Aug 132016
 
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Andre Williams, New York Giants (August 12 2016)

Andre Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Miami Dolphins 27 – New York Giants 10

Overview

Minus their two best players – Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, the Ben McAdoo era began with a bit of an anti-climatic, uneventful game sabotaged by horrendous quarterback play by Ryan Nassib. The first preseason game is usually a bit sloppy and this contest was no exception. McAdoo needs to get this team to play more disciplined football and execute at a higher level. There were too many turnovers and the Giants were lucky there weren’t a lot more. Nassib could have been picked off more than twice. And the Giants fortunately recovered four of their six fumbles.

The primary take-aways from this game were:

  • Ryan Nassib stunk.
  • The starting defense played at a high level.
  • The team is holding its breath awaiting news on Eli Apple’s knee.
  • There appears to be little depth on the offensive line.
  • The Giants have some promising young players on both sides of the ball.

Giants on Offense

Not good. Aided by two Miami Dolphins penalties. the Giants drove 74 yards on nine plays on their opening drive to score their only touchdown of the evening. The only other points were set up by a turnover returned to the Dolphins 11-yard line. The Giants gained five first downs on their first drive and only seven others on the remaining 13 drives. The passing game was beyond pathetic, accruing a net of 69 yards. The running game was far more productive with 158 yards rushing but it couldn’t compensate for the terrible quarterbacking.

Something to keep an eye on is that Mike Sullivan called the plays in this game, not Ben McAdoo. If the offense continues to struggle, that may have to change.

Quarterback

Ben McAdoo decided to not play Eli Manning.

Ryan Nassib was handed an opportunity that all back-up quarterbacks who aspire to one day start in the NFL hope to receive: play the bulk of a preseason game, including starting with the first unit. Nassib failed miserably. Rather than confidently raising the level of play of the offensive unit, he appeared to be the one holding it back. Nassib seemed jumpy, missed seeing open receivers, and had trouble on almost all of his outside throws. Indeed, the only strikes he really threw were between the hashmarks. Two of his deep throws were underthrown, late, and picked off. He was lucky at least two other passes were not intercepted. Nassib sloppily fumbled away one ball after a scramble, setting up an easy touchdown for the Dolphins. He also had issues on a couple of snaps where the football ended up on the ground. Nassib had a chance to hit Sterling Shepard in the end zone on 3rd-and-goal, but also underthrew him there.

The final stat line was ugly: 7-of-15 for 75 yards, 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 1 lost fumble, and a quarterback rating of 22.2. Logan Thomas received playing time in the 4th quarter but was only threw for 12 yards.

The primary reason the Giants lost this football game was Nassib. He held the entire offense back.

Running Backs

Hampered by a pathetic passing attack, the running game was probably more productive than should have been expected as the Giants ran for 158 yards on the night (146 yards from the running backs). Andre Williams was the leading rusher with nine carries for 41 yards (4.6 yards per carry). He had runs of 16 and 12 yards and appeared more nimble and instinctive. New York’s best run of the night was a 19-yarder by Shane Vereen who put on a nifty spin move to avoid a free defender behind the line of scrimmage. Rashad Jennings only had three carries but scored from three yards out, running through a tackle to do so. Bobby Rainey received playing time earlier than expected (2nd quarter) and had four carries for 17 yards (4.3 yards per carry). Paul Perkins gained 36 yards on seven carries (5.1 yards per carry), including a 14-yard run, but he botched a handoff. The turnover gave the Dolphins a short field to put the game away. Orleans Darkwa had two carries for 16 yards and Marshaun Coprich two carries for six yards.

Wide Receivers

Odell Beckham (coach’s decision) and Victor Cruz (groin) did not play.

The quarterback play was so shoddy that it was tough to get a good read on the receivers. Giants quarterbacks completed nine passes – and only five to wide receivers!!! Sterling Shepard had the catch of the night, when he kept alive the Giants sole TD drive with a diving 24-yard catch on 3rd-and-6. Only one receiver had more than one catch and that was Geremy Davis who caught two passes for 21 yards before leaving with a hamstring injury. Only one other receiver – Dwayne Harris – had a catch longer than 10 yards (Harris had an 11-yarder). Roger Lewis received a lot of playing time earlier than expected. He had one catch for nine yards.

Tight Ends

Again, quarterbacking was so poor that it was tough to get a good read on the tight ends in the passing game. Will Tye had a nifty 15-yard catch-and-run called back due to an illegal formation penalty on Byron Stingily. The only official catch was the 7-yarder caught by Jerell Adams late in the 4th quarter. Larry Donnell was flagged with an unnecessary holding penalty on an outside run. Donnell did have an excellent block as an up back on Andre Williams’ 16-yard run. Tye and Matt LaCosse seemed to do a reasonable job run blocking.

Weston Richburg, New York Giants (August 12 2016)

Weston Richburg – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Offensive Line

The Dolphins sat their top three defensive linemen so this wasn’t a real good test for the starting five. On the first drive, Ereck Flowers allowed one pass pressure and was flagged with a false start. The Giants had some issues running around end early; there was on play where RT Marshall Newhouse was pushed back, disrupting the play. Overall, the starters were pretty steady however.

The second-team line featured LT Byron Stingily, LG Ryan Seymour, OC Brett Jones, RG Adam Gettis, and RT Bobby Hart. Gettis was a train wreck. He got flagged for holding three times and botched his initial block on a screen pass that led to a sack. Stingily was flagged for an illegal formation penalty that wiped out a 15-yard reception by TE Will Tye (Stingily also allowed Nassib to get hit on this play). Seymour got beat on the play that led to the Nassib fumble that was returned to the 5-yard line; he had some issues with the bull-rush.

In the third quarter, Gettis moved to center and Emmett Cleary came in at right guard. This is where Gettis promptly was flagged with his third holding penalty. Late in the quarter, Dillon Farrell played center with Jones at left guard and Cleary still at right guard. In the 4th quarter, the line featured LT Jake Rodgers, LG Shane McDermott, OC Dillon Farrell, RG Brett Jones, and RT Emmett Cleary. Rodgers and McDermott had good blocks on a 14-yard gain by Paul Perkins. Rodgers was flagged with a false start and the running game pretty much sputtered for much of the rest of the final quarter. Cleary also gave up a pass pressure on 3rd-and-9.

Giants on Defense

The starting defense played very well. The Giants stuffed the run and got after the passer. Miami did not gain a first down until their sixth drive of the game. The reserves did not play as well, but they were also not helped by the Giants offense setting up the Dolphins on short fields after turnovers. Miami scored 17 points after drives of 33, 5, and 25 yards. A 51-yard touchdown pass came on a fluke play where the intended receiver tipped the pass to another receiver who easily ran into the end zone.

Defensive Line

DT Jay Bromley (ankle) and DE Kerry Wynn (groin) did not play.

The starting four of LDE Jason Pierre-Paul, DT Johnathan Hankins, DT Damon Harrison, and RDE Olivier Vernon looked as good as advertised. They were tough against the run and applied tremendous pressure on the quarterback. Hankins and Harrison – who flipped between both tackle spots – are a brick wall in the middle. Vernon stood out with his lightning quick pass rush, hitting the quarterback twice and almost getting a safety. JPP also flashed with his pressure on the quarterback and caused a holding penalty on a running play.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa had his best game as a Giant, lining up both at defensive tackle in pass rush situations and outside in the base defense. He had three quarterback hits and two sacks. His first big hit came with the starters, forcing the quarterback to unload the ball quickly. He also caused a holding penalty on one pass rush. Odigizuwa did get handled on the 5-yard touchdown run however.

Two other relatively unknown defensive ends had their moments too. Stansly Maponga accrued a sack and rookie free agent Romeo Okwara played a lot. Okwara has good size and made some noise both in run defense and applying pressure. Like Odighizuwa, Okwara played defensive tackle in passing situations. Mike Rose had one big hit near the end of the 3rd quarter on the quarterback.

Among the reserve tackles, Greg Milhouse had one sack and four tackles. He combined with safety Andrew Adams to stuff one 3rd-and-1 run. Louis Nix had a few decent moments against the run.

Jonathan Casillas, New York Giants (August 12 2016)

Jonathan Casillas – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Linebackers

Linebackers Keenan Robinson (groin) and J.T. Thomas (hamstring) did not play.

Jonathan Casillas looked good in pass coverage, picking off one pass and returning it to the 11-yard line and almost coming down with another interception off a deflection. He was also pretty active flowing to the football on running plays (two assists). In limited time, Jasper Brinkley had two solo tackles and Kelvin Sheppard one assist. Devon Kennard was quiet.

B.J. Goodson (7 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss) stood out as a physical presence with strong, sure tackles. However, he did miss a tackle at the start of the 3rd quarter on a 26-yard run. Later on this drive, Goodson was badly beaten in coverage by the tight end (fortunately, the pass was dropped). Goodson did a nice job of reading a screen pass and causing a 3-yard loss.

Brad Bars seemed to get hung up a little too long on blocks and was caught chasing ball carriers who got around him. Ishaq Williams made a nice tackle on an inside run but later couldn’t make a play on the back on 3rd-and-3 when the Dolphins were running out the clock.

Defensive Backs

Corners Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins were never tested. Neither were safeties Darian Thompson and Landon Collins. Ben McAdoo said that Thompson was near perfect in his assignments.

Eli Apple had a couple of throws in his direction, but made a sure tackle to keep the receiver short of the first down and had tight coverage on another short throw. Apple also helped to disrupt an outside running play.

Leon McFadden was beaten a couple of times, including on key 3rd-and-8 and 3rd-and-6 plays that kept drives alive. Donte Deayon and Michael Hunter couldn’t get off their blocks on a 3rd-and-16 screen play that picked up 24 yards. Deayon was beaten for 14 yards on 3rd-and-4 later on this scoring drive. In the 4th quarter, the Dolphins tried the WR screen again but Hunter this time read it beautifully, disrupting the entire play.

Nat Berhe made one very good play in run defense, but later left his side of the field wide open on the 5-yard touchdown run by misreading the play. Cooper Taylor missed a tackle near the line of scrimmage on a 26-yard run. Andrew Adams made a nice play in short yardage on 3rd-and-1 but he bit on the 4th-and-1 play-fake and may have been responsible for the tight end being wide open for the catch-and-run touchdown. Bennett Jackson did a horrible job of over-running this play too and letting the tight end score.

Giants on Special Teams

I’m sorry but Tom Quinn doesn’t do it for me. He should have been let go a long time ago.

Brad Wing punted seven times, including a 65-yarder and two kicks downed inside the 20-yard line. But kickoff and punt coverage could have been much better. Miami’s Jakeem Grant returned kickoffs for 26 and 27 yards. More damaging were his four punt returns for a total of 60 yards (15 yards per return), including a 28-yarder. Orleans Darkwa did have a strong tackle on a third kickoff return that only gained eight yards.

Bobby Rainey received most of the return work for the Giants. He returned three punts for a total of 17 yards (5.7 yards per return) and two kickoffs for 36 yards (18 yards per return). More alarmingly, his old ball security issues appeared as he fumbled a punt return and bobbled another. He also had issues with one kickoff return. Dwayne Harris’ job appears very safe.

Cooper Taylor was flagged with an unnecessary roughness penalty, wiping out a 15-yard punt return by K.J. Maye. Leon McFadden was also flagged with a holding penalty on a punt return.

(Miami Dolphins at New York Giants, August 12, 2016)
Aug 132016
 
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Jonathan Casillas, New York Giants (August 12 2016)

Jonathan Casillas – © USA TODAY Sports Images

MIAMI DOLPHINS 27 – NEW YORK GIANTS 10…
The Ben McAdoo era began with a 27-10 preseason defeat at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Friday night. McAdoo decided not to play quarterback Eli Manning and wide receiver Odell Beckham. Quarterback Ryan Nassib struggled in Eli’s place. But the starting defense played well and the offense did just enough to help New York take a 10-0 advantage in the first quarter. However, aided by four turnovers, the Dolphins scored 27 unanswered points to win an unexciting contest.

The Giants drove 74 yards in nine plays on their opening possession to take a 7-0 lead. The drive was highlighted by a 19-yard run by running back Shane Vereen and a diving 24-yard catch by rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard on 3rd-and-6. Two plays later, running back Rashad Jennings scored from three yards out. The Giants were fortunate, however, in that Miami was flagged with two costly penalties on this drive, including a botched shotgun snap on 3rd-and-11.

Meanwhile, the Giants defense did not allow a first down on Miami’s first five offensive possessions. The defense stopped the run and pressured the quarterback. Late in the 1st quarter, linebacker Jonathan Casillas intercepted quarterback Matt Moore at the Dolphins 30-yard line and returned it to the 11-yard line. Despite setting up a 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line, the Giants offense could not punch it in and New York settled for a 20-yard field goal to go up 10-0.

The failure to score from the 1-yard line was a bad omen. After the first drive where the Giants gained five first downs, the team did not gain more than one first down on any drive for the remainder of the game. In their final 13 possessions, the Giants gained seven first downs. Nassib was dreadful, only completing 7-of-15 passes for 75 yards. Two of his his deep throws were underthrown and intercepted. He also carelessly fumbled the ball away, setting up the Dolphins at the Giants 5-yard line. Nassib was lucky a couple of other throws were not picked off.

Nassib’s three turnovers led to 17 second quarter points by the Dolphins, one touchdown coming off of a fluke 51-yard pass where the intended receiver tipped the ball to another receiver who scored. In the second half, the Dolphins scored again on a short field after a fumble by running back Paul Perkins at New York’s 25-yard line.

New York finished the game with only 69 net yards passing (the Dolphins had 192). The Giants did out-rush the Dolphins 158 to 104. The second- and third-team players on the Giants offensive line struggled.

Some defensive highlights included:

  • Two quarterback hits by DE Olivier Vernon.
  • Three quarterback hits and two sacks by DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa.
  • One sack by DE Stansly Maponga.
  • An active game – including four tackles – by DE Romeo Okwara.
  • Four tackles and one sack by DT Greg Milhouse.
  • Seven tackles and two tackles for a loss by LB B.J. Goodson.
  • An aggressive game by CB Eli Apple, including a solid tackle short of the sticks.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Not playing were WR Victor Cruz (groin), DE Kerry Wynn (groin), LB Keenan Robinson (groin), LB J.T. Thomas (hamstring/PUP), and DT Jay Bromley (ankle/PUP).

CB Eli Apple (lower leg strain), WR Sterling Shepard (groin strain), WR Geremy Davis (hamstring), and TE Will Johnson (burner) all left the game and did not return.

Head Coach Ben McAdoo did not think the injuries to Apple, Shepard, or Davis were serious.

“I’m feeling fine,” said Apple. “It’s just a lower leg strain, it’s gonna be fine.”

“I feel good,” said Shepard. “It’s just sore from practice, but it’s all good now.”

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

ARTICLES…

Aug 112016
 
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Ben McAdoo, New York Giants (July 30, 2016)

Ben McAdoo – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Game Preview: Miami Dolphins at New York Giants, August 12, 2016

THE STORYLINE:
Experienced fans understand that the first preseason game is nothing more than a glorified scrimmage. But this first game has a far deeper meaning. For the first time in 12 years, a new head coach for the New York Giants will be walking the sidelines. The three most successful head coaches in franchise history were Steve Owen (24 years), Bill Parcells (8 years), and Tom Coughlin (12 years). Will Ben McAdoo become a franchise fixture, lasting 10+ years or will he be gone in three years? Nothing is given. No one knows the answer to that question.

Some young Giants fans have known nothing but Tom Coughlin. They can’t remember a day when he wasn’t the head coach walking the sideline. Or they have a hazy memory of Jim Fassel or Dan Reeves. Love or hate Tom Coughlin, he knew how to run the ship. Everything was organized. The Giants were a well-run machine. On Friday night against the Miami Dolphins, we’ll receive our very first impression of how tight a ship Ben McAdoo operates. The first preseason game is often sloppy, but we want to see things run generally smoothly. Disorderly and undisciplined teams usually do not succeed.

The starters will only play about 15 snaps. This first game will be more important for the current reserves who are either trying to push for starting playing time or simply trying to make the team.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • DT Jay Bromley (ankle – on the PUP)
  • LB J.T. Thomas (hamstring – on the PUP)
  • WR Victor Cruz (groin)
  • DE Kerry Wynn (groin)
  • LB Keenan Robinson (groin)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
WR Victor Cruz will not play and with each passing day, one wonders if he will ever be the same player again. Indeed, it may not be a given that he makes the team. Cruz has yet to make much noise in training camp and the clock is ticking. 2011-12 was a long time ago.

The quarterbacks in 2016 will be Eli Manning and Ryan Nassib again. The starting offensive line returns intact. So does the running back corps plus Paul Perkins. There is more competition at tight end but the front runners likely remain Larry Donnell and Will Tye. The key difference between the 2015 and 2016 New York Giants on offense appears to be the subtraction of WR Rueben Randle and the addition of WR Sterling Shepard – which appears to be a huge upgrade.

The leading wide receivers for New York in 2015 were Odell Beckham (96 catches for 1,450 yards and 13 touchdowns), Randle (57 catches for 797 yards and 8 touchdowns), and Dwayne Harris (36 catches for 396 yards and 4 touchdowns). No other wide receiver on the roster had more than seven catches! The hope here is that Shepard becomes an instant impact player who is able to take pressure off of Beckham. The Giants also need a productive Cruz to return or another receiver to step up and produce as the third receiver. The chief candidates right now are Geremy Davis, Myles White, Tavarres King, Roger Lewis, and Darius Powe. Are these just guys or is there someone here who can serve as a legitimate threat?

Beyond the receiver concerns, the main focus on offense will be for jobs and playing time behind the starters. There are a lot of bodies at running back and tight end. After Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen, who will receive the few remaining touches at running back? Andre Williams, Orleans Darkwa, Paul Perkins, or Bobby Rainey? Ben McAdoo loves to employ tight ends in multiple packages. I expect four tight ends to make the roster. Will Johnson is a jack-of-all-trades player who can play fullback, H-Back, and tight end. Aside from Donnell and Tye, Matt LaCosse has been making noise in camp. Does Nikita Whitlock have a role on this team?

Then there is the ever-present concern about depth and competition on the offensive line. At this point, it appears the same five starters will remain intact in 2016. But the back-ups – who could quickly become important in the event of an injury – are relatively unknown and unproven. The primary candidates right now are Bobby Hart, Byron Stingily, Ryan Seymour, Emmett Cleary, Shane McDermott, and Adam Gettis. Who? The performance of the second-team offensive line will be something to concentrate on during the game.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The New York Giants were a disaster on defense in 2015. The team could not stop the run or the pass. The Giants were statistically dead last in the NFL and one of the worst in NFL history. In reality, except for spurts here and there (notably the 2011 playoff run), the Giants haven’t been playing good defense for years. Indeed, there is an entire generation of young Giants fans who have no idea what consistently good Giants defense looks like. It’s an embarrassment for a franchise that prided itself on good defense even during bad years.

The pressure is on Steve Spagnuolo to deliver at least a middle-of-the-pack defense. The Giants spent big bucks in free agency and invested much in the draft on defense. DE Olivier Vernon, DT Damon Harrison, CB Janoris Jenkins, CB Leon Hall, CB Eli Apple, and FS Darian Thompson were added. Much is expected from second- and third-year players like DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, LB Devon Kennard, and S Landon Collins. Keenan Robinson, Kelvin Sheppard, and B.J. Goodson were also added to the linebacking corps.

The primary challenge of course is to get everyone playing cohesive and effective defense as soon as possible. There will be at least four new starters with many new faces also receiving a lot of playing time like Leon Hall at slot corner. Who will the middle linebacker be? Jasper Brinkley, Kelvin Sheppard, or Keenan Robinson? J.T. Thomas’ hamstring injury has sidelined him for all of training camp and Jonathan Casillas appears to have taken over his outside job. Can Kennard stay healthy?

With a plethora of quality defensive backs, one would expect Spagnuolo to use packages that take advantage of Apple and Hall in addition to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Jenkins. It will be interesting to see how rookie safety Thompson performs as the new starter and Collins as a second-year player in a more natural strong safety position. Time is running out on guys like Nat Berhe, Mykkele Thompson, Cooper Taylor, and Bennett Jackson.

Up front, Jay Bromley’s late ankle surgery has really set him back. Much was expected of him as a reserve. Can he catch up? Who now are the primary back-ups behind Johnathan Hankins and Harrison? Greg Milhouse is a rookie to watch. The Giants also need quality reserve minutes from Odighizuwa and a 4th defensive end – Kerry Wynn, Stansly Maponga, or Romeo Okwara.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
This is an area where there is very little change. The kickers remain Josh Brown and Brad Wing. Dwayne Harris is the primary returner. Tom Quinn has been the special teams coordinator since 2007. Dwayne Stukes is his new assistant. While the New York Giants were vastly improved on special teams in 2015, special teams snafus still were a factor in a number of defeats. That needs to be cleaned up.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Ben McAdoo on Preseason Playing Time: “We’re going to be consistent. We’re going treat every guy differently. We’re going to take every player case by case. We’ll start with the first group, probably, for maybe 15 plays or so and then either dial it back or push it forward based on what we need to see and what we want to see.”

THE FINAL WORD:
The #1 concern is always coming out of the preseason healthy. In addition to that, what we need to see is how well run the entire operation is under the new head coach. Who will call the offensive plays now? If it is McAdoo, can he handle that responsibility in addition to his head coaching duties? The Giants need to find other offensive threats to complement Odell Beckham. Sterling Shepard is hopefully one piece. Defensively, who are the leaders? Can this team quickly jump from dead last to at least middle-of-the-pack defensively?

Dec 162015
 
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New York Giants 31 – Miami Dolphins 24

Overview

Tubbs: Crockett. James “Sonny” Crockett.

Crockett: Very good, Tubbs. Next week we’ll work on your name.

Tubbs: University of Florida. All-American wide receiver number 88? Am I right or what?

Crockett: Oh, that was a long time ago.

Tubbs: You were sensational. I remember one time I watched you run a screen pass 90 yards with 10 seconds left on the clock, man, for the winning TD against Alabama.

Crockett: It was 92 yards, Tubbs. Six seconds remaining.

Tubbs: Yeah, well, excuse the hell outta me. You know, not that Vice isn’t the most glamorous gig in the world, Crockett, but what happened, huh? I mean, you must have had half the scouts in the NFL on your tail.

Crockett: Traded it all in on two years in the Southeast Asian Conference.

Tubbs: ‘Nam?

Crockett: No, Coney Island.

The dialogue is as sharp as the Giants’ tackling. Just because something airs in prime time doesn’t necessary mean it’s very good. And while a national television audience was treated to a “thriller” with five lead changes, it doesn’t change the fact that these were two mediocre-at-best 5-7 football teams fighting to remain relevant for at least one more week. The good news is it was the Giants who came out on top and extended the significance of their season. Giants’ fans will have a short week to feel better until the Carolina Panthers pummel their team on Sunday. And in the back of all our heads will remain the one constant nagging fact – if the Giants had just taken care of business at the end of just a couple of their heart-breaking, inexcusable losses, they would have walked away with the division.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (December 15, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Miami Vice’s glitzy music and visual effects drew viewers to an otherwise crappy product. Odell Beckham has the same impact. Many casual fans tune in to watch him, not the New York Football Giants. Why else would the NFL keep putting the Giants in so many prime time games? Under the Monday night lights in Miami, “OBJ” and his quarterback did not disappoint.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been arguing that if Manning and Beckham don’t play near-perfect games, the Giants don’t have much of a chance to win. Look no farther than this game. Manning and Beckham played at an IMPACT level of play. Manning only threw four incomplete passes and had an off-the-charts quarterback rating of 151.5. Beckham had 166 yards receiving and two touchdowns, including a superlative, toe-dragging effort and an 84-yard game-winner. Yet, despite this near perfection, the Giants only beat a bad Dolphins team – one that has already fired its head coach and both coordinators – by a touchdown. The Giants are a football team with two outstanding players and not much else. And every little mistake made by Manning and Beckham gets accentuated in each game because of it. Simply put, they are held to a higher standard.

Given the historical context of what has transpired late in games with the Giants this year, the real story of this particular contest was what happened after the Giants went up 31-24 with just over 11 minutes left to play. Granted New York was aided by Miami mistakes, but the defense prevented points on two Dolphins’ possessions, including forcing a three-and-out after the Giants’ offense dangerously went three-and-out inside their own 10-yard line. Then, the Giants ran their 4-minute offense to perfection, literally taking 4 minutes and 39 seconds off of the clock to secure the win. That’s the way you end a football game Crockett and Tubbs!

Also credit the Giants for their composure. The Giants had a huge advantage in penalty yardage as the Giants were flagged only three times for 25 yards while the Dolphins were flagged 12 times for 123 yards. The penalty yardage difference was about the full length of a football field.

Quarterback

Eli Manning was as close to perfect as a quarterback can be in a football game. He completed 27-of-31 passes (87 percent) for 337 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions en route to a 151.5 quarterback rating. Manning earned “NFC Offensive Player of the Week” honors for the second time this season because of this performance. For the first time in a month, Manning spread the ball around as not only were eight different receivers targeted, but four of those had five or more passes thrown in their direction. Were the targets better this week or did Manning make more of a conscious effort to get them the ball? Unknown. But the results were promising. He completed his first eight passes and also hit nine in a row in the second half. Manning got rid of the ball very quickly, frustrating the Miami pass rushers.

Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (December 15, 2015)

Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Running Backs

It’s important to keep in mind that Miami had the 30th-ranked run defense coming into this game. So better productivity was expected. No Giant broke the 100-yard mark, but for at least one week, Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo allowed one back to be the workhorse and the results were better. Rashad Jennings carried the ball 22 times for 81 tough yards (3.7 yards per carry average). He had runs of 21, 11, and 12 yards. But there were also too many no gain and negative yardage plays. The highlights were two back-to-back runs that picked up 30 yards on the first TD drive, the 12-yard run off of the goal line right before Beckham’s 84-yard score, and the 3-yard run on 3rd-and-2 late in the game. Jennings also had a 19-yard reception on the third TD drive. Throughout, Jennings fought hard after contact as most running plays were not particularly well blocked.

The other three backs only had seven carries for 13 yards. That doesn’t include Andre Williams’ botched handoff that resulted in turnover. The play punctuated a horrible night for Williams who was benched after the play and finished with three carries for three yards, including two negative-yardage runs. For some reason, the Giants have been unwilling or unable to get the ball to Shane Vereen as a pass receiver. He caught one of only two passes thrown in his direction, his one catch being a fairly well-executed 10-yard screen pass down to the Miami 5-yard line late in the first half.

Wide Receivers

Odell Beckham not only made his typical highlight-reel catches – the superlative, toe-dragging 6-yard catch that tied the game at 24-24 and the 84-yard, game-winning explosion – but he helped to secure the victory with his two catches in the 4-minute drill to end the game. A 5-yard reception on 3rd-and-3 doesn’t look big on the stat sheet, but it was an extremely difficult catch in the clutch that finally allowed the Giants and their fans to breath a sigh of relief at the end of a football game.

As mentioned above, Manning and Beckham finally received some assistance from teammates. Rueben Randle caught 5-of-6 passes thrown in direction for 58 yards and a touchdown. Dwayne Harris caught all five passes thrown at him for 41 yards, including a 12-yarder in the 4-minute drill. Hakeem Nicks (1 catch for 5 yards) has yet to make much of an impact in three games. He did break free deep on one of Manning’s rare misfires.

Will Tye, New York Giants (December 15, 2015)

Will Tye – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Tight Ends

One of the big negatives from this season was Larry Donnell regressing and finishing on IR after his breakout 2014 campaign. One of the positives however has been the emergence of Will Tye as a viable receiving threat at tight end. Indeed, if Tye remains humble and stays focused, he could have a bright future as he is an athletic target who can get down the field. Tye caught all five passes thrown in his direction for a total of 30 yards and a key 5-yard touchdown right before halftime. Nevertheless, despite apparent effort, the blocking by Tye and Jerome Cunningham isn’t very good.

Offensive Line

Overall, the line did a decent job, especially if you consider the quality of the the Dolphins’ defensive line and the Giants’ injury situation. Ereck Flowers is the definition of toughness. He has played on a high ankle sprain all season that he aggravated last week. He gutted it out much of the game, but was clearly limited, and eventually re-injured himself again and was forced to leave in the 4th quarter. Before he left, he gave up some pressures, including a big hit in the end zone. When Flowers left the game, Justin Pugh once again shifted from left guard to left tackle, with Dallas Reynolds coming in at left guard. Both Pugh and right guard John Jerry also suffered burners in the game.

The four Giants’ running backs rushed the ball 29 times for 94 yards. That’s 3.2 yards per carry despite a few runs of over 10 yards. There were too many negative- or zero-yardage carries. And short yardage continues to be a major problem with the Giants not being able to convert on 3rd-and-1. While he didn’t embarrass himself, Jerry had his hand full with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh who caused issues in run defense most of the night, including a 6-yard loss early in the game. Jerry, who has never been a good run blocker, couldn’t deal with Suh’s power. The two best players remain Pugh and center Weston Richburg, the latter still recovering from his own high ankle sprain. Pugh was hit or miss on his short pulls to the right side. The pass protection looked better than it really was due to Eli Manning’s pocket presence and quick throws, but Manning was not sacked and officially hit only three times. Marshall Newhouse was solid but was also flagged with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on an extra point attempt. Kudos to Pugh to coming to Manning’s defense after a late hit.

Montori Hughes, New York Giants (December 15, 2015)

Montori Hughes – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Defensive Line

The bad news is that the Giants gave up three touchdown drives of 70, 80, and 61 yards. The good news is that the defense forced four punts on Miami’s last four possessions. Miami had 64 offensive snaps but chose to run the football to their running backs only 17 times (a little over 1/4 of the snaps). Running back Lamar Miller had 12 carries for 89 yards and two touchdowns. Miller’s two touchdown runs covered 52 yards. His other 10 carries gained 37 yards, though one was a key 2-yard carry on 4th-and-1 on the Dolphins’ first TD drive. The Giants also had problems with defending the quarterback on read-option running plays (4 carries for 24 yards). In the pass rush department, the Giants only sacked Ryan Tannehill once (by Robert Ayers) and hit him officially five times (once each by Jason Pierre-Paul, Ayers, George Selvie, Cullen Jenkins, and Nikita Whitlock). Jenkins was flagged with a 5-yard encroachment penalty.

Pierre-Paul recovered a fumble early in the game forced by safety Landon Collins. He also had a good early pass rush on Tannehill, but also continued to show the same problems he did under Perry Fewell in dealing with the read-option. Ayers later had the same problem twice against the read-option – which doesn’t bode well for the upcoming game against the Panthers. Pierre-Paul missed a tackle on the 38-yard touchdown run, but he did a nice job of staying at home on an end around that he completely disrupted. He also started to get more heat on the quarterback in the second half. Jenkins did get a monster hit on Tannehill. Ayers caused a key holding penalty that pushed Miami out of field goal range in the 4th quarter.

Linebackers

It was a pretty quiet game from the linebackers. Jasper Brinkley had six tackles, J.T. Thomas three tackles, Uani ‘Unga three tackles, Jonathan Casillas two tackles, and Mark Herzlich one tackle. While Herzlich did force a fumble, there were no sacks, tackles for a loss, quarterback hits, interceptions, pass defenses, or fumble recoveries. Thomas missed a tackle on Lamar Miller’s 14-yard touchdown run that should have gone for minimal yardage (a blitzing Dahl running around a block didn’t help here either). Unga and Casillas both missed tackles on the 38-yard touchdown run. Casillas also missed a tackle early in the 4th quarter after a short 3rd-and-2 completion for a first down.

Defensive Backs

Ryan Tannehill dropped back to pass 42 times. He was sacked once and completed 25-of-41 passes for 236 yards. So the Dolphins averaged 5.8 yards per pass play (as a comparison, the Giants averaged 10.9 yards per pass play). The biggest negative was Prince Amukamara getting beat by wide receiver Kenny Stills for a 47-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-7 in the 3rd quarter (Dahl couldn’t get over in time to help out either). The Dolphins only had one other pass play over 20 yards – a 25-yarder to Jarvis Landry in the 4th quarter also against Amukamara. The only Miami player to do consistent damage against the Giants was Landry, who caught 11-of-18 passes thrown in his direction for 99 yards (9 yards per catch). Tannehill did not target any other receiver more than five times, and did not connect with anyone else more than three times.

Craig Dahl, New York Giants (December 15, 2015)

Craig Dahl – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Giants’ defensive backs broke up seven passes, three by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, two by Trevin Wade, and two by Dahl. DRC gave up a 12-yard completion to Landry on 3rd-and-11. He had perfect deep coverage on the very next snap but couldn’t come down with the pick. Wade was matched up against Landry in the slot for much of the game. While Landry did some damage against Wade, he held his own against Miami’s best player, and made a couple of key pass defenses in the 4th quarter. Wade did miss a tackle after a short catch by the running back that picked up a first down.

Landon Collins forced a fumble that was recovered by Pierre-Paul, but he also missed a tackle in the backfield on a 3rd-and-1 toss that picked up a first down on a drive that ended with a touchdown. Dahl made a nice play of disrupting a 3rd-and-2 pass that led to a punt, and his breakup of a deep pass to the tight end on 3rd-and-20 in the 4th quarter was a huge play. Cooper Taylor did not play much, but made some noise, accruing three defensive tackles and one tackle for a 3-yard loss.

Special Teams

Josh Brown was having a superb season but has now missed two 48-yard field goals in two games. He did hit a 35-yarder early in the game. Two of his six kickoffs resulted in touchbacks, but Miami was able to gain 109 kickoff return yards on four returns, including a 36-yard return by Jarvis Landry. Brad Wing averaged 45 yards on four punts. Landry returned two punts and one was a 20-yard return. Dwayne Harris returned one kickoff for 22 yards (four others resulted in touchbacks). Harris returned two punts for 35 yards, including returns of 20 and 15 yards and could have had a lot more had he not slipped on one return.

Cram it in your Cramhole Award

I have to give to the Buffalo Bills and the Chicago Bears for kicking us in the nuts for their close losses to the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins. It simply is just one of those years.

(New York Giants at Miami Dolphins, December 14, 2015)
Dec 152015
 
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NEW YORK GIANTS 31 – MIAMI DOLPHINS 24…
The New York Giants ended their three-game losing streak on Monday night by defeating the Miami Dolphins 31-24 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Garden, Florida. With the win, the Giants improved their overall record to 6-7, keeping pace with the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East.

In a wild game that featured five lead changes, the stars of the contest for New York were quarterback Eli Manning and wide receiver Odell Beckham. Manning only missed on four passes, completing 27-of-31 attempts for 337 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Beckham caught 7-of-9 passes thrown in his direction for 166 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The Dolphins received the ball to start the game, but quickly turned it over on the third offensive snap. Safety Landon Collins forced tight end Dion Sims to fumble the ball, which was recovered by defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul at the Miami 36-yard line. The Giants gained 19 yards to set up a 35-yard field goal by place kicker Josh Brown.

Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (December 15, 2015)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

On their second possession, the Dolphins responded with an 11-play, 74-yard drive that culminated with a 14-yard touchdown run by running back Lamar Miller. Miami now led 7-3. After both teams exchanged punts, the Giants regained the lead 10-7 with a 9-play, 70-yard effort that ended with 6-yard touchdown pass from Manning to wide receiver Rueben Randle on 3rd down.

Back came the Dolphins as they quickly went back on top after a 7-play, 67-yard drive. Miller scored his second touchdown of the game, this one an impressive, tackle-breaking 38-yard run. Miami 14 – Giants 10.

After both teams exchanged punts, the Giants turned the ball over at their own 25-yard line when running back Andre Williams botched a hand-off from Manning. The Dolphins were forced to settle for a 36-yard field goal, however, and extended their advantage to 17-10. With just 1:52 to go before halftime, the Giants drove the length of the field in 68 seconds to tie the game. The big play was a 45-yard strike from Manning to Beckham. Two plays later, Manning hit tight end Will Tye for a 5-yard touchdown.

At the half, the game was tied 17-17.

After the Giants went three-and-out to start the second half, the Dolphins scored their last points by driving 61 yards in just six plays to go ahead 24-17. Wide receiver Kenny Stills beat cornerback Prince Amukamara for a 47-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-7.

The Giants tied the game 24-24 on their second possession of the half with a 9-play, 80-yard affair that ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Beckham. The play was originally ruled incomplete but overturned as Beckham did a marvelous job of keeping his feet in bounds.

Miami struggled to move the ball the rest of the contest. The Dolphins’ final four possessions of the second half only gained 55 yards and three first downs, as each drive ended with a Miami punt.

The Giants had a chance to go up by a field goal late in the 3rd quarter after a 51-yard drive, but Brown missed his 48-yard field goal attempt and the game remained tied. Nevertheless, on New York’s ensuing possession which began at their own 4-yard line, the Giants scored their game-winning points. On first down, running back Rashad Jennings gained 12 yards. On the very next snap, Manning found a wide open Beckham for an 84-yard score and a 31-24 lead that would hold up as the final score.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (December 15, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Miami’s last serious scoring thread came on the following possession. The Dolphins gained two first downs and reached the New York 31-yard line. But a holding penalty and three incomplete passes stalled the drive.

Both teams then went three-and-out. With 4:39 left in the game, the Giants were able to successfully run out the clock by gaining 35 yards and three first downs.

Offensively, the Giants gained 429 total net yards (92 rushing, 337 passing), were 5-of-11 on 3rd down (45 percent), and were 3-of-4 (75 percent) in the red zone. Aside from Beckham’s big night, Randle, wide receiver Dwayne Harris, and Tye had five catches each. Jennings carried the ball 22 times for 81 yards.

Defensively, the Dolphins gained 363 total net yards (128 rushing, 235 passing), were 7-of-16 on 3rd down (44 percent), and 1-of-2 (50 percent) in the red zone. Defensive end Robert Ayers had the Giants’ only sack of the game.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Left tackle Ereck Flowers re-injured his high ankle sprain in the 4th quarter and did not return. Defensive tackle Markus Kuhn suffered a knee injury in the 3rd quarter and did not return. Left guard Justin Pugh and right guard John Jerry suffered burners in the 2nd quarter but returned. Wide receiver Odell Beckham missed the first drive of the second half with cramps, needing an IV, but returned. LB J.T. Thomas tweaked his ankle but returned. Defensive end George Selvie left the game in the 4th quarter, being evaluated for a concussion.

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

  • Head Coach Tom Coughlin (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • RB Rashad Jennings (Video)
  • WR Odell Beckham (Video)
  • WR Rueben Randle (Video)
  • TE Will Tye (Video)
  • LG/LT Justin Pugh (Video)
  • CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Video)

POST-GAME NOTES…
Inactive for the Giants were LB Devon Kennard (hamstring/foot), S Brandon Meriweather (knee), WR Geremy Davis, DE Stansly Maponga, OG Adam Gettis, OT Emmett Cleary, and CB Tramain Jacobs.

GIANTS-VIKINGS FLEXED TO SUNDAY NIGHT…
The NFL has flexed the New York Giants-Minnesota Vikings game in Minnesota on December 27 from 1:00PM to 8:30PM EST. The game will now be televised on NBC.

DAMONTRE MOORE CLAIMED BY DOLPHINS…
Defensive end Damontre Moore, who was waived by the New York Giants on Friday, has been claimed off of waivers by the Miami Dolphins.

ARTICLES…

Dec 122015
 
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Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (December 6, 2015)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants at Miami Dolphins, December 14, 2015

THE STORYLINE:
A month ago, the New York Giants were 5-4. Now they are 5-7. Forget the division race. Win a game.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • LT Ereck Flowers (ankle – questionable)
  • RT Marshall Newhouse (back – probable)
  • DE Robert Ayers (neck – questionable)
  • LB Devon Kennard (hamstring/foot – out)
  • S Brandon Meriweather (knee – questionable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
The 4-3 defense of the Miami Dolphins has not played as well as expected this year. They are ranked 27th overall (22nd against the pass and 30th against the run). However, there are moments and games when the Dolphins’ defense has played well. High-priced free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh started off slowly but has been playing much better lately. When motivated, he can be a nightmare to block. Right defensive end Olivier Vernon has caught the eye of the Giants and has 6.5 sacks. The Dolphins will want to isolate Suh on John Jerry and/or Bobby Hart. Vernon will battle either the gimpy Ereck Flowers (high ankle sprain) or Justin Pugh, who may have to shift to left tackle if Flowers can’t play.

Safety Reshad Jones, the team’s leading tackler, and cornerback Brent Grimes, the team’s best coverman, lead the secondary. The Giants’ offense has devolved to the Eli Manning-to-Odell Beckham connection. If either doesn’t play a near-perfect game, the Giants are in trouble.

The questions remain: Can anyone other than Odell Beckham make a play for the Giants? Can New York’ 29th-ranked ground game do any consistent damage against Miami’s 30th-ranked run defense? Can one of the four running backs break a tackle or make a tackler miss to make a big play? Wide receiver Rueben Randle has had one game where he had over 100 yards receiving and that was in Week 3. In the last three games, he has averaged only two catches per contest. That’s not going to get it done. Someone at receiver has to pick up some slack, be it Randle, Hakeem Nicks, or Dwayne Harris. All of the other receivers were an embarrassing non-factor against the Jets.

Not to sound like a broken record, the Giants have got to get back to getting the ball to Shane Vereen as a pass receiver. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the offense’s inconsistency has increased since the decline in his productivity. He has caught only 10 passes for 42 yards in the last three losses. Given the lack of talent at wide receiver outside of Beckham, Vereen should be getting at least 5-6 pass receptions per game and arguably more.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
Prevent the big play and finish the game. Miami’s offense has struggled this year (29th overall, 22nd in passing, 23rd rushing). They are also dreadful on 3rd down (31st in the NFL at 28 percent). But the Dolphins are quite capable of making big plays. They are surprisingly tied with the Patriots and Packers with 51 plays of 20 yards or more (42 of those passing plays). The focal point is wide receiver Jarvis Landry (78 catches) but fellow wideouts Rishard Matthews (15.4 yards per catch), Kenny Stills (17.1 yards per catch), and DeVante Parker (17.5 yards per catch) can stretch the field. Matthews has fractured ribs and is not expected to play as the rookie Parker receives more playing time. The Dolphins also surely noted that the Jets had over 100 yards receiving to backs out of the backfield. Running back Lamar Miller has 39 catches this year, including two for touchdowns. Jordan Cameron (26 catches) is the tight end.

Miami’s biggest problem has been the inconsistent quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Tannehill can hurt teams with his feet. In the last two games, the Giants have made mediocre quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Ryan Fitzpatrick look like world-beaters. Will that trend continue with Tannehill?

Until last week against Baltimore, the Ravens’ ground game has struggled in recent weeks. Miller gained 113 yards against the Ravens, but had not surpassed the 50-yard mark since Week 7.

While the Giants’ pass rush has slightly improved, the defense is still not finishing games either by stopping game-winning drives or preventing the other team from running out the clock. Since the Giants appear incapable of blowing out another team, the defense will most likely once again be under the spotlight late in the game on Monday. Will history repeat itself or will the Giants’ 31st-ranked defense finally stop the opposition with the game on the line?

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Jarvis Landry is averaging 9.3 yards per punt return and has returned one punt 69 yards for a touchdown. Miami’s kickoff coverage is solid, being 12th in the NFL. In the last two seasons, the Dolphins have blocked four punts and two field goals. Keep in mind that New York has new long snapper this week and that could be a factor on punts and field goals.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Tom Coughlin on his team: “We will win as soon as we deserve to win. And the deserving to win part of it, obviously it comes from being able to finish on a stronger basis than we have. And as you look around, you can find a million reasons why one play has cost us games, and if that’s the case, then each one of us—coaches, players—examine your own conscience, come up with those things that are necessary for us to make improvement, and let’s get it done now.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Two bad 5-7 football teams battle on Prime Time. Flip a coin as to who will win. A Giants’ loss will end any pretense of possibly winning the atrocious NFC East. A Giants’ win will likely only prolong the torture, but all we can really do is hope for the best.