts proceeded to cut the score to 17-14 with a 7-play, 85-yard possession that ended with a 2-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andrew Luck to wide receiver Dontrelle Inman. Luck also completed a 55-yard pass to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton on this drive.

The Giants impressively responded with their own touchdown, moving the ball 85 yards in eight plays, including a 32-yard pass to tight end Evan Engram. Manning finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run and the Giants led 24-14.

However, the Giants defense could not hold and the Colts scored their second touchdown on their second possession of the half after a 7-play, 74-yard affair that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by running back Marlon Mack. At the end of the 3rd quarter, the Giants led 24-21.

The Giants reached the red zone on their ensuing possession but were forced to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Rosas. Both teams then exchanged punts, the Giants being forced to punt out of their own end zone.

Trailing by six points, the Colts’ subsequent possession began at their own 47-yard line with 3:43 left in the game. A 2-yard pass interference penalty on 3rd-and-3 by linebacker Tae Davis gave the Colts their first first down. Luck then scrambled for 14 yards and threw four consecutive passes for a total of 22 yards down to the Giants’ 8-yard line. Cornerback B.W. Webb was then flagged with a 7-yard pass interference penalty. With 59 seconds left in the game, Luck found wide receiver Chester Rogers for the 1-yard, game-winning score.

The Giants began their final desperate drive at their own 25-yard line with 55 seconds left and just one timeout. After completing two short passes for 11 yards, Manning’s deep throw to wide receiver Bennie Fowler was intercepted at the Colts’ 35-yard line with less than 30 seconds to play.

Offensively, Manning finished 25-of-33 for 309 yards, one touchdown, and one interception for a QB rating of 101.7. His leading receivers were Sterling Shepard (6 catches for 113 yards), Engram (6 catches for 87 yards), and Barkley (5 catches for 34 yards). However, Barkley was held to 43 yards rushing and one touchdown on 21 carries.

Defensively, the Giants allowed just 49 yards rushing, but 353 net passing yards. And after holding the Colts to just one score in the first half, the defense allowed three touchdowns in four drives in the second half. Indianapolis was 4-for-4 in red zone opportunities. The Giants forced only one turnover (interception by Riley) and only picked up one sack (by linebacker Tae Davis).

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. (quad), wide receiver Russell Shepard (ankle), center Spencer Pulley (calf), defensive end Kerry Wynn (finger), linebacker Alec Ogletree (concussion), quarterback Kyle Lauletta, and safety Kamrin Moore.

Tight end Rhett Ellison (concussion) and defensive end Mario Edwards (calf) left the game with injuries and did not return.

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

  • Head Coach Pat Shurmur (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur and select players will address the media on Monday.

Dec 212018
 
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Game Preview: New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts, December 23, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
A few steps forward, one Giant step backwards. Last weekend’s loss to the Tennessee Titans was a real eye-opener. The Giants were 4-1 in their last five contests heading into that game with momentum building. While still immensely flawed, they were still playing hard and showing some signs of becoming a more physical football team. Then a slightly-above-.500 Tennessee Titans team bitch-slapped them back to reality. The Titans dominated both lines of scrimmage and the score never felt as close as the 17-0 end result. The defeat also officially ended any faint hopes of a playoff spot.

I think the final two games of the 2018 season are fairly important for this franchise. What direction is this team heading? Is the arrow pointed up, down, stuck in neutral? How do the Giants respond this week? With another dud? Do they rebound?

The glass-half-empty crowd will lament Pat Shurmur and Eli Manning have done just enough to encourage ownership to mistakenly keep both around another year. The question remains is this team better or worse off bringing both back in 2019, or is the team merely postponing their inevitable departure in January 2020?

The glass-half-full crowd will argue that this was a team clearly in transition that played better in the second half of the season than it did in the first half. They will argue that you need to give Shurmur and his staff more than one season, and that firing the coaching staff will simply lead to more chaos. They also will argue that there is no clear better alternative to Eli Manning in 2019.

What we don’t want is the team being stuck in neutral, ensconced in the basement of a bad division for the foreseeable future.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Odell Beckham (quad – out)
  • WR Russell Shepard (ankle – out)
  • WR Jawill Davis (hamstring – probable)
  • OC Spencer Pulley (calf – out)
  • DE Kerry Wynn (thumb – questionable)
  • LB Alec Ogletree (concussion – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:

Though not all of the points were generated by the offense, there was a clear belief and feeling that the offense was finally turning the corner based on point production. During the 1-7 start, the Giants had averaged less than 19 points per game. During the 4-1 turnaround, the team averaged over 31 points per game. Then the Giants had their worst day of the season last Sunday, not even reaching the red zone until the end of the game.

It was no coincidence that the offense line regressed terribly in the game, both run and pass blocking. Or that receivers dropped a lot of passes. Or that Eli Manning once again showed a still-too-frequent tendency to make really bad decisions/turnovers. When you can’t block up front, you are going to have major issues on offense. If you can’t handle the basics, like catching the football, your punter is going to have a busy day. If your quarterback makes a bone-headed play in a still-tight game, you’re going to lose.

Offensively, the most alarming red flags were the offensive line and Manning seriously regressing again. Once again, we are now left with the questions: (1) how many starters do the Giants need to replace on the OL, and (2) is Eli Manning capable of being a consistent game-manager at this stage of his career? Nate Solder is up and down. Spencer Pulley, who is now hurt and may not play the final two games, looks like a clear liability. Jamon Brown flashes in the run game but also is too inconsistent, especially in pass protection. Chad Wheeler tries hard, but he’s just not getting it done.

Manning hasn’t thrown for a lot of touchdowns this year (18). He’s immobile. And he no longer appears to be able to elevate the level of play by those around him. But he is completing the highest percentage of passes in his career (66 percent), hasn’t turned the ball over much (just nine interceptions; though he does have six fumbles), and has played five games this year with a QBR over 100. With the Giants relying more on Saquon Barkley in recent games, Manning and – not coincidentally – the entire offense were playing better. Then came last Sunday. Still in a one-score game late in the 3rd quarter, Manning’s two boneheaded turnovers proved to be the back-breakers. If you are going to become a “game manager”, you can’t kill your team like that.

The prevailing opinion is that – for better or worse – the Giants are “stuck” with Manning for one more year. He has a no-trade clause. It is difficult to see him walking away from the $17 million dollars (salary, roster bonus, workout bonus) he is due in 2019. Ownership/management appears excessively loyal to him, perhaps out of guilt knowing that they never really gave him a reasonable offensive line in the last third of his career. Fans will feel better if Eli plays well in these last two games. But if he doesn’t, it could be a long and very grumpy offseason.

One last comment. Last week should put to rest that this team is “better off without Odell Beckham.” Now, one can argue that the team may be better off with a draft bonanza by trading him away. But you don’t take one of the NFL’s best players off of your active roster and become a better team.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

As much criticism as the offense has received this year, the long-term outlook on the defense is equally alarming. Teams are running over the Giants. And if you can’t stop the run, you can’t win. The Giants don’t maintain their gaps well and they don’t tackle well. And when the other team does pass the football, though there have been some signs of life in recent games, the Giants still have serious issues rushing the passer and covering the middle of the football field. The Giants desperate personnel needs on defense in addition to their huge needs list on offense.

My biased view is that the team’s best pass rusher, Olivier Vernon, is a loser. He’s a guy who will tease but never be a winning football player. The linebacking corps as a unit is still so devoid of talent that I now question the strategic decision to shift this team from the 4-3 to the 3-4. Simply put, outside of Alec Ogletree’s recent interception fest, the linebackers are not making plays. They aren’t getting the quarterback. They aren’t stopping the run. They aren’t covering. The Giants may have one keeper in Lorenzo Carter, but he’s a guy who could also play at DE in a 4-3.

The secondary is also close to being a mess. Landon Collins being voted to the Pro Bowl is a joke, and will only contribute to his desire for a big pay day. Janoris Jenkins is a top-notch cover guy, but I get the feeling that he’s one of those guys who Bill Parcells or Bill Belichick would immediately get rid of. Whether you want to call it a “business decision” or a lack of physicality, his lack of willingness to “stick his head in there” leaves one with a bad taste in their mouth. The Giants have no free safety and no up-and-coming players at corner unless Sam Beal turns out to be good player.

And I can’t get a good read on James Bettcher. Is he worse, better, or the same as the disappointing Steve Spagnuolo? He doesn’t have a lot to work with, but at the same time, declining fundamentals such as tackling and gap responsibility are very concerning.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

Believe it or not, the strong part of the 2018 New York Giants ended up being their special teams unit, including both kickers, kick and punt coverage, and the return game.

THE FINAL WORD:
Most NFL teams have bad days like the Giants did last Sunday. Even the 2007 and 2011 New York Giants did. Was that a blip on the radar or a real sign that the 4-1 “turnaround” was a mirage? We’ll know more by the end of the game on Sunday.

Nov 062014
 
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Tom Coughlin and Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants (November 3, 2014)

Tom Coughlin and Ahmad Bradshaw – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Indianapolis Colts 40 – New York Giants 24

Game Overview

The New York Giants were badly beaten by a healthier team with vastly superior personnel and completely comfortable with their offensive and defensive schemes.

The Giants record since 2011 (19-21) and the number of uncompetitive games this team has played proves beyond a shadow a doubt that this team simply lacks talent to seriously compete for a playoff spot. The Giants are getting crushed far too regularly, and not just by top teams but average teams like the Panthers and Lions. Say what you will about the coaching staff (some of it warranted), but how many top 100 players are on this roster?

I’ve said it again and again – injuries and bad picks have gutted the 2008-2012 New York Giants draft classes. There are only five players left from the 31 players taken in the 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 drafts: Will Beatty, Jason Pierre-Paul, Prince Amukamara, James Brewer, and Jacquian Williams. And the five players from the 2012 NFL draft still on the roster are not performing at a high standard:  Rueben Randle, Jayron Hosley, Adrien Robinson, Brandon Mosley, and Markus Kuhn. You can’t have five “bad” drafts in a row and not have that impact your team.

New York Giants - Indianapolis Colts November 3 2014 (2)

 

New York Giants - Indianapolis Colts November 3 2014 (3)

As for the game itself, the Giants offense never gave the team a chance, and then the defense collapsed in the third quarter.

The warning signs were there before the game started:

  • The Giants had not scored an opening-possession touchdown in 18 consecutive games, the NFL’s longest streak. (Now unfortunately 19 games).
  • Coming into the game, the Colts had outscored their opponents in the first quarter, 68-13. The Giants had been outscored, 48-14. (The Giants actually held their ground here, only being outscored 3-0 by Colts in first quarter).
  • Other than the game against the Steelers, the Colts have been the NFL’s stingiest defense on third down. (The Giants were 4-of-16 or 25 percent, which is actually better than most of the Colts opponents, believe it or not).

The Colts have the NFL’s #1 offense and average over 30 points per game. Everyone knew for the Giants to have a chance, they would have to score points early and often. The Giants failed miserably, scoring one field goal in eight first-half possessions. They punted seven other times, going three-and-out four times and only gaining one first down on two other drives. The Giants were very fortunate that the defense kept them in the game, only trailing 16-3 at the half.

During the Giants three-game winning streak, it seemed as if the Giants were finally grasping Ben McAdoo’s offense, and being more and more comfortable with the up-tempo, no-huddle style. For some reason, the pace has slowed and the entire offense seems out of sync during the last three losses. Perhaps that is due to the loss of Victor Cruz and Rashad Jennings. Perhaps most significantly, the offensive line is regressing again despite the same five linemen starting every game this year.

The Giants finally scored their first touchdown in the third quarter, but it was too little too late as the defense – now missing Prince Amukamara – imploded as the Colts scored three touchdowns in the third quarter and tacked on another field goal early in the fourth quarter to take a commanding 30-point lead. For the Giants to have a chance, it was necessary for the defense to force some turnovers, and it didn’t – no interceptions or fumble recoveries. And the Giants gave up eight plays over 20 yards, including four plays over 30 yards.

This once-proud franchise is clearly on downward talent spiral. At this point last season, the Giants were 2-6. Now they are 3-5. They are what they are – a bad football team. Many fans don’t want to admit that one obvious truth. It’s easier to make excuses. But the road to recovery begins with accurately recognizing your own problems.

One offseason and a handful of new players are not going to fix this mess. Hopefully management recognizes that. The Giants talk tough and can play well in spurts, but when better teams punch them in the mouth, the air goes out of their balloon and they wilt. Unlike the 2007 and 2011 New York Giants, there isn’t much toughness or resilience. And they aren’t very good.

Quarterback

The greatest tragedy of this season is that Eli Manning is actually having one of his best seasons and it is being wasted. That said, the Giants passing game in the first half was not good. Eli only completed 9-of-23 passes for 97 yards (52.3 quarterback rating). Not all of that was on him as he was the victim of a number of dropped passes. But a few of his throws were off the mark and his delay of game penalty after a kickoff return was inexcusable. In the second half, he completed 18-of-29 passes for 262 yards, but the bulk of that damage came far too late to matter.

“The ball was high at times during the game,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “Fundamentally, he obviously just has to get the ball down. He knows that. We talked about it and hopefully we will get better at that.”

Running Backs

The Giants running game has simply disappeared with Rashad Jennings being hurt. Andre Williams had yet another disappointing game, rushing 12 times for 22 yards (1.8 yards per carry). Peyton Hillis had four carries for 20 yards. In other words, the Giants top two backs combined for 42 yards. That’s not going to get it done. As The Bergen Record pointed out, 11 of the Giants 3rd down situations were nine yards or more. Much of that is due to the failed running game.

The Giants have talked about Williams’ lack of patience as a runner and how this is normal for a young back. That may be true, but he really still is not getting a lot of running room to operate with. Is that because teams stack up against the inside run, or simply the Giants’ offensive line getting out-muscled on a down-by-down basis? Regardless, Williams didn’t help matters with his fumble that turned a 2nd-and-6 situation into a 3rd-and-12 situation. Williams’ best run of the night was a 9-yard carry outside a poor block by Larry Donnell. He juked the oncoming defender and finished the run with power. There was an odd play late in the second half where Weston Richburg pulled to his right, but Williams ran left to the spot vacated by Richburg. It seems to me he ran the wrong way.

Williams had two nice back-to-back plays on the Giants first TD drive when he caught a short pass on 3rd-and-10, broke two tackles, and powered his way down to the 1-yard line. He was hit at the line on the very next play but still managed to score.

Hillis flashed on two back-to-back plays that were well-executed: a 26-yard screen pass followed immediately by a 16-yard run. But even on these plays, it’s clear that Hillis is a lumbering back who struggles to create on his own. Hillis also missed a blitz pick-up on 3rd-and-9 on the same drive, leading to an incompletion and punt.

Peyton Hillis, New York Giants (November 3, 2014)

Peyton Hillis – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Henry Hynoski picked up a 3rd-and-1 first down on a rare carry.

Wide Receivers

The Giants miss Victor Cruz. But they are also being very much hurt by the fact that Rueben Randle is increasingly looking like a 2nd-round bust. After three seasons, there is still too much miscommunication between Randle and Manning, and that has to be on the wideout. Randle was targeted 11 times but only caught four passes for 49 yards. Early in the game, Manning expected Randle to continue his route across the middle of the field on 3rd-and-9, but Randle stopped and the Giants were forced to punt. In the second quarter, Randle dropped a 3rd-and-7 pass inside the Colts red zone. The Giants were forced to settle for a field goal.

Third receiver Preston Parker was terrible. He was targeted six times, dropped three passes, only caught one pass for seven yards, and left the game with a foot sprain. The Giants should consider replacing him with Kevin Ogletree in the slot.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (November 3, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

One of the few players to play well was Odell Beckham who caught 8-of-11 passes thrown in his direction for 156 yards. He had a key 19-yard reception on 3rd-and-10, but he also dropped a pass in the first half. For the first time in a Giants uniform, Beckham demonstrated his dangerous run-after-the-catch ability on his 59-yard play on the Giants first touchdown drive.

Corey Washington saw action in the second half and finished with four catches for 48 yards and 20-yard touchdown. He’s still very raw and will make mistakes, but given the reality of the 3-5 season, it’s time to give him more playing time.

Larry Donnell, New York Giants (November 3, 2014)

Larry Donnell – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Tight Ends

The Giants need more out of Larry Donnell, who caught four of eight passes thrown in his direction for 25 yards and one touchdown. He dropped a well-thrown deep pass from Manning in the first quarter.

Offensive Line

Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo keep giving this line an opportunity to improve its ability to be physical and run block. The line keeps failing miserably. Despite all intentions, de facto, the Giants are a one-dimensional team. When they run the ball, it’s almost like throwing away snaps. The Giants have two options – they can continue to work at improving their run game and pray; or they can largely abandon the run, put Manning at far greater risk, and pray.

An illustration on the run blocking came late in the first quarter. RT Justin Pugh, who has really regressed this year, completely whiffed on his block on one run by Andre Williams. On the very next snap, OC J.D. Walton could not sustain his block on the defensive tackle who stuffed the run. Two plays, two bad blocks, two yards. Even worse, on the game’s first offensive play, the Giants didn’t even bother to block the weakside end, leading to a 1-yard loss.

Too often, the opposing team is simply not being moved off of the line of scrimmage. Look at the following shot where Walton, Pugh, and Donnell are stalemated BEHIND the line of scrimmage. Williams has little chance on this play.

Giants Blockers Stalemated at Line of Scrimmage

Giants Blockers Stalemated Behind Line of Scrimmage

And the OL continues to make life more difficult for Manning. On the second Giants possession, Pugh was flagged with a false start (now 1st-and-15). After a dropped pass by Larry Donnell, Will Beatty got beat to the inside and Eli was hit as he threw the ball (2nd-and-15 turns into 3rd-and-15). Giants run and punt. On the next series, John Jerry failed to pick up a stunt on 3rd-and-12 and Eli had to throw the ball away. Pugh also had an illegal use of hands penalty. The final dagger was Will Beatty getting beat to the outside on strip-sack-fumble that set the Colts up on the Giants 4-yard line and an insurmountable 37-10 advantage.

Weston Richburg left the game with a sprained ankle. Before that, he gave up a sack when he failed to pick up a stunt.

Even when the game was out of hand, the OL continued to piss me off. Pugh lazily allowed the end to get past him, nailing Hillis for a 4-yard loss. Then Jerry got beat for a sack-strip-fumble on Manning. Jerry Reese’s draft picks – including the two high-round draft picks at tackle – and free agent acquisitions on the offensive line suck.

Defensive Line

The Colts came out throwing, only running the ball with their backs four times in the first half of the game for a total of 20 yards. Andrew Luck threw 31 first-half passes, which is a high number for a full game. He completed 17 of those for 202 yards. The problem was that outside of DE/DT Robert Ayers (3 tackles, 1 sack, 7 quarterback hits, and 1 forced fumble), the rest of the line did not get enough heat on Luck. Ayers deserves special kudos. Seven QB hits is an exceptionally high number for one player. And he did that in 45 defensive snaps.

Jason Pierre-Paul (65 snaps) did not make the impact expected and/or hoped for. He finished the game with only 2 tackles, 1 QB hit, and 1 pass defense. Mathias Kiwanuka saw his snaps reduced (57) and finished with 4 tackles and 2 QB hits. He was also flagged with an illegal use-of-hands penalty. Damontre Moore saw his playing time increase (25 snaps) and finished 5 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, and 1 QB hit.

Inside, Mike Patterson (24 snaps, 1 tackle) started along with Johnathan Hankins (48 snaps, 1 tackle, and 1 pass defense). Neither made much of an impact, nor did Markus Kuhn (22 snaps) and Jay Bromley (16 snaps, 1 tackle). I spotted both Hankins and Bromley hitting Luck, but it wasn’t enough.

In the end, the Colts running backs only carried the ball 22 times, and finished with less than 100 yards on the ground. But they didn’t really try to run the football until the score was out of hand (37-10) and then they did so pretty easily – 45 yards on six carries on their final scoring drive that ended with a field goal. That said, it was the passing game that killed the Giants. The Giants got 11 QB hits and quite a few pressures from blitzes, but only sacked Luck once despite him dropping back 47 times. And seven of those QB hits came from one player. If the Colts didn’t call off the dogs at the end of the third quarter, the score would have been worse.

Linebackers

Jameel McClain and Jacquian Williams played all 75 defensive snaps. Devon Kennard only played 28 as the Giants were often in their nickel package. The Colts did not run the football until the second half. Pass coverage was an issue however.

Given the fact that the Giants often left their linebackers all alone with the Colts’ talented tight ends, it appears that Perry Fewell was more concerned about the wide receivers as I assume safety attention was focused elsewhere. The man on the spot using this strategy was Jacquian Williams, and Andrew Luck repeatedly threw in his direction.

Williams finished the game with 17 tackles (13 solo). He had an active first series with good short coverage on two passes to Colts’ running backs. But he missed a tackle on Andrew Luck on 3rd-and-4, keeping alive a drive that ended with a field goal. Williams was later beat by WR T.Y. Hilton over the middle for a 13-yard gain, but that’s an unfair match-up for any linebacker. In the second quarter, Williams had pretty tight coverage on TE Coby Fleener on the 21-yard gain on the play before the 32-yard touchdown pass to Fleener where the Giants’ defense was caught napping. Later in the first half, Williams had good coverage on Fleener on a 3rd-and-7 incomplete pass. He had tight coverage, but gave up a 13-yard completion to Fleener on the next possession.

Perhaps Williams’ worst play was getting beat deep by TE Dwayne Allen for 35 yards on 3rd-and-8 on the first series of the second half. This was the biggest play on a drive that ended with a touchdown and 23-3 lead. On the next series, Williams had good coverage on an incomplete pass to Allen, but he gave up an 11-yard completion to Fleener on a 3rd-and-8 on a drive that ended with a TD and 30-10 lead.

Kennard was flagged with a costly 15-yard facemask penalty on the Colts’ first touchdown drive.

Defensive Backs

The secondary did not play well and mental, as well as physical, breakdowns continue under Perry Fewell’s defense. One of the key moments of the game was when the Giants’ defense was not set on a far-too-easy 32-yard touchdown pass to Fleener. (Tom Coughlin really should have called a timeout before the snap). That play put the Colts up 10-0. What also bothers me is that a couple of times linebackers were called upon to cover wide receivers with no other defender in sight on crossing patterns over the middle. It happened with Williams on Hilton and McClain on Hakeem Nicks.

That said, it is important to recognize that the Giants have now lost three of their best corners – Prince Amukamara, Walter Thurmond, and Trumaine McBride – and their remaining top corner – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – is playing hurt. Antrel Rolle (all 75 snaps, 7 tackles, 1 pass defense) is not playing as well as he did last year and the Quintin Demps (74 snaps, 3 tackles, 1 pass defense) and Stevie Brown (21 snaps, 2 tackles) are a big downgrade from Will Hill. Rolle dropped an interception that would have prevented a field goal.

After Amukamara (17 snaps) left the game, the Giants were really in a tough predicament against this offense. The top corners remaining were the gimpy Rodgers-Cromartie (63 snaps, 1 tackle), Zack Bowman (53 snaps, 1 tackle), and Jayron Hosley (41 snaps, 3 tackles, 1 pass defense).

Hosley looked decent at times, but had issues on other plays as the slot corner. The biggest play he gave up in the first half was a 27-yard catch-and-run to WR T.Y. Hilton on a shallow crossing pattern. But he did cause a couple of incomplete passes too with solid coverage. In the second half, Hosley was beaten by WR Reggie Wayne on 3rd-and-5 on a play where the Giants sent an all-out blitz. Wayne then ran away from Hosley for the 40-yard score.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants (November 3, 2014)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

DRC’s worst play came on the 2nd-and-15 31-yard touchdown throw to Hilton where Rodgers-Cromartie had an interception ripped right out of his hands. Instead of 16-3 and Giants ball, the game becomes 23-3.

Special Teams

Josh Brown was 1-for-1 on field goal attempts, hitting his 38 yarder. One of his three kickoffs went for a touchback. One return went for 30 yards on a player where he tackled the returner. The other return only went for six yards after a pop-up kick.

Steve Weatherford punted eight times (seven in the first half), averaging 44.1 yards per punt (39.4 net). He did not have a good night, with two poor back-to-back efforts in the first quarter (37-yard punt that was returned for 15 yards and a 35 yard punt). The Colts returned five punts for a total of 38 yards (7.6 yards per return).

The Giants only returned one punt, with Odell Beckham losing three yards. Three other punts were fair caught by Rueben Randle. In a nutshell, the Giants punt return game remains a non-factor.

Michael Cox returned four kickoffs for 88 yards (22-yard average). The longest was a 33-yard return on the game’s first play, but he also made a bad decision to return one out of the end zone on a play where he only reached the 9-yard line (this was very poorly blocked too by the Giants). Another return only reached the 16-yard line.

(Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants, November 3, 2014)
Nov 042014
 
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Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (November 3, 2014)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The waning seconds ticked off the New York Giants 40-24 loss to the Indianapolis Colts and the few hundred fans remaining in the stands headed for the exits. The enthusiasm honorary team captain Michael Strahan and many ex-Giants legends who were on hand helped to build was was now long gone.

Andrew Luck and Co. marched into East Rutherford, put up more than 400 yards of offense through the third quarter and all but ended New York’s season. It wasn’t close. It never was. And the 3-5 Giants now look headed for mediocrity once again.

“We knew full well the explosiveness of this team and the production of their quarterback,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.

After kicking a field goal to make the score 10-3 in the second quarter, Indianapolis scored on its next five possessions discounting the end of the first half. Luck connected on a 31-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton, a 40-yard score to Reggie Wayne and a two-yarder to Dwayne Allen during a 21-point explosion in the third quarter. When the game mercifully ended, Luck was 25-of-46 for 354 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

While the Giants the Giants were able to hit Luck with a variety of blitzes, the team’s secondary couldn’t hold up. After starting cornerback Prince Amukamara was lost with a torn bicep, Luck went to work on the likes of Jayron Hosley and Zack Bowman. Nine different receivers caught passes from he former No. 1 overall pick. Six of those players caught passes of 20 or more yards.

Former Giants Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw enjoyed their first games against their former teams. Nicks caught three of the four passes thrown his way for 44 yards. Ahmad Bradshaw rushed seven times for 50 yards and had 29 yards receiving.

“They go fast,” Coughlin said. “Whenever they make a bit play, they go fast. We talked about it all week. Our defense had prepared for it all week along. All of a sudden we weren’t getting lined up as fast as we should.”

Offensively, New York failed to establish anything on a consistent basis. While quarterback Eli Manning’s 359 passing yards and Odell Beckham Jr.’s 156 receiving yards tell one story, the game says another. On the Giants first eight possessions, the offense managed three points. It wasn’t until the third quarter, with the Colts leading 23-3, that New York found the end zone.

The running game was nonexistent. Starting running back Andre Williams rushed 12 times for 22 yards, Peyton Hillis four for 20.

There were dropped passes, fumbles, missed opportunities and more. The plays that regularly haunt a bad team popped up time and time again with the ball in the Giants’ hands.

“We continue to have the same problems,” Coughlin said. “Three points in the first half isn’t going to give you much of an opportunity to beat the No. 1 offense in the National Football League.”

New York will travel to take on the Seattle Seahawks next week.

Post-Game Notes: CB Prince Amukamara tore a bicep muscle and is likely done for the season. OG Weston Richburg left the game with an ankle injury and was wearing a walking boot and using crutches after the game. WR Preston Parker sprained his foot and was also in a walking boot.

Inactive for the Giants were RB Rashad Jennings (knee), DT Cullen Jenkins (calf), DE Kerry Wynn,  CB Mike Harris, OT Charles Brown, OT James Brewer, and OG Brandon Mosley.

Nov 032014
 
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Article on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: Tom Coughlin gives impassioned speech to NY Giants to ‘play above X’s and O’s’ by Ebenezer Samuel of The New York Daily News

Article on the New York Giants Offense: Giants weekly observations: Magic number set for Eli Manning and the offense by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on QB Eli Manning: Eli Manning still has work to do if he is to join Strahan in Hall by George Willis of The New York Post

Articles on the New York Giants Defensive Line:

Article on LB Jameel McClain: With Jon Beason out, it’s Jameel McClain’s defense by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on the New York Giants Secondary: For Giants’ Depleted Secondary, Colts’ Offense Presents Problem by Alex Raskin of The Wall Street Journal

Oct 312014
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 16, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants, November 3, 2014

The New York Giants look to snap their two-game losing streak against a tough opponent Monday night in the Indianapolis Colts.

Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants (August 18, 2013)

Ahmad Bradshaw – Photo Courtesy of Evan Pinkus and the Giants

FOUR DOWNS:

First Down
Old faces in new places
A former New York Giant is making quite the impact for the Indianapolis Colts… it’s just not the player anyone expected. A year after dealing with neck injuries, Ahmad Bradshaw has found new life with the Colts and has all but supplanted Trent Richardson as the team’s starting running back. As for the other former Giant? Hakeem Nicks hasn’t had any impact on the offense. Last week, he played in just 19 of the team’s snaps.

Both players will sure be revved up to play their former team again in their former stadium, will the Giants contain them?

Second Down
Can the Giants establish a running game?
One of the things that made Giants running back Rashad Jennings so special was his vision. Even if option one wasn’t open, Jennings found the second and third holes that were formed as the play developed to turn negative plays into positive ones. It’s a trait Jennings developed over time. Andre Williams just doesn’t have it yet.

Williams has struggled to get things going for New York on a consistent basis. If the initial hole isn’t there, the play usually doesn’t work. Williams’ vision will develop over time, it just isn’t there yet. Will this be the game he breaks out?

Third Down
Will New York be able to contain Andrew Luck?
The odds of New York shutting down Andrew Luck are slim, but the team can contain him. Pressure Luck, forcing him out of his comfort zone and to roll out of the pocket and across his body. That’s easier said, than done. Can the Giants execute the defensive game plan?

Fourth Down
Can for one week there not be a miscommunication in the secondary? 
Just once, can the Giants not have a defensive meltdown in the secondary? Can someone not think someone else has their help? Can everyone just be on the same page as everyone else? It’s a weekly occurrence and it needs to stop. Every year the defense starts this way and then needs to be ‘dumbed down.’ Not sure if that’s on the players, or the coaching staff.

BREAKING DOWN INDIANAPOLIS:

OFFENSE – by Connor Hughes
Strength?
The Colts offense is littered with playmakers all across the field. Reggie Wayne (questionable to play), T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, Hakeem Nicks, Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson are all capable of making plays at any point in time. Couple that with one of the best quarterback’s in the game and the Colts have one of the better attacks in all of football.

Weakness?
The interior offensive line can be had. The Colts guard play has been suspect this year and have struggled at times. The playmakers and Andrew Luck overshadows the line play.

DEFENSE by Eric Kennedy
Strength?
The Colts defense had been ranked 3rd in league in terms of yards allowed until the game against the Steelers where they gave up over 600 yards of offense. That likely anomaly dropped them to 15th. Until that game, the defense was performing at a high level and had shut out the Cincinnati Bengals. The Colts are outstanding on 3rd down. And while they have a lot of “no-name” defensive players, they are very well coached and can confuse opposing offenses with their various 3-4 and 4-3 schemes. No player has more than four sacks, but the team has 21 overall. The run defense is giving up less than 100 yards per contest.

Weakness?
The sum of the Colts defense is stronger than their component parts as the team lacks impact defensive playmakers. They have a lot of “solid” guys, but there is no one to really fear. The defense benefits from the fact that the Indianapolis offense is so productive, allowing the defense to pin its ears back against what often becomes a one-dimensional opponent.

Eli Manning and Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (September 15, 2013)

Eli Manning and Hakeem Nicks – © USA TODAY Sports Images

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Connor Hughes –
Hakeem Nicks
When Hakeem Nicks was at his best with the New York Giants, he was the team’s No. 1 target. He’s not that in Indianapolis and his numbers have reflected that. Nicks will revved up to play Monday night to play against his former team at his former home. While Nicks hasn’t been a focal point of the offense this year, he should be on Monday. Will he be a factor?

Eric Kennedy –
Eli Manning
The Giants season is on the line. If the Giants have any shot to make the playoffs this year, Eli will have to carry this team like he did in 2011. New York desperately needs for him to out-play Andrew Luck, which is no small feat.

FROM THE COACHES’ MOUTH:

Tom Coughlin – “(The Colts are) number one in the league on offense, first place in the AFC South, an exceptional fast start team. Sixty-four points in the first quarter, the opponents, 13. They are the number one passing team as well, big plays, you name it. Defensively – very, very aggressive. Prior to the Pittsburgh game, they were third in the league on defense. They have a high percentage of pressure on each and every down and distance. Special teams is outstanding as well with McAfee and Vinatieri and Whalen doing the returning.”

Chuck Pagano – “Eli (Manning) is obviously going to end up in the Hall of Fame with his brother one day. He is one of the elite quarterbacks in this game. If you don’t pressure and you can’t get pressure on him or do some things to disrupt the timing and rhythm of that offense that (Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo) is running over there now, then (Manning) will rip you to shreds. He can make all the throws and he has great touch and great vision and does a great job controlling safeties and people with his eyes. There isn’t anything that he hasn’t seen from a defensive standpoint.”

FINAL WORD:

Connor Hughes – The difficult part of the Giants schedule began two weeks ago and it won’t get easy Monday night. Luck and the Colts march in after having a dreadful performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers and will be ready to go in prime time. I’m just not sure the Giants match up.

The running game hasn’t been there the last two weeks, the team refuses to take shots down the field and the defense is questionable. If Wayne plays, the Colts bring three No. 1 receivers to the table. If the Giants match that with their secondary, that opens up room on the ground for Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson to run against a smaller front. It doesn’t favor New York, and it could get out of hand quick. Colts 31 – Giants 10.

Eric Kennedy – Many fans charge me with being a Debbie Downer or pessimist. Others will say I simply sound like a dreadful broken record. But Giants fans probably need to come to the recognition that this team simply isn’t very talented. One post in The Corner Forum really resonated with me this past week:

The Giants won the super bowl in ’11 with a team that was basically in decline. The ’10 Giants were a better squad overall that pissed away the year with an insane number of turnovers and a historic collapse at home. In ’11 the Giants peaked at the right time and won a title due to one of the greatest quarterbacking performances of all time. I loved every minute of it but I do not think anyone can truthfully argue that the 2011 Giants were loaded with talent. They had the best QB play in the NFL and an awesome receiving corps. But they did play “over their heads” and a lot of that has to do with coaching. TC does not get enough credit for that. Late 2012 and the shit show that was 2013 finished the collapse and now the team is rebuilding. Luckily this can happen quickly in the NFL when you have a franchise QB.

– BBI Poster rocco8112.

Bad drafting and injuries have decimated New York’s 2008-12 NFL Draft classes, and the Giants are suffering the consequences. Simply put, since the middle of 2012, the Giants have been a bad football team. Now, they are relying on veteran and rookie free agents at far too many positions, and unfortunately, injuries (yet again) have hit the team hard across the board. The Giants are not talented enough to overcome it. The Colts are clearly the better football team. And Ahmad Bradshaw is going to show Jerry Reese he made another mistake. Colts 34 – Giants 17.

Aug 192014
 
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Corey Washington, New York Giants (August 16, 2014)

Corey Washington – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 27 – Indianapolis Colts 26

REVISITING: FOUR DOWNS
During our game preview, we listed ‘Four Downs,’ which took a look at the top four questions surrounding the Giants heading into the game. Now that the game has been played and the film reviewed, it’s time to break it down.

First Down
Victor Cruz
There was a Victor Cruz sighting on a long pass down the sideline…then the receiver fumbled the ball. Getting the former Pro Bowler involved still seems to be an issue for the Giants although Manning did target Cruz a few times Saturday, missing him once open over the middle. Another throw in his direction ended with an interception that was called back due to penalty.

Second Down
Damontre Moore versus the starters
In the Giants ‘NASCAR’ variation, the team has elected to go with Robert Ayers as the defensive tackle, not Damontre Moore. You can’t really fault the decision as Ayers had several pressures on the quarterback from the defensive tackle spot, but still, Moore has proven time and time again he needs the promotion. He’s a man among boys against the twos.

Third Down
How does Ryan Nassib handle the demotion?
There was one of two ways Ryan Nassib could have handled the third-team reps he received leading up to the Giants match-up with the Colts. He took it the good way. The really, really good way. Nassib completed 11-of-15 passes for 158 yards including a game-winning touchdown. He now appears to be back with the second team again.

Fourth Down
Is Will Beatty healed?
As expected, Will Beatty did not play long, but he started the game and held up pretty well. He made no glaring mistakes. “I felt good out there,” said Beatty after the game. “I felt like I had an average performance, but I don’t want to be average. I want to be extraordinary.”

OFFENSIVE OVERVIEW – by Eric Kennedy

Five offensive players did not play, including WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring), WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring), RB Peyton Hillis (ankle/foot), TE Daniel Fells (knee), and TE Xavier Grimble (hamstring).

For three quarters, the first- and second-team units of the Giants were dreadful. The Giants had nine offensive possessions and all nine resulted in punts. The Giants did not pick up a single first down on seven of the nine offensive possessions that went three-and-out. These seven possessions netted 14 yards. On the other two possessions, the Giants gained 53 yards, but 15 of these yards were by penalty. In the first half, the Giants had 48 total net yards in 26 offensive plays (1.8 yards per play), had five first downs (three due to penalty), and were 2-of-12 throwing the football for seven net yards. Unbelievably, it could have been worse in that the Giants had two turnovers erased due to defensive penalties called against the Colts.

The Colts seemed to be playing at a higher level of intensity and urgency. In summary, the out-competed and out-executed the Giants. The Giants could not get their running game going until late. There seemed to be a more conscious effort to throw the football farther down the field in this contest, but the problem was the pass protection was shoddy and Eli was under duress on many throws.

“I think we have to work on a lot of things,” said Tom Coughlin. “Basically we have to work on everything… We didn’t run it, we certainly didn’t throw the ball with any consistency. We don’t have people who are definitely running open. Our protection does break down from time to time and we don’t react well under pressure when we do realize that there has to be a hot or sight adjustment involved in getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hand and trying to accomplish a positive play in the face of pressure.”

A mixture of second-, and third-, and fourth-teamers rallied the Giants in the 4th quarter with three straight long touchdown drives: 11 plays for 80 yards, 11 plays for 92 yards, and 9 plays for 86 yards. While the positives from these three possessions should not be ignored (and will be discussed below), the game’s results should not and cannot detract from the fact that the starting offensive unit still looks – to use John Mara’s word – “broken.” Is it talent? Is it scheme? Is new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo over his head? Is it the learning curve for the new offensive system? Is it a combination of all of these factors? Whatever the reasons, it’s not good. The Giants only have three weeks to dramatically turn this around or they are in store for a very bad season.

QUARTERBACKS – by Eric Kennedy

A week after finishing the game against the Steelers 0-for-2, in four possessions against the Colts, Eli Manning finished the game 1-of-7 for six yards. The initial, somewhat positive 6-of-7 performance in the Hall of Fame Game has faded. In three games, Eli has yet to complete a pass over 10 yards. The $100 million quarterback has ceased making plays.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 16, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

To be fair to Eli, his pass protection against the Colts was not good. He was pressured and sometimes hit on every throw in his first two series. But what is alarming is that Eli seems to expect the poor pass protection and seems gun shy out there. He’s not stepping into throws when he knows (or expects) he is going to get hit. The better part of valor in a meaningless preseason game? Perhaps, but Eli played afraid last season and he’s playing afraid again this preseason. He’s rushing throws in instances where old Eli Manning would have casually side-stepped the rush. If that continues, the Giants have no chance. When Eli plays gun shy like he did in 2013, his passes are inaccurate and often carelessly thrown. Five of his seven throws that counted against the Colts were simply bad passes where the intended receiver had no shot to make the play (two passes to Cruz, one to Randle, one deep shot to Jernigan, and one to Donnell). Another pass intended for Cruz was a poor decision as Cruz was well covered and the throw was easily picked off (this interception was wiped out by a penalty away from the play).

Compare Eli with Andrew Luck. Luck had better pass protection, but Andrew also dumped the ball quickly off when pressured or calmly moved away from pressure and made the play. Even when under duress, Luck threw the ball accurately. Eli did not. And he is not extending drives like he used to by making great throws under pressure.

Of course the hope by all true-blue Giants fans is that Eli’s problems are simply the result of learning a drastically different offensive system with many new offensive components that have yet to gel. Many assert – and not without good reason – that offensive pass protection is not there yet, he and his targets are not comfortable with offensive packages that were all finally installed this past week, and the team has yet do demonstrate consistent productivity in the running game.

But if we are to be honest with ourselves, we must also consider the worst-case scenario: that at a young 33-years old, Eli may simply not be a good quarterback anymore. He did not play as well in 2012 as he did in 2011. In 2013, he had his worst season as a full-time starter, looking rattled and making dumb mistakes that bad quarterbacks often make. So far, 2014 looks like a continuation of his bad play in 2013. In past seasons, Eli has had poor running games and inconsistent pass protection (yes, despite the reputation of previous offensive lines). That didn’t matter. Eli overcame and made the players around him better. That did not happen in 2013 and it is not happening now. If you had no idea who the quarterback was on the field and just watched his play, you would say, “Man, that quarterback isn’t very good. He looks rattled.”

Eli Manning has lost his mojo and it remains questionable about whether he can get back. Sometimes quarterbacks get hit too many times and just lose it. That happened to Neil Lomax. It might be happening to Eli Manning. Eli is set to count $20 million against the salary cap in 2015. Once unthinkable options will have to be considered if Eli doesn’t became a franchise-level quarterback again.

Curtis Painter, New York Giants (August 16, 2014)

Curtis Painter – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Curtis Painter had two drives in the first half and was 1-of-5 for seven yards before the break. The Giants went three-and-out on his first three possessions of the second half as he went 1-of-4 for three yards. His last drive – the one that began the NYG comeback at the beginning of the 4th quarter – was obviously his best. Though he was aided by a defensive penalty on a 3rd-down sack, Painter completed 4-of-6 passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.

Aside from Andrew Luck, the best quarterback on the field on Sunday was Ryan Nassib. Trailing by 12 points with 8:24 to play, Nassib led the Giants on two long touchdown drives, completing 11-of-15 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown. Nassib was in control of the offense, he didn’t panic despite some shoddy pass protection (especially on the last drive), and he made clutch throws when his team needed it most. If Eli continues to struggle in 2014, the selection of Nassib in the 2013 NFL Draft may have more meaning in 2015 and beyond.

RUNNING BACKS – by Eric Kennedy

Like the passing game, the running game struggled until the fourth quarter. Rashad Jennings (7 carries for 17 yards, 2.4 yards per carry) and Andre Williams (8 carries for 19 yards, 2.4 yards per carry) were kept in check. Kendall Gaskins (4 carries for 6 yards, 1.5 yards per carry and a “long” of 2 yards) was a complete non factor. The best of the bunch was Michael Cox, who carried the ball seven times for 32 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and scored a touchdown. Andre Williams did do better against the blitz this week, but both Gaskins and Cox were still a bit shaky.

WIDE RECEIVERS – by Eric Kennedy

Technically, Victor Cruz still does not have a catch this preseason. Officially, Cruz was targeted twice in this game and came away with no catches. But Cruz did catch a 51-yard pass from Manning in the 1st quarter. The problem was that Cruz fumbled the ball away to the Colts. A defensive holding penalty wiped out the play. But at least Cruz flashed. Rueben Randle – the Giants starting split end or X-receiver – has been nearly invisible for three straight games. That does not bode well for the Giants offense.

After a very strong finish to the 2013 season, Jerrel Jernigan seems to have reverted to his old unimpressive ways. Though Eli Manning has looked to him early in often in all three preseason games, Jernigan once again looks like a smallish receiver with limited ball skills who isn’t flashing after the catch. He had a chance on a deep ball, but the pass sailed through his hands.

The best receivers for the Giants on Saturday night were Marcus Harris (4 catches for 41 yards), Preston Parker (3 catches for 53 yards), and Corey Washington (3 catches for 20 yards and a touchdown). Two of Harris’ catches came in clutch situations (3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-2 on Nassib’s first touchdown drive). Washington caught his third game-winning touchdown pass in three games. He also drew a 15-yard pass interference penalty right before the score.

Travis Harvey had two catches for 36 yards; his 27-yard reception down to the 2-yard line was huge. Julian Talley had one catch for seven yards, but it was a big one on 3rd-and-7 on the first TD drive. Mario Manningham (one target, no catches) is playing himself off of the team.

TIGHT ENDS – by Eric Kennedy

If Adrien Robinson saves his career and becomes a legitimate NFL tight end, we’ll point back to this game as the catalyst. Robinson made two huge catches on New York’s game-winning drive, none bigger than his 26-yard grab on 4th-and-16. He immediately followed that up with a 33-yard catch down to the Colts’ 19-yard. The problem? Robinson did this against Colts’ scrubs. Kellen Davis made a heck of a leaping catch from Curtis Painter on his 3-yard touchdown reception. His blocking was so-so. He got pushed back on one outside run and the play was disrupted.

Larry Donnell was targeted once but the throw was off the mark. His blocking was up and down. He missed a block on a Jennings run from a stand-up position. He later couldn’t control the edge on another outside run from the down position. But there were other plays where he made nice blocks from the down position.

OFFENSIVE LINE – by Eric Kennedy

There were no egregious breakdowns in the running game – the line simply didn’t get that much of a push and the Colts did a nice job of filling gaps. The bigger problem was pass protection. LG Geoff Schwartz gave up a couple of early pass pressures that led to incomplete passes. He failed to pick up a stunt on one play and a blitz on another. Justin Pugh was cleanly beaten by a blitzing linebacker for a sack. On the play were Eli was picked off, Brandon Mosley was bull-rushed back into the pocket. Mosley later had issues on a stunt.

Among the starters the best news was that Will Beatty – in his first game action since breaking his leg – didn’t look bad. Interestingly, Weston Richburg also saw some time at right guard with the starters.

Late in the first half, before he left the game with a shoulder injury, Charles Brown gave up one pressure, as did James Brewer. Brewer was also flagged with a false start.

In the second half, the Giants ran a number of offensive line combinations, even changing up with the scrubs with the game on the line. Give Tom Coughlin credit for still evaluating talent in a meaningless preseason game when other coaches may have tried to stack the odds more in their favor.

The first line combination was James Brewer (LT), Weston Richburg (LG), Dallas Reynolds (OC), Brandon Mosley (RG), and Rogers Gaines (RT). Later Richburg and Reynolds flip-flopped with John Jerry also coming in for Mosley. Brewer got beat to the inside on one pressure and later a sack when he got shoved back into Nassib (the sack was wiped out due to a penalty). John Jerry is a frustrating player. He looks the part and at times does a very nice job in pass protection and with run blocks. But he falls off of too many of his run blocks. Weston Richburg and Rogers Gaines seemed to be the most consistent two of the reserves.

Later in the 4th quarter, Eric Herman played left guard. He was a bit shaky in pass protection. Jerry also gave up a pressure late in the game. The final OL combination – on the game winning drive – was practically a sieve. This had Mark Asper (LT) Eric Herman (LG), Weston Richburg (OC), John Sullen (RG), and Adam Gress (RT). Gress was a disaster. He was flagged twice (false start and personal foul) and gave up two pressures. Asper and Sullen were both beat on an 8-yard sack.

DEFENSIVE OVERVIEW by Connor Hughes

DT Mike Patterson (shoulder), LB Jon Beason (foot), and CB Jayron Hosley (foot) did not play. Patterson entered training camp as the nominal starter, but Johnathan Hankins has played pretty well and Patterson may have now gone from starter to on the roster bubble due to his long absence.

When looking at the box score and scoreboard, it’s easy to get an impression about how the Giants defensive unit played. When re-watching the game, that perception completely changes. There are things you simply can’t defend and a lot of that was done by Indianapolis quarterback Andre Luck. The Giants defensive line put constant pressure on Luck, but Luck responded by moving around, extending plays and releasing the ball quickly to receivers.

Were those receivers running wide open in the Giants defense? Sometimes, a little, most times, no. Luck thread the needle, fit the ball into the smallest of holes and showed why he may be the face of the NFL in a few years.

Also, there was a lot of talk on Hakeem Nicks torching the Giants defense. I didn’t see it. Of his catches, two were made against Trumaine McBride and one against Jacquian Williams. I’d expect Nicks to beat both. On his long catch-and-run on a missed tackle from Walter Thurmond III, Thurmond went for a strip and as a result missed the tackle. Nicks looked better than he did last year, but it wasn’t really anything crazy.

DEFENSIVE LINE – by Connor Hughes

Jason Pierre-Paul has spent this offseason and training camp talking…and talking…and talking. So, with the former All-Pro getting some increased reps Saturday, I kept my eye on him every time he stepped foot on the field, specifically when he rushed the passer. The result? Variety isn’t really in Pierre-Paul’s tool box. On nine of his 10 rushes, Pierre-Paul went with a direct bull rush. A few times he got the Colts right tackle off balance, most of the times it was useless. There was one rush where Pierre-Paul gave a little shoulder-shimmy, but then made contact with a bull rush again.

I saw one play where the vintage Pierre-Paul came out. He had an unbelievable jump off the line on a running play and came into the backfield to make a near tackle on Trent Richardson, but was tackled to the ground by an offensive lineman. Can’t fault Pierre-Paul on that one.

It was one of our four downs and I still think it needs to happen extensively versus the Jets. The Giants know what they have in Mathias Kiwanuka, they don’t yet versus starters with Damontre Moore. Kiwanuka, who has had a very good camp and preseason, continued that versus the Colts, but Moore simply abused the second team offensive line. He made plays on the run, put constant pressure on the quarterback and was all over the field. He’s proven worthy of a promotion to see what he can do versus the starters. There’s a big, big difference between a team’s backup left tackle and their starter.

I really liked what I saw from Johnathan Hankins providing pressure up the middle on a few plays. Also, something interesting I don’t recall seeing last week, in the Giants ‘NASCAR’ package, Cullen Jenkins dropped into coverage.

Jay Bromley had a pretty good showing with the second team as he’s had a very nice camp and preseason, too. I saw a few times where he created pressure up the middle.

LINEBACKERS by Connor Hughes

Be it coaches, teammates, fans or media, the hype surrounding Devon Kennard is nearly impossible to miss. Kennard made a very nice play on his sack where he displayed something you can’t coach: speed. As quarterback Chandler Harnish rolled out, Kennard read the play to make sure the ball wasn’t going to be thrown over his head. As it looked like Harnish may tuck it down an run, Kennard burst forward and got to the quarterback in no time at all. I rarely fall for ‘hype,’ but this kid just looks good.

Jacquian Williams, New York Giants (August 16, 2014)

Jacquian Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

There was one ‘rookie mistake’ I saw from Kennard. On a Trent Richardson run, the back gave a little move as if he was going to cut outside, Kennard committed that way and Richardson then took it up the middle. It should have been a one-to-two yard gain, instead Richardson picked up seven. The move froze Kennard.

I liked what I saw from Spencer Paysinger, too. There was an extra gear I didn’t know he had when he burst to the quarterback on one play; he made a couple nice plays against the run, too. The biggest issue with Paysinger is that I don’t think he can do anything to upseat Jacquian Williams. Williams continues to have a very nice preseason and led the team in tackles Saturday.

DEFENSIVE BACKSby Connor Hughes

The more that I watch Walter Thurmond III play, the more I am fascinated by his game. He’s physical despite not being one of the ‘bigger’ guys and has brought that tenacity that made Seattle’s secondary so good. The first play I took notice of him was on Hakeem Nicks’ first catch. On a drag, Thurmond closed incredibly quick, wrapped Nicks up and then immediately went for the strip. While he still made the tackle, with help from Amukamara, the downside of going for the strip was shown later when he missed a tackle and allowed Nicks to pick up a first down.

The other play that really jumped out at me from Thurmond was on a run play. The corner came down in the box, just steps away from the defensive end and waited as the ball was snapped. Once he saw the handoff go to Richardson, he burst in and made the tackle for no gain.

There was also a little ‘bad’ with Thurmond on the two touchdowns he gave up. On the first, credit a perfectly-thrown ball by Luck. Thurmond had good coverage and help from Antrel Rolle was coming over. Just as Thurmond let up as Rolle closed, Luck threaded the needle for the score. On the second touchdown, Thurmond tried to press and was simply beat off the line.

Speaking of Rolle, it’s so nice to see someone play with the tackling fundamentals he does. It would be easy, and defensive backs do it regularly, to just throw a shoulder in there and go for the “big play.” Rolle doesn’t do that. He wraps up on every…single…play.

Hopefully Prince Amukamara, who left the game with a groin injury, isn’t seriously injured because he has been playing with a new-found physicality this year. He put a big hit on Nicks on his first reception.

If Cooper Taylor (sesamoid bone foot fracture) hadn’t gotten hurt, I’m not sure how much longer Quintin Demps could have held him off from getting reps with the first-team three-safety package. When Taylor was in the game, he was constantly around the ball. He showed speed closing gaps, was solid against the run and was really having a good game before the injury. Another player who continues to flash is Nat Berhe. I saw the rookie come flying in again to make the tackle and apply a ‘boom’ factor.

SPECIAL TEAMSby Connor Hughes

The Giants spent a bit of money this season hoping to put a jolt into their return game. Quintin Demps and Trindon Holliday were signed in free agency and Odell Beckham Jr. was drafted in the first round. Well, two of those three haven’t played and as a result Preston Parker has stepped up.

Parker has looked pretty good as a punt returner and is beginning to show some life as a receiver. If he can add duo value, he’s got a good chance at making the team.

As much as super-legged Brandon McManus intrigues, I don’t see anyway he makes the Giants 53-man roster. It was Josh Brown’s spot to lose, and he’s done nothing to lose it.

(Boxscore – New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts, August 16 , 2014)
Aug 162014
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 16, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants were trailing by 26 points in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s preseason contest against the Indianapolis Colts.

The Giants had been outgained and outplayed. Eli Manning and the starting offense looked lifeless and the defense emotionless. The final 15 minutes of play couldn’t count down fast enough.

Curtis Painter led the Giants on their first score of the game. Then the defense scored. And then Ryan Nassib happened.

The second-year pro entered the game and led the Giants on two touchdown drives in last eight minutes of the game as New York defeated Indianapolis, 27-26, at the Lucas Oil Stadium.

Nassib completed 11-of-15 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown in the victory. With 2:34 seconds remaining in the game, the Syracuse alum marched the Giants on a nine-play, 86-yard game-winning drive, including overcoming a 4th-and-16 situation with a 26-yard pass to tight end Adrien Robinson. With 59 seconds left, Nassib hit Corey Washington for a 4-yard game-winning touchdown. It was Washington’s third-straight game-winning grab.

While Nassib’s connection capped an overall wild night, there was no hiding an otherwise treacherous performance from the Giants starters. Manning struggled again completing just 1-of-7 passes for a measly six yards. Running backs Andre Williams and Rashad Jennings combined for 36 yards on 15 carries and receivers Rueben Randle and Victor Cruz went catchless.

“Whatever words you want to describe it,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said, “there’s no production.”

Manning and the starters managed to extend one drive past three plays, picking up two first downs via penalties. Cruz fumbled on the drive and Manning threw an interception but both were negated via defensive holding calls.

Jacquian Williams, New York Giants (August 16, 2014)

Jacquian Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Defensively, the Giants starters didn’t fare much better. After forcing a Colts punt on the first drive of the game, Andrew Luck led Indianapolis on three-straight scoring drives highlighted by a five-yard touchdown pass to Griff Whalen.

Luck finished 12-of-18 for 89 yards. Matt Hasselbeck and Chandler Harnish followed Luck and combined to complete 15-of-31 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown.

“It wasn’t impressive at all,” Coughlin said. “We didn’t get a whole lot done. There’s nothing to look at form a production standpoint.”

Former Giant Hakeem Nicks, who signed with the Colts as a free agent this offseason, spent Saturday evening making a mockery of the Giants secondary. The former first-round pick caught five passes for 53 yards in the first quarter. Nicks had a 39-yard reception negated after taunting the Giants bench.

Following the game, Nicks was asked if this game meant more than another preseason game:

“Uh, yeah,” he said.

In the game, the Giants lost Prince Amukamara (groin), Markus Kuhn (elbow), Charles Brown (shoulder) and Cooper Taylor (toe) to injuries. Taylor was seen leaving the X-ray room following the game on crutches and a walking boot. Amukamara said he didn’t believe his groin injury was serious and Coughlin indicated Kuhn would be fine.

The Giants will have off tomorrow before returning to practice on Monday.