Oct 132019
 
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Golden Tate, New York Giants (October 10, 2019)

Golden Tate – © USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots 35 – New York Giants 14

QUICK RECAP

Just four nights after the NYG loss to MIN, the Giants found themselves at a windy Gillette Stadium to take on the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. The short week combined with a couple of injuries to key players on offense likely contributed to the massive underdog tone going in to this one. However, NYG has had this overlooked-label attached to them heading into a match-up against Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and company before.

NE drove down the field on the opening drive but consecutive stops at the NYG 19-yard line with just 1 yard to go, the second of which being fourth down, gave NYG the initial momentum. As was the case for most of the night, the NYG offense couldn’t respond as they went 3-and-out. They were without Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Saquon Barkley against a team that is 12-0 at home against rookie quarterbacks since Belichick took over.

The two teams traded 3-and-outs before Daniel Jones threw his first interception of the night, this one to John Simon. However Brady, continuing his streak of sub-par play against the Giants in white, threw an interception to Janoris Jenkins on the next play and the messy football we are used to seeing on Thursday nights across the league appeared to be back in full effect.

NYG was not able to take advantage of their 50-yard line starting field position and the defensive battle continued all the way to the point where the first score of the game came on a “blocked” punt. Linebacker Nate Stupar, the personal protector to punter Riley Dixon, was pushed backwards to the point where the trajectory of the ball was right at his helmet. Rookie Chase Winovich caught the live ball and carried it into the end zone.

Brady and the NE offense continued to stall because of a quality pass rush by NYG with perhaps a little help from the wind, which made it hard to really force the ball downfield. That wind, and perhaps the best defense in the NFL, had the tough impact on Jones as well. He threw his second interception of the night, this time to safety Duron Harmon, giving NE the ball at the NYG 20-yard line. Five plays later Brandon Bolden crossed the goal line as NE took a commanding 14-0 lead.

As we have seen multiple times already, Jones showed a short memory by standing tall in the pocket on the next drive while continuing to go through his reads. On the third play, Jones hit Golden Tate for a 64 yard touchdown on a perfectly-thrown deep ball that Tate tipped to himself before outrunning the NE secondary to the end zone. It was the first time NE had allowed a touchdown through the air this season.

Brady was sacked and fumbled on a hit by Lorenzo Carter on the next drive and the surging Markus Golden scooped it up before returning it for a 42-yard touchdown. All of the sudden NYG had this game tied up at 14 but NE responded with a smooth, steady drive that ended with a Brady 1-yard touchdown. Even though NYG had been out-gained 228-129, Jones had thrown 2 interceptions, and the NE special teams had scored a touchdown on a blocked punt, the game still very much felt within striking distance at halftime.

The ever-important first possession of the second half ended in Jones’ third interception of the night, this time to cornerback Stephon Gilmore. New NE kicker Mike Nugent missed a 40-yard field goal after a marathon drive and NYG just couldn’t get past midfield. The offense was sputtering all night besides the one deep ball to Tate. On the ground, Jon Hilliman couldn’t get going. Even worse on their next drive, Hilliman fumbled and it was scooped up by linebacker Kyle Van Noy who returned it for a 22-yard touchdown, the Pats second non-offensive score of the night.

NYG was down 28-14 with the just over 7 minutes left when they were faced with a 4th-and-2 from their own 33-yard line. Would they run? Would they pass? Head Coach Pat Shurmur, owner of a 17-38 record as a Head Coach, opted to punt. NE then scored another touchdown on another 1-yard Brady run while taking off another 3+ minutes of game clock. The night was all but over after that.

Giants lose 35-14.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 15/31 – 161 yards – 1 TD / 3 INT / 35.2 QBR. We knew these past 2 games against MIN and NE would be a different level test for Jones when compared to the two teamse started off against (TB/WAS). On a short week; traveling to NE on a windy night; up against a coach that has feasted on rookie quarterbacks; without his number one receiver, number one tight end, and number one and two running backs had the look of near-impossible. Jones did compete and showed plenty of physical and mental toughness, but when evaluating his play, it was poor. Big picture we can talk about this being a learning experience for him, which is fine, but Jones played bad. Three interceptions and another one that was dropped were the lowlights. He looked confused multiple times and at the end of the day, QB play like that against a team like NE makes a loss inevitable.

RUNNING BACK

-Jon Hilliman: 11 att / 38 yards – 2 rec / -3 yards. Hilliman got his second shot at carries with Barkley and Gallman out and, like last week, it did not go well. His fumble was scooped up for a defensive touchdown and he failed to make an impact otherwise. The all-22 tape showed cutback lanes on three of his carries that he simply didn’t see. Prime example of how important vision is for a back, as Barkley could have taken those 1-2 yard gains and turned them into something huge.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Golden Tate: 6 rec / 102 yards / 1 TD. Tate was targeted underneath and intermediate often but the one deep shot he got was turned into a 64-yard touchdown. A week after he subtly complained about not getting enough looks against MIN, he responded. His routes are a thing of beauty and once he, Shepard, and Engram are on the field at the same time, they will be a tough trio to cover on sub-3rd-and-7 situations.

-Darius Slayton added 3 catches for 32 yards. He was targeted 8 times and if there is one positive to the offensive weapons being hurt, it is more playing time for the gifted Slayton. He was up against a guy who I think is the best CB in the league right now, Stephon Gilmore, a bunch in this one. Good for him to see how hard it is to get open in addition to competing for the ball when a guy like that is on you. Slayton showed some downfield acceleration that is going to be a weapon here once he gets more confident in his reads and routes. He did have a drop and there are some inconsistencies I see play to play, but he is going to be a difference-maker here.

TIGHT END

-Rhett Ellison: 3 rec / 30 yards. Ellison saw an uptick in snaps with Engram out. He gave NYG what he has been giving for a couple years now, limited ceiling across the board but reliability and consistentcy. NE squeezed running lanes from the outside a few times and it was partially the fault of Ellison who just couldn’t get a push as a blocker.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-While a lot of the difficulties Jones experienced came from quality coverage by the NE back 7 and him simply holding onto the ball for too long, the line was still very shaky. Nate Solder and Mike Remmers each allowed 2 pressures in addition to poor run blocking. Their grades on a week-to-week basis are just above what Ereck Flowers was putting out. While their basements aren’t as low as Flowers was, they need to be more reliable. As much as I want NYG to get a premier pass rusher in next year’s draft, I think OT is going to be offseason priority number one.

-Inside, Kevin Zeitler had a really good game, the top grade on the OL. Hard to always tell who is playing well when a team can’t get the running game going but he was a bright spot. Jon Halapio had another below average game, leaving just week 1 vs DAL where I came away impressed with his effort. Will Hernandez allowed a pressure and was flagged for a hold. One of the sacks could have been attributed to him as well but Jones should have gotten rid of the ball.

EDGE

-If there is one bright spot from this game and recent weeks, the edge play has steadily improved. Markus Golden had a half-sack. That makes 5-straight games with a sack for Golden and he now ranks sixth in the NFL with 5 this season. He also scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery caused by a Lorenzo Carter sack, who also added 2 pressures. Carter is still the guy who makes a play every now and then that makes you dream. There is still hope regarding his upside.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

-Dalvin Tomlinson was a solid presence all night, turning in easily his top performance of the year, maybe even the past two years. He made a crucial 4th-and-1 stop on the NE opening drive. Dexter Lawrence remains active and disruptive. He had 5 tackles and a pressure. What’s most impressive lately are the amount of plays he is impacting away from the point-of-attack. He is getting to the sidelines, he is reaching receivers on screens and short passes. Just a really disruptive force on every level you can think of.

-B.J. Hill put in another quiet night. While I don’t have any legit concerns with him, I do think the expectations got a little high on him because of a 5.5 sack rookie campaign. Just another example why the volume of sacks in one season shouldn’t be considered too heavily when evaluating a player. He is getting a lot of dirty-work done this year so it isn’t easy to see what he is doing well and what he isn’t, but the past two weeks haven’t been quality performances.

LINEBACKER

-Huge games for both Alec Ogletree and David Mayo. Ogletree returned after missing time with a hamstring injury and led the team with 12 tackles / 1 sack / 1 TFL /1 pressure. He was all over the field, and like I said last week, having a real ILB in there makes a huge difference. While he is inconsistent, it was nice to see him out there filling lanes, getting off of blocks, and making plays after watching what we had to watch last week against MIN. Mayo also had 12 tackles along with a half-sack. He did get exposed multiple times in zone coverage, however, and he missed 2 tackles. Mayo played his heart out though and he is a really physical player.

CORNERBACK

-Janoris Jenkins came out strong for the second week in a row, finishing with 3 tackles / 1 INT / 1 PD. He nearly returned his interception for a touchdown. As he has always been, Jenkins really is amazing with the ball in his hands. I wonder if it is worth trying to give him a touch or two in the return game.

-Deandre Baker is getting more confident and it is easy to see from the all-22 angle. The balance looks better, there are less false steps, less recovery steps. He is also playing more physically and that is one of the best signs indicating the confidence is increasing. Confidence is not important for a cornerback, it is vital.

-Grant Haley had 6 tackles, including 1 TFL. He is still having a hard time sticking to the better slot receivers. While a really good nickel is hard to find, NYG is going to have to try out a new body there at some point this season. Teams have been torching the middle of the field for far too long.

SAFETY

-Jabrill Peppers had 10 tackles / 1 TFL / 1 pressure, but his most notable play was a missed tackle on 3rd down when the score was 14-14. This was the drive after NYG scored a defensive touchdown and the momentum was swinging to NYG. That missed tackle ended up being really costly, as NE scored a touchdown on this possession right before halftime.

-Michael Thomas also missed a tackle on the play noted above. He finished with 6 tackles on the night, one too short. Antoine Bethea had a quiet game and wasn’t contested much, but still found his way to 6 tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas – No field goals attempted.

-P Riley Dixon: 5 punts / 39.2 avg / 31.1 net. Second poor week in a row for Dixon.

3 STUDS

-LB Alec Ogletree, WR Golden Tate, CB Janoris Jenkins

3 DUDS

-QB Daniel Jones, RB Jon Hilliman, OC Jon Halapio

3 THOUGHTS ON NE

  1. Bill Belichick was hired by the Patriots in 2000. This may be the best defense he has put together over those 20 seasons. NE has never had the #1 ranked defense (yards allowed) but they have had two seasons where they allowed the fewest points. They currently rank #1 in both categories albeit against the easiest schedule in the NFL to date. Opponents aside, the defense, and more specifically the secondary, is in a league in its own right now. Combine that with the Belichick brain, they are going to be so difficult to beat this year.
  1. Are we finally starting to see Brady show signs of age? I’m not talking about athletically (he’s never been a good one), but his ball has less juice on it and it just seems the accuracy isn’t what it was a couple years ago. This was the fourth time I’ve seen him this year, and minus the cupcake schedule, he looks off.
  1. One of the most underrated reasons why NE remains competitive year after year is the play of their OL. It is such a rock-solid unit year after year and most fans can’t name 2 of their starters. I remember scouting all of their current starters and the one thing I can say about all of them – they are all gamers. They lack the ideal measurables, but they usually didn’t get beat one-on-one in college, they are blue-collar tough, and they all have high football IQs. The interior of Thuney-Karras-Mason were drafted rounds 3-6-4 respectively. Starting right tackle Marcus Cannon was drafted in the 5th round. They are smart guys who developed within the system. It’s worked out really well for New England.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  1. While NYG did have it tied up at 14, I’m not sure I understand the narrative that this was a good game. Yes, multiple offensive weapons were on the sideline for this one but NE didn’t play a clean game themselves. NYG was 2-of-10 on 3rd down, they were out-gained by 2:1 in total yardage, and they had a punt blocked. This was an all around ugly game.
  1. As I always say, I am slow to criticize coaching. There are far too many factors that I don’t have access to, but there are some simple game-management tactics that I just don’t think Shurmur is doing a good job with. The decision to not go for it on 4th-and-2 in the fourth quarter, down 14 points, was mind-numbing. That screams “unprepared” to me.
  1. I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves in regard to the 2020 NFL Draft, but you guys know most of my time right now is spent scouting that class. And I am going to say this right now… the WR talent coming into the league next year is ridiculous. I may have 10+ grades on receivers that are higher than anyone from the 2019 class. That is not an exaggeration. I think it is important NYG really finds out what they have in Slayton and Tate because there may be a talent that is very tough to pass on in the first 2 rounds next April.
Oct 112019
 
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Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants (October 10, 2019)

Janoris Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 35 – NEW YORK GIANTS 14…
In a game that was closer than many expected for much of the contest, the New York Giants fell 35-14 to the New England Patriots on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The Giants are now 2-4 on the season.

New York’s defense kept the team in the game for most of the contest and also scored. On the other hand, New York’s special teams allowed a touchdown on a blocked punt and the offense turned the ball over four times, one resulting in a defensive score for the Patriots.

New England’s first five offensive possessions resulted in a turnover on downs with nose tackle Dalvin Tomlinson stuffing the run on 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1, a punt after a three-and-out, an interception by Janoris Jenkins that he returned 62 yards, and two more punts.

But the Giants had even less success, with their first five possessions ending with three punts, and interception, and a blocked punt for a New England touchdown that gave them a 7-0 advantage late in the 1st quarter. After both teams exchanged punts early in the 2nd quarter, quarterback Daniel Jones threw his second interception, this one returned 27 yards to the New York 20-yard line. Five plays later, running back Brandon Bolden scored from one yard out on 3rd-and-goal to make it 14-0.

The only points generated by the Giants’ offense on the night came on the ensuing drive. After New York had picked up 11 yards on two plays, Jones connected with wide receiver Golden Tate on a 64-yard touchdown pass – the first touchdown pass given up by New England this season. Even better, the Giants tied the game at 14-14 a few plays later when linebacker Lorenzo Carter sacked quarterback Tom Brady, forcing a fumble that linebacker Markus Golden recovered and returned for a 42-yard touchdown.

New England responded with an 11-play, 75-yard drive right before halftime that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Brady and a 21-14 lead at halftime. This was the only long scoring drive the defense gave up in the first half.

Neither team scored in the 3rd quarter. Jones threw his third interception of the game on New York’s first drive of the half, turning the ball over at the New England 18-yard line. A clock-killing, 9-minute, 16-play, 60-yard drive by the Patriots ended with a missed 40-yard field goal. The quarter ended with another punt by Riley Dixon after one Giants’ first down.

The 4th quarter began with the Patriots turning the ball over on downs on a 4th-and-5 incomplete pass. But then disaster struck for the Giants. On 3rd-and-9, running back Jon Hilliman fumbled the ball after a catch. The loose ball was recovered by the Patriots and returned 22 yards for a defensive score, giving New England a two touchdown advantage with just over eight and a half minutes to play.

On the ensuing possession, the Giants faced a 4th-and-2 at their own 33-yard line with just over seven minutes to play. Head Coach Pat Shurmur decided to punt the ball away. Dixon’s punt only traveled 30 yards. And New England then went on to put the game away by driving 63 yards in seven plays, with Brady rushing for his second 1-yard touchdown run of the game.

With the Patriots now up 35-14 with just under four minutes to play, New York could only gain one first down before turning the ball over on downs. The Patriots then ran out the clock.

Minus three of their best offensive players, New York could only gain 10 first downs and 213 total net yards against the NFL’s #1 defense. Jones finished the game 15-of-31 for 161 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. Sixty-four of his yards came on his touchdown throw to Tate, who finished the game with six catches for 102 yards. Giants’ backs only gained 52 yards on 16 carries. As stated, the offense turned the ball over four times.

The Giants’ defense allowed 27 first downs and 427 total net yards, but they kept New York in the game, allowing only two long touchdown drives, one of which came late in the contest. Brady was picked off once (by Jenkins) and sacked three times, one leading to a defensive score. Aside from Carter, the other sacks were accrued by linebacker Alec Ogletree (1), linebacker David Mayo (0.5), and linebacker Markus Golden (0.5).

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), RB Wayne Gallman (concussion), WR Sterling Shepard (concussion), TE Evan Engram (knee), LB Tae Davis (concussion), OT Eric Smith, and OT/OG Chad Slade were inactive.

Defensive lineman Olsen Pierre left the game with a concussion and did not return.

ROSTER MOVES…
Before the game, the New York Giants signed running back Austin Walter from their Practice Squad and terminated the contract of quarterback Alex Tanney.

The 5’8”, 190-pound Walter was originally signed by the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. The 49ers cut him in late August 2019 and the Giants then signed him to their Practice Squad.

Tanney was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs after the 2012 NFL Draft. The well-traveled journeyman has spent time with the Chiefs (2012), Dallas Cowboys (2013), Cleveland Browns (2013), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014), Tennessee Titans (2014), Buffalo Bills (2015), Indianapolis Colts (2015), and Titans again (2015–2018). The Giants signed him in May 2018 after he was cut by the Titans. He surprisingly won the team’s back-up quarterback job in 2018.

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

  • Head Coach Pat Shurmur (Video)
  • QB Daniel Jones (Video)
  • S Jabrill Peppers (Video)

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur and select players will address the media by conference call on Friday.

Oct 092019
 
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Game Preview: New York Giants at New England Patriots, October 10, 2019

THE STORYLINE:
Last Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings was a litmus test, and the undermanned New York Giants failed miserably. The team wanted to be 3-2 heading into New England, not 2-3. They will soon to be 2-4. That’s not doom-and-gloom pessimism but simple reality.

  • The away team on Thursday night football is always at a serious disadvantage.
  • The away team rarely wins in New England.
  • The Patriots are defending Super Bow champions.
  • The Patriots currently have the NFL’s #1 defense, allowing only two touchdowns in five games.
  • The Giants’ best running back, wide receiver, and tight end are out.
  • The Patriots currently have the NFL’s #11 offense.
  • Tom Brady, arguably the best quarterback in NFL history, faces a secondary that Kirk Cousins just tore apart.
  • Bill Belichick versus Pat Shurmur?
  • The Patriots are well on their way to another Super Bowl appearance. The Giants are in the eighth year of their 20-year rebuilding program.

It’s no wonder why the Giants are more than two touchdown underdogs.

Honestly, if I were Pat Shurmur, I would treat this game as a glorified preseason game. I would use it as an opportunity to experiment both in terms personnel and play calling. For example, this may be the time to give players like Corey Ballentine and Julian Love some playing time. The team may also want to try some things on offense and defense that are out of character. What do you have to lose? You want to be predictable and undermanned against Bill Belichick? “You play to win the game!” Screw that, let’s have some fun!

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle – out)
  • RB Wayne Gallman (concussion – out)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (concussion – out)
  • TE Evan Engram (knee – out)
  • LT Nate Solder (neck)
  • LB Alec Ogletree (hamstring)
  • LB Tae Davis (concussion)
  • LB Lorenzo Carter (neck – questionable)
  • LB Josiah Tauaefa (knee)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
This is a horrible spot for Daniel Jones to be in. Barkley out. Gallman out. Shepard out. Engram out. Offensive line struggling. Now on a short week, the rookie quarterback faces the #1 defense and the #1 defensive mastermind of all time without his best offensive weapons. The Giants have no running game without Barkley. None. His two security blanks – Shepard and Engram – will not play. Yikes!

Instead of focusing on this mismatched contest, let’s use this as an opportunity to look at the bigger picture moving forward:

Quarterback: Barring a devastating injury or complete meltdown during the last 11 games, Daniel Jones is the franchise quarterback. As I’ve talked about in previous game previews, he’s the central focus for the rest of the season. Regardless of his and the team’s performance, these games are invaluable learning moments for him. Really, for Jones, this is about preparing more for 2020 at this point. Eli Manning won’t be on the team next year. The Giants have to decide if they can do better than Alex Tanney as Jones’ back-up after Manning is gone.

Running Back: The Giants’ offense is a completely different animal without Saquon Barkley. As great as it has been for Giants fans to get to watch Daniel Jones earlier than expected, it sucks that Barkley’s high-ankle sprain has taken away one of the few reasons to watch this team. That all said, the Giants may have learned a valuable lesson here about making sure they have proper NFL depth behind Barkley. Is Wayne Gallman the guy you want backing him up? I think we’ve seen enough of Jon Hilliman. In this game, I would like to see Eli Penny receive the bulk of the carries.

Wide Receiver: The Giants need to upgrade this position. Pray Sterling Shepard’s concussions are not an issue moving forward because they can ill-afford to see yet another one of their promising receivers have his career end prematurely (Plaxico Burress, Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, etc.). With Shepard out, this will be Golden Tate’s opportunity to shine. But he and Cody Latimer don’t look like the answers moving forward. On the other hand, the Giants may have hit the jackpot with Darius Slayton in the 5th round.

Tight End: As long as he can stay healthy (a big if), Evan Engram looks like one of the more dynamic receiving-threat tight ends in football. He’s a weapon. Pat Shurmur obviously loves tight ends. There are currently four on the 53-man roster (and the team had five at one point). Rhett Ellison is steady, but as this season progresses, Shurmur may want to get a better look at Garrett Dickerson and Kaden Smith in real games.

Offensive Line: It’s beyond ridiculous now. The Giants simply can’t seem to field a legitimate offensive line. As has smartly been pointed out in The Corner Forum this week, when you have a good offensive line, everything looks better. See the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers as prime examples. The Giants made a huge mistake signing Nate Solder to that contract. He’s been terrible. Mike Remmers was signed to be a temporary stop-gap but he’s only marginally better than Chad Wheeler, who replaced Bobby Hart. I still don’t know what Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur see in Jon Halapio, who has played for five other teams, including the Boston Brawlers and Brooklyn Bolts. Making matters worse is that Kevin Zeitler is playing with a bad shoulder that is clearly affecting his play. The Giants NEED two new starting offensive tackles, and ideally a starting center. That’s a tall order in one offseason.

Offensive Summary: On paper, the Giants look like they have their starting quarterback, running back, and tight end. But 3/5ths of the offensive line needs to be replaced and another outside receiver needs to be added to complement Slayton and Shepard.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
I grew up spoiled on great New York Giants defense. As much justifiable criticism as Eli Manning, the offensive line, and the offense as a whole have received for the past eight years, in my mind, the defense may be even more guilty for the team’s demise. Good defense can cover for a multitude of sins and keep teams competitive. Even in terrible seasons like 1995, the Giants were in just about every game because the defense kept them in every game. In the last eight years, the New York defense has finished:

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

They are currently 30th.

Like the offensive line, the Giants can’t seem to fix the defense. They keep changing players, coaches, and schemes. But the team remains at the bottom of the league in defense. Until the defense markedly improves, it won’t matter what Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley do on the field.

Defensive Line: This is currently the strongest area of the team. Dexter Lawrence, B.J. Hill, and Dalvin Tomlinson are good enough to win with, although I’d like to see more flash from Tomlinson. Lawrence is starting to give offensive linemen fits. Depth is shaky with only R.J. McIntosh and Olsen Pierre on the 53-man roster as back-ups.

Edge Rusher: Some fans still think Lawrence and Hill are supposed to be like Michael Strahan or Justin Tuck in the Giants’ old 4-3 scheme. In James Bettcher’s 3-4, the outside rush has to come from the outside linebackers or “edge rushers.” Lost in the crappy defensive play is that Markus Golden (4.5 sacks) is quietly averaging just under sack per game. More was expected of Lorenzo Carter, but it’s still early and he has been dealing with injuries. Oshane Ximines and Tuzar Skipper have flashed but as their play against the run last week showed, they both still has a lot to learn. Ideally, this team needs an edge rusher who scares opposing offensive coordinators and quarterbacks. That’s not on the roster right now.

Inside Linebacker: Long gone are Sam Huff, Brian Kelly, Harry Carson, Gary Reasons, Pepper Johnson, Antonio Pierce. Hell, even Michael Brooks, Michael Barrow, Corey Widmer, or Chase Blackburn would look great right now. The Giants have gone from Linebacker U. to Linebacker Hell. And when they finally draft a good one for the first time in years and years (Ryan Connelly), he tears his ACL in his third start. Look at the outstanding defenses around the NFL and they all have good linebackers. The “help wanted” sign has been out here since Antonio Pierce left. This group can’t play the run and can’t play the pass. They make the entire defense worse.

Cornerback: The Giants focused on rebuilding this position in the 2019 Draft. The jury is still out on Deandre Baker, but he is starting and learning. That’s about as good as  you can expect from a rookie corner. Sam Beal missed most of the offseason with a nagging hamstring injury but has returned to practice and will likely be added to the 53-man roster soon. Corey Ballentine should be seeing more playing time. The Giants need to start reducing Grant Haley’s role. At this point, the Giants may want to shop Janoris Jenkins in advance of the trade deadline. He won’t be a part of the rebuild.

Safety: The good news is that after a slow start, Jabrill Peppers is starting to make some plays. The bad news is that Antoine Bethea looks done. At some point very soon, perhaps even this game, the Giants need to sit him. Julian Love should start playing more. Sean Chandler didn’t look good against Minnesota but he should also see his workload increase so the Giants can fully evaluate him. If Love or Chandler can’t handle the position, the Giants have a huge need at this position entering the offseason.

Defensive Summary: A great edge rusher will make everyone better. If you can’t rush the passer in this League, you’re in trouble. Much depends on Ryan Connelly moving forward. Will he be the same player? Regardless, the Giants need to add one or two more inside linebackers as well. Safety remains a sore spot unless Julian Love can handle the transition to free safety.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Ironically, after years are dismal special teams units, the Giants are in pretty good shape here.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Pat Shurmur on his team being 16.5-point underdogs: “I have no reaction to it.”

THE FINAL WORD:
I doubt my words will be heeded, but I suggest most Giants fans don’t get too upset over this game. The Giants are going to get their asses kicked by the best team in the NFL. And this year, it’s the Patriots’ defense that is carrying them. I’ll be happy if Daniel Jones gets out of this game healthy.

Based on needs alone, this team is more than one offseason away from seriously competing again. It has to start with the offensive line, edge rushers, and inside linebackers.

Aug 312019
 
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Spencer Pulley, New York Giants (August 29, 2019)

Spencer Pulley – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 31 – New England Patriots 29

QUICK RECAP

Preseason game number 4. The point where coaches have made most of their roster decisions and are now hoping for no serious injuries to their backups and rotational players. The Giants headed to New England to face off against the Patriots, as per usual, in the final game prior to the regular season. The Giants kept their starters on the bench for this one, giving roster hopefuls a shot at showing what they can do with an extended amount of snaps.

The Patriots, led by rookie Jarrett Stidham, marched down the field and put NE up 3-0 after the first drive. He had Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Demaryius Thomas running routes and catching balls for him. If this were 2013, that could have passed for the best WR trio in the NFL. It was a good, true test for the youthful NYG defensive backs to be up against such established pass catchers even though they are past their primes.

Daniel Jones started for NYG, pulling an Eli Manning and staying out there for just one series. He remained near-perfect on the preseason, going 4/4 and 47 yards. The fact that Shurmur pulled him after one series has to tell you something.

The Giants forced a turnover via pressure from Jake Ceresna, which caused an errant pass by Stidham, landing in the arms of safety Sean Chandler. With Alex Tanney at the helm on ensuing drive, it took just two plays for NYG to reach the end zone. A perfectly thrown ball to Alonzo Russell gave them the 35-yard score, putting Big Blue up 7-3. It didn’t take long for the Giants to get the ball back, one play actually. A poor exchange on an attempted reverse resulted in the ball being put on the ground, which was recovered by Keion Adams. The Giants turned that turnover in 3 points, giving them a 10-3 lead as the first quarter came to an end.

With the all-2013 wide receiver group still in, Stidham was able to get the NE offense back on track, hitting Thomas for a 35-yard score. After a NYG three-and-out, Stidham again hit Thomas, this time for a 3-yard score and all of the sudden NE was up 16-10. Things were getting ugly for the NYG offense via penalties and eventually an interception by Tanney. It was the first of two INTs by Tanney on the night.

The Patriots offense took over the rest of the first half and entered halftime with a commanding 29-10 lead. The Giants offense couldn’t convert on 3rd down and the Pats offense was continuing to play their simple but efficient style of football.

Kyle Lauletta came out under center to start off the second half and led a nice resurgence. He was on the money for the rest of the night and led this team to within striking distance. Despite several dropped balls and some of his targets going down with lower body injuries, he looked very smooth and efficient. He threw a perfect deep pass to Scott Simonson for his first of two touchdowns. Wayne Gallman, who saw the most preseason action of the year, scored a physical 6-yard touchdown and Aldrick Rosas hit a 27-yard field goal.

The Giants defense came up with several key stops and applied a lot of pressure from the middle of the line. John Jenkins and Ceresna were standouts.

The dramatic finish had NYG facing a 29-25 deficit with 4 seconds remaining. Lauletta, who was dominant on 3rd down all night, was in his highest-pressure situation of the night, one play left from the NE 14-yard line. He hit Russell for the touchdown as time expired to complete the 19-point comeback and 21 unanswered points.

Giants win 31-29 and end the preseason a perfect 4-0.

QUARTERBACKS

-Starter Eli Manning didn’t play in this one, giving Jones his first unofficial start of his career. He was able prepare for the game as the number one guy on the depth chart all week, another check mark on the QB progression list. Jones had a quick night, just one series, and completed all 4 of his attempts. Two of those completions were to Golden Tate, a combo we are sure to see later in the year. Jones has a superb preseason and instilled as much confidence as one can during preseason action.

-Alex Tanney had a night to forget while Kyle Lauletta had arguably his best half as a Giant. The former went 4/12 – 1 TD – 2 INT, while the latter went led a 19-point comeback, going 22/40 – 247 yards – 2 TD. He was also the victim of multiple drops and could have easily wound up over 300 yards, in just one half. Perhaps the most impressive part of his game was the performance on 3rd and 4th down. He went 12/15-166 yards-2 TD. It was truly dominant.

RUNNING BACKS

-Paul Perkins ended the preseason strong with two straight strong weeks. He rushed for 54 yards on 11 carries, displaying outstanding ability in space to miss tacklers and gain yards after contact. Still not a good between the tackles runner who can push piles, though.

-Wayne Gallman added 29 yards on 7 carries to go along with 3 receptions for 24 yards. His 6-yard touchdown run caught me by surprise with how physically he finished it off and pushed multiple defenders into the end zone. I was surprised to see him get so much action late in the game, but I’m glad he did. It is important for running backs to knock heads a few times in live action before the season starts.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Long-winded night for the likes of Alonzo Russell, Reggie White Jr., and T.J. Jones. It was the most they all played during preseason and you could tell it impacted their performance late in the game. Russell was the star of the group, going 5-92-2 on an amazing 15 targets. Some analysts who are overly-obsessive about numbers will tell you that was an inefficient game, but Russell all but stamped his name onto the roster. He ran good routes, he tracked the ball well, and made physical catches. With the uncertainty at WR early in the year, he will get his shot. He did, however, drop a pass and another one on a 2-point conversion.

-T.J. Jones hobbled off the field a couple times, the second appearing more serious. He has had a few issues staying healthy and even though I think his versatility can land him a roster spot, I’m not sold he has a spot locked in.

TIGHT ENDS

-Scott Simonson, whom has had a problem with drops this preseason, made arguably the best catch of his Giants career on a 27-yard touchdown. He got downfield in a hurry and made a diving grab. Unfortunately, he injured his ankle on the play and had to be carted off. As of typing the review, no final result has been publicized but it didn’t look good.

-C.J. Conrad stepped up and had a nice game in the trenches. Very stifling blocker who rarely gets beat. He has been a consistent player all preseason and continued to show he can catch the ball when it is thrown his way as well. Jake Powell got some extra action after the injury, catching three passes and dropping another.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-As I have been saying all preseason, the NYG second-string offensive line is the best it has been in quite some time, most notably on the right side. Chad Slade and Nick Gates are playing powerfully and balanced. Their footwork has been on point and both play a violent game with their hands.

-Really rough game for left tackle Brian Mihalik. He was flagged 3 times, gave up 2 pressures and allowed 1 TFL. He may win the backup left tackle job by default unless this team thinks Gate or Slade can handle it, which I would prefer.

-Evan Brown and James O’Hagan both struggled to contain the NE interior defenders. They got minimal push, if anything. There appeared to be some miscommunication on blitzes as well.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Really active game from R.J. McIntosh and that is a word that keeps coming up every time I watch him. He gets off the ball fast and there is plenty of quick-twitch reaction and movement to his game.

-One of my NYG favorites of the preseason has been Jake Ceresna. I first noticed him in practice and then he popped up a few times in the games. He saved his best effort for last, as he finished with 2 TFL, 1 sack, and 2 pressures. This kid still has some developing to do, but the second-year undrafted free agent has done everything a back end roster player can do to make a spot for himself on the practice squad.

-John Jenkins had 2 tackles and a sack. He has really improved his quickness and game speed since coming into the league from Georgia back in 2013. The former 3rd round pick makes me feel good about the depth on the interior of this defensive line.

LINEBACKERS

-B.J. Goodson is proving he belongs on this team and can make an impact when called upon. I won’t bang the table for him to start (yet) because he isn’t the ideal schematic fit, but this guy needs to make the team. He is a tackling machine and plays with a lot of speed. He finished with a team high 6 tackles in addition to a sack. He also showed some solid downfield coverage on two occasions.

-There may be a quiet roster battle going on between Josiah Tauaefa and Nate Stupar. The latter is a leader on special teams but the former has been making plays when he gets on the field. Really fast reaction and sure tackling in addition to fitting the scheme well. Interested to see what happens there.

-Avery Moss is likely to get another shot here in 2019, but I think Jake Carlock has earned the right to take his roster spot. He had a sack taken away by a defensive hold and we have already noted the energy he brings to the table every play. Moss just doesn’t seem to have it.

CORNERBACKS

Terrell Sinkfield got beat up by the savvy veteran Demaryius Thomas. He continues to show a lack of ability to track and locate the ball. He has an impressive physical package but the skill set is inconsistent. Henre’ Toliver got some good experience in as well against the rusty but still effective Josh Gordon. His results were a bit more mixed, as he did flash here and there.

-Ronald Zamort had arguably his best performance of the preseason as he makes a push for a roster spot or a practice squad allocation. He broke up 2 passes early on.

SAFETIES

-Sean Chandler intercepted a pass and broke up 2 others. He is the one guy who I think this coaching staff really likes, as he can play multiple roles back there and has a knack for the ball.

-Solid game for Julian Love, who I loved coming out of Notre Dame but even I am surprised by how quickly he seems to have taken in both S and CB roles. Smart player who showed a physical side in this one. His future can be wherever this team needs him most, a really valuable asset.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 2/2 (Made 32 and 27). Perfect on the preseason.

-P Riley Dixon and P Johnny Townsend continued to split duties with the latter outperforming the former yet again.

3 STUDS

-QB Kyle Lauletta, WR Alonzo Russell, LB B.J. Goodson

3 DUDS

-OT Brian Mihalik, CB Terrell Sinkfield, QB Alex Tanney

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-Now comes the most active day of the personnel/team building year. At the time this is posted, several cuts may already have been made. Before you get surprised by anything both with the NYG and around the league, just consider there is a lot of information we don’t have access to when it comes to the “why”? Money, undisclosed injuries, schematic needs…etc.

-If there is one guy I really want NYG to keep around, it is B.J. Goodson. If he an stay healthy and readily available, I think he can be a difference maker in the middle especially with what they have up front along the defensive line. He has holes in coverage, but I think he has shown improvement there and the attitude he brings as a run defender elevates the physicality of this defense.

-When it comes to my outlook of the 2019 season, I have to say I have leaned more towards being optimistic. Much more so than last year, anyway. There is something to this team and the way they come together. Nobody is walking around like they are bigger than everyone else. The team is relatively healthy. The trenches are strong. There are legitimate concerns at a few spots, namely the pass rush, but I think this team will be in the wild card hunt for most, if not all of the season.

Aug 302019
 
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Alonzo Russell, New York Giants (August 29, 2019)

Alonzo Russell – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 31 – NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 29…
The New York Giants finished their 2019 preseason with a perfect 4-0 record after defeating the New England Patriots 31-29 in a dramatic come-from-behind victory on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Trailing 29-25 with four seconds left, quarterback Kyle Lauletta threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Alonzo Russell with no time left on the clock for the win. Although the Giants sat half their team, including virtually all starters, the game was a bit costly in that at least six Giants left the field with injuries and did not return (see injury report below).

The Patriots also sat the bulk of their starters except they did decide to play receivers such as Julian Edelman, Demaryius Thomas, and Josh Gordon against a New York Giants defense that fielded a mix of second, third, and fourth teamers. The Patriots put together a 10-play, 62-yard drive to start the game that ended with a 31-yard field goal.

With Daniel Jones at the helm for his only drive of the night, the Giants moved the ball 62 yards down to the Patriots’ 13-yard line but were stuffed on 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1, turning the ball over on downs. Jones was a perfect 4-of-4 on the drive for 47 yards. The Giants got the ball back when DE Jake Ceresna hit the Patriots’ quarterback Jarrett Stidham as he threw, leading to an easy interception by safety Sean Chandler who returned the football to the New England 37-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Alex Tanney threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Alonzo Russell. The Giants immediately got the ball back again when the Patriots botched a handoff and linebacker Keion Adams recovered at the Patriots’ 14-yard line. The Giants could not move the ball, however, and settled for a 32-yard field goal. Giants 10 – Patriots 3.

The second quarter was a disaster for the Giants. With Tanney at the helm, New York’s five possessions in the quarter resulted in one first down, three punts, and two interceptions. Meanwhile, the Patriots scored on five of their six possessions, including three touchdown drives and two field goals. New England scored 26 unanswered points to go up 29-10 at the half. 3rd/4th string cornerbacks Ronald Zamort, Henre’ Tolliver, and Terrell Sinkfield had issues covering veteran receivers such as Demaryius Thomas and Josh Gordon.

The script completely flipped in the second half with Kyle Lauletta now starting at quarterback. Jarrett Stidham no longer was throwing to top receivers and the Patriots’ four second half possession ended with three first downs, three punts, and a turnover on downs, the latter occurring when New England was trying to run out the clock. Meanwhile, Lauletta and the Giants’ offense scored four times in five drives, including three touchdowns and a field goal.

The first drive, a 12-play, 66-yard effort, resulted in a 27-yard field goal after wide receiver Reggie White, Jr. dropped what should have been a 9-yard touchdown pass. On the next drive Lauletta threw a 27-yard touchdown pass down the seam to a diving tight end Scott Simonson on 3rd-and-2. Unfortunately, Simonson seriously injured his ankle on the play. Alonzo Russell could not bring in the 2-point conversion attempt and the Giants trailed 29-19. The Giants scored another touchdown on their next possession (8 plays, 42 yards) on a tough 6-yard run by running back Wayne Gallman. The two-point attempt failed again and the Giants now trailed 29-25.

After New England’s third punt in three possessions, the Giants drove from their 24-yard line to the New England 33. However, the drive ended when Lauletta’s 4th-and-3 pass to wide receiver T.J. Jones was dropped. Jones was also injured on this play and did not return.

With 6:27 left in the game, the Patriots picked up two first downs and ran over four minutes off of the clock before turning the ball over on downs at the Giants’ 30-yard line when defensive lineman John Jenkins sacked Stidham on 4th-and-4.

The Giants got the ball with 2:16 left and were pushed back to their own 23-yard line when Lauletta was sacked on the first play of the drive. But Lauletta and the Giants methodically moved the ball down the field, converting on 3rd-and-6, 2nd-and-15, 3rd-and-10, and 4th-and-6. With only four seconds left on the clock, Lauletta threw a 14-yard, walk-off touchdown throw to Alonzo Russell to win the game. The Giants had scored 21 unanswered points despite not kicking one extra point and missing two 2-point conversions.

Jones completed 4-of-4 passes for 47 yards. Tanney completed only 4-of-12 passes for 53 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Lauletta completed 22-of-40 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns. Alonzo Russell was the leading receiver with five catches (on 15 targets) for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Paul Perkins carried the ball 11 times for 54 yards and Wayne Gallman carried the ball seven times for 29 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, linebacker B.J. Goodson, defensive end Jake Ceresna, and nose tackle John Jenkins all had sacks. Linebacker Keion Adams recovered a fumble and safety Sean Chandler had an interception.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT AND HEALTHY SCRATCHES…
RB Rod Smith (adductor), WR Sterling Shepard (thumb), WR Darius Slayton (hamstring), WR Alex Wesley (ankle), TE Garrett Dickerson (quad), OT Chad Wheeler (back), OT George Asafo-Adjei (concussion), LB Alec Ogletree (calf), CB Antonio Hamilton (groin), CB Sam Beal (hamstring) and S Kenny Ladler (hamstring) did not play.

WR T.J. Jones (ankle?), WR Brittan Golden (calf), TE Scott Simonson (ankle), LB Keion Adams (knee), LB Nate Stupar (concussion), and CB Ronald Zamort (ankle) all left the game with injuries and did not return. Simonson left the locker room on crutches and wearing a boot on his left foot.

QB Eli Manning, RB Saquon Barkley, WR Cody Latimer, WR Benny Fowler, WR Russell Shepard, TE Evan Engram, TE Rhett Ellison, OG Kevin Zeitler, OG Will Hernandez, OT Mike Remmers, OT Nate Solder, OC Jon Halapio, NT Dalvin Tomlinson, DE B.J. Hill, DE Dexter Lawrence, DE Olsen Pierre, LB Markus Golden, LB Lorenzo Carter, LB Tae Davis, LB Kareem Martin, LB Oshane Ximines, CB Janoris Jenkins, CB Deandre Baker, CB Grant Haley, CB Corey Ballentine, S Jabrill Peppers, S Antoine Bethea, S Michael Thomas, and LS Zak DeOssie were healthy scratches.

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

  • Head Coach Pat Shurmur (Video)
  • RB Paul Perkins (Video)
  • WR Golden Tate (Video)
  • WR Alonzo Russell (Video)

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur and select players will address the media by conference call on Friday. The players are off on Saturday and Sunday and return to practice on Monday. The Giants must reduce their roster to 53 players on Saturday.

Aug 282019
 
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Oshane Ximines, New York Giants (August 22, 2019)

Oshane Ximines – © USA TODAY Sports

Preseason Game Preview: New York Giants at New England Patriots, August 29, 2019

THE STORYLINE:
The primary goals of the final preseason game are (1) get out as healthy as possible, and (2) make final determinations on roster spots. We already know Eli Manning won’t play. Saquon Barkley is surely a healthy scratch and most starters won’t play or will barely play. Knock on wood, but the Giants have thus far made it through the summer without any serious injuries other than Corey Coleman. That said, the injury report (see below) is fairly long and quite a few players who would have benefited from playing in this game will not play.

THE INJURY REPORT:
The following players are not likely to play on Thursday night:

  • RB Rod Smith (adductor)
  • WR Golden Tate (concussion)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (thumb)
  • WR Darius Slayton (hamstring)
  • WR Alex Wesley (ankle)
  • TE Garrett Dickerson (quad)
  • OT Chad Wheeler (back)
  • OT George Asafo-Adjei (concussion)
  • LB Alec Ogletree (calf)
  • CB Antonio Hamilton (groin)
  • CB Sam Beal (hamstring)
  • S Kenny Ladler (hamstring)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
It is believed that the offense will be the stronger side of the ball once the regular season starts. Eli Manning has had a strong summer. He has  his best offensive line in almost a decade. The Giants arguably have the best running back in football. Evan Engram can be a real match-up problem for safeties and linebackers. On paper, the wide-receiving corps looks weak and lacks a dynamic deep threat, but they may benefit from the threat of Barkley and Engram.

Manning won’t play on Thursday. Depending on what transpires during the next three months, this may be the final time we see Daniel Jones in a game until August 2020. Don’t take this the wrong way, but he’s due for a “bad game.” Right now, his overall numbers are insane: 25-of-30 (83.3 percent completion rate) for 369 yards and two touchdowns. That’s a 140.1 quarterback rating! That can’t continue. But if he has a decent game on Thursday, his rookie preseason has to be considered a tremendous success.

In terms of the pecking order, Alex Tanney still officially the 3rd-string quarterback with Kyle Lauletta pulling up the rear. Do the Giants carry three quarterbacks? If so, do they part ways already with their 4th-round pick in last year’s draft?

Saquon Barkley is the starter. Wayne Gallman is the back-up. Although he has only touched the ball once this preseason, Elijhaa Penny is the only back on the roster with fullback blocking skills. “I’m very fond of (Penny) because he’s one of the people in this building that, in my opinion, has never had a bad day,” said Pat Shurmur last week. “He’s a little bit of an inspiration to me because he just keeps going. He loves the game and he keeps playing. He’s done some good stuff for us.” Perhaps I’m falling for false praise, but I think he makes it. On the other hand, none of the other backs really impresses me. Paul Perkins has flashed catching the ball, but he plays small. I would not be shocked to see the Giants just carry three backs again. Or perhaps pick someone up off of the waiver wire.

Wide receiver is a bit convoluted because of Golden Tate’s suspension and nagging injuries to Sterling Shepard (thumb) and Darius Slayton (hamstring). Tate will start the season off of the 53-man roster on the suspended list. They won’t IR Slayton because of a hamstring. They will likely carry him on the 53-man roster and hold him inactive for a few weeks on game day. Sterling Shepard should be fine. I originally thought the Giants may only carry five wideouts but now I’m leaning towards six. Until Tate gets back, Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler will see a lot of playing time. T.J. Jones was only signed when camp started, but he has surprisingly performed well and has veteran starting experience. Unless the Giants carry seven wideouts, that leaves only one spot for Russell Shepard (very good special teams player), Alonzo Russell (good size and has flashed), and Brittan Golden (special teams return ability and has flashed in passing game). I think they go with Russell Shepard. Look for at least one of these guys and Reggie White, Jr. to end up on the Practice Squad.

Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison remain the top two tight ends. But do the Giants carry three or four? Shurmur has praised C.J. Conrad’s blocking. Garrett Dickerson has flashed as a receiver, but is hurt by the fact he probably won’t play in this game. Scott Simonson can block, but he hasn’t helped his cause with some dropped passes.

We know who the starters are. It will be interesting to see if they play a series or two on Thursday with Daniel Jones. Interestingly, Nick Gates and Chad Slade came out of nowhere and seem to have elevated themselves as the primary OL back-ups other than Spencer Pulley. That’s eight; the Giants may keep nine. It was expected that Chad Wheeler (slowed by back issues) and Brian Mihalik (slowed by burner) would have been in the mix, but they may now be both outside looking in. George Asafo-Adjei’s summer was wrecked by a concussion and he is likely headed to IR.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The defense is expected to be the weak spot on the 2019 New York Giants. We shall see. The prevailing narrative is that they should be tough to run on (inconsistent evidence of this in the preseason), have issues rushing the passer (confirmed during the preseason), and field a green secondary that will screw up but get better as the year progresses.

Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, and Dexter Lawrence are the starters up front. They will be backed up by R.J. McIntosh and Olsen Pierre. Probably the only real battle here is John Jenkins versus Chris Slayton if the Giants only carry six defensive linemen.

The outside linebackers will be Lorenzo Carter, Markus Golden, Kareem Martin, and Oshane Ximines. The Giants are probably hoping Jake Carlock makes it to the Practice Squad. Inside, Alec Ogletree, Tae Davis, and Ryan Connelly are the sure bets. The tea leaves suggest the Giants are going to mistakenly keep Nate Stupar over B.J. Goodson. Josiah Tauaefa might end up on the Practice Squad.

Sam Beal missed both of his first two training camps. Like Darius Slayton, I think the Giants will carry him on the 53-man roster and keep him inactive until his hamstring is better (he’s finally doing individual drills). Deandre Baker’s knee injury and Antonio Hamilton’s groin injury has also complicated the picture. Based on the preseason pecking order, the coaches obviously like Hamilton more than most fans had expected.

Janoris Jenkins and Deandre Baker will be the starting corners with Grant Haley being the slot corner. Corey Ballentine will make the team, as well as Beal and Hamilton. That makes six. I think the Giants will keep four safeties. Jabrill Peppers and Antoine Bethea will start. Michael Thomas and Julian Love will be the back-ups. I don’t see a spot for Sean Chandler or Kenny Ladler unless the Giants carry 11 defensive backs.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
It’s pretty clear the coaches are not happy with the punting situation. The team will probably be scouring the waiver wire. The Corey Coleman injury did impact the return game and it seems like the Giants are still scrambling a bit. I’m still not sure who will be the opening day punt and kickoff returners. They could put Jabrill Peppers back there.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Pat Shurmur on Benny Fowler and Cody Latimer: “There’s a veteran presence there. They know how to play the game. They played a lot of football, and there’s a confidence that they know what to do, they’ll compete and make plays.”

THE FINAL WORD:
The Giants must reduce the roster from 90 to 53 on Saturday so we will see at least 37 roster moves and probably more.

Sep 012018
 
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Donte Deayon, New York Giants (August 30, 2018)

Donte Deayon – © USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots 17 – New York Giants 12

QUICK RECAP

This game was very little about winning or losing and more about giving the roster bubble guys one last shot to showcase the potential. The coaching staff kept pretty much every starter on the bench for this one.

Kyle Lauletta got the start and showed that he has a ways to go when it comes to developing his NFL passing ability. He was comfortable on simple read throws underneath, but struggled to get the ball downfield accurately. It led to 2 interceptions.

NYG forced three turnovers themselves, hopefully a sign of things to come, but they also allowed an 86 yard touchdown late that put the game out of reach after a back-and-forth defensive battle. NYG lost the game 17-12 and paved the way for the roster cut down. Major injuries were avoided for the 4th week in a row. Bring on Week 1.

QUARTERBACKS

Kyle Lauletta: 8/19 – 118 yards – 1 TD/2 INT. With both Eli Manning and Davis Webb on the sideline for this one, we got our first extended look at the 4th round rookie. Two things I have liked about his game showed up again in this one, his release and footwork. He is further along than some of the QBs that were taken ahead of him in this 2018 class. He made a few aggressive throws downfield and failed to connect on all of them. He just under threw most of them and the lack of arm power that was discussed in his scouting report definitely showed up. His targets had a step or two in their defenders but the ball just didn’t get there. Both of his interceptions were poor downfield passes. Overall, it was a rough night for the rookie and now it will be back to holding the clipboard while trying to learn the game as much as one can from the sidelines.

Alex Tanney: 13/23 – 92 yards – 1 TD/0 INT. Tanney took over toward the beginning of the 3rd quarter. He never really had a shot at making this roster barring injury, but they still gave him a decent amount of playing time as Lauletta struggled and also started to get banged around by the Patriots pass rush. His final drive resulted in the second NYG touchdown of the night thanks to three NE penalties (one of which nullified a pick 6).

RUNNING BACKS

-This was one of the roster competitions to keep an eye on. If NYG ends up keeping a fourth RB on the team, it will come down to one of Jalen Simmons, Robert Martin, and Jhurell Pressley. Simmons seems to have the inside track, as he saw the most playing time and carries. His footwork and vision seem to be a notch or two higher than the others. He works his way through traffic with a low pad level and showed enough burst. Pressley and Martin have had their moments here, but now that Simmons is healthy again, I think he won the role if they do keep a fourth RB.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Just like the RB position, it seems there may be one more WR spot up for grabs. Kalif Raymond was featured a few times, finishing with a team high 7 targets but only brought in 1 reception. He was the victim of a couple bad deep balls from Lauletta despite impressive releases off the line. Amba Etta-Tawo had the play of the night with a 41 yard touchdown that was 37 yards after the catch. His impressive burst and long stride speed jumped off the screen in a game full of backups. His hot start to training camp simmered down but he finished with a bang. He did drop a ball later in the game, however.

-Travis Rudolph, a popular player at this time last year, caught all 3 targets that were thrown his way. I am surprised he hasn’t been given more looks with this regime. He, along with Roger Lewis (who had another quiet night), seem to be heading elsewhere this season. Alonzo Russell is an interesting guy. He flashed a couple times in games and at 6’4/210, that kind of size might be something to work with on the practice squad.

TIGHT ENDS

-No Evan Engram or Rhett Ellison in this one. Jerell Adams, Garrett Dickerson, and Scott Simonson saw the majority of the snaps. As much as Adams has been up and down this preseason, I think he gets the nod for the number three role. He added a couple more catches and actually had a very solid night blocking the edge. Simonson brings similar presence to the trenches but he just doesn’t have the catch radius that Adams does.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Sticking with the theme of the night, it was a night full of backups. John Greco and Chad Wheeler both allowed sacks but it appears both are going to be primary backups for at least the start of 2018. What I don’t like about Wheeler is the lack of progress he has made with technique. There was a play where he was pass blocking while facing the quarterback trying to box the defender out. He gets turned around and caught off balance way too often. Greco offers the versatility inside you want on game day. He can play OC and both OG spots. His strong preseason play combined with his strong finish in 2017 provides security.

-John Jerry may be an expensive backup and he too has some awful looking technique at times, but he can still get plenty of movement in the run game as a straight ahead blocker. He had some nice pops at he point of attack. Perhaps the most impressive young lineman on this team is Chris Scott. He, too, provides versatile depth inside and he graded out in a positive manner for the fourth week in a row, the only linemen on the team to do so.

EDGE

-This was a night for Lorenzo Carter to show what he’s got, and he shined. The rookie recorded 2 pressures and a sack in just 18 snaps played. With the status of Olivier Vernon up in the air, Carter’s role is going to be an important one whether he is ready or not. He showed excellent hand usage, easy leverage, and the well-known speed in space. Avery Moss finished with 5 tackles but failed to make a difference in the pass game. He has continued to struggle to show any sort of physical progression in year two.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

-The most crowded/deep position group on this roster. Robert Thomas appears to be entrenched as the primary backup at NT. He recorded a sack and 3 tackles. Thomas is going to benefit greatly from this scheme because it allows him to do what he does best, attack up field. He carries a lot of power when he moves north and consistently creates a new line of scrimmage.

-A.J. Francis led the group in snaps but was inconsistent. The one glaring hole in his game and this dates back to college, is the pad level. He gets too upright and will get easily moved. Izaah Lunsford had a pressure and flashed some nice athletic ability, but he is a sloppy player.

LINEBACKER

-One of the more interesting position battles on this roster may have very well came down to this game. Calvin Munson was a feel good story at this time last year, but he really hasn’t burst into the top 3 or 4 inside linebacker rotation. He doesn’t have the speed or coverage ability for this scheme and his presence between the tackles seems to get lost. Tae Davis, while undersized, has been displaying the opposite. He finished with 6 tackles and factors more on special teams with his speed. He plays bigger than his size but he has had at least 1 missed tackle in each game, including this one.

-Ray-Ray Armstrong has developed more and more with each week. He has picked up this scheme as well as anyone on the team and matched with his skill set, he is going to be a factor. The former safety covered well up the seam and also laid the wood on a QB hit early, probably the hardest hit of the night.

CORNERBACK

-A lot of competition in this group. I wouldn’t say it is a strong group of corners. They are competing for the spots on the bottom of the depth chart. With that said, Donte Deayon had his breakout performance with 2 interceptions and 2 pass breakups. His size is always going to limit him in certain situations, but he has the knack for the ball that you want to see in a CB. Great reaction time and the anticipation is improving.

-Chris Lewis-Harris had a solid night with 2 pass break ups. He did a nice job of keeping himself in the right position. I think he has shown enough to make the roster but he may get caught on the wrong side of the numbers game. I like his ability to cover moreso than William Gay, but Gay’s experience and versatility may get him the nod. Leonard Johnson is still a guy I would like to keep around as well. He had a couple of physical tackles and he plays with the short memory and aggression I want.

SAFETIES

-Andrew Adams, starter of 17 games over the past 2 seasons, got plenty of time to show his worth. He had a couple of nice tackles, one of which was for a loss, where he showed the needed range and physicality. But similar to what we have seen out of him in the past, he missed 2 tackles and was way too late on deep coverage responsibilities. He just doesn’t show the instincts you need back there. Michael Thomas, a guy this staff may want to keep around for locker room reasons, finished with 5 tackles and played like a hard-nosed linebacker at times. He plays big and may be the ideal backup to Landon Collins.

-Sean Chandler got playing time late and showed quality movement in coverage, but he is too much of a non factor against the run.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Marshall Koehn: 0/0 and 0/1 XP. Koehn missed his lone extra point attempt. He really has no shot at making this roster anyway.

P Riley Dixon: 6 Punts – 45.2 avg / 43.5 net. Very good net average there. 4 of his 6 punts were pinned inside the 20.

3 STUDS

-CB Donte Deayon, LB Lorenzo Carter, DT Robert Thomas

3 DUDS

-OT Chad Wheeler, QB Kyle Lauletta, S Andrew Adams

3 THOUGHTS ON NE

-The Patriots know what they are doing when it comes to scouting and developing QBs. That’s why I am still scratching my head with their selection of Danny Etling. He is a plus athlete with a strong arm, but he is very erratic from a release and overall accuracy standpoint. I can’t imagine he is their long term plan at QB for the post-Brady era.

-Another spot NE has done overly well with when it comes to the draft is linebacker. I’m sure some of it is scheme based, but I would keep a close eye on whoever they cut there. They have a surplus of young talent that produce on multiple fronts.

-The Achilles’ heal of this team is going to be the OL. I don’t think they were upset about losing Nate Solder for the contract he got, but this group is very thin on the edges. Brady can overcome it to an extent, but their floor at the position has been getting lower and lower each year.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-The biggest victory for NYG this preseason is the fact they enter the year with no major injuries. No, Darian Thompson’s hamstring injury is not major and I’m not sold he will make the team anyway.

-If Donte Deayon proves to be a capable playmaker as the #3 or #4 corner on this team, he could prove to be the unsung hero of this defense. NYG has had issues creating turnovers over the years and we know this scheme can force QBs into throwing balls that they don’t want to. That is where the playmakers need to rise up and make things happen.

-As we enter the one week away window, the three biggest concerns on this team are: lack of balance and stability on the OL, minimal pass rush without over-blitzing, and no playmaker at free safety.

Aug 302018
 
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Kyle Lauletta, New York Giants (August 30, 2018)

Kyle Lauletta – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 17 – NEW YORK GIANTS 12…
The New York Giants preseason ended on Thursday night with a 17-12 loss to the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The game was a boring, glorified scrimmage for back-ups. None of the Giants starters played and Head Coach Pat Shurmur oddly decided not to play second-string quarterback Davis Webb, with Kyle Lauletta getting the start. Even place kicker Aldrick Rosas sat on the bench all night.

Both teams punted twice to start the game. The only play of note being a sack by linebacker Lorenzo Carter on 3rd-and-9 to end the Patriots’ second drive. Aided by two of the new 15-yard, lowering-the-head-to-initiate-contact penalties, the Patriots set up a successful 33-yard field goal on their third drive. The Patriots got the ball back immediately as Lauletta’s deep pass intended for wideout Kalif Raymond was intercepted at the Patriots’ 18-yard line.

After a three-and-out by New England, the Giants went ahead early in the 2nd quarter as wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo turned a short pass reception from Lauletta into a 41-yard touchdown sprint. Place kicker Marshall Koehn missed the extra point and the Giants led 6-3.

A subsequent New England threat was stopped by a spectacular, diving interception by cornerback Donte Deayon at the Giants’ 6-yard line. After two New York punts and another by New England, Deayon picked off his second pass, this one over the middle, right before halftime.

Lauletta was picked off on the third offensive play of the 3rd quarter on a deep pass intended for wide receiver Roger Lewis, Jr. at the 42-yard line. Six plays later, the Patriots went up 10-6 on quarterback Danny Etling’s 1-yard touchdown pass after a 45-yard deep strike set up the score.

Both teams punted twice after that. The next scoring threat came from the Giants in the 4th quarter as New York drove from their own 1-yard line to the Patriots’ 14. But on 4th-and-6, fourth-string quarterback Alex Tanney’s pass fell incomplete. The game then got comical as Etling scored from 86 yards out on a quarterback bootleg run with none of the Giants’ defenders playing contain. The Giants scored a touchdown with less than a minute left to play to make the score look more respectable, as Tanney hit wide receiver Alonzo Russell from eight yards out.

Lauletta finished the game 8-of-19 for 118 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Other than Etta-Tawo’s one catch for 41 yards, no one had more than 30 yards receiving for the Giants in the game. The leading runners for New York were Jalen Simmons (11 carries for 41 yards) and Jhurell Pressley (7 carries for 40 yards).

Defensively, Deayon had two interceptions and four pass defenses. Cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris was credited with six tackles and two pass defenses. Carter had one sack and nose tackle Robert Thomas the other.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Not playing for the Giants due to injury were tight end Evan Engram (concussion), linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle), linebacker Connor Barwin (knee), offensive guard Nick Gates (foot), defensive end R.J. McIntosh (unknown), and safety Darian Thompson (hamstring).

Offensive tackle Nick Becton (ankle) and running back Robert Martin (ankle) left the game with injuries and did not return. Linebacker Avery Moss (knee) left the game, but later returned.

Healthy scratches included place kicker Aldrick Rosas, quarterback Davis Webb, quarterback Eli Manning, wide receiver Cody Latimer, wide receiver Odell Beckham, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, safety Landon Collins, cornerback Eli Apple, running back Saquon Barkley, running back Jonathan Stewart , safety Curtis Riley, cornerback B.W. Webb, linebacker Warren Long, linebacker Alec Ogletree, guard Patrick Omameh, guard Will Hernandez, defensive end Kerry Wynn, tackle Ereck Flowers, center Jon Halapio, tackle Nate Solder, tight end Rhett Ellison, wide receiver Sterling Shepard, linebacker B.J. Goodson, defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson, defensive end B.J. Hill, linebacker Kareem Martin, and nose tackle Damon Harrison.

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

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Teams must cut their rosters to 53 players by 4:00PM ET on Saturday.

Aug 292018
 
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Davis Webb, New York Giants (August 24, 2018)

Davis Webb – © USA TODAY Sports

Preseason Game Preview: New England Patriots at New York Giants, August 30, 2018

THE STORYLINE:

As the New York Giants wrap up the 2018 preseason, what have we learned? On paper – and based on limited on-field performance through three preseason contests – it appears the Giants will be a more competitive and better coached team. But given the abysmal, non-competitive 3-13 season the Giants are coming off of, that’s not saying much. How much better is the real question.

Defensively, because of their line, the Giants should be very stout against the run. But pass defense could be a problem as the team’s sole pass rusher with any kind of a resume is the oft-injured Olivier Vernon. Even more concerning is the corner position outside of Janoris Jenkins, the free safety position, and ability of the linebackers to cover backs and tight ends.

Offensively, the Giants have a set of skill position players that few – if any – teams in the NFL can employ. But questions remain about the team’s 37-year old quarterback and offensive line. Manning can still throw the football when he feels safe, but he’s got to prove he can still win football games after being hit in the mouth. The left tackle position has been upgraded, but how much of a problem will the center, right guard, and right tackle spots be? Will Saquon Barkley be dancing to find holes or will the line be able to consistently help him out? How much help will the Giants need to Ereck Flowers in pass protection?

On special teams, the Giants are going to roll the dice with Aldrick Rosas again. The return game could give us heartburn as the chief candidates have ball security issues.

Overall, this team has the feel of one that will regularly emphasized on highlight shows. We’ll see Odell Beckham, Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard make big, flashy plays. But will the team make enough of the less glamorous, consistent ones to win games? The defense will probably live and die by the blitz. We could see a lot of flashy big plays, but also long scores going in the other direction. The special teams still don’t seem special.

Taken together, that’s a recipe for an 8-8-type season. In a watered-down NFL filled with teams with poor fundamentals that can’t practice and spoiled millennials, that could be enough to sneak into the playoffs, especially if the Giants can steal a game or two. Much will also depend on how good or ordinary the coaching will be.

As for this game, I would not expect the starters to play much, if at all. Throughout the league, this final game has basically become a contest between back-ups, with coaches looking to avoid injuries to front-line starters while also making final evaluations on the lower third of the roster.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • TE Evan Engram (concussion)
  • OG Nick Gates (foot)
  • DE R.J. McIntosh (unknown)
  • LB Olivier Vernon (ankle)
  • LB Connor Barwin (knee)
  • LB Calvin Munson (concussion)
  • S Darian Thompson (hamstring)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:

As I mentioned last week, I was surprised by the way Pat Shurmur handled Eli Manning this offseason. This is the third time in his career that Manning had to adjust to a new offensive system, but Shurmur handled Manning like he’s been in it for years. For better or worse, it’s clear Shurmur trusts Manning, who was basically only given half a preseason game (Jets) and two drives (Browns) to get ready for 2018. On top of all of that, arguably New York’s two best players – Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley – didn’t play or barely played this preseason, albeit for different reasons. In a nutshell, the band hasn’t played together yet. That is a little unnerving, but it is also building anticipation for what this offense might be.

The offensive line hasn’t improved as much as hoped (yet?). The first-team unit has not been able to run the football with issues in the middle and right side of the line. This sounds hauntingly familiar. I think most fans correctly understand that the offensive line is the critical element in how good this offense can be. If Eli feels protected, he can still play. If the Giants don’t have to simply rely on the big play to score and maintain possession of the ball to keep drives alive, that gives more touches to Barkley, Beckham, Engram, and Shepard. More touches = more points. But the team has to be able to pick up first downs.

As for the back-ups:

Quarterback: For better or worse, Davis Webb will be the #2 guy and Kyle Lauletta #3. Webb may be the future, but if Eli goes down, the season is over in 2018. (No different than most teams).

Running Back: Wayne Gallman has clearly out-played Jonathan Stewart and should be the #2 back. If he isn’t, that’s a bad sign about the coaching staff. Some fans don’t think Stewart should be on this team, but it sounds like the coaching staff still wants him here. That leaves Jalen Simmons, Robert Martin, and Jhurell Pressley probably fighting for one roster spot. This game will probably decide it.

Wide Receiver: Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, and Cody Latimer will be the top three. I may be wrong, but I think all signs point to the Giants keep both Hunter Sharp and Kalif Raymond, as well as Russell Sheppard. Of course, someone coming free on the waiver wire could change that. Don’t be shocked if the Giants pick someone up here, especially if he has return ability.

Tight Ends: Obviously, Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison are the top two guys. And with Shurmur likely to run a plethora of 2-tight end sets, both are de facto starters. That would suggest the Giants might even keep four tight ends. However, Shumur could decide to carry three plus a fullback. This is a big game for Jerell Adams, Scott Simonson, and Shane Smith. Again, they are not just competing against themselves but the waiver wire.

Offensive Line: Trading away Brett Jones clarifies things a little. John Greco is now the primary center/guard swingman. John Jerry probably makes it unless a cheaper vet shakes loose somewhere else. Chad Wheeler has not progressed as hoped and is battling Nick Becton and the waiver wire for swing tackle. (Giants should seriously scan the waiver wire here).

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

When you are keeping your fingers crossed that Eli Apple doesn’t get hurt, you know you are scary thin at cornerback. If Janoris Jenkins were go down, this unit would immediately become the worst in the NFL. It’s also concerning that Olivier Vernon is hurt yet again. The range and cover ability of the linebackers and safeties remain issues until proven otherwise.

The good news? The Giants are big and strong up front. That’s the first place you want to start when building a defense.

Back-ups:

Defensive Line: This unit is pretty much set. The starters are damn good and there is good depth with Josh Mauro, Robert Thomas, Kerry Wynn, and A.J. Francis. Mauro will start the year on a 4-game suspension. Unfortunately, 2018 will be a red shirt year for R.J. McIntosh. The real wild card here is Wynn. Another preseason tease or will 2018 be a breakout year for him as a situational player? Giants will have to make a decision after Mauro is eligible to come back.

Outside Linebacker: Broken record time…Olivier Vernon looks primed for big season but gets hurt early. This had better not be another one of those “nagging” injury issues with him that contributes to just another 6-7 sack season. The Giants need a 12-14 sack season out him. Kareem Martin will start opposite of him. He probably was a little nervous when the Giants signed Connor Barwin, but Barwin has missed almost all of the preseason with a knee injury. Lorenzo Carter is still learning the game, but flashes at times. It’s doubtful the Giants can keep both Romeo Okwara (who received 1st team reps this week at practice) and Avery Moss, unless the Giants cut Barwin. Huge game for both against the Patriots.

Inside Linebacker: Alec Ogletree and B.J. Goodson are the starters, but Ray-Ray Armstrong is making a hard push for playing time. As I’ve stated before, Mark Herzlich has always been better suited for a 3-4 defense. Beat writers keep talking about Tae Davis. This is a big game for him.

Cornerback: Outside of Janoris Jenkins, this position is a mess. Eli Apple will start because there are no better options. Donte Deayon is a walking injury. The others are castoffs who other teams will abuse all day long. Help wanted sign is out here.

Safety: Landon Collins is probably overrated by some fans and underrated by others. He would be even better if he were teamed with a true, athletic free safety. That kind of guy isn’t on this team and won’t be in 2018. So James Bettcher will have to play mad scientist and mix-and-match at the position all year long. As of now, Curtis Riley has won the job by default because Darian Thompson can’t stay out of the infirmary. You have to wonder if the Giants will simply cut bait with him at this point. Michael Thomas and William Gay are plugins who you don’t want starting. Watch waiver wire here too.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

Aldrick Rosas has had a very good preseason. It makes complete sense for the Giants to roll the dice with him again. But you know everyone will be holding their breath with him when the games count. If Hunter Sharp and Kalif Raymond didn’t put the ball on the ground so much, the return game would be in decent shape. But they do. Bill Parcells wouldn’t even have them out there.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:

Head Coach Pat Shurmur on his team as it approaches the start of the regular season: “I feel like we’ve done a lot of good things (this offseason). I think we’re on the right path. We’ve certainly got a lot of work to do between now and first week and then teams improve as the season goes along… It’s really a journey for a team to try to get enough wins to be in the playoffs and as you go through it, you hope as a team you stay healthy and then continue to improve.”

THE FINAL WORD:

This game is going to be big for guys like Jalen Simmons, Robert Martin, Jhurell Pressley, Jerell Adams, Scott Simonson, Chad Wheeler, Nick Becton, Romeo Okwara, and Avery Moss.

In reality, watching the cuts on Saturday will be more interesting.

Sep 022017
 
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Roger Lewis and Matt LaCosse, New York Giants (August 31, 2017)

Roger Lewis and Matt LaCosse – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 40 – New England Patriots 38

QUICK RECAP

For the 13th consecutive season, the New York Giants ended their preseason schedule against the New England Patriots. These two have had a couple of epic Super Bowl contests over the past decade and even though multiple starters on both sides did not dress, there is an extra sense of nostalgia seeing the Giants in their “Whites” and the Patriots in their “Blues”. The final preseason contest was less about the starters getting their reps and more about the potential backups battling it out for roster spots.

The Giants jumped out to a commanding 34-14 lead at halftime, clicking on all cylinders offensively. But just like last week against the Jets, the backup defense struggled to hold the lead and ended up losing it completely in the 4th quarter with under a minute left. Rookie Davis Webb then engineered a 7-play drive which ended with a game-winning 48-yard field goal by fellow rookie Aldrick Rosas with no time left on the clock. The Giants improved to 2-2 on the preseason with a 40-38 victory.

QUARTERBACKS

  • The backup job battle between Geno Smith and Josh Johnson was back and forth throughout the entire preseason. Smith, the more talented of the two, was on fire going 10/11 for 111 yards and a TD. He was hitting guys left and right in stride with a nice blend of zip and touch. Johnson entered the game early in the 2nd quarter, getting the majority of the snaps. He responded with his own preseason-best performance, going 11/14 for 135 yards and a TD. At their best, Smith is the better quarterback. There is no debating that but Johnson may be the more secure guy. Who wins this job will come down to which situation they prefer, really. If I had to choose, Smith is the guy.
  • Davis Webb came in during the 4th quarter. He went 8/14 for 103 yards and was a little erratic on his deep throws but continues to show excellent footwork. Webb works on his craft a lot, rollout positioning especially. It came to fruition in the game-winning drive when he evaded pressure from his blind side, rolled out to the left, and completed a nice ball. Hopefully this is the last Webb sees the field against another team until next year. All in all, he had a great preseason process.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Shaun Draughn finally got to show this coaching staff what he can do. It’s been a bumpy ride when it comes to his health and opportunities, but a 14-carry, 54-yard night, including a touchdown and a couple catches, could be enough for him to warrant a roster spot.
  • Orleans Darwka ran hard downhill, showing his physical brand and proving he is the top “pile-pusher” among the NYG backs. He has proven before that when he gets some space allowing him to gain a full head of steam, he can do damage in there. He carried the ball 8 times for 40 yards, including the long of the night, 21 yards.
  • Shane Vereen and Wayne Gallman rounded out the rest of the RB play. Vereen looked physical, especially as a blocker. He is going to be a crucial part to this 3rd down offense. Gallman struggled to break free from initial contact. He probably takes more hits than he should considering his small-ish frame, but can’t blame a back for being a fighter. He enters the season as the team’s most explosive rusher.
  • Shane Smith had his best game of the preseason and it looks like he is getting more used to the speed of the game. He is more assertive and showed a couple of nice adjustments to stick to his man and maintain running lanes.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • No Beckham, Marshall, Harris, or King. Opportunity for the young guys who want to make this team or practice squad. Travis Rudolph led the position group with 3 catches for 46 yards, including a gutsy extension catch over the middle on a seam route. From day one, he has been the young kid who does everything right from running routes, securing and tucking the ball, and constantly catching the ball. The physical shortcomings aren’t going anywhere, but he has proven he can make plays when the opportunity is given.
  • Jerome Lane continued to impress. The raw, physical receiver showed another pure hands catch on a crossing route. For a guy that spent just one year in college as a wide receiver, the amount of untapped upside warrants a spot on the practice squad.
  • Canaan Severin, Marquis Bundy, and Ed Eagen all had impressive nights in their own respects. Severin appears to be the highest-upsided of them all and could sneak his way onto a roster spot. His ability to adjust to the ball and attack with his hands at 6’2/205 is attractive.

TIGHT ENDS

  • With Rhett Ellison and Evan Engram on the sideline to preserve safety, there were plenty of snaps to go around for Matt LaCosse, Will Tye, and Jerrell Adams.
  • LaCosse, who had as good of a training camp as anyone when it came to making plays, finally got a steady dose of action and ended up with 5 catches for 60 yards and 2 touchdowns. As a blocker, he graded out above average. I think its time this gets on the 53-man roster because he hasn’t stopped making plays since he’s been here.
  • Will Tye opened the game with a fumble on the Giants’ first drive. He continued to look more athletic than he was last season, but there is a sense of “You know what you are getting with him” when it comes to Tye. Limited upside both as a blocker and receiver.
  • Adams has turned into a dominant-level blocker. His ability to stifle, move, and stick to defenders is going to a factor this year. He is still growing into his top-tier frame and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him on the field for 10+ snaps per game.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • All in all, a very solid performance from the backups. All 5 starters did not play, leaving it up to the back-up players themselves to give one last effort to make this team. The Patriots were very vanilla with their pass rush scheme, so that helped quite a bit.
  • The young tackles, Chad Wheeler and Adam Bisnowaty, continued to show what we have seen all preseason. Wheeler is a gifted athlete with body control and balance, but there are flashes each week that show his lack of true man-strength and lack of experience. Bisnowaty was a major disappointment in his first preseason; there is a lot of work for him to do. No player has ruined more plays by himself than the rookie from Pittsburgh. He did get some action at left guard in the 4th quarter and for what its worth, looked more comfortable there when he wasn’t forced into space.
  • D.J. Fluker excels against defenses like this, vanilla and straight-ahead power rushers. He can handle anyone that is thrown at him in that fashion. There are still a couple of occasions where he ducks his head and reaches when trying to block laterally. Brett Jones had a very solid game, especially in the run game. The team had a lot of success running off either one of his shoulders, I think the backup OC job is his.
  • Jarron Jones, a practice squat candidate, has come along OK with his footwork in comparison to where he was in August. There is no way he can be depended on if an injury were to occur, however. He continued to whiff on defenders and appear three steps behind mentally.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Olivier Vernon didn’t dress for the game while Jay Bromley remains sidelined with a knee injury. The Patriots offense was held to 3.4 yards per carry.
  • Robert Thomas notched a sack along with 3 tackles, proving his multi-down threat. He fought hard to get off blocks, showing quick and strong hands and a relentless engine.
  • Kerry Wynn made the defensive play of the night, tipping a Jacoby Brissett pass to himself and returning it for a 15-yard touchdown in the first quarter. To think about how far he has come in his young four-year career is a proof-is-in-the-pudding development that shows sometimes being patient with these high-upside, high-character young guys can really pay off. He has become an important piece to this potentially dominant defense.
  • Devin Taylor hasn’t showed enough in his short tenure with the club. He is too slow off the ball and struggles to get movement on blockers. Too many plays do I have the “NF” (Non-Factor) next to his name. Same can be said for Stansly Maponga, a hybrid DE/OLB who just doesn’t fit with this scheme nor has he shown the needed athleticism.
  • Rookie Avery Moss was all over the field. Both DE spots, pass rushing OLB, coverage OLB, and pass-rushing DT. The tools are there, he just needs to put his best foot forward in the weight room. He isn’t powerful enough yet but there is a play-maker somewhere in there.
  • Jordan Williams and Josh Banks, both a tad undersized for interior play but too big and slow for the outside, get off the ball well but both were struggling to get off their blocks. They were beat on a few of the Patriots more positive running plays.

LINEBACKERS

  • B.J. Goodson, Devon Kennard, Jonathan Casillas, and Keenan Robinson (injury) did not play. Curtis Grant saw the most action in the group and responded with 8 tackles, the most on the team. He is an excellent interior defender, as he can explode into 3-5 yard creases with power and presence. Very good tackler who makes the effort to wrap up violently. He was exposed in space a few times. Grant is not a poor athlete but he does have trouble reacting laterally and in coverage.
  • Fellow backup and roster hopeful Deontae Skinner added 3 tackles while roster probable Calvin Munson recorded 2. Munson is less physically gifted but he has proven to be the most instinctual backup they have and, when it comes to that position, instincts trump all.
  • J.T. Thomas got the most live action he’s seen in almost a year and he didn’t disappoint. He had 4 tackles a forced a fumble. Thomas showed a physical brand when tackling and filling lanes to meet blockers. He was very impressive against the backups of NE and could end up being the athletic but powerful backup they need on the weak side.

CORNERBACKS

  • Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Michael Hunter, and Eli Apple all remained on the sideline. This position group has seen as much turnover as any on the team. The top 4 seemed pretty much locked in, thus I think these guys were competing for a practice squad spot or two and the final spot on the 53-man roster.
  • DaShaun Amos has been with the team all offseason and preseason, and his size/speed combination were on display against the Patriots. He is a smooth transition guy, very important for the man coverage scheme.
  • Tim Scott was in on a lot of action. He allowed a few passes to be completed in his direction but he played a physical downhill style. He made an impression on me in his 2 games here. Tay Glover-Wright allowed a touchdown pass, struggling to control his body when locating the ball.
  • Donte Deayon only played early on, but he was beat for a 1st quarter TD matched up against Cody Hollister. It was a play that further exposed Deayon’s glaring weakness, his size. He just doesn’t have a lot of range when attacking the ball against a receiver and he is so easily moved. I think he has an inside track at making this team but he needs to be avoided when it comes to placing these CBs in certain roles.

SAFETIES

  • Darian Thompson got the start, as he simply needs more and more experience. The second year, projected starter next to Landon Collins is still extremely raw when it comes to reading and reacting to NFL offenses.
  • Nat Berhe gave his weekly missed tackle when he tried to take down Austin Carr on his way into the end zone. There is such a thing as a player who is too aggressive, and Berhe is exactly that. The issues that a poor-tackling safety can present could really damn a defense. I respect his presence considering his size, but is this a guy who will hurt the Giants as much as help? More?

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Kicker Aldrick Rosas went 4-fo- 4, including the game-winning 48-yarder. It was good to see him respond positively to a pressure situation. Even though it was a low-intensity preseason game, the Giants would have lost if he missed. Rosas went 8-for-8 in preseason games and as far as I’m concerned, did everything right to deserve the job.

3 STUDS

  • DE Avery Moss, QB Geno Smith, TE Matt LaCosse

3 DUDS

  • OT Adam Bisnowaty, S Nat Berhe, CB Tay Glover-Wright

3 PATRIOTS TAKEAWAYS

  • What New England does with their backup QB situation is going to be one of the more interesting personnel situations in the league next year. Jacoby Brissett has shown enough in his now two preseasons and the 2016 regular-season to warrant backup duty. If that is the case, teams looking for a starting QB next year could skip the development process by trading a 1st round pick for Jimmy Garoppolo.
  • Two players who I wanted the Giants to draft in the 5th and 6th rounds respectively, were both taken by the Patriots. OT Conor McDermott played a very solid RT and LB Brooks Ellis showed what liked in college (a big and physical guy with enough speed paired with excellent instincts). If either one of these guys shakes loose via roster cuts, NYG should give them a hard look.
  • When a Patriots pass catcher goes down, there is always someone that comes out of nowhere it seems. Austin Carr is a name that my boss at Ourlads was all in on from last fall all the way through the draft process. Austin Carr is the reliable route running, catch-everything no-namer that all of you may be adding to your fantasy roster soon if he can get on that 53-man roster.