Sep 102018
 
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Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants (September 9, 2018)

Janoris Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars 20 – New York Giants 15

QUICK RECAP

Week 1 of the 2018 season brought in an up-and-coming team that was partially constructed by former NYG Head Coach Tom Coughlin. The Jacksonville Jaguars, in their first game since losing to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship, entered MetLife Stadium ready to wreck havoc on a shoddy offensive line.

That they did on the first drive of the game that resulted in a near-safety on two separate occasions. It was a sign of things to come, as the JAC front seven controlled the game and heavily impacted the NYG approach on offense.

The JAC offense is very dependent on Leonard Fournette and their power rushing attack. They hit a groove early on paired with some solid gains on play-action and bootleg passing plays. The misdirection seemed to take advantage of the over-aggressive, new NYG defensive scheme. The two teams traded field goals but JAC took a couple steps forward in the 2nd quarter, scoring 10 straight points which got them a 13-3 lead. However thanks to the grabby-defensive backfield and the fear Odell Beckham strikes in to the opposition, 45 yards worth of penalties put NYG in prime field goal position to net them another 3 points, ending the half down 13-6 but with possession at the start of the second half and JAC without Fournette because of a hamstring strain.

NYG began the third quarter with a back and forth approach. Saquon Barkley, after a quiet first half, started to show why this team made him the 2nd pick of the draft. But mental mistakes by Evan Engram and poor play in the trenches kept on pulling the offense back just enough to make them settle on a field goal. The rest of the 3rd quarter was a back and forth affair that played exactly into what JAC wants: a moving clock paired with a field position battle while in the lead.

The action picked up in the 4th quarter. Manning started to feel some extra urgency and made a throw he shouldn’t have while under pressure. This resulted in a interception by Myles Jack which he easily returned for a touchdown. NYG was down 20-6 with 11 minutes left. The team needed a spark, badly. Enter in Barkley. A couple broken tackles and a sprint down the sideline netted NYG their first touchdown of the year, a 68-yard score by the rookie. They came up 1 foot short on the 2 point conversion, however, leaving them in a touchdown-or bust situation.

The energy was back in the stands and after a 3-and-out by JAC. However, NYG responded with a 3-and out of their own. Their next possession put them into JAC territory after 2 passes to Odell Beckham. But the right side of the offensive line disrupted Manning just enough to misfire on two occasions paired with a drop by Sterling Shepard. They turned the ball over on downs but stopped JAC 3 straight times while burning their final timeouts, leaving them with under 1 minute to score a touchdown from their own territory.

But the effort was never made, as PR Kaelin Clay muffed the punt and JAC recovered.

NYG loses, 20-15.

QUARTERBACKS

Eli Manning: 23/37 – 224 yards – 0 TD/1 INT. Manning started off 11 for 11 despite having the Jacksonville pass rush in his face nearly every time he reached the end of his drop back. Manning delivered a lot of throws under duress. I watched 6 NFL games from yesterday and only Russell Wilson saw more consistent pressure. And Manning’s disadvantage there is that he doesn’t move well anymore in space. Good footwork in the pocket, but he just isn’t a very good athlete. Manning also had two overthrows on potential touchdowns in addition to a poor decision to throw a ball under pressure that ended up being tipped and returned for a pick 6 in the 4th quarter.

RUNNING BACKS

Saquon Barkley: 18 att / 106 yards – 1 TD – 2 rec / 22 yards. A lot can be said about Barkley’s first game against arguably the best front seven in the NFL. His game started off slow, as he was forced into re-routing prior to reaching the line of scrimmage 6 of his first 8 attempts. But once the second half rolled around, he found a groove and we started to see the physical ability shine bright. He looked more confident and decisive. In the second half, Barkley ran the ball 10 times for 94 yards including a 68-yard touchdown that brought the team back to life. That run included 2 broken tackles and an all out sprint to the end zone (thanks to a key block by Sterling Shepard) that outran the entire JAC defense. There aren’t many backs in the league that could have pulled that one off. There were two negatives in his debut and they both centered around Barkley not taking what this defense gave him. Against a front seven like JAC, there needs to be more north-south thought process on runs between the guards.

-Jonathan Stewart and Wayne Gallman spelled Barkley a few times. After a tortoise-like preseason, Stewart actually had a couple of solid 4-yard runs. Nothing to get excited about but after what we saw in August, it is a step in the right direction. This team is going to cap how many touches Barkley gets weekly, especially early in the year, so Stewart needs to give NYG more of those 4-yard runs. Gallman left the game with a knee injury that isn’t expected to be serious. Shane Smith saw limited snaps but he was a factor. With this OL and Engram struggling to get movement at the point of attack, Smith may need to be in the game more often.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Odell Beckham: 11 rec – 111 yards. I won’t say I forgot how much Beckham changed the outlook of this offense, but it was a refreshing sight to see #13 out there getting open on all levels whenever he wanted to and wrecking havoc on the Jaguars defensive backfield. He also forced 45 yards worth of pass interference penalties that stemmed from him running great routes. He took a couple of big hits in this one and he fired himself right back up and seemed to enjoy it. That is what this offense needs out of him. If Manning had made a better throw, he would have had 33 yard touchdown in the 3rd quarter as he got behind the secondary in a blink.

-Sterling Shepard: 5 rec – 48 yards. Shepard had a drop in the 4th quarter that really hurt the team’s attempt at pulling off a major fourth quarter comeback. Otherwise he ran excellent routes and showed the usual toughness in traffic. His downfield block on the Barkley touchdown was vital. He is going to be an important piece because of how consistently he can run himself open underneath. I would like to see more after the catch, however.

-Cory Latimer didn’t receive any targets. For a “starting” wide receiver, many will be disappointed. But on this team, he is the #5 receiving option at best when everyone is healthy. Don’t expect big impact plays on any sort of consistent basis.

TIGHT ENDS

-Evan Engram: 2 rec – 18 yards. Really rough outing for the second year pass catcher who missed some time with a concussion during the preseason. Engram has somewhat struggled with drops in his young career, and he only added to that in this one. He had 2 drops, a pass interference penalty, and allowed a tackle for loss. Engram was mauled at the point of attack against the JAC defensive linemen. His overall blocking grade was the worst he’s had since being a Giant. While I don’t want to bash him considering what he is to this team and who he was matched up against, he simply needs to be better. For a team that will rely on the running game and a team that may need to help the RT up front, Engram can’t just be a receiver. Effort was there, impact was not.

-Rhett Ellison was in to run block and I can’t say he made a major difference. He caught one pass against a prevent defense. Scott Simonson was in for 4 offensive plays and allowed a pressure.

TACKLES

-Nate Solder had a rough first game in blue. While he provides more confidence and security than what NYG has had in recent years, he was outclassed by the JAC defensive line. He allowed 1 TFL, 2 pressures, and committed a holding penalty. He also struggled to get movement as a run blocker. This is the kind of defense that has always given him some trouble, power and size based.

-Ereck Flowers took a step back towards one of the worst grades of his career. 2 penalties, 1 TFL, 3 pressures, and 1 sack. Flowers also failed to reach his assignment on 3 separate down blocks. This would be a damning game for a rookie. The shift to right tackle didn’t hide is ongoing issues of poor footwork and even worse hand placement. The one positive was a very solid block on the Barkley touchdown. It is going to be a long year on the right edge.

-Chad Wheeler saw some action as a blocking tight end. I think we will see more and more of that, although he didn’t perform well. He was in for 3 plays and he too allowed a TFL. And no, he is not a suitable replacement for Flowers.

GUARDS/CENTERS

-Will Hernandez had a couple of “Welcome to the NFL, kid” moments. He allowed a TFL to Malik Jackson on the first drive and sack to Calais Campbell on the fourth drive. He had the most positive grades in the game among the OL, most notably for his ability to move guys at the point of attack. He does a nice job when it is straightforward run blocking but he will need to learn to adjust to the quickness of NFL defensive tackles. Can’t expect much better from him, but you just want to see progress as the year progresses. And I don’t think he will have many, if any, tougher assignments than what JAC presented.

-Patrick Omameh and Jon Halapio didn’t stand out in a negative way. They both allowed 1 pressure each but weren’t on the radar much other than that. The issue was just a lack of difference making movement. The interior of the JAC defense went where they wanted to. It’s pretty bad that these two had the best grades of the OL, because by no means were they above average or even close to it.

EDGE

-With Olivier Vernon out, it meant Connor Barwin and Kareem Martin were going to see the majority snaps. Martin finished with a half-sack and 3 tackles while Barwin had 1 pressure and a big pass deflection in the 4th quarter. But when it came to the situations where a pass rush was really needed, they didn’t come through.

-Kerry Wynn and Lorenzo Carter rotated in and both had a similar impact to the starters in less playing time. Carter had a pressure and pass deflection while Wynn recorded a half-sack. I think this pass rush is better with these two in the fold, as their ability just has more potential. Martin and Barwin will scare nobody on 3rd down.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-Damon Harrison played 71% of the snaps, more than I was anticipating. He went down with a minor knee injury in the second half but it didn’t keep him out long. He dominated the inside gaps, finishing with a TFL and 6 tackles. He was in on sure-passing downs more than I expected to see and I like it, his bull rush is as good as anyone’s and it helps the complex blitzing schemes.

-The young sidekicks, B.J. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson were solid but unspectacular. The combined for a solid 9 tackles and showed good pursuit and effort. But JAC was running the ball with ease in the first half, as they struggled to hold ground on lateral runs. These two are very solid and will be good, but it was notable to see the difference between them and the JAC defensive line. Different class.

-Newly signed Mario Edwards and Jordan Jenkins played sparingly without much impact. Edwards did record 2 tackles on just 6 snaps, however. He looks athletic and rangy for his size.

LINEBACKERS

-New defensive captain Alec Ogletree tied for the team lead 7 tackles. He was solid between the tackles and better in coverage than what we saw in preseason. The middle of the field, however, is still a weakness against the pass and he is a part of it. He allowed a touchdown that was negated by a JAC penalty.

-B.J. Goodson started, but he and Ray-Ray Armstrong split snaps. Goodson struggled to scrape over the top, often late to recognize and putting the blocker in a position to wash him out. Armstrong is a much better athlete and reacts with more speed. Both were fooled by all of the misdirection JAC threw their way, however.

CORNERBACKS

-One of the best overall games we have seen out of Eli Apple in his 3rd-year career. 3 tackles and 2 pass break ups along with some very good deep coverage. While it wasn’t the best air attack he will be matched up against this season, Apple did his job. We haven’t been able to say that in awhile and if this talent-rich first rounder can show consistency, the outlook of this defense is very different.

-Janoris Jenkins was up and down. The playmaker came up with a 1st quarter interception and a very high-level pass break up in the 2nd quarter. He allowed 2 of the 3 biggest gains in the passing game that JAC had. He also had 7 tackles, tied for the team lead.

-B.W. Webb was the nickel back, playing in just over 50% of the snaps. He looked afraid of getting beat deep and allowed too much underneath. He allowed 2 catches for first down on situations where he needed to be up on the receiver more.

SAFETIES

-Landon Collins had an up and down game. I was interested to see his role in this new defense and it actually wasn’t very different than last year. He roams a lot and they trust him to make the right decisions. He had 5 tackles and a high-level pass break up but got lost in traffic on the T.J. Yeldon 15 yard run that brought JAC to the 1-yard line. Collins was also the guilty culprit on Blake Bortles career long 41 yard run on a naked bootleg. That was a designed run and JAC knew Collins would react that way. Not a good sign. That was one of a few situations where his eye discipline was non-existent. He is a high-risk, high-reward player.

-Curtis Riley was solid in his debut after winning the job in camp. He had 5 tackles, 1 of which on special teams, and a couple of fast and physical downhill hits. He also fulfilled his deep coverage responsibilities on two plays where Bortles wanted to go downfield but chose not to. Michael Thomas played sparingly, allowing a catch for first down but also pressuring Bortles and making a big hit on 3rd down that caused a near-fumble.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Aldrick Rosas: 3/3 (Made 27-31-44). Very solid day for Rosas in both departments.

P Curtis Riley: 5 punts – 49.4 avg / 43.4 net. Solid numbers but his worst punt of the day started off the lone JAC offensive touchdown.

PR Kaelin Clay had a quiet game until the very end, in a bad way. He misjudged the depth of a punt and muffed it, turning the ball over to JAC with under a minute left leaving NYG without a chance at one last attempt to win the game.

3 STUDS

-CB Eli Apple, RB Saquon Barkley, WR Odell Beckham

3 DUDS

-OT Ereck Flowers, OT Nate Solder, TE Evan Engram

3 THOUGHTS ON JAC

-LB Myles Jack was my top graded player in the 2016 NFL Draft. The knee issues bumped him down just a tad, but now that he is in his third year, I think we are looking a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate. There may not be a faster LB in the game, as he covers WRs in space and ran with Barkley stride for stride on the long touchdown. But at the same time this guy is a terror to deal with between the tackles. His game-leading 10 tackles and pick six don’t even tell the story of how much he impacted this game.

-The JAC defensive line might be the best in football when considering the depth. Only LAR can hang with these guys. It is a good thing knowing NYG won’t be faced off against anything like that again. But guys, when building a team you truly can never have enough talent in the trenches. They change everything. They hide issues elsewhere. And they are more reliable to be there and impacting the game in all weather conditions. That team is built to win from start to finish and it starts right here.

-Is Blake Bortles good enough? You know what? I think he is. I have never seen what so many people hate about this kid. He won’t ever be mistaken for Aaron Rodgers but then again, neither will Eli Manning. He makes a couple head scratching throws each week, but then again so does Eli Manning. I have always liked his moxie and I see improvement each year. The QB of that team needs to be just good enough, and I think he is.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-Because NFL fans are the way they are, Saquon Barkley and the fact NYG has made him the highest drafted running back since 2006 will be over-analyzed each week. The baseless theory that RBs cannot be taken that high and the fact some potential franchise QB’s were available when NYG was on the clock only adds to the notion. I spoke about him earlier but what I liked the most, he adjusted his approach during halftime. He looked just a hair-too-hesitant early on but you can tell he took it on himself to change this offense in the second half. He was the one player getting the team fired up prior to the start of the 4th quarter. Usually you want rookies to improve their approach week to week, year 1 to year 2. He did it at halftime and made a big difference in the second half against the best/fastest/most physical defense in the NFL.

-This defense showed a lot of exotic looks and it created stress for the JAC offense in the second half especially. However when all is said and done, they recorded 1 sack and 1 tackle for loss. They need to produce more than that, plain and simple.

-I liked how Shurmur adjusted his pass protection in the second half. Adjustments are a huge part of coaching during games, and he did just that. It still wasn’t pretty, but the NYG offensive line was overmatched badly. There isn’t much you can do there but this offense did catch a flow in the second half much thanks to the blocking scheme being slightly altered.

Sep 092018
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (September 9, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS 20 – NEW YORK GIANTS 15…
The New York Giants lost their opening game of the 2018 season by falling 20-15 to the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. It was a tightly-fought and winnable game for New York, but too many mistakes on offense and special teams did the team in.

The Jaguars received the ball to start the game and went up 3-0 after an 11-play, 59-yard drive set up a successful 39-yard field goal. New York’s opening offensive possession almost ended in disaster with a safety as the team found itself in a 3rd-and-23 situation from its own 1-yard line. Two penalties on right tackle Ereck Flowers, including a holding penalty that wiped out a 34-yard completion to tight end Evan Engram, pushed the Giants back.

After the Giants punted, New York quickly got the ball back. Defensive end Kerry Wynn and linebacker Kareem Martin sacked quarterback Blake Bortles for an 8-yard loss. Then Janoris Jenkins picked off Bortles at the Giants 37-yard line. Sparked by a 10-yard run by running back Saquon Barkley and a 24-yard pass to wideout Odell Beckham, the Giants managed to move the ball 54 yards in nine plays to set up a 27-yard field goal. Unfortunately, the Giants couldn’t score a touchdown after setting up a 1st-and-goal from the 8-yard line.

The Jaguars retook the lead 6-3 on their ensuing possession in the 2nd quarter by driving 54 yards in 15 plays to set up a 39-yard field goal. After a three-and-out by the Giants, Jacksonville added to their advantage with a 5-play, 57-yard drive that culminated with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Bortles to running back T.J. Yeldon, beating safety Landon Collins in coverage. The Jaguars now led 13-3.

Quarterback Eli Manning and the Giants’ offense put together a 10-play, 62-yard drive right before halftime to set up another field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas, this one from 31 out with just seconds left on the clock. The Giants overcame a sack and a 3rd-and-12 situation with a 16-yard pass to wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Beckham drew two pass interference penalties that picked up a total of 45 yards, but the Giants were stopped inside the red zone again.

At the half, the Jaguars led 13-6.

The Giants received the ball to start the second half and immediately cut into Jacksonville’s lead with an 11-play, 49-yard drive that set up a 44-yard field goal by Rosas. Neither team could move the ball the remainder of 3rd and beginning of the 4th quarters. After a three-and-out by the Jaguars, Barkley was stuffed on a 4th-and-2 effort from the Jacksonville 38-yard line as New York turned the ball over on downs. Then came five consecutive punts.

The game-changer came with just under 12 minutes left to play. Facing a 2nd-and-7 from their own 30-yard line, Manning was under immediately pressure as Flowers could not handle the outside rush. Right guard Patrick Omameh’s opponent then tipped Manning’s pass that was intercepted and returned for a 32-yard touchdown by linebacker Myles Jack. The Jaguars were now up 20-9.

However, just as it looked liked the game was all but over, Barkley broke off a spectacular 68-yard touchdown run, breaking three tackles in the process (and with an excellent downfield block by Sterling Shepard). The 2-point conversion attempt failed and the Giants now trailed 20-15 with just over 10 minutes left to play.

Frustratingly, the Giants could get no closer. The defense forced a three-and-out, but the Giants’ offense also then went three-and-out. The Jaguars picked up one first down and then punted again with just over four minutes to play. The Giants picked up two first downs and moved the ball to the Jacksonville 36-yard line, but then turned the ball over on downs with two incomplete passes on 3rd- and 4th-and-6.

After another three-and-out by the Jaguars, it appeared the Giants would get one more desperate chance to win the game with 45 seconds left, but punt returner Kaelin Clay muffed the punt and Jacksonville recovered to secure the win.

Offensively, the Giants were limited to 15 first downs and 324 total yards. Manning finished the game 23-of-37 for 224 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception that was returned for a touchdown. He was sacked twice and hit six times. His leading target was Beckham who caught 11 of 15 passes thrown in his direction for 111 yards (and 45 yards of pass interference penalties). Barkley rushed 18 times for 106 yards, but the bulk of that came on the 68-yard touchdown run.

Defensively, the Giants held Jacksonville to 17 first downs and 305 total yards. The Giants only picked up one sack and hit Bortles four times. Jenkins defensed two passes and picked off Bortles.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle), linebacker Tae Davis (hamstring), quarterback Kyle Lauletta, center Evan Brown, center/guard Spencer Pulley, cornerback Michael Jordan, and safety Kamrin Moore.

Running back Wayne Gallman left the game with a knee injury, but said he was fine after the game.

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

ARTICLES…

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

Sep 072018
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (August 9, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants, September 9, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
The prevailing opinion by non-partisan pundits is this game will be a one-sided mismatch. And why wouldn’t they think that? The New York Giants are coming off a 3-13 disaster that saw them battle the Cleveland Browns for title of worst team in the NFL. The Jacksonville Jaguars are a cocky, up-and-coming team that led the New England Patriots 20-10 in the 4th quarter of the 2017 AFC Championship Game.

The good news for the Giants is that in this league, the landscape often changes at the drop of a hat. While the Jaguars are a more fundamentally-sound team because of their strength in the trenches and depth across the board, the Giants appear to have some of the game’s premier game-changers.

This game looks like the classic confrontation of the more staid, methodical, physical team versus the flashy, big-play-capable one. What these types of contests usually come down to is the ability or inability of the flashier team to erase the more physical team’s advantages by quick-strike scoring plays. In other words, Eli Manning, Odell Beckham, and Saquon Barkley have to prove they are worth the huge chunk of salary cap space they are being paid. Jacksonville is the better team across the board, but these three can be the great equalizer.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • LB Olivier Vernon (ankle – out)
  • LB Tae Davis (hamstring – out)
  • LB Lorenzo Carter (illness – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
What is the one thing that all defensive coordinators dream of? The ability to control the line of scrimmage with just your front four. Giants’ fans are well aware of the benefits of this type of defense (see the 2007 defensive front). And that’s the huge advantage that Jacksonville has and the primary reason why they are so good (2nd overall in 2017, 1st against the pass).

“It starts with the guys up front,” said Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula on Thursday. “They can be very disruptive up front in both the run game and the pass game. They’ve had a bunch of sacks last year just with rushing four people, and then everything else fits off that. They’re very talented in the back seven as well – guys that can cover man to man, they’re fast when they’re in zone, they get to the ball very fast, and there’s a lot of guys that can get to the ball quickly. They’re really good. There’s a reason why they went as far as they did last year.”

Eli Manning, Odell Beckham, Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard. That’s some arsenal. But those guys may not be able to do their thing if the Jacksonville front four eats the lunch of a completely rebuilt offensive line. That offensive line struggled in the preseason to create room for running backs and had enough mental and physical breakdowns in pass protection to cause some to wonder how much a problem is this unit going to be yet again?

The Jaguars are very good and deep across the entire front, but the match-up between DE Calais Campbell (14.5 sacks in 2017) and RT Ereck Flowers has to be particularly alarming. Jacksonville’s coaches also undoubtedly noted the issues New York had in picking up stunts and blitzes up the middle in the preseason. But again, the Jaguars probably won’t have to blitz much. Defensive tackles Malik Jackson (8 sacks) and Marcell Dareus are quite capable enough of presenting problems straight up for Will Hernandez, Jon Halapio, and former Jaguar Patrick Omameh. What about the left side? Even Nate Solder will have his hands full with defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (12 sacks). Jacksonville accrued 55 sacks as a team in 2017 (twice as many as the Giants).

So if you’re Jacksonville, your game plan is pretty obvious: count on your front four to win their match-ups with the Giants’ offensive front, and have your back seven concentrate on Beckham, Engram, Shepard, and Barkley out of the backfield. What makes matters worse for the Giants is that Jacksonville has arguably the top corner in football in Jalen Ramsey – a guy who believes he can take Beckham out all by himself. What about Jacksonville’s linebacking unit? Weakside linebacker Telvin Smith was an All-Pro in 2017. They are strong at all three levels. One of the reasons they are so good is they get teams in 3rd-and-long, and then they are near tops in the NFL in 3rd-down defense.

So what do the Giants do? I would run, run, run the ball with Barkley. Jacksonville may have been 2nd in defense and 1st in pass defense in 2017, but they were also 21st in run defense and 23rd in yards per carry allowed (4.3). Running the ball will do a number of things for New York: (1) help keep Eli Manning clean and calm, (2) take pressure off of the offensive line, (3) keep the clock moving, (5) make 3rd-down situations more tolerable, and (6) enable Barkley – the guy the Giants passed over a number of quarterbacks for – to do his thing. Jacksonville had so little tape on Barkley that they had to go back and watch Penn State highlights. Run the ball. When you do pass, start off with the short- to intermediate-passing game to Barkley, Engram, and Shepard. Let Odell be the decoy early. Keep the chains moving and hope Barkley can break some big runs or catches (keep an eye on that wheel route). Most importantly, don’t turn the ball over. Jacksonville was 2nd in the NFL in 2017 in forcing turnovers (21 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries). But at some point, if the Giants are going to win this game, Odell has to do his thing – either a big run after a short catch or a deep ball. The Giants will need a big-play score or two to win this game as they are not likely to consistently drive the field against this defense.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
This another easy breakdown. Everyone knows Jacksonville’s strengths and weaknesses on offense. It all starts and ends with stopping the run. Jacksonville was the NFL’s #1 running team in 2017 with over 140 yards per game. Workhouse running back Leonard Fournette’s stats are good (1,040 yards rushing in 13 games), but his yards-per-carry (3.9) doesn’t stand out. The thing is that Jacksonville sticks with the run. They attempt (and often succeed) in grinding you down by simply keeping at it. They literally run the ball half of all snaps – that’s as old school as you can get in today’s league. And just when you think you have a drive stopped, their quarterback Blake Bortles (322 yards rushing) will keep drives alive with his feet.

The good news for the Giants is that their strength is stopping the run. Jacksonville is big and talented up front. And better than last year as they swapped out Patrick Omameh for the guard the Giants heavily pursued in free agency (left guard Andrew Norwell). But the Giants are big and strong up front too. The Giants must, absolutely must, stop the run and put Bortles in difficult down-and-distance situations. Because the weakness is the quarterback throwing the ball. Note Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher’s emphasis on defending the screen pass (the #4 and #5 leading receivers on the team in 2017 were running backs):

“We’ve got a great opponent this week, a team that can run the football, as we all know – 141-ish yards a game a year ago, a team that will max protect and take some shots down the field,” said Bettcher on Thursday. “They’re going to get (Bortles) on the perimeter with some boots and some movement passes. Then, the thing we’ve got to do a great job of is the screen game. We’ve got to be aware of when the screens are coming, whether it’s first (down), second down, third down, and be aware of some of the set-ups for some of those things. With the receiver (Marquis Lee) out, it’s going to be – whether it’s (Dede Westbrook), (Donte Moncrief), whoever it is that’s their guy that they’re going to try to hit down the field, those are the guys that we’re going to have to be aware of and just adjust during the first part of the game.”

The Jaguars won’t go away from what got them so far last year. They will run the ball. If New York can get them in 3rd-and-5 or longer, the the pressure will be on Bortles to pick up the first down with his feet or arm. Containment – something of an issue for Giants’ defenses in recent years – will be critically important. Keep Bortles in the pocket. Bortles probably will avoid Janoris Jenkins and focus his efforts against the Giants’ linebackers in coverage and Eli Apple. Bettcher can and will attempt to unnerve Bortles by bringing the kitchen sink after him. In response, the Jaguars will max protect and take their shots against Apple and the nickel corner. This year, the Giants will live and die by the blitz. Not having Olivier Vernon, the team’s best pass rusher, available will hurt.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Oh boy! Who knows what we will get here? The special teams coordinator has cancer so Tom Quinn still is in the picture. The return game looked decent in the preseason but both returners were cut and Kaelin Clay was just picked off of waivers. And Shurmur is making noise that he won’t be afraid to have Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley return punts and kickoffs, respectively. Misdirection or will Shurmur take more chances? Aldrick Rosas had a strong preseason but now has to prove he can keep it up when it counts.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Pat Shurmur on the state of his team: “It’s a journey. This first game is the first game in that journey. We’ve done a lot of work, there’s a lot of water under the bridge. We feel good about our roster, we feel good about the coaches, the interaction with player personnel and administration, the communication and the way we communicate behind the scenes. We want to put a product on the field that our fans are proud to root for.”

THE FINAL WORD:
The problem in truly evaluating this game or this season is we really don’t know the mettle and true abilities of this Giants’ coaching staff and roster. This could be a very bad, average, or maybe even good team. Anyone who says he or she knows for sure is just bloviating at this point. Coaching makes a huge difference in today’s NFL. Shurmur is a retread who was fired in Cleveland, but many don’t believe he got a fair shake there. Is he the real deal or just another placeholder? Does Eli Manning – who is coming off two down seasons – still have it? Odell Beckham is a walking highlight reel but so far that hasn’t translated into many wins. Was Saquon Barkley really worth the #2 pick in the draft? Will the offensive line once again be the team’s Achilles’ heel? Can Bettcher really trust guys like Eli Apple, Curtis Riley, and B.W. Webb enough to bring the kitchen sink? The Giants’ special teams were undoubtedly the worst in the NFL last year across the board. Can they at least reach middle-of-the-pack status? So many questions.

As for this game, the Giants can steal a win here if they protect the football and Beckham and Barkley can hit the home run. But this is a very difficult opponent to start the season with.

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Eli Manning and Shane Vereen, New York Giants (August 22, 2015)

Eli Manning and Shane Vereen – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 22 – Jacksonville Jaguars 12

Game Overview

Like most preseason games, there was good and there was bad. But the big take-away from this game is the continued mounting injury situation that is likely to impact the 2015 season. Some of the players who have been lost for the season probably were not going to make the team such as wide receiver Marcus Harris (knee) and safety Justin Currie (ankle). But the Giants have now lost two safeties who were receiving first-team reps in Mykkele Thompson (Achilles) and Bennett Jackson (knee). This is in addition to weird losses of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (hand/arm) and left tackle Will Beatty (pectoral).

Heading into the second preseason game, the Giants were missing 18 players on the roster due to injury. They came out with six more injured, two done for the season and fingers crossed on Jon Beason (knee sprain). They’ll get most of these players back, but the hits have been already significant for a thin team projected by many to struggle.

And the coaching staff have made two decisions in the preseason that have come back to bite them in the ass. The first was to play wide receiver Rueben Randle last week in Cincinnati despite him missing the week of practice before the game with knee tendinitis. That set him back. And despite the dwindling numbers at safety, it should have been either Justin Halley or Brandon Meriweather in the game late in the 4th quarter against the Jaguars and not Bennett Jackson, who had a good chance to be the team’s starter on opening night against Dallas.

Offensive Overview

On the surface, it was another disappointing performance for the first-team unit. With Eli Manning at quarterback, the first team played three drives and the results were 76 yards, five first downs, two punts, and a 51-yard field goal. But it was the passing game, especially quarterback Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, who let the Giants down early. Meanwhile, those supposed areas of concern – the offensive line and the running game – showed promise. If one believes that this was only a hiccup for Manning and Beckham, and that the healthy return of Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle will make a difference, then there were some positive developments on Saturday despite the lack of production.

The second- and third-team offensive units performed decently, scoring on their first four drives of the second half as the Giants pulled away.

Quarterbacks

I don’t really worry about Eli Manning, but if we are going to fairly evaluate his performance, this was not a good effort. Yes, he was the victim of some short-arming by Beckham and drops by Beckham and Preston Parker. He also had a couple of passes batted or tipped at the line of scrimmage. But Manning’s accuracy was off when pressured. The word coming into training camp was that Manning was primed for a huge year with renewed arm strength and building confidence in Ben McAdoo’s system. But that hasn’t translated yet to the field. If the Giants are going to make the playoff this year, Eli Manning will have to carry them there like he did in 2011. And he has to make plays when not given picture-perfect pass protection. We’re not seeing that level of play yet.

The Giants tried to get the passing game going early as Manning threw deep to Beckham without success on their first two plays. The first five plays were pass plays where Manning was 1-for-4 with two tipped passes. Manning continued to target Beckham and Parker without success on the two ensuing drives. Manning finished the game a paltry 4-of-14 for 46 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.

Ryan Nassib, New York Giants (August 22, 2015)

Ryan Nassib – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Ryan Nassib played much better this week, finishing the game 19-of-35 for 217 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. That said, he did make some questionable decisions, missing some open receivers and throwing into coverage. Nassib’s mobility helped to extend some plays, including clutch moments to keep drives alive, but he also has to be careful not to run too soon when he has decent pass protection. That said, Nassib made some excellent throws on the run. He has a fastball and was particularly accurate on a few slants, including the touchdown pass to Dwayne Harris. Ex-Jaguar quarterback Mark Brunell was very impressed with Nassib during the game.

Running Backs

The stats seem a bit misleading as Giants running backs only gained 83 yards on 24 carries (3.4 yards per carry), but the big three of Rashad Jennings (1 carry for 4 yards), Andre Williams (3 carries for 13 yards), and Shane Vereen (3 carries for 13 yards) flashed and averaged over four yards per carry as a group. Williams made a nice, instinctive cut on his 11-yard run off the left side. He later had a very physical inside run in the 2nd quarter. Williams performed well in pass protection. Vereen caught one pass for 14 yards on 3rd-and-10 – a perfect example of why he was signed.

Orleans Darkwa also continues to impress, carrying the ball six times for 25 yards. Akeem Hunt had four carries for 10 yards, with a long run of seven yards. Long-shot Kenneth Harper had seven carries for 18 yards with a quality 9-yard run to help run out the clock. Darkwa had one catch for nine yards and Hunt two receptions for nine yards. Even fullbacks Henry Hynoski and Nikita Whitlock got into the act catching the ball as they each had one reception for five yards. Hunt missed a blitz pick-up late in the first half.

Wide Receivers

To be frank, “superstar” Odell Beckham played like crap. He made a business decision or two on deep throws where he short-armed the ball. He also had one ball sail through his hands and later dropped a pass that would have kept a drive alive and put the Giants at the 5-yard line. He got frustrated and took a cheap shot at a Jaguars defender. Overall, he was targeted five times with no catches.

With Victor Cruz (calf) and Rueben Randle out, Preston Parker started. Manning’s pass on Parker’s first opportunity was too low. But he later dropped a perfectly-thrown back-shoulder throw on 3rd-and-9. In the second quarter, Parker caught one key pass for 14 yards on 3rd-and-8 from Manning.

Corey Washington had two catches for 17 yards but also could not come down with a well-contested ball on 3rd-and-14. He did have a 6-yard reception on 3rd-and-3 in the third quarter.

More impressive were James Jones (5 catches for 83 yards), Geremy Davis (4 catches for 43 yards), and Dwayne Harris (2 catches for 35 yards and a touchdown). Jones was the best wide receiver on the field on Saturday night. He had two catches for 36 yards on the drive right before halftime (though he also dropped a ball too on this possession). Jones caught an 18-yarder on 3rd-and-4 in the 3rd quarter and an 13-yard catch on 3rd-and-6 in the 4th quarter.

Harris was flagged for a bogus holding call on a well-executed 19-yard screen pass to Orleans Darkwa. He did a nice job of catching a low throw despite contact on his touchdown reception.

Right now Jones, Davis, and Harris three would be my favorites to make the team with Parker and Washington being cut.

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell caught three passes for 29 yards. But some old troubling signs appeared in his game. He lost the ball after one big third down catch that originally was ruled an incomplete pass. Ball security Donnell! On the same drive, he had a high throw from Manning sail through his hands. Also, Donnell took another awkward quasi-somersault fall when being tackled. Donnell had a nice block on linebacker Paul Posluszny on Shane Vereen’s 10-yard run.

Jerome Cunningham was targeted twice with no catches, but he did draw a pass interference penalty. Daniel Fells got a good block on Darkwa’s 16-yard run early in the 3rd quarter.

Offensive Line

All things considered, the coaching staff has to be somewhat pleased with the progress the offensive line is making. However, there are just enough rough spots – particularly on the right side of the line – to keep the coaches and quarterbacks nervous.

Rookie left tackles – particularly ones who have serious technique issues – usually are disasters their initial season. But Ereck Flowers continues to hold his own (no pun intended) and improve. There were a couple of plays where his man got around him and pressured the quarterback, but he’s been surprisingly adequate in pass protection while flashing those advertised run-blocking mauling skills. The left side of the line created some big holes for the running backs, though guard Justin Pugh missed a block on an Andre Williams run that lost yardage in the second quarter. Flowers and Pugh also had some issues on a stunt late in the first half.

The right side of the offensive line hasn’t been the disaster predicted thus far. Marshall Newhouse did an adequate job pass protection for most of the first half. However, his pass blocking deteriorated late in the second quarter when he gave up one sack and a few pressures.

John Jerry continues to have some issues at right guard. He gave up a couple of pass pressures on New York’s second drive. And if Jerry (or Odell Beckham) had been able to take out the defensive back who made the tackle, Vereen would have scored from 44 yards out on his 10-yard run in the 1st quarter.

Geoff Schwartz entered the game in the second quarter at right guard. He was more steady than Jerry at that position. However, Schwartz had some issues when playing right tackle both in pass protection (bull-rushed on a 3rd-and-5 incomplete pass, failure to pick up stunt on 3rd-and-14) and the running game (got stood up and pushed back on one right-side run). The Giants also played Schwartz at right guard and Jerry at right tackle.

Dallas Reynolds saw a lot of snaps at center. Emmett Clearly and Adam Gettis formed the left side of the second-team line again. When Gettis briefly left with a stinger, Brett Jones played at left guard. These guys played pretty well although there was one run on the left side blown up by penetration against Cleary and Jones. Gettis was flagged with a holding penalty on running play that he got stood up on.

Another offensive line combination had Bobby Hart at right tackle and Bret Jones at right guard. Jones seems to lack size and power. Hart has both, but the same pass rusher who gave Marshall Newhouse some problems – DE Chris Smith – also gave Hart issues on one pass rush. Eric Herman later replaced Jones at right guard, but he immediately gave up a pass pressure on the play where Nassib did a fantastic job of avoiding a sack and getting the ball to Dwayne Harris for a 27-yard gain. Herman gave up another pressure later on this possession.

Guys like Michael Bamiro and Sean Donnelly didn’t enter the contest until late in the 4th quarter.

Defensive Overview

The Jacksonville Jaguars have been an offensively-challenged team, yet the Giants had issues getting them off the field on their first three drives of the game as Jacksonville had drives of 10, 10, and 12 plays – each resulting in field goals. The first-team defense still looks soft against the run and opposing starting quarterbacks are having a far too easy time completing passes. Sometimes it looks like a 7-on-7 drill out there with very little pass rush and soft coverage. That doesn’t bode well when the Giants face high-powered, multi-dimensional offenses like the Cowboys and Eagles.

The second- and third-teamers were clearly superior to the Jacksonville offensive counterparts as the Jaguars only gained three first downs in the first half after the first three drives, and only one first down in the second half until late in the game.

I made this point last week, but I’ll make it again – Steve Spagnuolo’s blitz packages are much better than Perry Fewell’s. It’s a night and day difference.

Defensive Line

The starting defensive line had Cullen Jenkins at left end, Markus Kuhn at left tackle, Johnathan Hankins at right tackle, and Robert Ayers at right end. Jenkins didn’t play well at end. As would be expected, he looked sluggish rushing the passer from that spot. But somewhat unexpectedly, he had a lot of issues defending the run there too. I’m not sure what the thinking is about having him play out there, especially in the preseason when guys like Damontre Moore, Kerry Wynn, and Owamagbe Odighizuwa should be seeing some first-team practice reps. Jenkins did get good pressure on the quarterback rushing from DT on 3rd-and-20.

Ayers was pretty invisible as a pass rusher and didn’t stick out in run defense either.

Kuhn should not be starting. Period. In fact, he should be fighting for a roster spot. The coaching staff is blind if they can’t see this. Lost in the fan criticism of Kuhn is that Hankins hasn’t been making as much noise as was expected from a guy who was supposed to be a budding Pro Bowl candidate. Hankins did not play well on Saturday night. The Giants starters are not playing tough up the gut right now. Hankins needs to kick it into gear and Kenrick Ellis and Jay Bromley should be splitting Kuhn’s first-team reps.

As soon as Bromley came into the game (against starting Jaguars offensive linemen), he made a play by shooting through the line and hitting the back in the backfield. In the second half, Ellis and Bromley really gummed things up inside against Jacksonville back-ups. Ellis got a couple of decent pass pressures on the quarterback.

Damontre Moore flashed on the pass rush with two sacks, but he still has issues at the point-of-attack on running plays. And another team took advantage of the defense’s young ends by running an end-around to his side on a play where he bit on the fake. This showed up too on play-action fake on a roll-out pass that Kerry Wynn bit too hard on in the 2nd quarter.

Odighizuwa batted down a pass at the line and also gave the Jaguar tackles some problems with his bull-rush. He is very quick off the ball too.

Jon Beason, New York Giants (August 22, 2015)

Jon Beason – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Linebackers

Before he left the game, an excited Jon Beason’s feet were pumping and he was correctly reading running plays. He was hurt by a defensive line in front of him that was getting pushed back however. Despite being picked, Beason did a good job of recovering and saving a touchdown on a pass to a receiver coming out of the backfield.

J.T. Thomas had a big night against his former team. He disrupted an otherwise well-blocked run on the Jaguars’ first drive. Thomas looked fast blitzing the quarterback and was rewarded with a sack/forced fumble (he also missed a tackle on another sack opportunity). Thomas later read and destroyed a screen pass for an 8-yard loss.

Kennard recovered a fumble. The good news about him is he doesn’t look completely out of water in pass coverage.

Unai’ Unga (6 tackles, 1 pass defense) was very active for the second week in a row. He did a nice job of shooting the gap and tackling the runner for no gain on a stretch play. I am hoping the Giants can find a roster spot for him. Victor Butler’s penetration on a running play may have been a factor in a Jaguars’ running back losing his concentration and fumbling the football.

Defensive Backs

Surprisingly the Jaguars took a number of deep shots at Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Not surprisingly, these plays were not a success for Jacksonville. Rodgers-Cromartie got picked (possibly illegally) on a 3rd-and-2 short crossing pass that picked up 36 yards in the first quarter. He was fortunate that his man who was open dropped the ball on a post route (Bennett Jackson seemed to misread the play here too).

As he has been all summer, cornerback Trevin Wade (who started for the injured Prince Amukamara) was up and down. Wade gave up a couple of first-down catches early. But he had good coverage on a deep shot down the middle. Wade seemed to be playing way off the ball, allowing too much space underneath.

Trumaine McBride, Mike Harris, and Josh Gordy played decently against Jacksonville’s struggling offensive reserves. McBride had good coverage on a deep pass late in the 2nd quarter but grabbed the receiver with his left arm before the ball arrived and was flagged for a 29-yard pass interference penalty. Harris also got flagged with a 5-yard defensive holding call on 2nd-and-8. The Giants corners were aggressive against the run on Saturday.

Brandon Meriweather, New York Giants (August 22, 2015)

Brandon Meriweather – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Bennett Jackson missed a tackle on 3rd-and-8 that would have prevented a first down. Jeromy Miles was pretty quiet…I’m not sure if that is a good thing or bad thing. He should have turned and intercepted the ball on the play where McBride was flagged for interference. Miles also missed a tackle near the line on a 12-yard run late in the 2nd quarter.

Brandon Meriweather looked vulnerable in deep coverage as a Jaguars receiver got behind him on one deep effort that fell incomplete.

Special Teams Overview

Steve Weatherford has not been punting well this preseason. He’s over-punting in situations where the Giants could down a punt inside the 20. He also isn’t showing much directional ability. His net on three punts was 36 yards.

Josh Brown, on the other hand, did well. He nailed kicks of 51, 43, 53, 37, and 28 yards. He did miss a 46-yarder but a penalty on the Jaguars wiped out that miss.

Giants continue to struggle on punt returns with Dwayne Harris returning two for seven yards and Preston Parker two for three yards. Akeem Hunt returned two kickoffs, each for 24 yards. Derrick Johnson had one return for 21 yards.

Punt coverage was good as the Jaguars only returned two punts for six yards. Kickoff coverage was not as solid as the Giants gave up returns of 42 and 35 yards.

(Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants, August 22, 2015)
Aug 232015
 
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New York Giants (August 22, 2015)

New York Giants – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 22 – Jacksonville Jaguars 12: The New York Giants defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 22-12 in the team’s second preseason game of the summer on Saturday night at MetLife Stadium. The Giants improved their preseason record to 1-1.

Despite the victory, the Giants received more bad news on the injury front. Counting the two players already on Injured Reserve, a team missing 16 players coming into the game, including eight defensive backs, was hit hard again by injuries. The most serious initially appears to be to safety Justin Currie who fractured his right ankle. But there are fears that Bennett Jackson, who started the game at safety, may have torn the ACL in his right knee. Also leaving the game early were linebacker Jon Beason (knee sprain), linebacker Mark Herzlich (concussion), and linebacker Tony Johnson (knee sprain). Offensive guard Adam Gettis (stinger) also left the game but returned.

The final score was misleading in that Jacksonville’s starters out-played New York for most of the first half. The problems on offense were in the passing game as quarterback Eli Manning (4-of-14 for 46 yards) was off the mark and he was not helped out by wide receivers such as Odell Beckham (no catches despite five throws in his direction) and Preston Parker (one catch on four passes thrown his way) who short-armed or dropped passes. The starting offense with Manning in the game only gained 76 yards and five first downs on three drives. The good news on offense was that the line and running backs looked good. Place kicker Josh Brown made field goals of 51 and 43 yards in the first half.

Defensively, the starting defense once again had issues stopping the opposition as Jacksonville’s offense put together three straight scoring drives of 10 plays or more to start the contest. The Jaguars had to settle for three field goals however.

The Giants dominated the second half of the game as New York scored on four straight scoring drives to take a 22-9 advantage until late in the 4th quarter. The only touchdown came on an 8-yard throw from quarterback Ryan Nassib to wide receiver Dwayne Harris. Nassib finished the night 19-of-35 for 217 yards. Brown also added three more field goals, including from 53, 37, and 28 yards out. The Jaguars only gained one first down in the second half until their final drive that resulted in a 55-yard field goal with two minutes to play.

The leading receivers for the Giants were wideouts James Jones (five catches for 83 yards) and Geremy Davis (four catches for 43 yards). Running back Orleans Darkwa carried the ball six times for 25 yards while the top backs of Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, and Shane Vereen totaled a combined 30 yards on seven carries.

Defensively, defensive end Damontre Moore accrued two sacks while linebacker J.T. Thomas had one sack that also caused a fumble that linebacker Devon Kennard recovered.

Video highlights/lowlights of the game are available at NFL.com.

Post-Game Notes: Not playing were wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf strain), wide receiver Rueben Randle (knee tendinitis), wide receiver Julian Talley (toe), right tackle Brandon Mosley (back), left tackle Will Beatty (PUP – pectoral), defensive end George Selvie (knee), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (unknown), cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin), cornerback Chykie Brown (knee), cornerback Jayron Hosley (concussion), cornerback Chandler Fenner (unknown), safety Landon Collins (knee sprain), safety Nat Berhe (calf), and safety Cooper Taylor (toe) did not practice.

Articles on QB Eli Manning:

Articles on New York Giants Wide Receivers:

Article on LT Ereck Flowers: Giants massive rookie LT Flowers not about small talk by Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record

Article on DE Kerry Wynn: From undrafted rookie to Giants starter? Kerry Wynn eager to show he can make Big Blue’s defense better by Ebenezer Samuel of The New York Daily News

Article on CB Trevin Wade: Giants’ long shot making waves by Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record

Article on S Landon Collins: Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina ripped through Landon Collins’ life, but the experience didn’t derail the young Giants safety by Kevin Armstrong of The New York Daily News

Aug 212015
 
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Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (November 30, 2014)

Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants, August 22, 2015

THE STORYLINE:
The second preseason game is more serious than the first. The starters will play a bit longer and coaches want to see their players beginning to round into form a bit more. That said, winning the game takes a backseat to getting quality practice reps and working on areas of weakness.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin would like to see much more productivity out of his passing offense than he did last week but that will be tough with Victor Cruz and Rueban Randle once again on the sideline. “Everybody wants to talk about our passing game,” lamented Coughlin earlier this week. “Unless we get out there and practice together, what passing game?” While the offensive line was not the huge issue that some made it out to be last week, the team will be looking for fewer individual breakdowns that sabotaged a number of running plays.

Where the Giants really need to show marked improvement is on defense. The starting defense played horribly against the Cincinnati Bengals, and the back-ups were not all that much better. A Giants defense that has made it mission #1 to stop the run gave up 225 yards rushing in Cincinnati.

With an extensive injury list already, particularly in the secondary, keep your fingers crossed the Giants come out of this game relatively healthy. Not counting safety Mykkele Thompson who is on Injured Reserve, the Giants will be down six defensive backs heading into this contest.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Victor Cruz (calf – will not play)
  • WR Rueben Randle (knee tendinitis – will not play)
  • WR Julian Talley (toe – will not play)
  • OG/OT Brandon Mosley (back – will not play)
  • LT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP and will not play)
  • DE George Selvie (knee – will not play)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas  (unknown – will not play)
  • CB Prince Amukamara (groin – will not play)
  • CB Chykie Brown (knee – will not play)
  • CB Jayron Hosley (concussion – will not play)
  • CB Chandler Fenner (injured in practice on Thursday – will not play)
  • S Landon Collins (knee – will not play)
  • S Nat Berhe (calf – will not play)
  • S Cooper Taylor (toe – will not play)

FOUR DOWNS:
First Down
How will the offensive line perform?
We asked this same question last week. The results in Cincinnati were mixed. The first-team offensive line pass protected reasonably well although their performance was aided Eli Manning getting rid of the ball quickly. This week the Giants focused more on their downfield passing attack and Eli may need to hold the ball a bit longer. And the Giants certainly want more consistency and productivity in running the ball with their main backs (Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, Shane Vereen). Fans will be focusing on left tackle Ereck Flowers, right guard John Jerry, right tackle Marshall Newhouse, and right guard/tackle Geoff Schwartz in particular. Schwartz won’t start, but he should receive a decent amount of playing time.

Second Down
Can the defense stop the run?
We asked this same question last week and the answer was definitely not. The team gave up an unacceptable 225 rushing yards. The Giants not only had issues at the point-of-attack, but the younger defenders were often fooled by misdirection. Jacksonville wants to run the ball so this will be a good test. The Giants must determine who should be starting at defensive tackle alongside Johnathan Hankins in the base defense.

Third Down
Who will do well or poorly at cornerback?
Same question as last week. The good news is that Prince Amukamara (groin) will probably play. The bad news is the Giants are still really thin at corner with injuries to Chykie Brown, Jayron Hosley, and possibly Chandler Fenner. The problem remains for New York – after Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the team has nothing but question marks. Trevin Wade has a nose for the football but he also gives up big plays. Trumaine McBride left last week’s game early with a hamstring issue; he needs to step it up. Other candidates for serious playing time include Mike Harris and Josh Gordy. All will see serious playing time in the second half given the injury situation. Will any take advantage of the opportunity?

Fourth Down
How will the new safeties perform?
Broken record – same question as last week. Landon Collins is missing valuable practice and playing time. Mykkele Thompson – who was receiving some first-team reps – is now gone for the season. Nat Berhe has yet to practice or play this summer. Now Cooper Taylor is hurt again. The starters for this game will likely be Jeromy Miles and Bennett Jackson. Miles didn’t really distinguish himself last week and Jackson was up and down. The only others healthy enough to play are Justin Currie, Justin Halley, and newcomer Brandon Meriweather. It’s not a pretty situation.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Markus Kuhn
The coaches and players keep talking up Markus Kuhn, who started against the Bengals, but we have yet to see the improved performance on the playing field. To be fair to Kuhn, defensive tackles often do the dirty work and it’s difficult for them to flash. But one does expect a defender to make an obvious positive play once in a while against the run and pass. Jay Bromley and Kenrick Ellis played better last week – albeit against reserves. With the Giants unlikely to part ways with 3rd rounder Bromley this year, the final defensive tackle spot could be between Kuhn and Ellis. The Giants could possibly keep five defensive tackles, but even given that scenario, it would be extremely difficult for them to activate all five on game day. “The big guys, they set the tone,” Kuhn said. “We have to push back the offensive line, we have to set the new line of scrimmage.”

Marshall Newhouse
It seems like the Giants would like Newhouse to really take hold of the right tackle position, at least until Will Beatty returns in October. That way, Geoff Schwartz and John Jerry can battle it out at right guard with the hope that Schwartz moves Jerry to the bench. But the Giants are hedging their bets here by having Schwartz practice at both right guard and right tackle. Newhouse did not play poorly last week, but the spotlight remains on a player who was benched by his two previous teams. “I have confidence in Marshall, I’ve been around him at a different spot before, and he’s an athletic guy,” said Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo this week. “He’s a smart guy and I look forward to him growing in the offense.”

James Jones
Rueben Randle is having a disappointing summer. We haven’t heard much noise when he has practiced and he has missed most of the last two weeks with knee tendinitis. The assumption is that he is on the verge of a breakout season in his contract year, but if the Giants can’t count on him, there may be an opportunity here for someone to move past him on the depth chart. James Jones seems to be coming on. I wouldn’t be shocked if he makes a serious push to become the team’s new third receiver. “He was out of work for a little bit, he’s getting his football legs underneath him, the last two days of practice he’s stood out a little bit, and it’ll be exciting to see him over this next week get out there a perform,” said McAdoo this week.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Tom Coughlin (on the Jacksonville Jaguars): “This weekend will be an outstanding test because you have a team that’s trying to be very physical and wants to run the ball, has a good run defense, so it’ll be a good test.”

THE FINAL WORD:
I’m not sure the Giants will satisfy their fans yet by looking like a well-oiled machine on Saturday night. Hopefully, the starting defense puts up a little resistance this week, but there could be issues with Jeromy Miles and Bennett Jackson as the starting safeties. And down six defensive backs, the secondary could be a problem all night, especially once Amukamara and DRC exit the game. The Giants may frustrate fans by trying to work on their running game against a good run defense, in other words, playing weakness against strength, but that’s the point of preseason. It also hurts that Cruz and Randle will not play. Don’t get too depressed! This is practice.

Apr 092015
 
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New York Giants-New York Jets Preseason (August 24, 2013)

New York Giants vs. New York Jets – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 Preseason Opponents Announced: The New York Giants 2015 preseason opponents have been announced. The Giants will face four AFC teams. Specific dates and times will be finalized at a later date.

  • August 13-17: at Cincinnati Bengals
  • August 20-24: Jacksonville Jaguars
  • August 27-30: New York Jets
  • September 3-4: at New England Patriots

Article on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: How aggressive is Tom Coughlin when the Giants are facing 4th and 1? by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on DE Jason Pierre-Paul and DT Jay Bromley: Giants defensive tackle Jay Bromley working out with Jason Pierre-Paul in Florida by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on CB/S Bennett Jackson: Giants coaches aren’t the first to think Bennett Jackson could make a quality safety by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Articles on the New York Giants and the 2015 NFL Draft:

Dec 022014
 
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John Mara, New York Giants (November 30, 2014)

John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jacksonville Jaguars 25 – New York Giants 24

Game Overview

The Giants managed to find a way to do the impossible. Leading 21-0 in the second quarter against a 1-10 football team – a team with the NFL’s 31st-ranked offense and 30th-ranked defense – the Giants collapsed and lost the game 25-24.

It was an epic defeat – even for a 3-9 football team that has now lost seven games in a row. Ironically, the loss may ultimately end Tom Coughlin’s NFL head coaching career in the very city where it all began.

It was a team-wide embarrassment for the Giants:

  • The offense only scored three points and gained six first downs in the second half. Worse, they allowed two defensive scores. As Coughlin said after the game, the Giants probably would have won the game had they just knelt on the ball in the second half.
  • On special teams, Josh Brown missed a 43-yard field goal in a game the team lost by one point.
  • Defensively, statistically the Giants played well for most of the game, but once again, with the game on the line, the defense allowed the opponent to easily march down the field and score the game-winning points. There was also a dropped interception that could have prevented a field goal and a 6-play, 67-yard touchdown drive that was far too easy.

Leading by 21 points, it was almost impossible for the Giants to lose this game against this particular opponent. But the 2014 Giants found a way. This team is psychologically fragile, now shell-shocked, and expects the worst to happen. And it usually does.

The New York Giants are a broken franchise.

Offensive Overview

  • First Half: 23 rushes, 19 passes, 0 sacks, 21 points, 16 first downs, 254 total yards (177 yards passing, 77 yards rushing), 6-for-8 on third down (75 percent). No turnovers.
  • Second Half: 12 rushes, 19 passes, 4 sacks, 3 points, 6 first downs, 75 total yards (36 yards passing, 39 yards rushing), 1-for-7 on third down (14 percent). Three fumbles lost, including two for defensive scores.

Some will contend the Giants got too conservative in second half, but the Giants were very conservative in first half too. They rushed 23 times and passed 19 times in the first half, nevertheless scoring touchdowns on three straight possessions and going 3-for-3 (100 percent) in the red zone against the NFL’s top red zone defense.

For example, on the first touchdown drive, the Giants ran the the ball 13 times out of 19 plays. On third touchdown drive, the Giants ran the ball four times in seven plays. Both touchdowns on these drives came on runs.

In the second half? The Giant rushed 12 times and passed 19 times. The big difference? The blocking fell apart as the Giants no longer had much success running the football and Eli was sacked four times. Obviously, the two defensive scores on passing plays were decisive. In fact, one can legitimately argue had the Giants not passed the ball in the second half of the game, but just run and punted, they would have been far likelier to have won against the particular opponent. In other words, perhaps they were not conservative enough. That won’t work against most teams, but it probably would have worked in this game.

Quarterback

Eli Manning finished the first half 15-of-19 for 177 yards and a touchdown (123.0 QB rating). He completed 9-of-15 passes for 70 yards in the second half. While he threw no interceptions, he fumbled the ball away twice, including for one score.

Running Backs

Again, a tale of two halves. Rashad Jennings (47 snaps) carried the ball 19 times for 65 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. This despite a poorly blocked play that resulted in an 11-yard loss and exacerbated by Jennings’ ill-advised decision to reverse field. Before Jennings left with an ankle injury, he only manged 26 yards on seven carries in the second half. Jennings also should have fallen in on Manning’s fumble in the end zone instead of trying to pick it up and run it out. Jennings caught 3-of-5 passes thrown in his direction for a grand total of three yards.

Andre Williams (26 snaps) finished with 21 yards on eight carries. Williams caught 2-of-3 passes for 16 yards, including an 18-yard screen pass on the second TD drive.

Wide Receivers

Rueben Randle (45 snaps) was benched for the first quarter due to being late for a team meeting on Friday. He caught 3-of-4 passes in his direction for 52 yards.

Odell Beckham (69 snaps) caught 7-of-8 passes for 90 yards. The Giants need to get the ball more into his hands, but the offensive line needs to give Manning time to do that too. Beckham was targeted six times in first half and only twice in second half. His biggest first-half play was his 29-yard run-and-catch off a short pass. His only second-half receptions came on New York’s only scoring drive in the second half? Coincidence? Not likely.

Kevin Ogletree (21 snaps) caught two passes for 25 yards and Preston Parker (62 snaps) caught two passes for six yards and a touchdown. Ogletree had key 12-yard catch on 3rd-and-6 on third TD drive. Parker dropped a perfectly-thrown TD pass right before Jennings’ 17-yard TD run. Corey Washington played two snaps.

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell (54 snaps) caught 5-of-7 passes thrown in his direction for 55 yards. He caught a 14-yard out pass on 3rd-and-7 on first TD drive and a 32-yard reception on the second TD drive. But his fumble proved extremely costly as it was returned 41 yards for a touchdown. On the following drive, he could not make the catch on 3rd-and-3 when contacted by the defender. Daniel Fells (27 snaps) missed a block and his man is the one who sacked Manning and forced the other fumble that resulted in a touchdown. Fells had a shot at recovering the loose ball but missed it. Adrien Robinson played three snaps.

Offensive Line

Justin Pugh (quadriceps) did not play and was replaced by Geoff Schwartz for the second week in a row. But Schwartz (14 snaps) was carted off of the field early with a serious ankle injury and did not return. He was replaced at right tackle by James Brewer (46 snaps). Brewer left the game in the second half with a concussion. When he left the game, John Jerry moved from right guard to right tackle and Dallas Reynolds (14 snaps) played right guard.

The offensive line was not “good” but it was respectable in the first half, especially in pass protection. I was underwhelmed by the run blocking, particularly by RG John Jerry (as inconsistent as they come and responsible for too many negative plays; he doesn’t sustain or completely misses too many blocks; he also is easily confused by stunts and blitzes), OC J.D. Walton (just gets pushed around too much – he’s not an NFL starter), and LG Weston Richburg (doesn’t play with much power and seems undersized for position). Likewise, James Brewer just seems like a soft player. He rarely plays to his size. He shouldn’t be in the NFL.

On the first drive, Jerry’s poor run block led to an 11-yard loss on 2nd-and-6 and subsequent punt. Brewer and Reynolds were flagged with false starts. But the unit gave up no sacks and no QB hits in first half.

Like they did against the 49ers, the offensive line deteriorated in the second half. Manning was sacked and fumbled the ball away on the second NYG offensive snap of the 3rd quarter. While TE Daniel Fells gave up a hit, so did Jerry and Walton who let one inside rusher blow past them (and instead of trying to recover the ball, both Will Beatty and Walton just stood there watching).

After the offense came back onto the field, on their very next pass play, on 3rd-and-2, Manning was sacked again as Beatty – for some inexplicable reason – let his man just blow past him, and Walton again got bulldozed back into Manning. On the next series, on 3rd-and-2, Manning’s arm was hit as James Brewer’s opponent ran right past him (and based on Tom Coughlin’s reaction, Rashad Jennings should have chipped the end and helped Brewer on this play). Incomplete, missed field goal.

As the game progressed from the third into the fourth quarter, it became clear that the offensive “brain trust” was justifiably concerned about the line’s ability to protect Eli even on short pass plays. But the running game got worse too. There isn’t too much you can call offensively when you can’t block for the run or the pass.

Early in 4th quarter, Andre Williams got nailed in the backfield when Brewer failed to get a hand on the defensive tackle who then easily got past Walton (according to David Diehl, Brewer was largely to blame here). On the next play, Manning had time but couldn’t find anyone open and was sacked. On the next play, Donnell fumbled. Jacksonville 22 – New York 21.

When Brewer went out and Jerry moved to right tackle and Dallas Reynolds came in at right guard, it got worse and Jacksonville smelled blood in the water. Now trailing because of the two defensive scores, the Giants couldn’t run and Eli wasn’t given a clean pocket. Most pass attempts were short because there was no time to throw anything farther down the field.

When the line finally gave Eli some time on its last scoring drive, Eli was able to complete four straight passes, but the drive stalled in the red zone with a 1-yard loss running play and two incomplete passes (despite decent protection).

When New York got the ball with 28 seconds left, down by one, the game ended on an appropriate note as Jerry and Reynolds got destroyed on a stunt and Manning was sacked and lost the ball.

Defensive Overview

Even had the Giants won this game, the improved defensive performance would have had to be taken with a grain of salt given the level of incompetence of the Jaguars’ offense (31st-ranked offense, terrible offensive line, rookie quarterback).

But anyone wearing blue-colored glasses when looking at this defense has be depressed by yet another late-game collapse by that side of the ball. Despite everything that went wrong after the 21-0 lead, the Giants were still up 24-22 with 3:26 to play and Jacksonville starting at their own 20-yard line. Eleven plays later, with 28 seconds left in the game, the Jaguars kicked the game winner.

In a game decided by a single point, the Giants dropped an interception that would have prevented a field goal. In fact, the the Giants could not force a turnover against a team that had turned the ball over in every game it had played this year.

The defense forced seven punts, but they also gave up long drives of 70 (field goal), 67 (touchdown), and 55 (field goal) yards – all resulting in points. On the touchdown drive, the Giants appeared confused by the Wild Cat and Read Option plays that picked up 28 yards before the 30-yard touchdown pass.

These deficiencies largely erased an excellent start for a Giants’ defense that did not allow a first down on Jacksonville’s first three possessions of the game. The Jaguars first 1st down came with about 5:30 left in the first half. There were two three-and-outs in the fourth quarter too. But then came the game-winning drive. Not good enough.

Defensive Line/Linebackers

The Giants played a lot of players on defense.

Jason Pierre-Paul (66 snaps, 4 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 QB hits) played virtually every snap at defensive end. With Mathias Kiwanuka (knee) out, Damontre Moore (43 snaps, 1 tackle, 2 pass defenses) saw the most action he has all season. Robert Ayers (34 snaps, 1 tackle) left the game with a season-ending pectoral tear. As a result, Kerry Wynn (3 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 QB hit) surprisingly played quite a bit (22 snaps).

The Jaguars could not run the ball on the Giants except by using unconventional methods such as the Wild Cat or Read Option. But the five QB runs by Blake Bortles picked up 68 yards, the most damaging coming on the game-winning field goal drive when it appears that Pierre-Paul was out of position, biting too hard on the inside fake to the running back (though the linebacker to that side might have been responsible too). It was too bad for JPP who otherwise played well against a very talented left tackle. His best play was his outside speed rush where he sacked Bortles on 3rd-and-8 in the 4th quarter. He also deflected a two-point conversion attempt and caused the left tackle to hold on the final game-winning drive.

Moore played decently, tipping two passes and flashing at times on the pass rush. He and Johnathan Hankins combined for a 1-yard loss on a running play too. But Moore also had a holding penalty and appeared to be out of position on a Wild Cat run that picked up 16 yards on Jacksonville’s lone offensive TD drive.

Ayers was playing very well as a pass rusher until hurt. I spotted three excellent pass rushes by him, including two that really caused sacks that others ultimately got credit for. But he also badly missed a tackle on a running play that should have lost yardage but gained 17 on the first-half FG drive. Kerry didn’t look bad. He cleaned up on one of Ayers’ pressures for a sack. He did get flagged with an illegal use-of-hands penalty.

Inside, Johnathan Hankins again logged the most time (40 snaps, 2 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QB hit) followed by Markus Kuhn (27 snaps, 0 tackles), Mike Patterson (23 snaps, 4 tackles), and Jay Bromley (16 snaps, 2 tackles). The tackles were very stout inside against the run. Hankins cleaned up one of Ayers’ pressures for a sack and also caused a holding penalty that wiped out a Jacksonville TD in the first half.

At linebacker Jameel McClain (68 snaps, 9 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QB hit) and Devon Kennard (46 snaps, 3 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 TFL, 2 QB hits) saw the most action. Mark Herzlich (23 snaps, 2 tackles, 1 TFL), Spencer Paysinger (22 snaps, 0 tackles), and Terrell Manning (1 snap, 0 tackles) played more sparingly.

McClain and Kennard were both very active. The two combined for three sacks. Kennard also tackled the back for a 3-yard loss, but also dropped an easy interception off a deflected pass in the end zone that could have prevented a FG. Paysinger was on the same side as JPP on Bortles’ killer 20-yard run on the last drive, but was too easily blocked.

Defensive Backs

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (17 snaps, 2 tackles) played sparingly as Zack Bowman (61 snaps, 1 tackle) and Chykie Brown (55 snaps, 7 tackles) saw the most action, followed by Mike Harris (22 snaps, 1 tackle).

Antrel Rolle (7 tackles, 1 TLF, 1 pass defense) and Stevie Brown (6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QB hit) played all 68 snaps. Quintin Demps (0 tackles) played 26 snaps.

Bortles only threw for 194 yards, but he did complete 60 percent of his passes, and most disturbing was 3-for-4 for 34 yards on the game-winning drive. The big mess up there was Bowman getting beat on the 23-yard slant on 2nd-and-15. Bowman also got beat deep for the 30-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. DRC hardly played but caused two incompletions with physical hits. Chykie Brown was a bit shakier this week, and missed a tackle, but his play didn’t really harm the Giants.

Stevie Brown made a nice play earlier in the game by not biting on misdirection and tackling the ball carrier for no gain. I thought he had a shot at an interception in the second quarter but couldn’t come down with the ball (his 8-interception season in 2012 appears to have been a fluke). Antrel Rolle was quiet yet again. He was flagged with a late hit but followed that up with an excellent play on a screen pass for a 2-yard loss.

Special Teams

Josh Brown picked a bad time to miss his first field goal of the year, this one from 43 yards out. His 33 yarder put the Giants up 24-22 with 3:26 to play.

Two of Brown’s five kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. The Jaguars returned three kickoffs for 51 yards, the longest being only 21 yards.

Steve Weatherford punted five times, averaging 51.8 yards per punt (47.8 yard net). The Jaguars returned three of those punts for a total of 20 yards, with the longest being 10 yards.

The Giants only returned one kickoff: 22 yards by Preston Parker. Odell Beckham returned five punts for 48 yards with the longest being a 23 yarder. But he shouldn’t have fielded one punt inside the 5-yard line. Two plays later, Jacksonville scored on defense when Eli was sacked at the 8-yard line.

(New York Giants at Jacksonville Jaguars, November 30, 2014)
Nov 302014
 
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Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (November 30, 2014)

Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The defense had their shot.

For one meaningless Sunday in November, the New York Giants defense could right so many of the wrongs that had plagued the team throughout the 2014 season. All it needed to do was not let rookie quarterback Blake Bortles lead the 1-10 Jacksonville Jaguars into field goal range.

11 plays and 55 yards later, Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee trotted onto the field and kicked a 43-yard field goal to give the Jaguars a 25-24 victory over New York in Jacksonville. The loss drops drops New York’s record to 3-9, with seven straight losses.

“I’m upset with everyone,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “I’m upset with me.”

When the game began, it appeared as if the Giants were going to snap their six-game skid. After punting on their first possession, New York scored touchdowns on its next three. Manning took the Giants on drives of 91, 54 and 63 yards. Rashad Jennings rushed for a pair of touchdowns and Manning found Preston Parker for a three-yard score in between.

With the Giants defense matching its offense’s success, shutting down the Jaguars through the early portions of the game, it was the New York offense that began to struggle. On the team’s remaining nine possessions, the Giants punted four times, missed a field goal, made a field goal, and fumbled three times, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

“We could have knelt on the ball in the second half and had a better chance to win,” said Coughlin.

Jacksonville’s comeback began with a Scobee field goal at the end of the first half. Then, a Manning fumble was recovered by J.T. Thomas in the end zone. Bortles found Marqise Lee for a 30-yard touchdown in the third quarter and then Aaron Colvin returned a Larry Donnell fumble 41 yards to put the Jaguars in front by two.

Trailing late in the fourth quarter, Manning brought the Giants back. The quarterback took New York 54 yards in eight plays to set up a Josh Brown field goal. The kick put New York up one with 3:26 to play, but Bortle’s heroics would provide the final say.

Video highlights/lowlights of the game are available at Giants.com.

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Quick Hits and Observations

  • QB Eli Manning completed 24-of-34 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown. RB Rashad Jennings rushed for 91 yards on 26 carries. As a team, the Giants averaged 3.3 yards per carry.
  • WR Odell Beckham Jr. led all Giants receivers with seven catches for 90 yards.
  • LB Jameel McClain (1), S Stevie Brown (1), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (1.5), LB Devon Kennard (2), DE Kerry Wynn (0.5) and DT Johnathan Hankins (1) all recorded sacks for the Giants defense.
  • For the first time in his career, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles finished a game without throwing an interception. He came in leading the league. Bortles finished 21-of-35 for 194 yards with a touchdown.
  • RB Rashad Jennings (ankle), OG Geoff Schwartz (ankle), OT James Brewer (concussion), DE Robert Ayers Jr. (pectoral) and LB Terrell Manning (ankle) all left the game with injuries and didn’t return. The status of all five is unknown, but Schwartz is said to have tendon damage.
  • The last time Giants lost seven straight game was 2003, the last year of of the Jim Fassel era, when they dropped eight straight to end season and finished 4-12.
  • Inactive for the Giants were OT Justin Pugh (quadriceps), OG Adam Snyder (knee), OG Brandon Mosley, DE Mathias Kiwanuka (knee), DT Cullen Jenkins (calf), LB Jacquian Williams (concussion), and CB Jayron Hosley.