Mar 292021
 
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Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions (November 28, 2019)

Kenny Golladay – © USA TODAY Sports

Teams were officially able to begin negotiating with free agents from other teams on March 15. So although it seems as if free agency has been going on for quite some time, we’re only still at the 2-week mark since it began. More signings will continue through the spring and summer, especially as players are cut. That said, the initial free agency rush is over and we can start to make some snap opinions on what the New York Giants have and have not accomplished.

The “need” level I reference was addressed in my March 12th Free Agency Preview for the team.

QUARTERBACKS (Previous Need Level – Medium): For at least one more season, Daniel Jones is the unquestioned starter. The expectation was that the team would re-sign Colt McCoy. However, the Giants surprisingly went in another direction by signing the well-traveled Mike Glennon as Jones’ back-up. Glennon is much bigger (half a foot taller) than McCoy with a much stronger arm. Both complete around 61 percent of their passes and both have started roughly the same number of NFL games. There were media whispers too that McCoy wanted more money than the Giants were willing to pay. On the surface, this appears to be a wash, although the coaches said McCoy was a very good influence on Jones in the meeting rooms. (Mike Glennon YouTube Highlights)

RUNNING BACKS (Previous Need Level – High to Desperate): Some chided my prediction that all three running backs behind Saquon Barkley may not return in 2021, but that appears in fact to be the case. As of this moment, Wayne Gallman, Alfred Morris, and Dion Lewis remain unsigned. So much of the team’s upcoming success will depend on how well Barkley returns from a major knee injury and whether he can stay healthy for a full season. It’s quite telling that the very first player the Giants signed in free agency was the relatively-unknown Devontae Booker to a 2-year, $5.5 million contract. Fan reaction was immediately negative. But it appears the coaching staff simply wanted a veteran back who was a more reliable blocker and receiver than Gallman. Depth behind Barkley still remains shaky as the only other halfbacks on the roster are NFL cast-offs Taquan Mizzell and Jordan Chunn. The Giants also added another fullback/special teams player in Cullen Gillaspia to compete with Eli Penny. (Devontae Booker YouTube Highlights)

WIDE RECEIVERS (Previous Need Level – Desperate): The Giants have significantly upgraded this position with the addition of one player to the tune of a 4-year, $72 million contract. Kenny Golladay is not only a true #1 receiver, but he fills a desperate need that this team had for a physical receiver with size. His presence also allows Darius Slayton to become the #2 and Sterling Shepard the slot receiver, roles that both are far better suited for. From Golladay’s style of play to the team’s extended wooing period to satisfy personality issues, this signing is highly reminiscent of the Giants’ signing of Plaxico Burress in 2005. And Golladay is quite capable of having a Plaxico-type impact on this team. In addition, before the Giants signed Golladay, they signed the 9th overall player taken in the 2017 NFL Draft, John Ross. While Ross did not live up to expectations in Cincinnati, he brings true deep speed to a team that desperately needs it. It would not be shocking to see Ross get cut, but it also would not be shocking for him to press for a starting job opposite of Golladay. In addition to wanting to prove doubters wrong, Ross will rejoin his old college receiving teammate, Dante Pettis, on what had been an explosive University of Washington receiving corps. Overall, the make-up of this unit is far different now than it was just two weeks ago. (John Ross YouTube Highlights)

TIGHT ENDS (Previous Need Level – Desperate): Right or wrong, the front office and coaching staff appear willing to continue to hope Evan Engram develops into the player hoped for when he was drafted in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft. But the team decided to team him with a mentor. Kyle Rudolph has been one of the NFL’s best tight ends for the past 10 years. While not an explosive player, he can catch and block. Just as importantly, he is reliable, something Engram is not. The downside is that Rudolph turns 32 in November and is coming off a foot injury (The Athletic is reporting it is a Lisfranc injury) that required surgery AFTER the Giants signed him. Much depends on how well he recovers. On paper, if he is healthy, this looks like a major addition both in terms of helping out Daniel Jones and the offensive line. (Kyle Rudolph YouTube Highlights)

OFFENSIVE LINE (Previous Need Level – Medium): This is one area where it is debatable if the team has improved in free agency. The Giants were able to force Nate Solder to take a big pay cut to remain with the team. He will now compete against Matt Peart for the starting tackle spot opposite of Andrew Thomas. The Giants somewhat surprisingly simply cut Kevin Zeitler without approaching him about a pay cut. To fill that void, they signed right guard Zach Fulton, who had an inconsistent stay with the Houston Texans. Fulton will compete with Will Hernandez and Shane Lemieux for a starting spot. Fulton does not feel like an upgrade over Zeitler. Where the team probably did get better is at back-up center with the signing of Jonotthan Harrison back in January. He is a better player than Spencer Pulley. Look for the team to continue to address the offensive line in the upcoming draft.

DEFENSIVE LINE (Previous Need Level – Low to High Depending on Tomlinson): Undoubtedly, the biggest loss the team suffered in free agency was losing nose tackle Davlin Tomlinson to the Minnesota Vikings for what appeared to be a reasonable 2-year, $22 million contract. The Giants re-signed back-up nose tackle Austin Johnson to a 1-year, $3 million deal in anticipation of the loss. Johnson will now have to start at nose tackle or the team will be forced to move Dexter Lawrence from end, or sign a veteran or draft a player. Moving Lawrence seems like an obvious option, but that would have a domino effect in that B.J. Hill would probably then become the new starter at end opposite of Leonard Williams. Thus, what had been a somewhat shaky depth situation becomes even more dubious. The team was extremely fortunate in 2020 that no one got hurt up front. The only back-ups on the roster right now are R.J. McIntosh, David Moa, and Breeland Speaks, the latter signed by the Giants in January. Speaking of Williams, the Giants were able to re-sign him to a 3-year, $63 million deal. There will be tremendous pressure on him to live up to that contract.

(Late Note: The Giants signed 6’2”, 335-pound nose tackle Danny Shelton today. Drafted in the 1st round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, Shelton was cut by the Detroit Lions and will help fill the void created by the departure of Tomlinson).

LINEBACKERS (Previous Need Level – High): On paper, the Giants lost one free agent (Kyler Fackrell) and signed three (Ifeadi Odenigbo, Reggie Ragland, Ryan Anderson). All three newcomers were relatively inexpensive, 1-year deals. Ragland will likely compete with Tae Crowder for the inside linebacker spot next to Blake Martinez. He has started 38 regular-season games in the NFL and is a former 2nd-round pick so he has a good shot to win that job. Anderson is another former 2nd-round pick who was stuck behind a plethora of outstanding outside linebackers in Washington. He is known more as an overachiever who saw most of his playing time on special teams, but he could surprise as his competition will be Lorenzo Carter (coming off of a torn Achilles), Oshane Ximines (coming off of shoulder surgery), and last year’s rookies (Carter Coughlin, Cam Brown, Niko Lalos). What about Odenigbo? Good question. He was the first defensive player the Giants signed in free agency. He played exclusively on the defensive line in Minnesota, primarily at end, but also shifting inside in pass-rush packages. However, his lack of size (6’3”, 258 pounds) strongly suggests he will be used like “linebacker” Jabaal Sheard was used by the Giants last year, that is, an edge rusher in 4-man pass rush packages. The Giants could also push him inside like the Vikings did in obvious passing situations in 4-man fronts. It is doubtful that he should be considered a true outside linebacker because he simply does not have experience dropping into coverage. Because of that, one could actually argue he should be included in the defensive line review. Also, the Giants did re-sign inside linebacker Devonta Downs, who started at inside linebacker for the Giants in 2020 until Tae Crowder beat him out. He will have to fight just to make the team however.

CORNERBACKS (Previous Need Level – Desperate): Like the wide receiving position, the make-up of this position completely changed with the addition of one free agent, adding Adoree’ Jackson to a 3-year, $39 million contract after he was cut by the Tennessee Titans. Opinions on his play vary, but Jackson is clearly a major upgrade over everyone else on the team’s roster with the exception of Pro Bowler James Bradberry. The former 1st rounder is a physical and aggressive press corner who plays with a lot of confidence. Depth is still a concern, but on paper, the Giants now look like they have one of the better secondaries in the NFL as long as Darnay Holmes continues to develop at slot corner.

SAFETIES (Previous Need Level – Low): While Adrian Colbert and Nate Ebner remain unsigned, the Giants still look to be in decent shape at this position with Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney, Logan Ryan, and Julian Love – the latter two who can also play corner. Depth will be added later in free agency or the draft.

KICKERS/LONG SNAPPER (Previous Need Level – Low to Average Depending on Kreiter): When the Giants re-signed long snapper Casey Kreiter, this position was largely settled other than camp bodies. The only real question is are the Giants looking to upgrade at punter at some point.

SUMMARY: In my March 12th article, I argued this roster was a train wreck. Two weeks later, with the addition of 11 free agents and counting, it feels vastly different. It’s not just the quantity, but the quality. Keeping Leonard Williams was a big deal. Kenny Golladay and Adoree’ Jackson were two of the best, if not the very best, players available at desperate need positions.  If healthy, Kyle Rudolph could be a major addition as a security blanket for both Daniel Jones and the offensive line. Golladay and Jackson will start. Rudolph will be a quasi-starter. John Ross (1st rounder), Reggie Ragland (2nd rounder), Ryan Anderson (2nd rounder), and Zach Fulton might start. Devontae Booker is now the primary back-up behind Saquon Barkely, Ifeadi Odenigbo will add to the pass rush.

The risk? The money. While most of the deals were relatively cheap, the team did dole out $174 million on three players – Leonard Williams, Kenny Golladay, and Adoree’ Jackson. If they are wrong about any of these three, the team will be paying for it for years. We’ve seen that before and it’s one of the major reasons why the Giants have been mired in the basement of the NFL for a decade. One could also argue that the team should have allocated its resources a bit differently in order to keep Dalvin Tomlinson, extending his contract even last year.

Mar 182021
 
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Mike Glennon, Jacksonville Jaguars (December 27, 2020)

Mike Glennon – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS SIGN MIKE GLENNON
Multiple media outlets are reporting that the New York Giants have signed unrestricted free agent quarterback Mike Glennon (Jacksonville Jaguars). Terms of the deal are not yet known.

The 31-year old, 6’7”, 225-pound Glennon was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The well-traveled Glennon has spent time with the Buccaneers (2013-2016), Chicago Bears (2017), Arizona Cardinals (2018), Oakland Raiders (2019), and Jacksonville Jaguars (2020). He has played in 34 regular-season games with 27 starts, completing 61 percent of his passes for 6,235 yards, 43 touchdowns, and 25 interceptions. Glennon is only 6-21 as starter however. With the Jaguars in 2020, he started five games, completing 111-of-179 passes (62 percent) for 1,072 yards, seven touchdowns, and five interceptions.

For a complete overview of the team’s free agent activity, see the 2021 Free Agency Scorecard section of the website.

GIANTS SIGN KYLE RUDOLPH
Multiple media outlets are reporting that the New York Giants have signed free agent tight end Kyle Rudolph, who was cut earlier this month by the Minnesota Vikings. The New York Post and SNY are say the contract is a 2-year deal worth up to $14 million.

The 31-year old, 6’6”, 265-pound Rudolph was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Vikings. In 10 seasons with the Vikings, Rudolph has played in 140 regular-season games with 132 starts, catching 453 passes for 4,488 yards and 48 touchdowns. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2012 and 2017. Last year in 2020, Rudolph missed the last four games of the season with a foot injury but started 12 games, catching just 28 passes for 334 yards and one touchdown.

For a complete overview of the team’s free agent activity, see the 2021 Free Agency Scorecard section of the website.

LEONARD WILLIAMS ADDRESSES THE MEDIA
Defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who just signed a new 3-year, $63 million contract with the Giants, addressed the media on Thursday. The transcript of his press conference is available in The Corner Forum.

Mar 162021
 
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Leonard Williams, New York Giants (January 3, 2021)

Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS RE-SIGN LEONARD WILLIAMS…
The NFL Network is reporting that the New York Giants have re-signed free agent defensive lineman Leonard Williams to a 3-year, $63 million contract that includes $45 million in guaranteed money. The Giants placed the non-exclusive Franchise tag on Williams last week, which tied up over $19 million in this year’s cap. The new deal reportedly will drop his cap hit to around $11 million in 2021.

The 6’5”, 302-pound Williams was the sixth player taken overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. The Giants acquired Williams by trade from the in late October 2019. In his sixth NFL season, Williams had his best year as a pro in 2020. Williams played in all 16 games with 12 starts (74 percent of defensive snaps) and finished the year with 57 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, 30 quarterback hits, one pass defense, and one fumble recovery.

GIANTS SIGN JOHN ROSS…
The NFL Network is reporting that the New York Giants have signed unrestricted free agent wide receiver John Ross (Cincinnati Bengals) to a 1-year, $2.5 million contract that includes $1 million in guaranteed money.

The 25-year old, 5’11”, 194-pound Ross was drafted in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. In four seasons with the Bengals, the speedy Ross played in just 27 games with 20 starts, accruing 51 catches for 733 yards and 10 touchdowns. In addition to not performing up to expectations in Cincinnati, Ross spent time on Injured Reserve with shoulder and foot injuries in 2019 and 2020.

GIANTS SIGN CULLEN GILLASPIA…
The New York Giants have signed fullback Cullen Gillaspia, who was waived/failed physical by the Houston Texans last week. The 25-year old, 6’2”, 235-pound Gillaspia was drafted by the Texans in the 7th round of the 2019 NFL Draft. In two seasons with the Texans, Gillaspia played in 23 regular-season games with no starts. He has not carried the ball in a regular-season game and only has one catch for six yards. To date, he has played mainly on special teams. Gillaspia missed half of 2020 with a back injury.

Mar 092021
 
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Leonard Williams, New York Giants (September 27, 2020)

Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

REPORTS – GIANTS WILL PLACE FRANCHISE TAG ON LEONARD WILLIAMS…
Multiple media outlets are reporting that for the second year in a row, the New York Giants will designate defensive lineman Leonard Williams as the team’s Franchise Player, thus keeping him off of the free agent market which begins on March 15th. The deadline for designating Franchise Players is 4PM today.

However, these same media reports still indicate that a long-term deal with Williams is still possible. The New York Post is even reporting that the Giants have no intention of paying Williams the $19.4 million he would be due under the Franchise Tag and this move is only to buy additional negotiating time once free agency starts. That said, The Athletic is reporting that the two sides are not close to a new deal.

The 6’5”, 302-pound Williams was the sixth player taken overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. The Giants acquired Williams by trade from the in late October 2019. In his sixth NFL season, Williams had his best year as a pro in 2020. Williams played in all 16 games with 12 starts (74 percent of defensive snaps) and finished the year with 57 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, 30 quarterback hits, one pass defense, and one fumble recovery.

NEW YORK GIANTS CUT CODY CORE…
The New York Giants have officially terminated the contract (failed physical) of wide receiver/special teamer Cody Core, who was set to make $1.45 million is base salary and $550,000 in bonuses in 2021. The move creates an additional $2 million in cap room this year. However, multiple media sources are reporting that the Giants could re-sign Core to a smaller contract if he is healthy enough to return.

Core was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2020 after tearing his Achilles during a training camp practice. While Core only had three catches for 28 yards in 2019, he was arguably the team’s best special teams player, excelling on punt coverage. He was credited with eight tackles and was a big factor in downing punts inside the 20-yard line.

The 6’3”, 205-pound Core was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. In three seasons with the Bengals, he played in 35 regular-season games with seven starts, accumulating 30 catches for 360 yards and one touchdown. The Giants claimed  Core off of waivers from the Bengals in September 2019.

Jan 292021
 
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Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence, New York Giants (November 8, 2020)

Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence – © USA TODAY Sports

Except for two outliers seasons (2013 and 1016), the New York Giants have struggled on defense for the past decade. The challenge for the team through four head coaches (Tom Coughlin, Ben McAdoo, Pat Shurmur, Joe Judge) and four defensive coordinators (Perry Fewell, Steve Spagnuolo, James Bettcher, Patrick Graham) has simply to move New York out of the bottom tier of the NFL on defense:

  • 2011: 27th
  • 2012: 31st
  • 2013: 8th
  • 2014: 29th
  • 2015: 32nd
  • 2016: 10th
  • 2017: 31st
  • 2018: 24th
  • 2019: 25th

With the fourth new regime coming in six years and serious personnel issues in the defensive back seven, it seemed unlikely the Giants would be able to improve their defensive team ranking in 2020. There was also viable media and fan concern about new Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham. In his first season as defensive coordinator in Miami in 2019, the Dolphins had finished 31st on defense. Miami Head Coach Brian Flores had also let Graham out of his contract to join Judge in New York, which seemed like a curious move.

To the credit of the entire coaching staff, the New York Giants finished the year 12th in yards allowed an 9th in points allowed. This was a major accomplishment for a team with no dangerous edge rushers or starting-caliber cornerback opposite of James Bradberry. While the two major free agent additions (Bradberry and linebacker Blake Martinez) were the two best players on the defense, the best overall unit was the defensive line.

The line benefitted from the coaching of Sean Spencer, the highly-regarded defensive line coach who Joe Judge lured away from Penn State. But it’s also important to note that Graham himself was a defensive line coach with the Patriots (2012-2013) and Giants (2016-2017).

Graham had his defense run out of multiple fronts, but the bread-and-butter was still a 3-4 system that remarkably employed only five defensive lineman all season. The sixth man (R.J. McIntosh) spent the whole year inactive. As a whole, the Giants were big, strong, powerful group that was tough to move off of the line of scrimmage. They were generally better against the run (10th in the NFL) than rushing the passer (21 of the team’s 40 sacks).

Ironically, the headliner ended up being the team’s most controversial defensive acquisition in years. Leonard Williams had a career year, accruing over one-fourth of the team’s sacks (11.5) and regularly being a disruptive presences as indicated by his team-high quarterback hits (30) and tackles for loss (14). He was also tied for fifth in combined tackles with 57.

The other two year-long starters were second-year defensive end Dexter Lawrence and third-year nose tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. While Williams received 74 percent of all defensive snaps, Lawrence and Tomlinson each saw 60 percent of all defensive snaps. These two finished with almost 100 combined tackles, 7.5 sacks, 20 quarterback hits, and 14 tackles for losses. Williams, Lawrence, and Tomlinson represented almost 1,000 pounds of beef up front, making life easier for the linebackers.

It’s also important to note the yeoman’s work of the only two reserves who saw action all year: B.J. Hill (34 percent of all defensive snaps) and Austin Johnson (21 percent of all defensive snaps). Both have started in this league, yet they accepted their back-up roles without complaint.

Looking past 2020, the offseason challenge for the Giants will be the retention of free agents Williams and Tomlinson.

THE STARTERS

In his sixth NFL season, Leonard Williams had his best season as a pro in 2020. Williams played in all 16 games with 12 starts (74 percent of defensive snaps) and finished the year with 57 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, 30 quarterback hits, one pass defense, and one fumble recovery. The 6’5”, 302-pound Williams was the sixth player taken overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. The Giants acquired Williams by trade from the in late October 2019. Williams is a stout, strong, physical run defender. While he lacks classic quick-twitch outside pass-rush skills, Williams can pressure the passer due to his combination of power and overall athleticism. He has the ability to line up inside or outside to create match-up problems.

In his second season with the Giants in 2020, Dexter Lawrence played in all 16 games with 15 starts (60 percent of defensive snaps) and finished the year with 53 tackles, six tackles for a loss, four sacks, 10 quarterback hits, and two pass defenses. The Giants drafted Lawrence in the 1st round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He was named to the Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie Team. Built like a prototypical run-stuffing nose tackle with excellent size and strength, the Giants play him more at defensive end. His size and power often force other teams to double-team him. While Lawrence can generate a power rush, he lacks dynamic pass rush moves to consistently reach the quarterback.

For the second year in a row, Dalvin Tomlinson served as the team’s primary nose tackle. He started all 16 games, playing 60 percent of all defensive snaps, and was credited with 49 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, 10 quarterback hits, and four pass defenses. The Giants drafted Tomlinson in the 2nd round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Tomlinson has started all 64 games since he was drafted and has played both 3- and 1-technique roles with the Giants. Tomlinson is a big, strong, physical defender who flashes the ability to disrupt plays in the backfield.

THE RESERVES

In his third NFL season, B.J. Hill continued to see his playing time decline. He played in all 16 games with no starts, playing 34 percent of all defensive snaps (down from 59 percent in 2018 and 44 percent in 2019). Hill was credited with 32 tackles, two tackles for a loss, one sack, three quarterback hits, and one pass defense. The Giants drafted Hill in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Hill has a nice combination of size and athleticism. He is a better run defender than pass rusher.

The Giants signed Austin Johnson as an unrestricted free agent from the Tennessee Titans in March 2020. He played in all 16 games, with no starts (21 percent of all defensive snaps), and was credited with 18 tackles, two tackles for a loss, one sack, one quarterback hit, one pass defense, and one forced fumble. The 6’4”, 314-pound Johnson was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Titans. In four seasons in Tennessee, Johnson played in 58 regular-season games with 13 starts, compiling 83 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and five pass defenses. Johnson is a big, strong run defender who never lived up to expectations in Tennessee.

In his third year with the Giants in 2020, R.J. McIntosh spent the entire season on the inactive list. The Giants selected McIntosh in the 5th round of the 2018 NFL Draft. After missing most of his rookie season with unpublicized medical condition, McIntosh played in 12 games as a reserve in 2019, playing 10 percent of all defensive snaps, and finishing the year with 13 tackles and two sacks. McIntosh combines good size and overall athleticism.

PRACTICE SQUAD

The Giants signed David Moa to the Practice Squad in early October 2020. The 6’3”, 296-pound Moa was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Minnesota Vikings after the 2020 NFL Draft. The Vikings waived him in early September and he then spent a week on the Practice Squad on the Atlanta Falcons.

Jan 072021
 
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Patrick Graham and Joe Judge, New York Giants (December 13, 2020)

Patrick Graham and Joe Judge – © USA TODAY Sports

PATRICK GRAHAM STAYING WITH THE GIANTS…
The New York Giants announced on Tuesday that Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham has signed a contract extension with the team. The Giants also said Graham has decided to not pursue head-coaching opportunities in 2021. Graham was reportedly drawing interest from the New York Jets and possibly other teams for head-coach vacancies around the league. No details on the contract extension were revealed.

In Graham’s first season as defensive coordinator with the Giants, the defense improved from 25th to 12th in terms of yards allowed and from 30th to 9th in terms of points allowed.

GIANTS SIGN TWO MORE TO RESERVE/FUTURE CONTRACTS…
The New York Giants have signed running back Jordan Chunn and re-signed wide receiver Derrick Dillon to future/reserve contracts.

The 26-year old, 6’0”, 230-pound Chunn was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Dallas Cowboys after the 2018 NFL Draft. He spent time on Dallas’ Practice Squad in 2018 and 2019 before the team waived him in July 2020.

The 25-year old, 5’11”, 185-pound Dillon was signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. He spent much of the season on the team’s Practice Squad, but was cut in early December.

LEONARD WILLIAMS HONORED…
New York Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams was named “NFC Defensive Player of the Week” on Wednesday for his performance against the Dallas Cowboys in the regular-season finale. In that game, Williams was credited with 7 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 quarterback hits, 3 tackles for a loss, and one pass defense.

Jan 032021
 
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Leonard Williams, New York Giants (January 3, 2021)

Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 23 – DALLAS COWBOYS 19…
The New York Giants defeated the Dallas Cowboys 23-19 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday afternoon. The Giants finished the 2020 regular-season with a 6-10 record (4-2 in the NFC East). If the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the Washington Football Team on Sunday night, the Giants will win the NFC East and will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the playoffs.

Leading 20-9 at the half, the Giants almost let this game slip away, including some gut-wrench moments late in the 4th quarter. But defensive lineman Leonard Williams dominated with 7 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 quarterback hits, 3 tackles for a loss, and one pass defense.

The Giants received the ball to start the game and impressively drove 78 yards in six plays to take a quick 6-0 lead (the extra point was missed). A mixture of passes from quarterback Daniel Jones and runs by running back Wayne Gallman set up a 23-yard end around by wide receiver Sterling Shepard that went for the score.

Dallas picked up two first downs on their initial drive and then were forced to punt after a 3rd-down sack by linebacker Blake Martinez. However, the Giants gave the ball right back when Gallman botched a handoff from Jones. The Cowboys recovered at the New York 27-yard line. The Giants defense held when Williams sacked quarterback Andy Dalton on 3rd-and-8 from the 14-yard line. Dallas kicked the 38-yard field goal to cut the score to 6-3.

For the next six consecutive drives (three by each team), the Giants and Cowboys struggled to move the ball. New York picked up three first downs and Dallas could not pick up one. All six of these possessions ended with punts.

Midway through the 2nd quarter, the Giants’ offense began to click into gear again. New York drove 65 yards in six plays with Jones finding Shepard for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Shepard also caught a 21-yard pass earlier on this possession. Giants 13 – Cowboys 3.

The Cowboys finally began to move the ball themselves, driving 44 yards in 10 plays to set up a 46-yard field goal. Giants 13 – Cowboys 6.

With 2:13 left on the clock before halftime, New York decided to remain aggressive. It took just four plays for the Giants to drive 75 yards, the two big gains being an 18-yard pass to Shepard, followed by a 38-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Dante Pettis. The Giants now led 20-6 with under a minute to play. Unfortunately, the defense allowed Dallas to gain 35 yards in 45 seconds, setting up a successful 57-yard field goal as time expired.

At the half, the Giants led 20-9.

The Giants’ defense forced a three-and-out by the Cowboys to start the 3rd quarter. However, two plays later, on 2nd-and-10, a pass from Jones intended for tight Evan Engram bounced off of his hands and was intercepted at the Dallas 38-yard line. Worse, Cowboys’ momentum continued to surge as Dallas drove 62 yards in 10 plays to cut the score to 20-16. Running back Ezekiel Elliott scored from one yard out.

The Giants gained two first downs before an illegal crackback penalty called on Shepard pushed the Giants back, leading to a punt. The Cowboys then began a long, 13-play, 62-yard drive that was finally stopped by linebacker Kyler Fackrell’s 8-yard sack on 3rd-and-9 from the Giants’ 10-yard line. Nevertheless, the 36-yard field goal cut the score to the slimmest of margins early in the 4th quarter. Giants 20 – Cowboys 19.

After both teams exchanged punts, with another sack by Williams, the Giants put together a key 8-play, 48-yard possession that ended with a clutch 50-yard field goal by place kicker Graham Gano. Shepard caught another 21-yard pass from Jones on this drive. Giants 23 – Cowboys 19 with six and a half minutes left to play.

Starting at their own 25-yard line, the Cowboys began a potential game-winning, marathon, 17-play possession that took over five minutes off of the clock. All looked lost when Dallas was able to set up a 1st-and-goal from the 7-yard line. But Williams sacked Dalton for a 10-yard loss. Then on 3rd-and-goal from the 17-yard line, safety Xavier McKinney intercepted Dalton in the end zone with 1:15 left to play.

However, the game was not over and Gallman gave New York fans a huge scare when he fumbled on an 8-yard gain on 2nd-and-5. Gallman recovered the loose ball at the New York 39-yard line. The Giants then knelt on the ball to run out the clock.

Daniel Jones finished the game 17-of-25 for 229 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. His leading receiver was Shepard, who caught 8 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown (he also ran for a 23-yard touchdown). No other Giants had more than two catches. Gallman carried the ball 11 times for 65 yards.

Defensively, the Giants sacked Dalton six times: Williams (3), Martinez (1), Fackrell (1), and defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson (1). The defense was also credited with nine tackles for losses and six pass defenses. Linebackers Martinez and Tae Crowder were each credited with 11 tackles.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
P Ryan Santoso was activated from the Practice Squad for this game.

Inactive for the game were WR Golden Tate (calf), OT Jackson Barton, OL Kyle Murphy, DE R.J. McIntosh, CB Madre Harper, and P Ryan Santoso.

The Giants reported no injuries from the game.

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

POST-GAME NOTES…
If the finish in first place, they will be the first six-win playoff team in NFL history.

The Giants ended a seven-game losing streak to Dallas. They had last defeated the Cowboys in December 2016.

The Giants won despite finishing 0-for-7 on 3rd-down conversion attempts. This is the first time the Giants won a game without converting a third down since the 1970 merger.

This was the fifth game this season in which the Giants did not allow a first half touchdown.

This was the first time in wide receiver Sterling Shepard’s 5-year pro career that he scored two times in a game.

The Giants finished the season with 40 sacks, their highest total since they had 47 in 2014. Leonard Williams led the team with 11.5 sacks, the most by a Giants’ player since Jason Pierre-Paul’s 14.5 in 2014.

Defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson became the first Giants defensive player to begin his career with the Giants and start each of his first 64 games in the league since the NFL went to 16 games in 1978.

Kicker Graham Gano’s 50-yard field goal with 6:27 remaining in the 4th quarter was his 30th consecutive successful attempt, a franchise record. Gano made 31-of-32 attempts this season, a .9687 percentage that is the second highest in Giants history. In 2018, Aldrick Rosas made 32-of-33 attempts, a success rate of .9696. Gano kicked his fifth field goal this season of 50 or more yards, including four against the Cowboys. That is a franchise single-season record.

ROSTER MOVES…
On Saturday, the Giants activated linebacker Kyler Fackrell and cornerback Madre Harper from Injured Reserve. To make room for these two, the team placed fullback Eli Penny (illness) on Injured Reserve and cut quarterback Joe Webb.

The Giants placed Fackrell on Injured Reserve in early December 2020 with a calf injury. Up until that point, he had played in all 11 games, starting eight, and accruing 30 tackles, three sacks, and one interception that he returned for a touchdown. Fackrell was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. The Giants signed Fackrell an unrestricted free agent from the Packers in March 2020.

Harper was placed on Injured Reserve in mid-December with a knee injury after playing in nine games with no starts. He was signed by the Las Vegas Raiders as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. The Giants signed Harper off of the Practice Squad of the Raiders in late September 2020.

The sole fullback on the team for the past three seasons, Penny played in 14 games in 2020, rushing the ball six times for 15 yards (2.5 yards per carry) and catching two passes for 20 yards. The 6’2”, 234-pound Penny was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Cardinals after the 2016 NFL Draft. The Giants signed Penny off of the Practice Squad of the Arizona Cardinals in September 2018. He has played in 44 regular-season games for the Giants with four starts.

The Giants signed Joe Webb to the Practice Squad and then the 53-man roster in December 2020. Webb was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He has spent time with the Vikings (2010-2013), Carolina Panthers (2014-2016), Buffalo Bills (2017), Houston Texans (2018-2019), and Detroit Lions (2020).

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

Dec 242020
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (August 6, 2020)

Daniel Jones – Courtesy of New York Giants

DECEMBER 24, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
WR Golden Tate (calf) did not practice on Thursday.

QB Daniel Jones (hamstring/ankle) and CB Darnay Holmes (knee) were limited.

“I thought (Jones) had a good day yesterday,” said Head Coach Joe Judge before Thursday’s practice. “He went out there, we put him through everything. Today will be a more intensive day. Today will be a higher volume day for him. It will be interesting to see how he responds. We’ll see him out there moving around throughout all the team periods. He’ll jump right into his normal role and go forward with it. The intention is if he’s able to play, we intend to play him.

“I was encouraged with how he moved yesterday. I was really encouraged. I think some of the moves we made last week with him, although it was kind of hard for him to kind of sit out on it with the double injuries, but I think that helped resolved some of those issues. All the feedback we’ve gotten medically is that he’s continued to improve and he’s at lesser risk of being injured, and that’s really the things we’re looking for right there as far as positive news. But he moved around nice yesterday. We’ll put him through more today. I can’t give you a percentage or any kind of a gauge on that. But I would say we came through yesterday’s practice feeling like we’re on the right track.”

TE Evan Engram (calf) and OT Matt Peart (ankle) fully practiced.

THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the Giants on Friday and Saturday. The team plays the Ravens in Baltimore on Sunday afternoon.

Dec 092020
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (November 29, 2020)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

RAY PERKINS PASSES AWAY…
Former New York Giants head coach Ray Perkins, who coached the team from 1979-1982, has passed away at the age of 79. Perkins’ Giants compiled a 23-34 regular-season record and 1-1 playoff record in his four years with the team. The 1981 Giants returned to the playoffs for the first time in 18 years, compiling a 9-7 record and defeating the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs. Perkins resigned from the Giants after the 1982 strike season in order to coach at the University of Alabama.

“Ray was George Young’s first hire as general manager in 1979,” said team President/CEO John Mara. “I remember George saying, ‘He will make it very uncomfortable for our players to lose.’ Ray did a good job for us and got us into the playoffs in 1981 for the first time in many years. During the 1982 season, which was shortened due to a players strike, he announced he was leaving at the end of the year to go to Alabama, which he described as his dream job. He left behind a team that had Lawrence Taylor, Phil Simms, and Harry Carson, among others and this was the nucleus of the group that would go on to great success in the 1980’s and win two Super Bowls. I always wondered whether he later regretted that decision. But he certainly left our team in much better shape than he found it in, including having Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick on his staff.”

“I’ll start out offering our thoughts and prayers to coach Perkins’ family,” said Head Coach Joe Judge. “Coach was a guy who touched a lot of lives in the National Football League as well as college football. There are a lot of relationships around this country with him. Personally, I’ve had some crossover with coach through his time coming through Tuscaloosa when I was down there, as well as some contact early in my tenure here. But I appreciate everything he did for me, the time he shared with me, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

GIANTS-BROWNS GAME FLEXED TO SUNDAY NIGHT…
The NFL has flexed the Cleveland Browns at New York Giants game on December 20th to Sunday night. The game had originally been scheduled for 1:00PM on CBS. It will now be aired at 8:20PM on NBC.

DECEMBER 9, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
LB Blake Martinez (back), OT Matt Peart (ankle), and CB Madre Harper (knee) did not practice on Wednesday.

QB Daniel Jones (hamstring) and CB Darnay Holmes (knee) were limited in practice.

“As far as Daniel, we’re going to give him an opportunity today to move around the field,” Head Coach Joe Judge said before practice. “We’re still in that point of the week where I haven’t seen him do anything physical yet this week since the last week really. We’ll see him move around today. We’re optimistic, I know he’s going to tell us everything we want to hear, we’ve got to again use our eyes instead of our ears with Daniel, so we’re going to put him out there today and make sure we give him a chance to progress. Today’s a walk-thru, tomorrow we’ll be on the field moving around and then Friday will be a big day for us to kind of make a final decision hopefully going into the weekend.”

ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants signed defensive end/linebacker Niko Lalos from the team’s Practice Squad to the 53-man roster. To make room for Lalos, the team waived linebacker Trent Harris.

The Giants also signed quarterback Joe Webb to the Practice Squad and terminated the Practice Squad contract of tight end Nakia Griffin-Stewart.

The Giants signed Lalos as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. He spent more than half of the season on the Practice Squad but was elevated to the 53-man roster the past two games.

The Giants signed Harris to the Practice Squad and then the 53-man roster in October 2020. He played in four games with two starts for the Giants. The 6’2”, 255-pound Harris was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New England Patriots after the 2018 NFL Draft. He spent his rookie season on the Practice Squad of the Patriots. The Miami Dolphins claimed Harris off of waivers in September 2019. He played in 11 games with three starts with the Dolphins, accruing 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks. The Dolphins cut him in early September 2020.

The 34-year old, 6’4”, 231-pound Webb was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He has spent time with the Vikings (2010-2013), Carolina Panthers (2014-2016), Buffalo Bills (2017), Houston Texans (2018-2019), and Detroit Lions (2020). Webb has played in 102 regular-season games with four starts, completing 90-of-159 passes (56.6 percent) for 888 yards, three touchdowns, and six interceptions. He also has caught 10 passes in his career and returned 18 kickoffs.

The Giants signed Griffin-Stewart to the Practice Squad in November 2020. The 6’5”, 260-pound Griffin-Stewart was signed as rookie free agent by the Minnesota Vikings after the 2020 NFL Draft. He also spent time on the Practice Squad of the Green Bay Packers that year before signing with the Giants.

LEONARD WILLIAMS NAMED “NFC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK”…
New York Giants defensive end Leonard Williams has been named the “NFC Defensive Player of the Week” for his performance against the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday. In that game, Williams was credited with three tackles, two tackles for losses, 2.5 sacks and five quarterback hits.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Thursday afternoon (12:00-1:45PM). Head Coach Joe Judge, the team’s coordinators, and select players will also address the media.

Dec 062020
 
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Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams, New York Giants (December 6, 2020)

Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 17 – SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 12…
In perhaps the team’s most impressive victory in years, the New York Giants defeated the Seattle Seahawks 17-12 on Sunday at Lumen Field in Seattle, Washington. The win was New York’s fourth in a row, improving their overall record to 5-7 and keeping the Giants in first place in the NFC East. The heavily-favored Seahawks fell to 8-4.

Playing without starting quarterback Daniel Jones, back-up quarterback Colt McCoy and the Giants’ offense struggled in the first half. New York’s five first-half possessions resulted in three punts, an interception, and a safety. The Giants were only able to generate four 1st downs, 95 yards, and no points. The safety came with 33 seconds left before halftime when Riley Dixon’s punt was blocked with the ball exiting the end zone.

Fortunately for New York, the Giants’ defense was up to the challenge, holding the NFL’s 5th-rated offense to one field goal in the first half. Those points came on Seattle’s first drive of the game, as the Seahawks drove 57 yards in nine plays to set up a 31-yard field goal. Seattle did nothing after that, with their next four drives resulting in a punt, punt, fumble, and a punt. Rookie defensive end/linebacker Niko Lalos recovered the fumble.

At the half, the Seahawks led 5-0.

Both teams exchanged punts to start the 3rd quarter. The Giants’ offense finally got the big play they needed on their second drive when running back Wayne Gallman broke off a 60-yard run around left end. Running back Alfred Morris gained 13 yards on the next snap and then Morris finished off the 4-play drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. McCoy hit wide receiver Sterling Shepard in the end zone for the successful 2-point conversion and the Giants were now up 8-5.

Seattle gained one first down on their second possession and decided to gamble on 4th-and-1 at their own 48-yard line. Quarterback Russell Wilson’s pass was broken up by cornerback Isaac Yiadom and the Seahawks turned the ball over on downs. The Giants then made Seattle pay with a 5-play, 48-yard drive that ended with a touchdown. Gallman rushed for 3, 13, and 23 yards. Then Morris ran for three before catching a 6-yard pass from McCoy for the score. Place kicker Graham Gano missed the extra point and the Giants now led 14-5.

The Seahawks gained two first downs but were pushed back by a 15-yard sack by defensive end Leonard Williams and were forced to punt again early in the 4th quarter. The Giants went three-and-out, but New York got the ball right back when cornerback Darnay Holmes picked off a deflected pass at the Seattle 39-yard line. New York’s offense could only gain nine yards, but it was good enough to set up a 48-yard field goal and a 17-5 lead with less than 10 minutes to play.

Seattle made things interesting when they followed up with an 11-play, 82-yard drive than ended with a 28-yard touchdown pass by Wilson. Their sole touchdown of the game cut New York’s lead to 17-12 with 6:09 left to play.

The Giants were able to pick up two first downs and take 4:21 off of the clock. But the Seahawks got the ball back with 1:48 left to play and a chance to steal the game. Starting from their own 20-yard line, Seattle did pick up two first downs, cross midfield, and reach the New York 46-yard line. The New York defense then stiffened as Wilson threw two incomplete passes and was sacked for an 8-yard loss by Leonard Williams on 3rd-and-10. Wilson’s last desperate 4th-and-18 deep pass fell incomplete.

McCoy finished the game 13-of-22 for 105 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. His leading targets were tight end Evan Engram (four catches for 32 yards) and wide receiver Golden Tate (four catches for 30 yards). Gallman rushed 16 times 135 yards and Morris chipped in with eight carries for 39 yards and a rushing touchdown as New York rushed for 190 yards against the NFL’s 3rd-ranked run defense.

Seattle was held to 327 total yards on 70 offensive snaps. The Seahawks were 4-of-13 on 3rd down and 0-of-2 on 4th down. The Giants picked off one pass and recovered one fumble. Linebacker Blake Martinez led the team with 10 tackles. Linebacker Tae Crowder had seven tackles and one sack. Safety Jabrill Peppers had 5 tackles, one sack, and two pass defenses. Leonard Williams was credited with 2.5 sacks and five quarterback hits. Linebacker Jabaal Sheard had 0.5 sacks.

Video highlights are available on Giants.com.

NEW YORK GIANTS ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants re-signed quarterback Alex Tanney to the team’s Practice Squad on Saturday. Tanney was cut by the Giants on September 5th. The Giants also placed running back Devonta Freeman, who is currently on Injured Reserve with an ankle injury, on the Reserve/COVID-19 List.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
QB Clayton Thorson and DE/LB Niko Lalos were activated from the Practice Squad for this game.

Inactive for the game were QB Daniel Jones (hamstring), WR Dante Pettis, OT Jackson Barton, OL Kyle Murphy, DE R.J. McIntosh, LB Trent Harris, and LB T.J. Brunson,

LB Blake Martinez left the game in the fourth quarter with a lower back injury and did not return.

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

  • Head Coach Joe Judge (Video)
  • QB Colt McCoy (Video)
  • RB Wayne Gallman (Video)
  • RB Alfred Morris (Video)
  • DE Leonard Williams (Video)
  • S Jabrill Peppers (Video)

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