Dec 072021
 
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Billy Price, New York Giants (December 5, 2021)

Billy Price – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

Week 13 brought NYG down to Miami to face off against the Dolphins, a team that started off 1-7. Their defense had taken a huge step back after leading the NFL in turnovers in 2020, their young offensive line was getting torched on a weekly basis, and their quarterback situation was messy because of injuries. However, they came into this one winner of 4 straight and inching their way back into AFC playoff contention. NYG on the other hand was without starting quarterback Daniel Jones thanks to a neck injury and still without 2 of their top 3 receivers, Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney. Two former Bill Belichick disciples from a coaching tree that has had very little success trying to lead their respective teams out of the bottom third of the league and into the top half.

Mike Glennon was under center at the start of the game for the first time with NYG. It was his 28th career start over his 8-year career. He completed his first 8 passes but the biggest play of the 1st quarter came on a deep shot to Darius Slayton into double coverage. One of those 2 defenders was cornerback Xavien Howard, a physical 6’1”/203, sixth-year veteran who leads the NFL in interceptions since 2018. He was the one that came down with the ball. But after review, his long return past midfield was erased. MIA had to start their drive inside their own 5-yard line. MIA went 3-and-out, giving NYG the ball back at the MIA 37-yard line thanks to a 15-yard punt return by Pharoh Cooper.

After reaching the 21, NYG went 3 straight plays without gaining a yard. Kicker Graham Gano then booted one through the uprights for field goal, giving NYG the initial lead. MIA responded with a field goal of their own to tie it up. NYG could not respond with anything of note, and with Kenny Golladay off the field with an injury to his ribs, they were simply trying to play a field position battle.

MIA got the ball back with just over 4 minutes left in the half. They were in a somewhat-hurry up offense heavily consisting of a quick, short passing game. Tua Tagovailoa completed 9 of his first 10 passes, spreading the ball out effectively. He then completed 2 more to end the drive, the second one being a 5-yard touchdown to Mack Hollins with under 30 seconds left in the half. NYG opted to let the clock run out once they got the ball back and MIA went into the half with a 10-3 lead and getting the ball back to start the 3rd quarter.

After a MIA 3-and-out, NYG put together their best drive of the day. Thanks to a pass to Evan Engram and a run by each Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker, NYG gained 57 yards on 3 plays. They got into the red zone with a 1st-and-10, but the worst red zone offense in the NFL gained 1 yard on 3 plays, forcing another field goal attempt. Gano nailed it from 34 yards, making it 10-6.

The two offenses then traded 6 straight punts, with four 3-and-outs. The NYG drive that ended the 3rd quarter was about as ugly as one can create after gaining some momentum. After converting a 3rd-and-7 with a run by Barkley, the wheels fell off and we were quickly reminded what this Giants franchise has become. NYG “earned” a 2nd-and-23 thanks to a sack by rookie Jaelan Phillips; they used a timeout to avoid a delay-of-game penalty, and then Phillips record yet another sack. The final kick between the legs came on a delay-of-game penalty. 3rd and 33. NYG ended up punting by the way.

There was blood in the water and winning teams take advantage of it. Is MIA a winning team? They’re approaching that tier, and even though September + October was a complete nightmare for them, this was the point in the game where NYG seemed most vulnerable. The MIA response would say at least something about them. Tagovailoa went 5/5 on the drive, spreading the ball out to 5 different pass catchers. The final one was a 2-yard touchdown to Isaiah Ford and gave the home team a 17-6 lead.

In today’s NFL, an 11-point lead with over 11:00 left is not near-secure. Unless, of course, the losing team has scored the least number of touchdowns in the NFL and is being led by a backup quarterback with multiple injuries to the skill positions. Glennon was misfiring left and right and the NYG pass protection had a hard time with the blitz-heavy defensive scheme deployed by MIA. They did add 3 points via a 51-yard field goal by Gano to get within 8. However, MIA responded with another 3 points of their own.

This game was all but over as NYG got the ball back with 1:11 left. They got the ball across midfield as MIA softened up the defense. Gano was sent out on a 2nd down to try and get the team within 1 score so they could try an onsides kick + Hail Mary attempt. Gano missed the 56-yarder and MIA then took a knee to end it.

NYG loses 20-9.

QUARTERBACK

-Mike Glennon: 23/44 – 187 yards / 0 TD – 1 INT / 53.9 RAT

Expectations cannot be high for a backup, especially one who has been in the league for 8 years and won’t take anyone by surprise. Especially one who cannot move in space with any sort of fluidity or speed. And especially one who is playing in this kind of offense surrounded by such a poor supporting cast. I said before the game I would be surprised to see this offense put-up double-digit points. Glennon fought an uphill battle but the blame still needs to be put on him. He was downright terrible. He lost track of his timing in the pocket, he missed open receivers, and he was throwing the ball into double coverage. He started off 8-for-8, then went 15-for-36 from there. He is also being evaluated for a concussion.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 11 att – 55 yards / 6 rec – 19 yards

Barkley’s per-touch production was better than what we’ve seen pretty much all year minus the win at New Orleans. The positive mark is that he had multiple solid plays rather than just a lone run that padded the stats. He showed a little more toughness between the tackles, pushing piles and falling forward. However, Barkley still ended with a negative grade here. He dropped 2 passes and allowed 2 pressures. There is so much more to playing running back than breaking off the big play here and there. Barkley appears to fear contact and lack natural skill/fluidity.

-Devontae Booker added 54 yards on 10 touches. He continues to bring the same, if not better, level of play to the offense as Barkley. Something to keep in mind this offseason when looking at the team’s economics.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Kenny Golladay had 3 catches for 37 yards, all of which came in the first half. He was forced off the field for a while because of a minor rib injury, but he insisted on coming back into the game. Admirable effort, but he didn’t do a thing from that moment-on.

-Darius Slayton added 2 drops to his season. He is approaching a 10% drop percentage, one of the worst in the NFL among receivers (3rd in the NFL). Poor against contact, inconsistent hands, and a fragile frame.

-John Ross played under a third of the snaps and received 1 target, a poorly placed ball by Glennon. It may be time for him and Slayton to switch roles.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram had a solid game. His 61 yards were a season high, and he came up with 3 first downs. The one negative was on a deep ball downfield where he turned in the wrong direction while tracking the ball, leading to an incomplete pass on what should have been the biggest offensive gain of the day.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-The offensive line was attacked with a blitz heavy game plan by MIA. A lot of extra bodies, a lot of stunts and twists. They, and the backs/tight ends in charge of providing aid, did not respond well. There weren’t any bright spots on the line besides backup Ben Bredeson, who filled in at left guard during the 3rd quarter. He played 30 snaps (just under half) and performed well. I would like to see him more in there. Starter Matt Skura allowed 2 TFL and a pressure during his half of the snaps and offers no upside.

-Nate Solder allowed another 4 pressures and was getting manhandled at the point-of-attack in the running game. Zero push or sustainability led to many of the no-gain rushing attempts. On the other side, Andrew Thomas allowed 1 pressure and 1 sack. A case can be made that Glennon held on to the ball too long on that sack, but Thomas was beat on the play by the rookie Phillips.

-Will Hernandez allowed 2 sacks, both a result of him simply not moving his feet when engaged. We are 57 games into his career, and he still shows zero comprehension of staying home against stunts. Other teams know and exploit it weekly. Billy Price allowed 2 pressures and mightily struggled in the run game.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-It was a quiet day from this group overall. I was expecting more because of how much the young MIA offensive line has struggled all year. Even though they have played better over the past month, Leonard Williams and Austin Johnson especially didn’t make their presence known very often. Yes, the quick passing game hurt NYG’s chances of making a difference up front, but the opportunities that did come their way were not exploited.

-Dexter Lawrence led the group in snaps. That hasn’t happened often and I’m not completely sure why that was the case.

LINEBACKER

-Tae Crowder led the team with 9 tackles and added an untouched pressure. He played solidly in this game; I would say one of the better performances we have seen in his two years. The speed and twitch are a nice add-on to a defense that has the slower guys Reggie Ragland and Benardrick McKinney playing alongside of him.

-Azeez Ojulari and Quincy Roche were the 2 bright spots on defense. They both recorded a sack while Ojulari added a pressure and pass break up. I liked what I saw out of them in run defense as well. They set the edge, got off blocks, and finished plays.

-Throw in the 21 snaps we saw out of Elerson Smith, and this was the best takeaway from the game for me. Smith didn’t produce anything, but I want to see him out there more and more and he did show off some fancy technique work. The movement, suddenness, and pad level further proved in my mind that this guy has a good shot at being a good player. Now we just need to see him on the field instead of Lorenzo Carter.

CORNERBACK

-Rookie Aaron Robinson played every snap. That was nice to see, as it would be a big deal to have a strong idea what NYG has here heading into the offseason. He had 7 tackles and a pass break up. While there were some negatives when it came to his ball skills in general, Robinson is proving he can be what he needs to be. His reaction speed is excellent.

-James Bradberry was beat on two 3rd downs and allowed a touchdown while in zone coverage. He added 2 tackles, one of which was a nice play and big hit. Teams seem to be attacking him more and more underneath and intermediate.

-Jarren Willams saw his first action of the year and performed well. Good lower body movement and burst.

SAFETY

-Logan Ryan was back on the field after missing a couple games wit Covid-19. He made 8 tackles and was solid in coverage. Ryan and Julian Love, who added a pass break up and 2 tackles, are such key assets to a defense that remains playing at a solid level. They just don’t get the attention from most because of how bad this team is.

-Xavier McKinney recorded 6 tackles and a TFL. He allowed a touchdown and was beat on 3rd down once. Not a bad game for him, but he was tricked by Tagovailoa’s eyes a few times. It almost looked like the two knew each other from college or something.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 3/4 (Made 39, 34, 51 / Missed 56)
-P Riley Dixon: 6 punts / 41.3 avg – 36.8 net

3 STUDS

-OLB Azeez Ojulari, OLB Quincy Roche, K Graham Gano

3 DUDS

-OT Nate Solder, OG Will Hernandez, QB Mike Glennon

3 THOUGHTS ON MIA

(1) Can MIA really bounce back from 1-7 and into the playoffs? This is something all fan bases should keep in mind. Sure, a rough start creates very low odds of moving on to the postseason, but these things happen. As short as a football season seems in contrast to other sports, a lot can and does change after October. Miami went 10-6 last year and is now 6-7 in the middle of a 5-game winning streak. They have a bye followed by a game against the Jets (3-9) and Saints (5-game losing streak). An easy slate of games along with confidence that they know how to win games combine for something very noteworthy to say the least.

(2) What can we make of Tua Tagovailoa? His first 2 years have been cloudy partially because of injuries and a coaching staff that yanked him back and forth for a bit. When breaking him down, there doesn’t appear to be a “wow” factor with his arm. He is an average athlete at best. He isn’t very big. But what I like here is the accuracy he has short and intermediate. He shows tremendous touch, he throws catchable balls. I wouldn’t call him a sure thing yet, but I feel safe with Tagovailoa at the helm. He has created the most from a poor overall offensive situation in Miami.

(3) What is the key to the Miami turnaround? Two things in my opinion. Their defense is forcing turnovers like they did in 2020. They have forced 11 of them over their last 5 weeks. They had forced just 9 in the previous 8 games. Second, their young offensive line is maturing. Right tackle Jesse Davis was signed to the Practice Squad in 2016. Besides that, all 4 starters were drafted in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd rounds over the past 3 years. It hasn’t been all positive, however. Their line was atrocious early in the year, similar to what NYG has been showing. Patience and development paid off, however, and they are clicking at the right time for a cheap price.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) Is there anything to take away from MIA that can apply to NYG and their short-term future? Their head coach is from the Belichick family. They’re under .500 since the transition. They have a quarterback under a rookie contract. They’ve used multiple offensive coordinators. Their offensive line has been awful. They’ve had a hard time scoring points. There are a few deeper, more detailed analytic-type similarities between the two, but I will stop there. The point is the gap between these 2 teams is minuscule at the same time as it is enormous. Much discussion in the coming months will center on how NYG can improve the team. This will come down to the draft. Over the past 4 drafts, MIA has derived big time results. I would subjectively say they have hit on 22 out of 36 picks. More importantly, they’ve hit on all 16 selections from rounds 1-3. Success rates above 66% in that tier is considered good. Regardless of who leads the Giants next year, the emphasis must be on improved drafting. It can turn around fast if that is the case. Organic growth.

(2) I write this just a few hours after the Patriots won in Buffalo using 3, yes 3, total passes in the entire game. The weather dictated the approach, obviously. But NE went into a hostile environment against a top 5-defense, a top 5-run defense in particular. They ran it 46 times. I watched this game and naturally reflected further on NYG. Even though the game has changed a lot even within my lifetime (I’m only 35), the ability to pound the ball with the running game is still the most economic and safest way to play football. NYG won’t ever run the ball without 3, maybe even 4 new starters on this offensive line. I already have some thoughts in relation to how this organization needs to build for 2022 and beyond, but I will let the rest of the year play out first. However, I will say this right now: if this team wants to succeed and get on track, their draft resources noted above need to be thrown into this position group. Over and over.

(3) Looking forward, NYG has games against 4 teams with credible playoff chances. They’ll be underdogs in all of them (not including the game vs Chicago). These teams will be hungry and much of football revolves around collective effort and desire. NYG will be overmatched on paper, but I am looking for who will be playing hard and who hustles for all 60 minutes. I am old fashioned in that regard. It means something to me and it should mean something to whomever builds this team’s future. Between that and the young guys, there is a ton to watch and look for. The guys I am most excited to watch are Elerson Smith, Aaron Robinson, Xavier McKinney, Andrew Thomas, Azeez Ojulari, and Kadarius Toney. They can be a huge part of the turnaround but the on-field play and passion for the game need to be demonstrated at a high level.

Dec 052021
 
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Oompa Loompas

New York Giants offensive line in action!

MIAMI DOLPHINS 20 – NEW YORK GIANTS 9…
For all intents and purposes, the New York Giants’ season ended on Sunday when they were decisively beaten by an unimpressive Miami Dolphins team 20-9. With the loss, the Giants fell to 4-8 with five games left to play in the 2021 regular season.

The dreadful New York offense looked even worse with Mike Glennon subbing for the injured Daniel Jones at quarterback. The Giants scored a season-low nine points. (The team has scored more than 20 points this year in only four games). After the game, Glennon was diagnosed with a concussion.

Overall, team stats were comparable with the Dolphins holding slight advantages in offensive plays (68 to 64), first downs (19 to 16), total net yards (297 to 250), and time of possession (30:40 to 29:20). The Dolphins held a significant advantage in net passing yards (229 to 159), while the Giants out-rushed the Dolphins (91 to 68). Miami also won the turnover battle, 1 to 0.

The Giants only gained six first downs and scored three points in the first half, the results of their drives being:

  • 6 plays, 28 yards, 1 first down, punt
  • 7 plays, 45 yards, 3 first downs, interception
  • 7 plays, 16 yards, 1 first down, 39-yard field goal
  • 6 plays, 23 yards, 1 first down, punt
  • 1 play, 7 yards, end of half

It wasn’t much better in the second half, as the Giants only gained 10 first downs and six points (5 of those first downs and 3 of those points came when the game was out of reach):

  • 10 plays, 69 yards, 4 first downs, 34-yard field goal
  • 3 plays, 0 yards, 0 first downs, punt
  • 3 plays, 8 yards, 0 first downs, punt
  • 6 plays, 2 yards, 1 first down, punt
  • 3 plays, -8 yards, 0 first downs, punt
  • 10 plays, 25 yards, 2 first downs, 51-yard field goal
  • 6 plays, 32 yards, 3 first downs, missed 56-yard field goal

Glennon finished the game 23-of-44 for just 187 yards (4.25 yards per pass play) with no touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked three times and was credited with a 53.9 quarterback rating. In terms of catches, running back Saquon Barkley was his “leading” receiver with six catches for 19 yards. Tight end Evan Engram caught four passes for 61 yards. Barkley rushed 11 times for 55 yards and Devontae Booker rushed six times for 36 yards.

Defensively, the Giants performed decently, but they yet again gave up a touchdown drive right before halftime as the Dolphins drove 84 yards in 14 plays to take a 10-3 halftime lead. Two of Miami’s first-half drives resulted in points. The defense also allowed a 7-play, 61-yard touchdown drive early in the 4th quarter that all but sealed the game with the Dolphins now up 17-6. This was after the defense had forced four straight punts in the 3rd quarter. When the Giants cut the score to 17-9 with five minutes left in the game. The defense could not hold again, allowing a 10-play drive that ended with a field goal. Overall, the defense did not force a turnover and was credited with two sacks.

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

ROSTER MOVES, PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
On Saturday, the Giants signed S Steven Parker to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad. In addition, the team elevated WR/returner Pharoh Cooper and CB Jarren Williams from the Practice Squad.

Inactive for the game were QB Daniel Jones (neck), WR Kadarius Toney (quad), WR Sterling Shepard (quad), CB Adoree’ Jackson (quad), OG/OC Wes Martin, and LB Oshane Ximines.

WR Kenny Golladay injured his ribs in the game, but later returned. After the game, QB Mike Glennon was diagnosed with a concussion.

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

  • Head Coach Joe Judge (Video)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (Video)
  • WR Kenny Golladay (Video)
  • CB James Bradberry (Video)
  • S Logan Ryan (Video)

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

Dec 032021
 
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Chris Myarick, New York Giants (November 28, 2021)

Chris Myarick – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE:
The New York Giants defeated the hated Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday. That would normally be a source of great joy but fans came away largely unimpressed. Not only did the offense score only 13 points, but the Giants were a Jalen Reagor catch away from one of the more devastating losses in a rivalry that is filled with devastating losses. The Giants forced a turnover, got the ball back near midfield with 1:34 left on the clock, and still almost lost the game. Imagine the fallout from that potential catastrophe!

After a 1-5 start to the season, the Giants have gone 3-2 over the course of the last five games. The W-L-W-L-W results have team fans alternating between tepid hope and apathetic despair. Nevertheless, because of the sorry state of the NFL playoff race, the Giants are still alive. Can the Giants go 5-1 or 4-2 in the last five games? Probably not, but there is still a glimmer of hope. The Giants must beat the 5-7 Miami Dolphins. With teams like the Chargers and Cowboys coming up, the wiggle room is gone.

THE INJURY REPORT:
Two weeks removed from the bye week and the Giants are still one beat up team.

  • QB Daniel Jones (neck – out)
  • FB Cullen Gillaspia (calf – questionable)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (quad – doubtful)
  • WR Kadarius Toney (oblique/quad – doubtful)
  • WR John Ross (illness/quad – questionable)
  • TE Kyle Rudolph (ankle- questionable)
  • TE Kaden Smith (knee – out)
  • OT Nate Solder (elbow – questionable)
  • LB Trent Harris (ankle – out)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (quad – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
On losing teams, fairly or unfairly, the two most reviled individuals are almost always the head coach and quarterback. After a promising rookie season, Daniel Jones has opened himself up to immense criticism as the quarterback of a team that struggles to put points on the board and win games. Now for the third year in a row, Jones is out with an injury. Joe Judge has not definitively said if he will return this year. Enter Mike Glennon, who holds a lousy 6-21 record as a starting quarterback (Jones is an almost equally lousy 12-25). Daniel Jones’ detractors eagerly await to see if the quarterback change will cause any sort of offensive improvement from a team that is currently averaging a pathetic 18 points per game.

(Quick aside, if Jones is done for the season, the team can’t feel good about its quarterback situation entering 2022. Combine that with Saquon Barkley’s productivity falling off a cliff and 2021 is turning out to be a worst-case scenario disaster for the franchise).

A month ago, Miami was 1-7. Today they are 5-7. Some will question the caliber of competition, but a 4-game winning streak is impressive in today’s mediocre NFL environment. The Dolphins are hot, and much of that is due to their aggressive, blitz-heavy defense. Indeed, Miami leads the NFL in blitzes. This is going to put tremendous pressure on New York’s struggling offensive line and a starting running back (Barkley) who doesn’t do well picking up the blitz. It doesn’t help that Kadarius Toney (a perfect blitz-beating weapon) is most likely out yet again. Slot receiver Sterling Shepard is likely to miss another game too.

The Miami game plan seems pretty obvious. As bad as Barkley has been in running the ball this year, they have to come into this game concentrating on him and forcing Mike Glennon to beat them. I expect Miami’s defense to stack the line of scrimmage, give Barkley no room to operate, and blitz the heck out of Glennon. They know New York can’t block and that Glennon has thrown 27 interceptions in 27 starts.

How do you beat the blitz? Screen passes to Barkley. Quick slants to the wideouts. If the protection holds up, take your shots on one-on-one match-ups down the field. This is where Kenny Golladay, John Ross, and Darius Slayton could make an impact. But it comes down to protection. Furthermore, Miami is tied with the Giants in forcing 19 turnovers this year. Protect the football.

One more aside, for those who missed it, watch Offensive Coach Rob Sale describe why Matt Peart isn’t playing right tackle in this video, starting at the 21:15 mark. Sales’ facial expressions tell the story. The Giants came into 2021 hoping that Andrew Thomas, Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates, Will Hernandez, and Matt Peart would be the future. Lemieux missed the season with a knee injury and remains an unknown. Gates suffered a potentially career-altering leg fracture. In his fourth season, Hernandez has only proven to be an incredibly inconsistent player who can’t be completely relied upon. And the Giants’ offensive line coach all but called Peart a “pussy.” In other words, the Giants are no further along on their offensive line rebuild than they were a decade ago with the exception of Andrew Thomas. The next GM of the Giants may be forced to spend both 1st-round picks on an OL-rich offensive line draft.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
Patrick Graham’s defense won the game last week. It may sound over-the-top picky to complain, but I am still not thrilled with his defense’s play at the end of halves. A bad throw by Jalen Hurts saved New York at the end of the first half, and two drops by Jalen Reagor saved the team at the end of the game. Finish must be the mantra moving forward.

Starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (a lefty) has missed four games this year. The Dolphins are 3-4 with him starting. His best football has come in the last two games where Miami has scored 57 combined points. RPO and play-action is a big part of Miami’s offense and Tagovailoa gets rid of the ball quickly, preferring the short game. Much of this is a reflection of a bad offensive line, which has allowed too much pressure. The Dolphins also struggle to run the ball, with only the Texans averaging less yards per game. Turnovers are also a problem for Miami, as they have 20 on the year (the Giants have 14 by comparison).

The most dangerous weapon on the team is rookie wideout Jaylen Waddle. He’s been target 103 times on the season, catching 77 passes and four touchdowns. He’s an incredibly quick and fast player who can run by defenders, but the emphasis on the short passing game is highlighted that Waddle is still averaging less than 10 yards per catch. Don’t be lulled by that figure. Also highlighting the dink-and-dunk nature of this offense is that the other primary targets are tight end Mike Gesicki (52 catches on 79 targets) and running back Myles Gaskin (43 catches on 54 targets). The Dolphins will also throw to back-up tight end Durham Smythe.

Bad news is that Adoree’ Jackson and Darnay Holmes (on IR) are out. Good news is that Logan Ryan is back and Aaron Robinson is coming off a strong game. Nevertheless, the Giants are down to James Bradberry, Robinson, and Keion Crossen at corner. Ryan and Julian Love will probably have to play some corner in this game, particularly Love in the slot.

In a nutshell, as long as the Giants stay disciplined with the RPO and play-action and don’t give up the big play to Waddle, this is an offense that they should be able to mostly keep in check. Tagovailoa gets rid of the ball quickly, making it hard to get pressure, but this is an offensive line that can have issues in pass protection. We may see a good game from some of the Giants’ pass rushers. That said, the underneath coverage against the backs and tight ends is key. The Giants still very much miss Blake Martinez.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Riley Dixon is an overpaid, underperforming punter. In general, Giants’ special teams are not hurting them this year, but they aren’t winning games either. Joe Judge did mention this week that the Dolphins like to run gadget plays on special teams.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Offensive Line Coach Rob Sale on what Matt Peart needs to do to improve:Go out there and put your hands around somebody’s neck and freaking choke ‘em. Plain and simple.

THE FINAL WORD:
The season is on the line. The Giants either improve to 5-7 or fall to 4-8 with five games left. It’s up to them.

Teams often will rally around the back-up quarterback for a game or two. It will be interesting to see how Glennon performs.

Dec 162019
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 15, 2019)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 36 – Miami Dolphins 20

QUICK RECAP

That time of year where players and fans alike start to mail it in has arrived. We are fast approaching mid-December and despite the fact the NFC East is at its weakest in decades, the Giants are on the outside looking in. Winless in their last 9 games, NYG hosted the equally-bad Miami Dolphins in a game that could have major NFL Draft implications. Also adding some flavor to this otherwise stale game was Eli Manning potentially making his final start in front of the home crowd, or what was left of it anyway. He entered the game with a 116-117 career record and while the wins and losses aren’t a make or break on his legacy, the taste in everyone’s mouth would be a bit sweeter if he could get that ratio back to .500.

The Dolphins were led by Ryan Fitzpatrick, a 37-year old who has been aging like wine since his career began in 2005. While nobody mistakes him for Dan Marino, Fitzpatrick has made a habit in recent years of pulling off upset wins with his sneaky, slippery ways. He led the first MIA drive in to NYG territory but the December winds of North Jersey pushed kicker Jason Sanders’ attempt wide right.

The Giants’ opening drive ended in a Nate Solder allowed-sack before MIA took the ball back and marched right down the field into the red zone. Instead of trying to get the initial points on the board with a 27-yard field goal, Head Coach Brian Flores kept Sanders on the sideline this time to give the MIA offense an opportunity to convert a 4th-and-1 from the NYG 10-yard line. It was stuffed by safety Julian Love and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson for a 3-yard loss.

NYG did cross midfield for the first time but that is where the drive stalled and they had to punt it right back to MIA. They drove down the field yet again and the third time proved to be a charm. Thanks to several missed tackles by both the second and third levels of the defense, MIA found themselves in the red zone and Fitzpatrick hit DeVante Parker up the seam between Corey Ballentine and Antoine Bethea for the game’s first score.

NYG was about to go 3-and-out following an incomplete deep ball to Darius Slayton, but thanks to a pass interference by rookie Nate Brooks, NYG had the ball with a fresh set of downs at midfield. On the very next play Manning hit Golden Tate, who fought through another pass interference, tipped and bobbled the ball, and came down with it before bursting into the end zone to tie the game back up.

After a quick stop by the NYG defense, Manning got the ball back but he threw an interception to MIA linebacker Vince Biegel on a zone blitz that he simply did not recognize. MIA was able to put up three more points via a 24-yard field goal and take a 10-7 lead. A second interception from Manning kept the score there heading into halftime. The Giants were losing by 3 at home to a team that many have said is purposely tanking the 2019 season.

Halftime created a completely opposite result from what we saw just 6 nights prior in Philadelphia. They came out on fire and scored on a touchdown pass from Manning to Slayton. The momentum was back on NYG’s side after they forced a MIA 3-and-out, but Manning threw another horrific interception. There are times where a quarterback gets unlucky when an interception is added to his box score. We have seen several of those in Eli’s career where a receiver tips a ball or someone ran a wrong route. But all three of these were low-level, rookie-caliber mistakes. MIA ended up turning this one into 3 points to bring the game back within 1 point.

After forcing a stop, MIA got the ball back on their own 3-yard line. They opted to try and run outside with an undrafted, on-the-slower side running back with an untouched defender in front of him. It resulted in cornerback Sam Beal recording a tackle for loss in the end zone, netting NYG 2 more points with the ball coming back to them. It was the first safety of the season for NYG and ended up being the turning point of the game.

The Giants scored on their next two possessions via Saquon Barkley touchdowns. Barkley had a career high 28 touches. Pat Shurmur nearly faltered, by not giving him the ball enough as they tried to bleed out the clock with a lead against a bad team. But he quickly reverted to feeding him the rock behind an offensive line that was dominating the point-of-attack. The Giants scored one final touchdown on the legs of Buck Allen and MIA added one of their own on a charity score from Fitzpatrick to Parker.

Eli Manning was pulled and received a standing ovation and “Eli” cheer. If only more than a third of the stadium was full. Oh well.

Manning got his record back to .500 and NYG took the W for the first time since Week 4.

Giants win 36-20.

QUARTERBACK

-Eli Manning: 20/28 – 283 yards – 2 TD / 3 INT – 87.9 RAT. The two touchdowns really saved Manning’s supposed last start at MetLife Stadium. His three interceptions were all on him and he had a multiple misses on short passes. However, as we have grown to know well with Manning, he came up big in multiple spots and didn’t let poor plays carry over into the next series. One slight positive out of this game that the common fan won’t notice was Manning’s ability to change blocking schemes and plays at the line to set up Barkley. That’s one thing a rookie like Jones just doesn’t do yet and a veteran like Manning can do as easily as put his helmet on. It was nice to see Manning get a win and play well enough to contribute to that win in what we think will be his final start at home.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 24 att / 112 yards / 2 TD – 4 rec / 31 yards. Just over a year ago was the last time Barkley got 24 carries (12/8/18 – a Giants win). His 28 touches were the second highest of his 2-year career (29 touches on 11/18/18 – also a Giants win). Barkley looked like the elite, rare-level talent who we saw all of last year and were excited about going into 2019. He made lateral cuts that sent defenders straight to the ground without contact, his short area burst created separation from defenders at all levels, and he got into the end zone twice. Barkley was also running hard because he actually had some room to work with up front and it was such a breath of fresh air to see him produce. Don’t worry NYG fans, this is still one of the top talents in the league. Now the front office better take note what happens when they have an advantage rather than a deficit up front.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Sterling Shepard: 9 rec / 111 yards. Shepard had a bad drop and was flagged for offensive pass interference, but beyond that he was dominant over the green MIA corners. He was getting open underneath time after time and was a major weapon on 3rd down. He also had 2 key blocks that went unnoticed.

-Darius Slayton had 2 catches including a 5-yard touchdown and Golden Tate had one catch that went for a 51-yard score. They weren’t targeted a ton (7 combined) but the weather somewhat inhibited the downfield attack and Manning was clicking underneath with Shepard. Cody Latimer added a catch for 21 yards.

TIGHT END

-Kaden Smith had 3 catches for 38 yards on 3 targets. He made an impressive catch up the seam and showed some toughness after the catch. As a blocker, he graded out well but did allow a TFL.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-If only the Giants could play against the Dolphins defensive line each week. The right side of the line was dominant. Second-year undrafted free agent Nick Gates, who has seen more time at OT this season, played exceptionally well at RG. He was the top graded lineman on the team and had the second-highest grade of any OL performance from the team all year. Mike Remmers also kept things quiet next to him and NYG made an effort to run behind these two when tough yards were needed. I really hope to see more of Gates against WAS and PHI where his level of competition will be much higher.

-Nate Solder allowed a sack early and 1 pressure in the second half but otherwise played solidly. He was fooled by some twists and stunts and his balance wasn’t there to recover. Will Hernandez had the lowest grade on the OL, grading out just above average. He allowed a TFL and was flagged for a hold. He, too, looked lost on a couple run blitzes where he just didn’t see things coming fast enough.

-Jon Halapio didn’t make much of a difference. He got some decent movement off the ball which helped open up the running game.

EDGE

-Rookie Oshane Ximines out-snapped Lorenzo Carter. It wasn’t by much (34 to 32) but it is something to keep an eye on. Carter has been a disappointment this season and Ximines has flashed. He continued to do so in this one, recording a half-sack along with 2 pressures. Carter recorded 1 tackle and 1 pressure.

-Markus Golden added to his team lead in sacks with a half-sack of his own but also added 3 pressures, all in the second half. He had 3 tackles on the day and was stout against the run.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

-Similar to what I opened the offensive line discussion with, if only the Giants could play against the Dolphins every week. The trio of Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Dexter Lawrence owned the line of scrimmage. Tomlinson remained red hot with 3 tackles and a sack, along with a couple penetrations that caused the Dolphins running game into the waiting hands of other defenders. Williams had 3 tackles / 2 pressures / 1 forced fumble that was recovered by NYG.

-B.J. Hill and R.J. McIntosh both got involved in the action despite limited playing time. They both made a play behind the line of scrimmage, with McIntosh’s play being a sack.

LINEBACKER

-Alec Ogletree appears to have at least somewhat checked out. I remember saying this last year after this loss to the Titans. His hustle and urgency just wasn’t there and it was partially the reason why he missed 4 tackles and was flagged for a hold. He just looked sloppy and stiff. He did add a pressure and a pass break up in the second half but I see a guy who lacks both emotion and leadership from a position where they are needed. He shouldn’t be back in 2020.

-David Mayo added 6 tackles / 1 TFL. He has half the talent of Ogletree but I can’t say their production and impact combined are that far off. He plays hard and even though he was eaten up in coverage a few times. I always want a roster spot for a guy like Mayo.

-Deone Bucannon continues his tryout for NYG and the future. He made a really physical and athletic tackle near the sideline and got involved in some disruption behind the line of scrimmage. He finished with 6 tackles and was effective in coverage.

CORNERBACK

-The youth movement at corner is officially under way after the release of Janoris Jenkins, who had too much pride to simply apologize for what he said to someone on social media. Imagine if someone had used a racial slur on him and justified it by stating it was a “culture thing.”

-Sam Beal had his finest game and moment as a Giant and it was important for him, as he has been either injured or ineffective for nearly 2 seasons, and that can put a guy in danger when it comes to his roster spot. He finished with a team-high 11 tackles, the one big play being a safety. Beal isn’t an overly big guy, but he played really physical on several occasions. I think his footwork and reactions are a little behind the curve still but he was a key contributor to the NYG win.

-Deandre Baker’s play continues to move in the right direction. If he ends on this high note, we can feel good about his rookie season overall. He did allow a late touchdown on a 50/50 ball, but his technique and urgency have been notably better.

-Corey Ballentine has been getting a good amount of action at nickel. I don’t see the fit because his hips and feet just don’t change quickly and efficiently. He is a better straight line athlete, which can be used better outside. He allowed a touchdown on a seam route but he did break up a pass and finish with 3 tackles.

SAFETY

-Julian Love’s role with this team will be interesting to watch in the offseason. He finished with yet another strong game. He had 5 tackles / 2 TFL / 1 pressure / 1 pass break up. He is playing the versatile role of Jabrill Peppers with a lot of action in the box and excelling. Can he be moved back into the role of Antoine Bethea? On paper that is ideal, but I’m not sure he can produce from that spot. All of that aside, his play has been stellar.

-Antoine Bethea had 5 tackles and a pass break up but also missed 2 tackles and was late in zone coverage. I can respect the leadership he provides but I am keeping safety in my top-3 needs for this team moving forward.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas went 4/5 on extra points with no FG attempts.

-P Riley Dixon: 5 Punts / 41.8 avg / 41.8 net. Solid game on a windy day. Dixon ranks 6th in the NFL in average net per punt.

3 STUDS

-RB Saquon Barkley, OG Nick Gates, CB Sam Beal

3 DUDS

-LB Alec Ogletree, EDGE Lorenzo Carter, OG Will Hernandez

3 THOUGHTS ON MIA

  1. Back in September, everyone and their mother were completely positive that MIA was tanking the 2019 season so they could end up with the top pick of the 2020 Draft and select Tua Tagovailoa. Fast forward via real life and here we are. They are playing their butts off, no longer picking in the top 2 (most likely), and both Tua and Chase Young may not even be in the draft class. I have never believed that tanking is a thing and I still don’t. They cleared a lot of cap room, they began a new culture, and they used 2019 to find some key contributors for their future.
  1. Where does this team go now? First, I would love to know what their plans for Josh Rosen are. Part of me thinks Ryan Fitzpatrick simply beat him out and the other part of me says they are using 2019 as a rookie year for Rosen to let him sit and observe rather than run for his life behind a bottom-tier offensive line for the second year in a row. MIA has the resources to improve both the OL and DL this offseason and that is exactly where it needs to begin.
  1. Give me a guy like Brian Flores all day. He gets the most out of his players via leadership and intensity. He is a guy who can scare the kids but also work with the veterans. He knows the game exceptionally well (and we all know that is not a given for NFL head coaches). I think MIA is in really good hands.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  1. Even though the Giants won, the offensive-strategy bothered me as the Giants did not consistently attack newly-acquired, undrafted free agent Nate Brooks, who was playing in his first game. We have seen other teams throw at Sam Beal and Corey Ballentine and Deandre Baker over and over this year. Whenever NYG did target the receiver that Brooks was covering, it was near 100% successful. Darius Slayton beat him multiple times off the ball but they didn’t even look that way.
  1. Lets not go crazy with Nick Gates just yet. I know we are starving for good news, particularly along the offensive line, but the MIA defensive line is the worst in football. I have a couple friends who grade defensive line play around the league in a detailed manner and they have Miami ranked 32nd, with the 31st-ranked team not being close. Gates did what he had to do and he deserves the “stud” label this week but we need to see him against better competition.
  1. If Daniel Jones had a significant shoulder injury I would say he needs to be on the shelf the rest of the year. But a high-ankle sprain? He should play these next 2 weeks if he is even somewhat able. Jones has a ways to go and every week he misses is a lost opportunity for him. This is the time you want him to make the mistakes and learn from them. NYG will head into 2020 looking to win right away; thus Jones needs to get as much experience as possible. No question.
Dec 152019
 
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New York Giants Fans (December 15, 2019)

© USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 36 – MIAMI DOLPHINS 20…
The New York Giants ended their 9-game losing streak by defeating the Miami Dolphins 36-20 on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the win, the Giants’ overall record improved to 3-11 on the season with two games left. Quarterback Eli Manning, who might have played in his last game as a Giant, also improved his career regular-season win-loss record as a starter to 117-117. He received a standing ovation at the end of the game.

“I don’t know what the future is,” said Manning after the game. “I don’t know what lies next week, let alone down the road. Obviously, the support and the fans, their ovation, chanting my name from the first snap to the end, I appreciate that. I appreciate them always and all my teammates coming up to me. It’s a special day, a special win and one I’ll remember.”

The Dolphins gained 39 yards on their first 10 plays of the game, but came away empty when their kicker missed a 49-yard field goal. The Giants picked up one first down on their initial drive before punting. Miami drove 52 yards in 10 plays on their second possession, but on 4th-and-1 from the New York 10-yard line, safety Julian Love and nose tackle Dalvin Tomlinson stuffed the back for a 3-yard loss as the Dolphins turned the ball over on downs.

The Giants gained two first downs on their second possession, but punted again. The Dolphins responded with a 9-play, 89-yard drive that culminated with a 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to wide receiver DeVante Parker. Dolphins 7 – Giants 0.

The New York offense finally produced a scoring drive of its own as the Giants quickly responded with a 3-play, 75-yard effort that ended with a 51-yard touchdown pass from Manning to wide receiver Golden Tate. The game was now tied at 7-7.

After a punt by Miami pinned the Giants down at their own 1-yard line, the New York offense managed to reach their own 41-yard line before a holding penalty pushed them back. On the next snap, Manning was intercepted and the Dolphins had the ball at the New York 28-yard line. The Dolphins gained one first down before settling for a 24-yard field goal with 44 seconds left in the half. Manning was intercepted for the second time on the final play of the 2nd quarter.

At the break, the Dolphins led 10-7.

The Giants took the lead for good on their first possession of the second half. Assisted by a 26-yard pass to wide receiver Darius Slayton and a 21-yard pass to wide receiver Cody Latimer, the Giants drive 70 yards in six plays with Manning finishing the possession with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Slayton. Giants 14 – Dolphins 10.

Both teams then exchanged turnovers. After a big hit from linebacker Alec Ogletree, defensive end Leonard Williams forced Fitzpatrick to fumble with safety Sean Chandler recovering at the Miami 33-yard line. However, three plays later, on 3rd-and-1, Manning was intercepted at the Miami 15-yard line and the pick was returned 34 yards to near midfield. The Dolphins picked up one first down before kicking a 47-yard field goal. Giants 14 – Dolphins 13.

The Giants only gained one first down and punted on the ensuing drive. However, the Dolphins were pinned inside their own 5-yard line. Cornerback Sam Beal then tackled the Miami running back in the end zone for a safety. The Giants now led 16-13.

New York began to take control of the game after the free kick. Wide receiver Da’Mari Scott returned the ball 34 yards to the Miami 40-yard line. Two passes from Manning to wide receiver Sterling Shepard for a total of 39 yards set up the Giants at the 1-yard line. Running back Saquon Barkley then scored and the Giants were up 23-13.

After the Dolphins went three-and-out, the Giants responded with their third touchdown drive of the half, marching 66 yards in eight plays. Barkley scored his second touchdown, this time from 10 yards out on the first play of the 4th quarter. Giants 30 – Dolphins 13.

Both teams gained one first down before punting on the next two possessions. Then the Dolphins turned the football over on downs at their own 44-yard line. With 6:35 left in the game, New York put the contest to bed with a five play drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown by running back Buck Allen. Aldrick Rosas missed the extra point. Giants 36 – Dolphins 13.

The New York defense got a bit sloppy on the ensuing possession as the Dolphins easily drove 75 yards in eight plays to cut the score to 36-20 with less than two minutes to play. The Giants began to kneel on the ball, but took Manning out of the game so he could receive an ovation from the home crowd. The Dolphins got the ball back with 46 seconds remaining but chose to simply run out the clock.

Manning finished 20-of-28 for 283 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. His leading target was Shepard, who caught nine passes for 111 yards. Barkley carried the ball 24 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively, the Giants surrendered 384 total net yards (122 rushing, 262 passing). New York forced one turnover on a fumble recovery and picked up three sacks: Tomlinson (1), defensive end R.J. McIntosh (1), linebacker Markus Golden (0.5), and linebacker Oshane Ximines (0.5).

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were QB Daniel Jones (ankle), TE Evan Engram (foot), TE Rhett Ellison (concussion), RG Kevin Zeitler (ankle/wrist), RB Wayne Gallman, and OT/OG Chad Slade. There was no seventh player inactive because the Giants came into the game with only 52 players on the roster.

Cornerback Deandre Baker hurt his knee but returned to the game.

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

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

Dec 132019
 
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Game Preview: Miami Dolphins at New York Giants, December 15, 2019

THE STORYLINE

I’m going to be honest with you guys and gals, I just want this season to be over. This is as depressing a season in my late middle-aged life as I can remember.

So rather than dwell in the current bleak state of affairs, and in the spirit of the holidays, let’s look to t he future!

Here are my 12 Days of Christmas wish list:

  1. Fire the defensive and offensive coordinators. I don’t care what James Bettcher did in Arizona. I can only judge him on what he has done the past two years in New Jersey. His defense is a confused mess that routinely allows struggling offenses have their best days. On the offensive side of the ball, I’m still not sure what Mike Shula even does. Only a case can be made for Thomas McGaughey (special teams), but let the new coach decide his fate.
  2. Fire the position coaches. Has any position on this roster gotten better under the tutelage of the position coaches the past two years? Running back (Craig Johnson), offensive line (Hal Hunter), wide receivers (Tyke Tolbert), tight ends (Lunda Wells), defensive line (Gary Emanuel), linebackers (Bill McGovern and Mike Dawson), and defensive backs (Everett Withers)? Think about it.
  3. Fire Pat Shurmur. Last Monday night should have convinced even fence-sitters that he is the wrong guy. I don’t want him anywhere near the team. We’re in Bill Arnsparger, Ray Handley, and Ben McAdoo territory here. Heaven help the Giants if ownership’s take is that Shurmur is fine and he just has to replace assistant coaches.
  4. Fire the General Manager. Dave Gettlemen said before the season that he did not know if this was a playoff team but he should be judged on whether the product is getting better or not. It’s not. Moreover, Gettlemen is near retirement age and the next GM should not be encumbered with Gettlemen’s coaching staff and roster. The trade for Leonard Williams should be the final nail in the coffin. Not moving Evan Engram and Janoris Jenkins also looks bad. The Giants are going to have another top five pick in the draft and tens of millions of dollars to spend in free agency. I wouldn’t give that responsibility to Gettleman, especially since his free agent decisions have been terrible.
  5. Tell Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Chris Mara that his “expertise” in no longer needed. He’s been a failure. His position is duplicative and probably causes unspoken internal confusion. Time to focus on his horse racing career.
  6. Conduct a real general manager search. Don’t just pretend to do so and give the job to Assistant General Manager Kevin Abrams. He’s responsible for the failed product too.
  7. Do not hire Ernie Accorsi to serve as a consultant. I shouldn’t even have to explain this.
  8. That said, ownership should not rely on just their own instincts on who to hire as general manager and head coach. Those instincts have caused the Giants to fire Tom Coughlin while keeping Jerry Reese and Marc Ross, hire Ben McAdoo in a panic for fear of the Philadelphia Eagles “stealing” him, and hiring Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur. In other words, their instincts are dreadful. Seek professional outside counsel.
  9. Strongly consider hiring a defensive-minded head coach. While Tom Coughlin worked out marvelously, I’m sick to death of “offensive gurus” like McAdoo and Shurmur. Get back to your franchise roots and build this team around a kick-ass defense.
  10. For the love of God, fix the freaking offensive line. It’s been almost a decade now since players like Kareem McKenzie, David Diehl, Rich Seubert, Chris Snee, and Shaun O’Hara hung it up. You ruined the second half of Eli Manning’s career. You are ruining the young careers of Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones before they have entered their prime. What good are the second and sixth picks in the draft if they don’t have a line?
  11. Find some players who can cover the middle of the field. Again, the team’s linebackers and safeties have been chronically abused for years. Jason Witten should pick John Mara to give his Hall of Fame induction speech.
  12. In the spirit of the season of miracles, go get Bill Belichick. Call me stupid, naive, foolish, hopelessly unrealistic, but I think he can be pried away from New England. There have been whispers of a break-up with Patriots for years. The Tom Brady era is coming to an end. This is the time to strike. We have a need. He may be looking to leave. Offer Bill full authority to run the entire football operation. When he’s done with coaching, he can still build the team. He loves the Giants. Don’t play it safe here, swing for the fences.

THE INJURY REPORT

  • QB Daniel Jones (ankle – out)
  • WR Golden Tate (foot)
  • TE Evan Engram (foot – out)
  • TE Rhett Ellison (concussion – out)
  • RG Kevin Zeitler (ankle/wrist – out)
  • CB Corey Ballentine (concussion)

THE FINAL WORD

The Dolphins suck but they are playing hard and having fun. The Giants just mailed in the second-half against the Eagles in Philadelphia. The Giants haven’t hit rock bottom yet. It’s coming.

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)