The wheels are coming off the Giants 2021 season. The 4-8 squad traveled across the country to Los Angeles to take on the 7-5 Chargers. Daniel Jones remained on the sideline as he and the organization try to diagnose the the severity of his neck injury and timeline for possible return, while the 2020 NFL Rookie of the Year, record-setting Justin Herbert, marched onto the field making his 28th consecutive start.
NYG began with the ball, led by backup Mike Glennon for the second straight week. Sterling Shepard was back on the field, leaving only first round rookie Kadarius Toney as the only other skill position player left on the injured list other than Jones. This offense has scored the fewest touchdowns in the league (tied with HOU) and at least a part of that reason revolves around the injuries. The game started with 3 straight scoreless possessions between the 2 teams. LAC seemed to find their flow early on, however.
On their second drive, they never saw a 3rd down over the course of 9 plays, picking up chunk after chunk. They ran the ball down NYG’s throat and ended it with a 1-yard touchdown by Austin Ekeler. NYG’s response was important. Much thanks to a 60-yard gain on a 3rd-and-10 pass from Glennon to Kyle Rudolph, NYG tied the game up via a play-action pass to fullback Elijhaa Penny. The game entered the second quarter locked up at 7 a piece.
NYG’s defense, an improving unit over the past couple of months, couldn’t come up with a stop to reverse the momentum. Herbert hit rookie receiver Josh Palmer for a 12-yard touchdown at the end of a 9-play drive to re-lengthen to lead to 14-7. This is where the LAC dominance began. NYG followed with a 3-and-out, then LAC made it a 10-point game thanks to a 27-yard field goal. NYG proceeded to another two three-and-out drives, giving LAC the ball back with 40 seconds left in the first half. On a 3rd-and-11 with 25 seconds left, Herbert threw an absolute bomb as he was being hit by Lorenzo Carter that traveled 70 yards in the air and into the hands of Jalen Guyton for the 59-yard score. Just like that, in a matter of 12 minutes of game clock, LAC went to 24-7 after being tied up at 7.
To add insult to injury, LAC began the second half with the ball, adding 3 more points via a 28-yard field goal. Make it 20 unanswered points. Head Coach and special team guru Joe Judge went into his bag of tricks on the following drive. NYG was set to punt from their own 38 but to the surprise of everyone other than the Chargers, it was a fake. Riley Dixon attempted a pass that came nowhere close to his target, cornerback Keion Crossen. LAC took the field position and turned that into 3 points. 23 unanswered points.
This game seemed all but over, with the Chargers up 30-7 lead entering the 4th quarter, but they weren’t done. Herbert hit veteran Jared Cook for a 1-yard touchdown. 30 unanswered points. The rest of the 4th quarter saw the LAC backups get a few snaps and NYG score two garbage touchdowns against a prevent defense. Glennon hit Barkley for on a 18-yard score and the quarterback ran another one in after nearly tripping over his own feet. Glennon ended his 17/36 day with an interception before the white flag was raised.
NYG loses 37-21.
Mike Glennon: 17/36 – 191 yards / 2 TD – 1 INT / 70.5 RAT
Glennon also scored on a 7-yard touchdown run in garbage time after the Chargers called the dogs off. Not that the numbers are overly impressive, don’t let any of them mislead you. Glennon was awful for most of the afternoon. He went 9/19 in the first half and missed multiple easy throws. He had targets open but missed them. He had targets open but did not see them. There isn’t a huge benefit to seeing Glennon out there if Daniel Jones remains out. If and when Jake Fromm learns enough of the offense, Glennon needs to go back to his 2nd-string role.
Saquon Barkley: 16 att – 64 yards / 3 rec – 31 yards – 1 TD
For his 5th straight game, Barkley rushed for more yards than the previous. His 95 total yards were the second-highest of the season (win vs. NO being the highest). To be fair, as I have been very critical of him all season, he looked better in this game than what we have seen most of the year. A little less dancing, a little more lowering of the shoulder, and extra yards after contact. He was only on the field for 55% of the snaps too. I would love to see him play these last few games hard and fast. We need to know he can still do it.
-Another poor day from this group when it came to involvement and production. Much of that is due to the poor play of Glennon, however. He was misfiring left and right, north and south. Golladay saw 8 targets and caught just 2 of them for 15 yards. John Ross and Pharaoh Cooper each caught 1 pass for a combined 13 yards.
-Sterling Shepard came back for the first time since November 1st. I wasn’t sure how much they would limit his snaps, but he actually on the field for 56 plays (81%). He saw just 4 targets, catching 2 of them for 27 yards.
-Darius Slayton was targeted 3 times and didn’t catch 1 of them. He added a drop to his total on the year. His 10.6% drop number is one of the worst in the league.
-Kyle Rudolph came up with the biggest play of the day on a 60-yard catch-and-run (mostly run) when the game was still tight. He also graded out very well in the running game.
-Evan Engram had 1 catch for 8 yards and a drop. Glennon missed him multiple times. Unfortunate to not see Engram build off his solid performance a week ago. Chris Myarick also added a drop.
-Compared to what we’ve seen this season, the offensive line as a whole played a solid game. They got more vertical push in the running game than we have seen all year and the pass protection was above average across the board.
-Andrew Thomas allowed 1 pressure on a play where he lost his footing. Besides that, he was near flawless. He built on his very solid season. Nate Solder allowed 2 pressures and a sack while splitting snaps with Matt Peart. We all want to see more out of Peart, but one can easily make the case he is a lesser pass blocker than Solder. His footwork looks horrific, and it carries over to his hands and torso.
-Inside, center Billy Price and guard Will Hernandez finished with above average grades. The latter allowed 1 pressure but adjusted well on stunts and both were powerful in the running game. Matt Skura allowed a sack and a TFL – two negative plays that you can’t have but he was solid everywhere else. Ben Bredeson saw 10 snaps and didn’t have any standout plays in either direction.
-Leonard Williams injured his elbow early and at the time of this writing (Tuesday AM), my guess is he will be done for the year. This should open the door for rookies Elerson Smith and Raymond Johnson to see more snaps. Neither stood out in their limited action against LAC.
-Dexter Lawrence had one of his best days as a Giant. 7 tackles, 1 sack, and a career high 4 pressures. What I liked most here was the fact that he amped up the intensity after Williams went out. I would like to think that was him consciously making the effort to be the guy in there, the one to take over. Now, if only we could get him to play with that intensity weekly.
-Austin Johnson and Danny Shelton combined for 10 tackles but were obliterated in the running game. Shelton especially doesn’t have the juice to get off the blocks quick enough. He is such a heavy, slow mover.
-Tae Crowder added 8 tackles to his team-lead in that department. He and Reggie Ragland were the guilty culprits when it came to LAC’s running game success. They couldn’t avoid blocks, they couldn’t get off them. Benardrick McKinney added 5 tackles and played a nasty, physical brand. He made his presence known a few times.
-Lorenzo Carter had an active game. He got the best of star rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater a few times, recording 4 tackles and 2 pressures. He was close on a sack as well. Azeez Ojulari added sack and now has a team-high 7.5.
-Elerson Smith and Quincy Roche were both quiet. NYG now has a rotation of 3 players on rookie deals to work with on the outside. I want to see more of Smith and Ojulari with Carter and Roche taking a back seat. We need to see the upside-guys get the action and let others fill in during breaks.
-Aaron Robinson played all but 3 snaps. He led the team with 9 tackles and allowed a little too much separation on underneath / intermediate routes. That is where he needs to prove himself in this league. He won’t be a tall, long, speedy downfield cover guy. He isn’t going to beat a ton of guys up at the line. His physical movement skills are there, but the anticipation isn’t there yet.
-James Bradberry wasn’t targeted often. He had 1 tackle and 1 pass break up.
-Jarren Williams saw a third of the snaps and LAC went after him pretty hard. He allowed a touchdown and was flagged for a hold on special teams. He has the look of a typical young and inexperienced corner in that he can’t seem to use his athletic ability just yet. He is tripping over his own feet and isn’t seeing things yet. I like his talent, though. Just need to see him bounce back a bit.
-The one thing I like the most about this defense is the amount of versatility these safeties bring to the scheme overall. With the injuries and inexperience at corner, the likes of Logan Ryan and Julian Love with their respective history at cornerback can help a ton. With that said, these three got roasted by the LAC passing game that was missing their best receiver. McKinney was beat on the long touchdown, Ryan was flagged for an illegal hands to face, and Love was fooled on a touchdown along with missing 2 tackles.
-K Graham Gano: No FG attempts
-P Riley Dixon: 5 punts / 45.6 avg – 41.6 net
-DT Dexter Lawrence, OT Andrew Thomas, RB Saquon Barkley
-DT Danny Shelton, CB Jarren Williams, QB Mike Glennon
3 THOUGHTS ON LAC
(1) Within the scouting community, the Chargers front office, and in particular the college scouts, is highly respected around the league. These guys are thorough, they stick to their template for that year, and hit on a lot of picks. What I like the most about them is their ability to evolve their process year by year. Unlike many teams, they will change their approach when the market and team situation dictate as much. They’re going to be competitive for a very long time.
(2) What is it that this team is missing? Their offensive line has been very up and down. They had a stretch of 3 games where they rivaled the level of lowness we see from NYG. Their right tackle Storm Norton is one of the worst 5 starters in the NFL at that position and right guard Michael Schofield can’t handle power. They have gotten a bit better, but I think it will be their undoing in the postseason.
(3) The NFL has been taken over more than ever by more analytics-based minds both on coaching staffs and front offices. Time will tell if the approach is going to work (I think some teams way overvalue it). LAC uses a lot of it to make in-game decisions, notably on 4th downs and field goal situations. According to my count, it has hurt them more than helped. When factoring this in against teams that can really capitalize on mistakes, I think it will further hurt them if they make the playoffs.
3 CLOSING THOUGHTS
(1) If Daniel Jones is going to be out the rest of the season with the neck injury, these last few games got even more difficult to watch. He was the biggest gray area in my mind who needed more clarity. I want to see him play with a full slate of skill-position players behind a line that is fully healthy, or close-to it. No, I don’t have any hope in Fromm coming out of nowhere even though I would rather see him play than Glennon.
(2) Has Joe Judge proven he can’t get the most out of his team? It is at least a conversation worth having at the end of the year. The coach and QB especially are the ones who need to get the most out of others. Judge hasn’t taken a step forward as a head coach. I don’t get caught up in the post-game press conferences, those are what they are. I read and listen to a lot of them, and only about 7-8 coaches in the league are worth listening to in that situation. I am more concerned with the lack of identity this team has. The lack of self-scouting. The poor game management with timeouts and situational football.
(3) Barring a surprise, NYG will have 2 selections in the top 10. 3 in the top 40. 5 in the top 80. With the gray cloud over the quarterback situation and a strong offensive line/pass rusher group coming respectively, one can easily make the argument this is the biggest pre-draft process in decades for this franchise. Who will be in charge? That is THE question for me. NYG needs to go outside the box, they need to go unorthodox. Their inability and unwillingness to do so is a catalyst for why NYG is where they are right now.