Nov 272018
 
Share Button
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (November 25, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles 25 – New York Giants 22

QUICK RECAP

The Giants took their annual trip down the Turnpike to Lincoln Financial Field against an Eagles team that NYG has lost 20 out of 30 games to during the Eli Manning era. To say this team has had Big Blue’s number would be a massive understatement. However, if there were ever a game to reverse those fortunes, this would be it. The 3-7 Giants came in winners of 2 straight whereas the defending Super Bowl Champions Eagles came in at 4-6 with injuries mounting and losers of 2 straight.

The Giants newfound fluidity on offense picked up where they left off from last week. They spread the ball around, but rookie Saquon Barkley continued to stomp on the idea that you can’t take a RB high in the draft with 44 total yards capped by a 13-yard middle screen pass where he burst into the end zone untouched despite defenders having the angles. Then came an odd decision by Pat Shurmur. PHI was flagged for 12 men on the field for the PAT attempt, moving the ball up to 1-yard line. That 1 yard made Shurmur spontaneously decide to go for a 2-point conversion in the 1st quarter. I have always believed you take sure-thing points on the road early in games, but to each their own. The attempt left NYG short and with a 6-point lead rather than a 7-point lead.

PHI was quick to give the ball back, running just 4 plays before being forced to punt. NYG chipped away before a 39-yard downfield connection from Manning to Odell Beckham put them inside the 10-yard line. The PHI secondary was without 3 starters and a key backup, thus I expected to see a ton of this throughout. NYG gave three opportunities to Barkley, 2 on the ground and 1 via the air but they only gained 3 yards total. Aldrick Rosas came in and nailed a 25-yard FG to make the lead 9-0.

Carson Wentz and the PHI offense continued to putter, as Mario Edwards ended their drive with a sack and NYG began their third drive of the day on their own 13-yard line. Manning spread the ball out well, hitting Russell Shepard for 29 yards, Beckham for 14 yards, and Rhett Ellison for 18 yards. NYG shot themselves in the foot with three penalties however, and it ended up making them settle on a long field goal attempt by Rosas. He drilled a 51 yarder through the uprights and even though NYG was yearning for more, they had s 12-0 lead in the 2nd quarter.

PHI finally replaced the 0 on the scoreboard with some points, as Jake Elliot hit a 42 yarder at the end of a quick drive highlighted by a 32-yard run by Corey Clement. NYG then made sure everyone knew who had who by the throat. On the third play of the drive, Barkley ran through 2 tacklers before out-unning the PHI defensive backfield to the end zone for a highlight-reel 51-yard touchdown. Remember…you don’t take a RB high in the first round.

NYG was up 19-3 and they sucked their fans back in; this team was inching its way back into legit contention. Wentz and the offense took advantage of a poor-tackling NYG defense, scoring a touchdown on a pass to Zach Ertz. They went for 2 and easily converted, making it an 8-point game with a minute left in the half and PHI starting the 3rd quarter with the ball. NYG opted to make a run at getting more points on the board thanks to yet another long return by Corey Coleman, this one for 46 yards. They got the ball to the 27-yard line and with 17 seconds left, Manning made a poor decision to try and force the ball to Beckham near the end zone, which resulted in an interception by Malcolm Jenkins. NYG, once again, had points available on the road early in the game but they got too aggressive and came up with nothing.

The 2nd half had a different feel to it, almost right away. PHI came out aggressive, hungry, and willing. NYG came out soft, satisfied, and hesitant. The NYG defense was bleeding, getting owned at the point of attack but they did come up with some big plays in key moments. PHI netted 3 points via 3 possessions. They moved the ball well but shot themselves in the foot via penalties and missed blocking assignments that led to sacks. NYG, however, gained just 3 net yards in the 3rd quarter. Even worse than that, Barkley touched the ball twice. The offensive line started to get pushed around and the PHI faithful could smell blood. Never has a 19-14 lead felt so miniscule.

PHI buckled up their helmets and opted to simply run over the Giants to start off the 4th quarter, literally. Running backs Corey Clement and Josh Adams gained a total of 61 yards capped off by the latter trucking into the end zone. On this drive, there was a stretch of 4 plays that, play by play, netted 23-8-15-11 yards. NYG couldn’t stop anything at the point of attack. PHI now held their first lead for the first time in the month of November, 22-19, after Adams successfully converted for 2 points on a, you guessed it, easy rushing attempt.

Manning and the passing game started to find their hot point again, thankfully. He hit Beckham and Ellison on consecutive plays for 48 yards. Shurmur once again forgot to follow his own words of getting Barkley 25+ touches per game. He gave it to him once, resulting in 1 yard, before Manning missed Beckham in the end zone many thanks to a missed pass interference penalty by the PHI secondary. One of their several misses for both sides on the day. Rosas hit his 3rd field goal of the day tying it at 22.

The PHI offense marched back on knowing exactly what to do. They continued to control the point of attack, rely on poor tackling and a weak defensive tackle play in addition to owning the middle of the field via the air attack. NYG did force a 4th and 1. Yet even after a timeout, they were outclassed by the PHI coaching staff. Wentz hit Nelson Agholor who couldn’t have been more wide open in the middle of the field which was as predictable as the sun coming up in the morning. PHI bled the clock out, leaving NYG with no timeouts and under 30 seconds left. Elliot came back out and nailed a 43-yard field goal because, well, opposing kickers don’t miss field goals against NYG.

Manning and the offense had no shot without any timeouts. They ran a couple of plays but nothing deep and time ran out.

NYG loses 25-22.

QUARTERBACKS

-Eli Manning: 26/37 – 297 yards – 1 TD / 1 INT. Manning and the NYG offense came out on fire. The were firing on all cylinders, keeping the PHI defense off balance, and executing with ease. They had a game plan and it was working. However, Manning’s poor decision at the end of the first half to force a ball to Beckham who was double/triple covered that led to an interception rather than 3 points via a field goal was a turning point. Those were big points to not get, as was the missed 2-point conversion on the first touchdown which can be blamed on Manning not throwing to a wide open Rhett Ellison. Manning’s flow wasn’t the same in the second half, as the running game was non-existent and the OL got leaky. Manning just can’t create on his own and when things start to go awry, he doesn’t rise above. Not a bad game for the 15th year pro, but it was limited.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley: 13 att / 101 yards / 1 TD – 7 rec / 41 yards/ 1 TD. What we saw out of Barkley in the first half was a continuation of Barkley further stomping down on the idea that drafting a RB high in round 1 was a bad idea. His level of play is elite on all levels. One thing I’m not sure everyone appreciates enough? 11 games in – 0 fumbles – 0 drops. Running backs are dropping passes weekly and what this kid does when it comes to reliability and consistency is just different level. Once again Shurmur simply underused him. I understand not wanting to give him 40 touches, but this kid needs 25+ as often as possible. Especially when you have a lead like the Giants had in the second half. It is a crime, it is inexcusable, that Barkley had 5 touches total in the second half. Unbelievable.

-Wayne Gallman and Elijah Penny combined for 30 yards on 8 touches. Gallman was solid on the ground, spelling Barkley on a few occasions. He continues to show very good burst upfield, something NYG is still trying to get Barkley to do more consistently.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Odell Beckham: 5 rec / 85 yards. On a day where the PHI secondary came in depleted, depending on a bunch of backup corners, Beckham wasn’t featured enough. Man, it must really be frustrating for him to see the opportunities that some of the other WRs in this league are getting. Beckham’s came down with a 39-yard gain in the first quarter and I expected to see more and more of it, but they just didn’t seem to look his way enough. 2 of his 9 targets were garbage attempts that had no shot. He likely would have had a TD catch in the 4th quarter on a play where the ref missed a hold as Beckham leapt for the ball.

-Sterling Shepard: 4 rec / 37 yards. Shepard was the victim of 2 missed penalties where the PHI defensive backs held him out of his breaks. Shepard is a next-level route runner with a combination of explosion, balance, and quickness when he is trying to get open. Unfortunate these refs didn’t see him get tugged.

-Russell Shepard and Bennie Fowler combined for 3 catches / 52 yards. Important to know these guys can come down with some big plays when called upon.

TIGHT ENDS

-Rhett Ellison: 4 rec / 77 yards. With Evan Engram out with a hamstring injury suffered in pregame warmups, Ellison got the nod and played all but 7 snaps on offense. He responded with 4 catches for a career-high 77 yards. Ellison was one of the bigger surprises of the day, catching balls up the seams and near the sideline, showing effective ability after the catch to gain extra yards. He did have one drop in the 2nd quarter, however. Ellison also allowed a sack and a pressure and even though most TEs can’t handle NFL defensive ends in pass protection, he continues to underwhelm in that department.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

-Nate Solder had his best game as a Giant grade-wise. He was very smooth, very consistent, and actually showed some more physical play than what we have been used to this season. He held Brandon Graham in check all afternoon. His false start penalty seemed to be on Manning’s shoulders, who messed up the snap count. Chad Wheeler allowed a half sack and got pushed around a bit in the run game. Michael Bennett is one of the toughest DEs in the game when it comes to cutting him off inside against the run, and that is where he really struggled. His play has been consistently average all year. He is up and down each week.

GUARDS/CENTERS

-Jamon Brown has received some positive attention lately in addition to the NYG offense taking a turn in the right direction. I think too many have been anointing Brown as a catalyst for the change but now that we have seen him for 3 games, I’m not overly optimistic. He has been better than what NYG has trotted out there, but he is still struggling to gain the consistency I want out of a starter. He allowed one TFL, one pressure, a half sack, and was flagged for holding which got declined. Big picture he was OK, but the quickness inside got to him and he was a non-factor at the second level. Just looked a little slow and heavy.

-Will Hernandez had a solid game. He really pushed Fletcher Cox around for most of their match-ups and he truly is one of the best DTs in the game. He got flagged once for a holding penalty on a play where he struggled to adjust his weighty laterally, a theme we have seen with him all year.

-Spencer Pulley is further proving this team needs a new OC in 2019 and it will be near the top of the priority list. He just can’t beat guys one on one and can’t sustain his position on guys. He allowed a TFL and a pressure, a constant every week with him.

EDGE

-Overall, a very quiet day from the NYG edge defenders. Olivier Vernon had 2 pressures and 2 tackles, with Lorenzo Carter finishing with 1 pressure and 2 tackles. Neither could consistently beat their man one on one. Vernon’s 2019 status is going to very much depend on how he finishes this year. On one hand, the team’s pass rush went from non-existent to at least sometimes-effective when he came back form injury. On the other hand, he isn’t worth the money he is being paid if he is gonna net under 8 sacks a year with average run defense.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-The middle of the NYG defense was pounded, pushed around, and toyed with. While it wasn’t all on the shoulders of the tackles, Dalvin Tomlinson and BJ Hill need to be better. If not, add nose tackle to the team-needs list. Hill had his most up and down game of his rookie season, finishing with 3 tackles, 1 TFL, and a pass break up. He also had a missed tackle and an offsides penalty in addition to just not holding his ground against lone and double blockers alike. Both are solid and active, but neither scare anyone.

-Mario Edwards finished with a sack and a pressure in his limited action. Have to be careful wanting more playing time with him, however, because he is a real tweener. He isn’t stout against the run and he needs specific match-ups to be an effective pass rusher. Solid role player that I want to see here in 2019.

-Josh Mauro had a couple of subtle but important missed tackles on the day. He isn’t known for dynamic playmaking ability, we know that. But he can’t miss tackles the way he did against running backs that weight 70 pounds less than him.

-RJ McIntosh made his debut with the club. Just 12 plays total, but he looked small and weak compared to what I saw out of him at Miami last year. He appears to be on his way back still and I expect to see him get looks each week from here on out. I liked him a lot during the pre-draft process.

LINEBACKERS

-Maybe the worst overall performance we have seen out of this position group all year. On the stat sheet, Alec Ogletree had a solid game. 4 tackles, 1 sack, and a pass break up. But if you really dive in to the all 22 game tape, he was arguably the biggest reason why PHI ran wild on this defense. Poor angles, inability to get off blocks, and late reactions were present the entire game. Is this guy a winning player? Does he create on his own? To me, it seems like opposing offenses can’t wait to attack him whether it be via the run or pass.

-Tae Davis out-snapped BJ Goodson by a comfortable margin. He finished with 3 tackles and a sack but proved he just isn’t physically ready for the NFL trenches. Goodson needs to continue to dominate the snap count, as I trust him to make the tackles and not get run over.

CORNERBACKS

-Lost in the emotion of this game was a very solid overall performance by Janoris Jenkins. He kept Alshon Jeffrey in check throughout most of their 1 on 1 battles. On the coverage sacks, Wentz was looking in his direction and his coverage couldn’t have been better. He still has that top 10 CB in him.

-BW Webb and Grant Haley both had solid games. Webb was flagged for a hold and also missed a tackle, but he finished with 3 tackles and a TFL. His coverage on the outside was solid. Haley almost had 2 interceptions for the second week in a row. He is going to come down with one at some point, I almost-guarantee it. He is making quick and correct reads but I can tell there isn’t that full-bore confidence in himself yet. That will come with time and NYG could have their slot corner set up going in to the offseason.

SAFETIES

-More of the same from Landon Collins. Once again he led the team with 9 tackles, 2 TFL, and added a pressure. He was active near the line of scrimmage and made a few impressive tackles. However he added 2 missed tackles and was outclassed in man coverage twice. If he can’t stick with tight ends underneath and he can’t be trusted in deep coverage, is he really a safety you want to build around? His highlight reel is impressive, I will give him that. But the other 90% of the plays leave a lot to be desired.

-Curtis Riley and Michael Thomas are both aggressive, physical players. They combined for 9 tackles but also combined for 3 missed tackles and are writing the book on how not to pursue ball carriers. Their angles were terrible.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 3/3 (Made 25-51-29). Rosas is now 23/24 and may be heading towards a Pro-Bowl spot if he can keep this up. Glad to see this staff is getting him more long FG looks than what we saw last year.

-P Riley Dixon: 3 att / 44.3 avg / 43.0 net. Solid bounce back performance overall, but he did duff one which gave PHI prime field position in the 3rd quarter (the defense saved him on that drive).

-KR Corey Coleman averaged 33.7 yards and has been the most dangerous KR in the league over the past 3 weeks. He did drop one in the passing game, but the value he is showing in this role alone can keep him in NY. PR Quadree Henderson took a nasty hit and will be out the rest of the year. Curious to see if they give Coleman a look at PR although that is a very different role.

3 STUDS

-RB Saquon Barkley, LT Nate Solder, CB Janoris Jenkins

3 DUDS

-LB Alec Ogletree, DL Dalvin Tomlinson, RT Chad Wheeler

3 THOUGHTS ON PHI

-Because I tend to be stubborn, I am sticking to my pick of PHI winning the division when all is said and done. I said it before the year and I said it after their rough start to the season. They aren’t overly impressive but I think there is some winning DNA in their culture. As bad as NYG handled that second half, PHI seemed to have confidence the entire game that they were still going to win. They made adjustments and trusted them. I think they end up 9-7 and win the NFC East.

-What is the strength of this PHI team? To me, it’s an easy answer. They walk into almost every weekly match-up with advantages in the trenches. Their OL is elite, maybe the best in the NFL. Their DL is not on the same level but they are deep and more dependable. I’ll say this all offseason…the OL and DL need to be the main priority of this team from a personnel perspective. You never have enough there, ever.

-I usually wait 3 seasons to evaluate a QB. Wentz is coming up on that mark with a few missed games due to the knee injury. Initially I had a mid to late 1st round grade on him coming out. Good, not great. You can build around him, he can win plenty of games. But looking at him and some of the other young QBs in this league, I don’t see elite.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-More on Landon Collins, as I think this will be one of the most important personnel decisions on the team among players who are currently on the roster. I have seen a lot of Vikings game in recent years and the one standout of that defense is Harrison Smith. He does everything and maybe more against the run that Collins does, but is head and shoulders above him in coverage. Smith’s cap number is $10 million. With a growing cap each year, I still don’t think Collins’ number can be within $2 million of that. On a team with holes all over the place, I am leaning more and more towards letting him walk or maybe a franchise tag, as the funds may not be needed in 2019, especially if Manning is off the books.

-I hear this from people I respect all the time. “By Thanksgiving, real football is being played because teams have now established their identity”. Here we are, entering week 13 and I truly think Pat Shurmur has yet to establish the identity of this team, namely on offense. They have an elite back who takes care of the ball as well as anyone. He can be effective inside, outside, rushing, receiving. Yet they just can’t seem to get him the ball enough even though each week he states they need to get him more touches. Taking a few weeks to get that going, I get it. 12 weeks in and it still isn’t set up? That’s on you coach.

-The weekly debate will be when to start a new QB over Eli Manning. It is going to get annoying to listen to but as much as I like Manning and believe he has gotten the short end of the stick, Lauletta needs to get 3+ starts. This team has 5 games left. You can’t make the sentimental-based decision here with Manning. He’s been paid very well, he’s been starting for a decade and a half. It’s time to get a better idea how to best approach the 2019 offseason because I’m not sure how much the NYG fan base can handle this low-level product.

Nov 252018
 
Share Button
Jake Elliott, Phildelphia Eagles (November 25, 2018)

So Predictable – © USA TODAY Sports

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 25 – NEW YORK GIANTS 22…
After trailing 19-3, the Philadelphia Eagles came back to defeat the New York Giants 25-22 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Sunday afternoon. With the loss, the Giants fell to 3-8 overall on the season.

The Giants received the football to start the game and put together an impressive 9-play, 75-yard opening drive that ended with a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Eli Manning to running back Saquon Barkley. The Eagles were flagged with a penalty on the touchdown and Head Coach Pat Shurmur decided to go for the 2-point conversion, which failed. The Giants led 6-0.

The Eagles picked up one first down on their first drive, but punted. The Giants then drove 87 yards in 10 plays, but could get no closer than the 7-yard yard line and settled for a 25-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas. The Giants now led 9-0.

The Eagles picked up one first down on their second drive, but once more were forced to punt. Again the Giants responded with points as New York drove 54 yards in 10 plays to set up a 51-yard field goal by Rosas. Giants 12 – Eagles 0.

Philadelphia finally got on the board on their third possession as they moved the ball 46 yards in seven plays to set up a 42-yard field goal. The Giants quickly charged back with tight end Rhett Ellison gaining 20 yards on a reception, Barkley picking up four yards, and then Barkley breaking off a spectacular 51-yard touchdown run. With just over four minutes to go before the half, the Giants led 19-3.

The final four minutes of the half proved critical however. First, the Eagles scored a touchdown quickly by driving 75 yards in six plays, with the possession culminating with a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Carson Wentz to tight end Zach Ertz. The Eagles also converted the 2-point conversion to cut the Giants lead to 19-11. The Giants then wasted a 46-yard kickoff return by wideout Corey Coleman when Manning foolishly threw to a well-covered wide receiver Odell Beckham at the Eagles 2-yard line. The pass was picked off, ending the scoring threat, and the chance for at least another field goal.

The third quarter began with both teams exchanging punts but the Eagles winning the field position battle in the exchange. Philadelphia began their second drive of the half in Giants’ territory, which led to a 29-yard field goal. Giants 19 – Eagles 14.

After Barkley gained 94 yards rushing and 37 yards receiving with two touchdowns in the first half, the Giants inexplicably went away from calling his number. Barkley only carried the ball four times in the second half of the game, and caught one more pass. Not surprisingly, the Giants punted again on their next two possessions..

The Eagles went ahead in the 4th quarter on a 7-play, 61-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run and another successful 2-point conversion. Philadelphia now led 22-19 with 10 minutes left in the game.

New York finally scored their first (but unfortunately only) points of the second half by responding with an 8-play, 56-yard drive that ended with a 29-yard field goal. With 5:49 left, the game was tied 22-22.

The ensuing game-winning drive by the Eagles was predictable. Philadelphia drove 50 yards in 10 plays, eating 5:27 off of the clock. The defense had a chance to stop them on 4th-and-1, but the Eagles easily converted with a 12-yard pass completion over the middle.

The Eagles kicked the game-winning field goal with 22 seconds left on the clock. The last three plays by the Giants only resulted in seven yards. Game over.

Manning finished 26-of-37 for 297 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. His leading targets were Barkley (7 catches for 41 yards and one touchdown) and Beckham (5 catches for 85 yards). Barkley gained 101 rushing yards and one touchdown on 13 carries.

Defensively, the Giants did not force a turnover. They did have three sacks, with one each by linebacker Alec Ogletree, linebacker Tae Davis, and defensive lineman Mario Edwards.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were defensive end Kerry Wynn (concussion), quarterback Kyle Lauletta, wide receiver Jawill Davis, center Evan Brown, nose tackle John Jenkins, cornerback Tony Lippett, and safety Kamrin Moore.

Tight end Evan Engram injured his hamstring during pre-game warm-ups and did not play.

Wide receiver/returner Quadree Henderson left the game with a fractured shoulder and did not return.

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 Eli Manning (Video)
  • WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (Video)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (Video)

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur and select players will address the media on Monday.

Nov 232018
 
Share Button
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (September 24, 2017)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, November 25, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
December 2016 was the last time the Giants won two games in a row. And it seems like it was longer ago than even that. With much justification, critics will charge that the victories came against two bad football teams. But given that the Giants have been one of the very worst teams in football the past two seasons, this is measurable progress. Now comes the ultimate litmus test for the New York Giants – their long-time nemesis, the team that has treated them like little bitches since 2007.

In last week’s preview, I raised the following five questions:

  1. Is Pat Shurmur the right coach to turn this thing around?
  2. Is Dave Gettleman the right general manager?
  3. Who will quarterback this team in 2019?
  4. How do we improve the pass rush?
  5. Is the team getting better?

The jury is still out on Shurmur. To his credit, the team has not quit on him and what had been a pathetic offense has showed some signs of life the past two weeks. However, each week there seems to be in-game coaching issues, and that bears watching.

Dave Gettleman’s initial free agent period with the Giants was a disaster, while his draft class appears strong. Gettleman was roundly criticized for taking Saquon Barkley, but thus far, Barkley has lived up to the hype. Gettleman has also done a nice job in picking up a couple of players in-season that were cut loose by other teams such as Jamon Brown and Corey Coleman. This roster needs a ton of work however.

Just when many were ready to bury him for good, Eli Manning plays two strong, back-to-back games. These are the kind of games many of us expected from Eli entering the 2018 season. Can he keep it up? His loyal advocates continue to assert that if you give Eli time, he will play well. (That is true of most viable NFL quarterbacks). But he also may be at the stage of his career when he does better limiting his passing attempts (only 18 last week). Regardless, after a very rough first-half of the season, it is a safe bet that if Manning finishes 2018 on a high note, John Mara and Dave Gettleman are far more likely to hitch their wagon to him for another season.

The Giants continue to average a sack per game. This is a major problem that simply must be addressed in the offseason.

It feels like the team is getting better. Winning – even against bad teams – does that for you. The offense is clearly improving as the Giants have broken the 27 offensive point mark the past two games. The defense feels like a patch job holding on for dear life. Again, the truer litmus test will be on Sunday. Will the team regress back to its old form or will they begin to get that green monkey off of their back?

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • DE Kerry Wynn (concussion – out)

Even counting the players on Injured Reserve, this is the healthiest the Giants have been in memory.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:

The last time these two teams played in October, the Giants only scored 13 points, the touchdown coming when the game was already out-of-hand at 31-6. Once again, the Eagles’ defensive front abused the Giants’ offensive line. Saquon Barkley played well with 130 rushing yards and 99 receiving yards. But Eli Manning was terrible and threw a killer interception right off the bat. Odell Beckham was limited to 44 yards and Sterling Shepard to 37 yards.

The Eagles secondary is a mess with their top five corners are nursing injuries. On paper, Beckham and Shepard should eat this group alive. However, the primary issue remains. The Giants’ offensive front can’t seem to block the Eagles. Nate Solder, Chad Wheeler, John Greco (now benched), and Patrick Omameh (since cut) struggled in October. Hopefully, the presence of Jamon Brown will continue to improve the line, but both tackles need to play far better against the Eagles’ outside pass rushers.

So the key question here is do the Giants get away from worked so well against Tampa Bay and start throwing the ball more to take advantage of the Eagles’ secondary, while at the same time exposing Eli to hits and negative plays? Or do they minimize the passing attempts and rely on Saquon Barkley to carry the load?

Right or wrong, my guess is Pat Shurmur will be too tempted to throw the football more than he did last week. I hope he at least keeps some degree of balance because the Giants and Eli have gotten into trouble most times they start winging the ball all over the place. At this stage of his career, and during a season where he has already been sacked 36 times, relying on the run seems to settle Eli down.

The Eagles will undoubtedly double Odell. Sterling Shepard may be primed for a big game.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

As Sy’56 discussed in his last game review, the Giants’ run defense has clearly deteriorated since the team traded away Damon Harrison. And covering anyone over the middle of the field continues to be a major problem. As discussed above, the Giants simply are unable to rush the passer with any degree of consistency.

The Eagles are struggling to run the football this year, falling to 25th in the NFL. They are 14th in passing. What remains interesting with them is their passing game appears almost exclusively focused on tight end Zach Ertz (an incredible 77 receptions, 5 touchdowns), wide receiver Nelson Agholor (46 catches, 1 touchdown), and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (37 catches, 4 touchdowns). No other target has more than 18 catches.

As much as Jeffery and Agholor can cause issues, most fans recognize that Ertz and fellow tight end Dallas Goedert (3 touchdowns) are the two most likely to feast on the Giants’ piss poor pass defense over the middle. The team also can’t ignore the backs despite the fact they haven’t been a major factor in the Philly pass attack in 2018.

The Giants need a good game by Janoris Jenkins from start to finish against Jeffery, and hope that B.W. Webb has another solid performance. Landon Collins did not play well the last time these two teams met.

The weaknesses are obvious. Put yourself in the shoes of an opposing offensive coordinator. He knows the Giants safeties and linebackers can’t cover. And the Giants can’t get any heat on the quarterback. Ertz has to be salivating.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

The Giants gave up a 23-yard punt return to the Eagles in October that helped to set up a touchdown. Aldrick Rosas had his only miss on the season too, from 52 yards out.

THE FINAL WORD:
The Eagles are most likely going to score more than 20 points against the Giants’ defense. So the Giants’ offense is going to have to keep up, and score touchdowns in the red zone. We are about to get a much better read on Eli Manning. He’s got to accept the fact that he is going to get hit in the mouth, and still make plays for his team to win.

Oct 152018
 
Share Button
Odell Beckham, New York Giants (October 11, 2018)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles 34 – New York Giants 13

QUICK RECAP

The Giants were put on the national spotlight at home against the defending World Champion Philadelphia Eagles. Both teams entered this game feeling they had been underachieving throughout the first third of the season. One of them was right, one of them was wrong.

This had a do-or-die feel to it for NYG. Win this game and they are in the thick of things for the NFC East title. Lose and what many have perceived to be the inevitable “season was over before halfway” would come true. NYG had its destiny in their own hands.

With that said, on the second play from scrimmage, Eli Manning threw an interception on a pass into traffic intended for Scott Simonson. PHI began their first possession in the red zone and it took them just 3 plays to put 7 points on the board via a Carson Wentz-to-Alshon Jeffery touchdown pass on a broken play.

NYG took the punch in stride, putting together a 7-play drive tha resulted in a 33 yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas. NYG gained 60 yards on those 7 plays, 57 of which were by Saquon Barkley in what would prove to be the rookie’s most impressive game of the young season. The division rivals then traded possessions before the Eagles began another possession in NYG territory. Six plays later, Corey Clement punched his way into the end zone to make it a 14-3 lead for the road team.

The score remained 14-3 for the first half of the second quarter, as NYG continued to perform like a bottom tier offense on third down. For an offensive system that talks all week about establishing and sticking to the run, NYG sure had a hard time sticking to the plan in this one yet again. The prime example of this misnomer Pat Shurmur has created was when NYG had a 1st and goal from the 4 yard line. They gave one rush to Barkley before throwing, something they continue to struggle to do, two times in a row. The second of which was a pass intended for the third string tight end Simonson. NYG did get 3 points on the board to make it 14-6, but it was an opportunity that was badly missed by this staff.

It took under 1:30 of game clock for PHI to put more points on the board, many thanks to Eli Apple losing track of Nelson Agholor, who gained 58 yards. Wentz then hit Zach Ertz for a 10 yard touchdown on the next play. After another 3 and out by the NYG offense, PHI padded their lead to 24-6 and NYG entered halftime down 18 at home, a place they had won just 2 of their last 10 games.

PHI came out hot in the second half, looking like their 2017 selves. It was 31-6 before the NYG offense got the ball back via another touchdown pass from Wentz to Jeffery. There was one more shot of energy put into the Giants, however. Barkley took a handoff 50 yards to pay dirt, showing a burst through the PHI defense that you just don’t see often in this league. Even if it was false hope, it was a positive to see. PHI put together a 13-play drive that netted another 3 points. With at least some energy in the stadium, Wentz hit Jordan Matthews for a first down on 3rd and 14 on a simple slant. It was a subtle but powerful reminder how bad this team is when something big is needed.

The score was 34-13 towards the beginning of the 4th quarter and the look on everyone’s faces said it all. This season is over just 6 weeks in. The offense is broken on all levels. There is no leadership or accountability in the organization. There is no identity on either side of the ball. And lastly, one of the most storied franchises in the NFL is now in some of the darkest times of its history.

Eagles win 34-13.

QUARTERBACKS

-Eli Manning: 24/43 – 281 yards – 0 TD/1 INT. In arguably the biggest game of the year to date, Manning had his worst performance of the season. Starting the night off with a terrible interception was such a blow to the stomach. It really took the wind out of the sails initially and even though he has always made a habit out of bouncing back, there was a strong feeling it was going to be one of those nights literally just seconds into the first quarter. Manning’s downfield passing was off all night, his footwork in the pocket was horrid, and he is showing that even though the situation around him is less than ideal, he isn’t making things happen on his own.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley: 13 att / 130 yards – 1 TD – 9 rec / 99 yards. The start to Barkley’s career just keeps getting better and better. He is already in rare territory for a rookie and when it comes to production-per-touch, he is scratching the surface of league leader-territory. He was responsible for all three of NYG’s longest plays (55, 50, 46 yards) where the vision, balance, reaction, and burst were all on display. What I like to see the most here is Barkley does lower his shoulder and get the dirty yards when needed. I can still see some slight hesitation to his game but for a kid who is literally just 6 games into his career, things couldn’t be off to a better start.

-Wayne Gallman saw 17 snaps, 26% of the offensive plays. He gained 42 total yards on 6 touches with an impressive 3rd and long conversion on a play where he gained most of the yards after the catch. This is, and will be, Barkley’s backfield but having the right compliment behind him is important. Gallman has the burst and versatile skill set to be that guy for a long time and the rest of the season will be a long term tryout for him.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Odell Beckham: 6 rec / 44 yards. After a slightly discouraging PR week for Beckham, whom has been fined by the team for comments made to the media and was forced to apologize to teammates in a team meeting, a big game paired with a win could have made that situation disappear but the complete opposite happened. Beckham never got into the flow, was missed deep a couple times, and only impacted the game via the short passing game a few times. Something I noticed about Beckham from the All-22 is a lack of separation as a route runner. I don’t think anything is physically wrong, as the elite burst is still there. However Beckham is doing way too much dancing at the point of attack. He is taking way too long to get into his actual route, and time is something Manning doesn’t have when he drops back. The timing of these two is completely off. There is a very uneasy feeling with Beckham right now when it comes to his relationship with the team.

-Cody Latimer made his first real impact of the season, catching 3 passes for 52 yards, including one that went for 39. The newly signed veteran who was supposed to be a balancing act to the Beckham/Shepard duo only played half the snaps, as he appeared to still be a little banged up. Latimer was thrown a deep ball into the end zone where he didn’t track it well and mightily slowed down as the ball had a touchdown written all over it. Not sure what happened there but NYG can’t afford those mistakes.

-Sterling Shepard was held to 37 yards on 3 catches. He was the victim of a couple missed penalties that could have resulted in big plays.

TIGHT ENDS

With both Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison out, Scott Simonson got the start. He was in for all but 2 offensive snaps and performed well as a blocker. He did allow 1 pressure, but he was a difference maker on a few of the positive runs NYG had. He is a very limited athlete, as seen on a couple of the throws that went his way. He doesn’t adjust well to the ball and his reactions are delayed. He is a third stringer for a reason.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

-It’s been 6 weeks since Nate Solder has taken over the starting left tackle job and it is fair to say he has been one of the more eye opening disappointments of the season. He allowed a sack that nearly resulted in a safety on a play where he barely even touched Michael Bennett. In addition, he allowed 2 pressures and failed to make an impact as a run blocker. His man was often leaking into the backfield and when it comes to grades, Solder hasn’t been much better than Flowers was last year. That’s pretty scary.

-Chad Wheeler allowed 3 pressures, more of the same from him. A young kid who competes hard and will make plenty of hustle-blocks, but the separation in talent between him and a good DE is significant.

GUARDS/CENTERS

-Patrick Omameh took a big step back and I am seeing more and more similarities between him and John Jerry when it comes to the inconsistency. He was overmatched by Fletcher Cox on multiple occasions, allowing 2 pressures and a sack all in the second half. His lack of urgency off the snap often puts him at a point of initial disadvantage position-wise.

-Will Hernandez allowed a sack as well, along with a pressure. However he had some of the most key blocks on Barkley’s big plays. He has improved as an adjustment-blocker, meaning he is putting less movement into initial reads and showing more balance and patience when reacting to the defense. This is exactly what you want to see out of a rookie lineman.

-John Greco continues to worsen each week. He was being pushed back on a routine basis and missing blocks at the second level. He also had an inexcusable false start penalty in the 2nd quarter when NYG started to gain momentum.

EDGE

-Olivier Vernon finally returned from injury was one of the bright spots for NYG in this game. The pass rush has been bottom tier all season, but Vernon came back and recorded a sack in addition to 2 pressures. He made All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters look silly at times. He didn’t impact the run game at all, however. He has been a very all-or-nothing type player since signing with NYG but he does help this defense a lot when he is on the field.

-Kerry Wynn had another solid game with 6 tackles, 2 of which for a loss, along with a pressure.

-The trio of Lorenzo Carter, Kareem Martin, and Connor Barwin was near non-existent for most of the game. Martin got to Wentz a couple times early to impact his throws, but for the most part these three were completely neutralized.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

The starting trio of Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, and BJ Hill continued to play solid football. PH averaged just over 3 yards per carry, which can strongly be attributed to these three. Something of note here is that Harrison played less than 50% of the defensive snaps despite PHI running the ball so much. There seemed to be less pop in his game at the point of attack. With Tomlinson clearly showing he is not nearly on the same level as a nose tackle, this could present a major problem.

-Josh Mauro and Mario Edwards played sparingly and failed to make an impact.

LINEBACKERS

-Alec Ogletree had an active game, recording 8 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss. He also had a pressure and a personal foul penalty when the game started to get out of hand. He did miss 2 tackles on the night and allowed 2 catches over the middle.

-Ray-Ray Armstrong, whom has won the starting gig next to Ogletree, was injured in the second half. BJ Goodson stepped in and actually had a really strong showing. He had 6 tackles, a few of which were impressive combinations of rangy and physical, to go with 2 pressures. Goodson has always been known for his ability to blitz, and I expect to see more of it if Armstrong is out for any time.

CORNERBACKS

-Eli Apple is in the midst of his best stretch of football since being drafted in 2016. He had another productive night, breaking up 3 passes. However the mental lapses that we have grown used to with him reappeared on a couple of occasions. His situational awareness is still a weakness when it comes to plays that are breaking down and on third down. The talent is there and it shows up on tape, but he doesn’t show the feel that good corners have. He also missed 2 tackles on the night.

-Janoris Jenkins was challenged downfield often. He did a fine job other than a pass interference penalty, but there seems to be something missing from his game. He isn’t forecasting well like he usually has in the past, and there isn’t as much aggression to his game underneath. BW Webb continues to be a bend-don’t break type slot corner.

SAFETIES

-Landon Collins led the team with 10 tackles, no surprise there. But the trend continues with him. He is an important player who can make things happen, but he simply gets beat too often. He missed 2 tackles and was responsible for at least one of the touchdown passes thrown by Wentz. Nobody can expect perfection out of him or anyone, but I feel there are just too many plays allowed by Collins weekly. Something to think about as his FA days are coming.

-Curtis Riley made 6 tackles with 1 miss. This actually was one of his better games. He cut off a few deep routes that it appeared Wentz was looking for. He also made two really physical tackles. Riley is one of just a few defenders that I never see take a play off.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 2/3 (Made 33,21 and Missed 52). Rosas had been perfect until that long miss, where he came up just a few yards short. It looked like the quad injury limited him on that a tad.

-P Riley Dixon: 5 Punts – 50.6 avg / 41.1 net. There have been a handful of big punt returns this year by the opposition. Dixon can be partially to blame, as the hang time falls into the bottom-half-tier in the NFL.

3 STUDS

-RB Saquon Barkley, EDGE Olivier Vernon, EDGE Kerry Wynn

3 DUDS

-QB Eli Manning, OT Nate Solder, OG Patrick Omameh

3 THOUGHTS ON PHI

-Prior to the season, I projected 11-12 wins for the defending Super Bowl champs no matter how long Wentz was going to be out. After a rough start, I expect that projection to live on and play out. This team is loaded on both sides of the ball and Wentz looks like he is hitting the stride that he couldn’t grasp because of how long he was out during preseason.

-The PHI defensive line is as deep as any in the league. Fletcher Cox is the star of the group, but you could really see how important it was to have fresh bodies in there running around in the second half. The strategy of building as much depth within the DL as possible has always been a solid, winning strategy. PHI has 3 of their own drafted first rounders and signed 2 former 1st rounders in free agency. Something to think about as this hole-filled NYG franchise rebuilds.

-The one Achilles heel to this PHI team resides on the health of their offensive tackles. 36 year old Jason Peters looks like a shell of his former self and Lane Johnson seems to be limping off the field weekly. If one or both of these guys does down, it is going to really hurt this offense that is reliant on lengthy pass protections.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-Now that the season appears to be all but over, the end-of-month trade deadline looms. There is talent on this team that can help a winner, but should NYG be shopping any of their players for future draft picks? I am all about going into the draft with a surplus of selections, as it is the best way to build a long-term winner. Two names I would be throwing out there? Landon Collins and Sterling Shepard. Two popular names, but two players who I think can be replaced quickly and net the Giants an extra day 2 pick.

-One of the worst parts to this roster situation overall is the lack of assurance that someone on the bench could come in and out-perform some of the current underachievers. While I would love to see a new OC/RG combination at some point, nobody is good enough to give even a little hope of improvement. Same can be said at safety. It’s gonna be a tough thing to watch for 10 more weeks.

-When will Eli Manning be benched in favor Kyle Lauletta? If this team is mathematically out of it with 4-5 weeks left, you have to think it will happen at some point. I’m not sure it will make a heavy impact ton how NYG approaches the draft, but you never know. This regime drafted Lauletta and they likely want to see him in NFL game action at least a few times so they can throw that into the decision process next spring.

Oct 122018
 
Share Button

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 34 – NEW YORK GIANTS 13…
Aside from running back Saquon Barkley, the New York Giants did not bother to show up for their Thursday night game against the Philadelphia Eagles. In a game that was never competitive, the Giants lost 34-13 at a rainy MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants fell to 1-5 on the season and remain dead last in the NFC East. The Eagles have now won 17 of the last 21 games in the series.

The game got out of hand quickly. On the second offensive snap of the game, quarterback Eli Manning was picked off at the Giants’ 40-yard line. The interception was returned 24 yards to the New York 16. Three plays later, quarterback Carson Wentz threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Due to a 46-yard run by Barkley, the Giants were able to set up a 33-yard field goal on their second possession. The Giants trailed 7-3.

The Eagles gained field position in an exchange of punts and a 23-yard punt return by the Eagles. This set up Philadelphia on the Giants’ 44-yard line. Six plays later, running back Corey Clement scored from one yard out and the Eagles were up 14-3.

Both teams then exchanged punts twice. A superlative 55-yard catch-and-run by Barkley enabled the Giants to get into field goal range again, with Rosas cutting the scored to 14-6. But that meager momentum disappeared in a flash as the Eagles drove 75 yards in four plays to go up 21-6 on Wentz’s 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Ertz. Another quick three-and-out by the Giants and poor punt coverage was followed by a 6-play, 35-yard drive by the Eagles that set up a 33-yard field goal and a 24-6 first-half advantage. The half ended with each team missing 50+ yard field goals.

For all intents and purposes, the Eagles ended the game on their first drive of the second half. The Eagles drove 75 yards in 12 plays with Wentz connecting on his third touchdown pass of the game, and second to Jeffery. The Eagles now led 31-6.

Barkley tried to keep things interesting by scoring from 50 yards out on the Giants’ first drive of the half. However, it was the only touchdown the Giants would score and the last points the team would score on the night. The Eagles followed up that New York score with a 13-play, 64-yard, 6-minute drive that ended with a 30-yard field goal early in the 4th quarter.

Neither team scored for the remainder of the game. The Giants reached the red zone midway through the 4th quarter but turned the football over on downs at the Philadelphia 5-yard line.

Offensively, Manning finished the game 24-of-43 with no touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked four times and the Giants averaged an embarrassing 5.4 yards per pass play. Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. was limited to six catches for 44 yards. Really, the only offensive player of note was Barkley who caught 9 passes for 99 yards and rushed 13 times for 130 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 23 first downs and 379 total net yards with the Eagles converting on 9-of-16 (56 percent) third-down attempts. The Giants picked up only one sack (by linebacker Olivier Vernon) and did not force a turnover.

The Eagles were 4-of-6 in red zone opportunities while the Giants were 0-of-3.

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were wide receiver Russell Shepard (neck), tight end Evan Engram (knee), tight end Rhett Ellison (foot), quarterback Kyle Lauletta, center Evan Brown, defensive tackle John Jenkins, and safety Kamrin Moore.

Linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong (concussion) and wide receiver Cody Latimer (hamstring) left the game with injuries.

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

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

Oct 102018
 
Share Button
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (October 7, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, October 11, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
One of my chief complaints about the New York Giants in recent years is that not only have they not been competitive, but they have not been competitive in an oft-overrated division filled with mediocre-at-best teams. Here we are again. The Giants are 1-4. Yet the Washington Redskins are leading the division with a 2-2 record. Both the Eagles and Cowboys have losing records at 2-3. Yes, the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl last year, but the Giants actually could send them to basement of a bad division with a win on Thursday night.

Most Giants fans will correctly be looking at the W-L division ramifications of this game. Last weekend’s loss should have killed the Giants season. But it did not because every team in the NFC East also lost. The Giants are still not dead. They actually could crawl back into playoff contention despite their .200 winning percentage. But my focus won’t be so much on that, but whether not the Giants found a coach who can get the Philadelphia Eagles monkey off of their back. The Eagles have won 16 of the last 20 games these two teams have played. That’s ridiculous. It’s embarrassing. Enough.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Jawill Davis (shoulder – probable)
  • TE Evan Engram (knee – out)
  • TE Rhett Ellison (foot – questionable)
  • WR Russell Shepard (neck – out)
  • DE Josh Mauro (groin – probable)
  • LB Olivier Vernon (ankle – probable)
  • LB Connor Barwin (knee – probable)
  • PK Aldrick Rosas (right quad – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Speaking of getting monkeys off your back, the Giants finally broke the 30-point barrier. Still, the offense is capable of so much more. Last week, a dropped 4th-down pass, an embarrassing 0-of-7 on 3rd-down conversion attempts, subpar run blocking, and bad interceptions were issues or the Giants would have won the game. But we learned what many of us have been preaching – get the ball into the hands of Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham, and Sterling Shepard and good things will happen. The Giants should always be tough to defend.

If you were to ask me what is the #1 reason for the Eagles owning the Giants, I would tell you it has been the way their defensive front has abused the Giants’ offensive line. And this is the main point of concern once again. Last year’s starting offensive line is completely gone. None of them are left. But the problems remain. There was one very telling statistic from last week. Barkley ran for 48 yards on 15 carries DESPITE two of his runs picking up 50 yards. Let that sink in for a minute. And consider one of those two big runs happened when Barkley avoided an unblocked defender with a nifty spin move. Barkley is a stud. He can take over a game all by himself but the offensive line and tight ends are not helping him enough. It’s embarrassing. Get a hat on a hat and give Barkley a chance. All he needs is a little room.

I will continue to harp on running the ball all season for two reasons. One, Barkley is simply that good. He’s capable of 200-yard rushing games. Second, it takes pressure off of Eli Manning. Our quarterback is still driving me nuts. His turnovers last weekend were bad, and the second one should have ended the game. But he alternates that with what should have been a dramatic come-from-behind win with 15 4th-quarter points. “God damn it Eli!”… “Way to go Eli!” Ugh…

In the 16 out of 20 losses, aside from the occasional special teams disaster or the Victor Cruz injury, the lasting images have been Eli getting clobbered and/or turning the ball over with a fumble or interception. Again and again. The Eagles are still deep and talented up front. Giants fans are well familiar with DT Fletcher Cox (3 sacks) and DE Brandon Graham (1 sack). Add DE Derek Barnett (2.5 sacks) and DT Haloti Ngata (1 sack; late note, Ngata has been ruled out of this game) as starters, and reserves such as DE Michael Bennett (1 sack) and DE Chris Long (1 sack). Then there are linebackers Jordan Hicks (1.5 sacks) and Nigel Bradham (1 sack). The Eagles are 10th overall in team defense (7th in scoring defense). And it all starts up front with them.

This is pretty simple. If the Eagles once again dominate the line of scrimmage against the Giants, they will once again rough up Eli and force him to make the killer turnover. But if the Giants can run the ball just enough with Barkley hitting on a few big plays, and Eli stands tough in the pocket just long enough to connect with Beckham and Shepard (the latter who hurt the Eagles twice last year), then the Giants have a chance. But theses guys can’t make the killer mistakes like they did last week… the dumb interceptions, the dropped passes, etc. When the big play is there, the Giants must nail it. Sustaining long drives with short pick-ups is very difficult against the Eagles.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
All Giants fans were thinking the same thing last weekend: the Giants left too much time on the clock. We have no faith in the defense making a 4th-quarter stop because this has been an issue for years now under multiple defensive coordinators. The excuse “the defense did enough to win” wears thin when you keep losing. The Giants finally got a couple of turnovers last week, but they still are only averaging a sack per game, and given the chance to seal the deal with 68 seconds left, they couldn’t do it. Make a play to win the game!

Offensively, the Eagles have not been sharp. They have given up 17 sacks on the season and they are -4 in the turnover differential department (8 interceptions, 1 fumble lost). And the Eagles just lost their leading rusher, Jay Ajayi, with an ACL tear. Interestingly, by far, their leading pass receivers are tight end Zach Ertz (already 41 receptions for 437 yards) and wide receiver Nelson Agholor (29 receptions for 212 yards). These two account for over half of all the team’s receptions. Part of that is due to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery missing the first three games. He had 8 receptions in his first game back and just two last week.

Incredibly, Carson Wentz is already back despite tearing an ACL late last season. He started the last three games and is completing 67 percent of his passes with a 5-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio. He’s the real deal. The one knock on him thus far is three lost fumbles (he’s actually fumbled the ball 26 times in three years, losing nine). Personally, I’d be scared to death if I were an Eagles’ fan that the organization has rushed Wentz back too fast. It sounds shitty, but hit him. Get him thinking about his knee.

There have been many reasons why the Giants have had so much turnover in the front office, coaching staffs, and players in recent years, but perhaps one of the root causes has been the team’s inability to compete with the Eagles. Now at least on this side of the ball, it is James Bettcher’s turn. Olivier Vernon may be back. We don’t know how effective he will be. But the Giants must get some sort of pass rush on Wentz, by scheme if they have to. Assuming Janoris Jenkins and Jeffery are locked up, the obvious focus becomes defending favorite targets Ertz and Agholor. While tight ends across the league have killed the Giants in recent years, and fans love to focus on what Dallas’ Jason Witten did to the team, the Eagles’ tight ends have been especially deadly for New York. Aside from Ertz, don’t sleep on rookie tight end Dallas Goedert (12 catches).

The Eagles love to run the ball. But with Ajayi out and the NYG strength being run defense, we may see a more pass-heavy game plan from the Eagles this week. This is another opponent where I try to get my better athletes on the field to deal with the tight ends and backs out of the backfield.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
One of the biggest reason’s why the Giants lost last week was the turnover on the return game. Based on what we’ve seen since the preseason, it was only a matter of time. First and foremost, the returner game has to secure the football.

Those who have watched the Eagles over the years know one of the reasons they have stolen so many games where they have been out-played has been their special teams. The are example #1 on how special teams can be the difference in an 8-8 season and an 11-5 season.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Pat Shurmur on the Eagles’ defense: “I think the Eagles’ defense starts with their front four and they rotate them. They have eight guys up and they rotate them all the time, keep them fresh and they’re very disruptive in the run and the pass. That’s going to be the challenge for us initially, block the front four so that we can run it and throw it.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Pat Shurmur served a couple of coaching stints with the Eagles. He’s familiar with the team and how and why they have had so much success against the Giants. There is a school of thought that the Giants finally showed some emotion last week and are beginning to come together as a team. That may be true, but team building is cemented with success, not failure. The Giants need to start experiencing some success soon or this will all fall apart again. That was a very tough loss (a 63-yard field goal?!!!!), and this is a short week. If I was going on historical experience, I would say this is a very tough spot for the Giants. The Eagles are the better team with the better quarterback. But anything can happen during these crazy short-week Thursday night games.

Dec 202017
 
Share Button
Olivier Vernon, New York Giants (December 17, 2017)

Olivier Vernon – © USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles 34 – New York Giants 29

RECAP

With each week comes a gap that is that much shorter before this horrendous 2017 season is over for the bottom-feeder Giants, the second worst team in the NFL. What was destined to be a blowout-type projection with the Eagles aiming at a first round bye in the playoffs behind their MVP candidate QB Carson Wentz quickly became a closer-to-even match-up as Wentz tore his ACL last week. Nick Foles, former Eagles backup, was back in the saddle after a few unsuccessful seasons with the Rams and Chiefs, respectively.

The Giants’ 31st-ranked scoring offense came out, surprisingly, on fire. Eli Manning was spreading the ball out, hitting his targets on the numbers, and looking confident. They opened with a 13 play drive that ended with an Orleans Darkwa 1-yard touchdown run, the first time NYG scored 6 on their first drive of the game all season. Aldrick Rosas had his PAT blocked, leaving the score at 6-0. PHI responded with a touchdown drive of their own, with the biggest play being at the hands of a missed sack by Jason Pierre-Paul and a 32-yard pass interference penalty on Darian Thompson. Two plays later, Foles found the newly-signed long-term receiver Alshon Jeffrey for 6, his ninth TD catch of the year. There isn’t a single 3-WR combination on the Giants that have 9 TDs on the year.

Manning was out to prove that first drive wasn’t a fluke, as he engineered another touchdown via 10 plays. The Giants’ no-huddle offense sent the PHI defense scrambling, as the pass rush substitutes weren’t able to get on the field and the PHI defensive backs looked lost. Tavarres King brought in his 2nd TD catch of the year.

After a quick PHI possession, it took NYG 3 plays to get in the end zone again, this time a short pitch to Sterling Shepard and a 63 yard-after-catch scamper down the sideline aided by good downfield blocking and porous tackling by the PHI secondary. It was early in the 2nd quarter and NYG held a commanding 20-7 lead with the Eagles looking lost with a backup QB leading the charge. They had to stop the bleeding first, then figure how they were going to dig out of this deep hole on the road.

All within the last 6 minutes of the first half, a Manning interception to Ronald Darby led to a quick touchdown pass from Foles to Zach Ertz (a tight end scoring a TD, surprise, surprise) and then a blocked punt in NYG territory led to a touchdown pass from Foles to Trey Burton (a tight end scoring a TD, surprise, surprise). In 2:30 of game clock, the score went from 20-7 NYG to 21-20 PHI. The nightmares of 2017 continue. NYG did put together a quick and efficient 11 play drive at the end of the half capped by a 28-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas to take a 23-21 lead at halftime, however.

PHI took the lead back on the first possession of the second half via a field goal by Jake Elliot, a likely Pro Bowler. Foles was inconsistent, as he was for the rest of the half, but he made key throws and/or the NYG defense failed to step up in key situations. The second PHI possession of the second half yielded more points, this time a touchdown from Foles to Nelson Agholor after newly-acquired Jay Ajayi picked up a combined 54 yards on 2 straight plays, the second of which was another low-ball effort by Eli Apple. It was 31-23 just like that.

PHI offered a couple of mistakes themselves with an offsides on a NYG punt that led to a re-birth of a drive and a missed tackle by Darby that enabled King to scamper into the end zone for his second touchdown of the day, bringing NYG back with 2 of the Eagles towards the end of the 3rd quarter. NYG lined up for a 48-yard field goal attempt at the beginning of the fourth, but for the 3rd time a NYG kick was blocked. This time Malcolm Jenkins snuck around the outside and got just enough of it. The 4th quarter woes appeared to be following this team yet again.

PHI marched down the field, ate up 7:30 of game clock, and hit a short field goal to extend their lead to 5. It was now touchdown or bust for the 2-11 Giants. Manning, yet again, led this offense down the field and was looking like his old, clutch self. With replacement-level receivers, he was spreading the ball out, escaping pressure, and making several changes at the point-of-attack in their solid no-huddle offense. It was 4th-and-goal from the 6-yard line and…right tackle Bobby Hart proved it again. The worst right tackle in the league was flagged for a false start, pushing NYG back to the 11-yard line, a major difference. Manning was forced to throw the ball before he wanted to and it was out of the reach of Engram. Game over, Giants fall to 2-12.

QUARTERBACKS

  • Eli Manning: 37/57 – 434 yards – 3 TD/1 INT. In 2 games this year, Manning has passed for 700 yards and 6 touchdowns against PHI. His 434 in this game were the most he has had in one game since week 4 of 2015. The play-calling called for more downfield passing than we have seen all year and it begs the question, why wasn’t this approach earlier in the year? Manning’s greatest strength has always been downfield passing and this was the first week we saw him do it consistently.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Wayne Gallman: 8 att/39 yards – 6 rec/40 yards. More of the same from the 4th-round rookie. Gallman has a burst and change of direction that continues to create on its own that the other NYG backs don’t have, plain and simple. He is running hard and tough, in addition. His play, his improvement, and his approach each week is a good sign for the future.
  • Orleans Darkwa: 9 att/7 yards – 1 TD – 1 rec/9 yards. Rightfully so, Darkwa is being slightly phased out of the offense as this team needs to see what Gallman can present. We know what we have in Darkwa. An average between-the-tackles rusher who can break tackles, which is important, but can’t do anything else at a high level.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Sterling Shepard: 11 rec/139 yards – 1 TD. Shepard was targeted early and often, 16 times. That is the most Manning has targeted any pass catcher all year. Shepard did have another drop, however. This kid is a tough player who is starting to show he is more than a 3rd-and-5 slot receiver. He can make some things happen and excels at getting himself open. He is a keeper, but won’t ever be more than a #3 on a good passing offense.
  • Roger Lewis: 4 rec – 74 yards. Lewis was targeted 10 times and is developing in a positive way before our eyes. I’m not ready to say he needs to be a part of the 2018 group, but he is closer than he was since Beckham and Marshall were injured. Lewis is showing more body control and speed as a route runner and when he is attacking a 50/50 ball. Good signs.
  • Tavarres King: 2 rec – 70 yards – 2 TD. King made the most of his day, getting in the end zone twice despite only having a couple catches and leaving the game early via injury. His body control is upper tier, but elsewhere is game is very limited. Plus with that frame, not sure he will ever be durable.

TIGHT ENDS

  • Evan Engram: 8 rec/87 yards. The second-most targeted pass catcher on the day is on a mini hot streak. He did have another drop, but this kid is just getting more and more confident each week. It is enabling him to play faster, which is hard to believe because he was already the most impressive athlete in the NFL at TE. He was manhandled by DE Vinny Curry twice, so there is still a blocking deficiency there but he has done better than most thought this year.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: With Manning dropping back deeper in the pocket and holding onto the ball longer, it put more on the OL’s shoulders. For the most part, they responded well against a pass rush that has been more than solid this year. Ereck Flowers had a another below average game, allowing 2 sacks (1 of which was on a 2 pt conversion), 2 pressures, and recorded a holding penalty. He saved himself with some quality run blocking, however. Bobby Hart is still in the starting lineup for some reason. He allowed 2 pressures and 2 TFL while recording an atrocious false start penalty at the end of the game. Chad Wheeler deserves playing time over these next 2 weeks.
  • Interior: Pleasantly surprised by this group. They didn’t do a good job run blocking, but they held up well against an interior pass rush that has been among the best in football this year. You could see the frustration boiling in Timmy Jernigan late in the game. John Jerry had his second-best game of the year and third game where he was above average. Brett Jones and Jon Halapio were right at the slightly above average mark.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Ends: Another woefully quiet game by Jason Pierre-Paul. He was over-matched by Lane Johnson, arguably the top RT in the league. He had a free sack put in front of him in the first quarter but Nick Foles, not known for his movement ability at all, pump faked and juked him badly which led to Thompson’s 32-yard pass interference penalty. Olivier Vernon was disruptive, as he was up against the backup left tackle for PHI. He recorded a sack-fumble and a season high 6 pressures. It was his best game of the year.
  • Tackles: Damon Harrison played a season high 75% of the team’s snaps, good to see a guy like him who has been banged up almost all year continue to play his heart out. His grades have been sky high all season. Dalvin Tomlinson recorded 3 tackles and continues to improve his hand techniques. This DT unit is going to be a major strength moving forward, among the best in the league. Jay Bromley recorded a TFL in limited action and he has been a pleasant surprise over the past 5-6 games.

LINEBACKERS

  • B.J. Goodson was back in the lineup, but ended up leaving the game with another injury. He has had a very hard time staying on the field and whether it is luck or not, it will have to be considered when evaluating how to approach the LBs this offseason. He did have 7 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss. His speed and range looks limited, as he just doesn’t carry any sort of fluidity unless he is attacking downhill. That can be a problem.
  • Kelvin Sheppard is an older, slightly less athletic version of Goodson. Not dismissing him, as he does make an impact between the tackles and plays with a physical brand. However he, Calvin Munson, and Devon Kennard simply take away from the speed of the defense. Kennard gets a pass because of his pass rush versatility, but this team needs more speed in this unit. No doubt. And you know who is a free agent this upcoming offseason? Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham.

CORNERBACKS

  • Another solid game by Ross Cockrell. I am curious to see the numbers on him over the past 5-6 weeks when it comes to QB rating on balls thrown his way. He had another solid PD and looked excellent on the All-22. Coverage strengths against all levels of the passing tree.
  • Eli Apple was back in action and showed a few flashes of his talent, which is certainly first-round caliber. He was involved in some very physical plays and after that, his hustle and intensity dwindled. When I see things like that, I just think this kid isn’t a football player. Very poor effort on the Jay Ajayi screen play that went for a big gain. Maybe the new coaching staff will give him the reboot he needs, but I’m not optimistic there.
  • Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made an aggressive mistake that led to an Eagles touchdown. He jumped the wrong route and left his man sitting in the end zone all alone. Mistake? Yes. But if he guessed right and came away with a pick 6, he would have been praised for it. I don’t mind things like that happening to be honest.

SAFETIES

  • Darian Thompson finished with 9 tackles and a PD. He didn’t make a lot of mistakes but the two that he did make were game-changing. He had a deep pass interference call that put PHI inside the 5-yard line and a horrid missed tackle on Zach Ertz. The situations exaggerated the mistakes a tad, but that is the name of the game. Those two mistakes led to 10 points for PHI.
  • Landon Collins only played about a quarter of the team’s snaps. Andrew Adams was his replacement and finished with 6 tackles, but also missed 2 others. After a surprising rookie season in 2016, he appears to have gone backwards. He can be beat by quickness too often and that is simply the name of the game in the NFL now. Not sure he deserves to be here long term.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K Aldrick Rosas: 1/2 (Made 28, 48 blocked). Rosas had an extra point blocked as well as a 48-yard attempt late in the game. Looking back, it looks like he was a hair slow getting to the ball and the blocking was poor on the field goal. Rough year for this kid.
  • P Brad Wing: 2 Punts – 37.0 avg. Quiet day for the most used punter in the league this season.

3 STUDS

  • QB Eli Manning, WR Sterling Shepard, DE Olivier Vernon

3 DUDS

  • DE Jason Pierre-Paul, OT Bobby Hart, FS Darian Thompson

3 THOUGHTS ON PHI

  • I said this before the Wentz injury, but this PHI secondary is going to hold this team back in the postseason. If and when they get matched up against a quality air attack, they’re finished. I’ve heard some commentators speak highly of Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby…etc. These guys are not good at all.
  • Unfortunate for PHI fans that they won’t be able to see what their young franchise QB can do in the playoffs. It is a huge part of whether or not they have “The One”. Postseason play is huge in terms of evaluating QB play and they are going to have to wait now.
  • The PHI pass rush has the makings of something that can be special. Rookie Derek Barnett, the underrated Brandon Graham, and interior forces of Timmy Jernigan and Fletcher Cox may be one of the best 3rd-down rushing groups in the league. And they are all going to be there for at least another few seasons. Another reason to stock up on OL talent for NYG.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • Touching on this again…but why wasn’t the passing offense approached like this all year? Throw the ball downfield. Let Eli take his chances, even if it means more INTs. I think this game proves he has plenty left in the tank and he should be the guy next year. But it also proves that when McAdoo was here, the approach was very flawed. It was extremely easy to predict and defend against. This was the best the passing game looked in 2 years and Manning had Roger Lewis, Tavarres King, and Kalif Raymond running routes!
  • I still have a thought of considering Saquon Barkley, RB out of Penn State, with the NYG first pick. I see a lot of “special” in him. Yes, if the next franchise QB is there grade-wise you take him, but what if he isn’t? You can’t force that pick and you could get a guy that helps this team win games next year. I can see a combination of Barkley and Wayne Gallman just running wild. Objective A, B, and C after that is building the OL. I think it is a good plan for the last year or two of Manning’s career here.
  • Is the defense that bad? I don’t think so. I think there are legit worries at two spots. One, the edge rushing. This team needs a new, young fresh force at DE or pass rushing OLB. Two, the depth at CB is going to look thin if Rodgers-Cromartie isn’t back. He has another year left I think, but he is frail and behind him, there is next to nothing. CBs are very hard to find. Cockrell is a keeper, Jenkins can be very good if his head is on straight, Apple is such a wildcard. That isn’t a spot you want to struggle at. But if they can bring in one more feasible talent and build the edge rush, I think this defense can quickly be back in the top-10 discussion.
Dec 172017
 
Share Button
Brad Wing, New York Giants (December 17, 2017)

Brad Wing – © USA TODAY Sports

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 34 – NEW YORK GIANTS 29…
The New York Giants gave the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at MetLife Stadium and had New York’s special teams not cost the team 11 points, the Giants probably would have pulled off the upset. In the end, the Eagles had defeated the Giants 34-29. With the loss, the Giants fell to 2-12 on the season.

New York’s offense started the contest off on fire as the Giants scored touchdowns on their first three possessions of the game en route to a 20-7 start. The Giants drove 75, 75, and 80 yards. Running back Orleans Darkwa capped off a 13-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown. However, the extra point was blocked by the Eagles. Quarterback Eli Manning hit wide receiver Tavarres King for a 13-yard score on a 10-play drive. Then early in the second quarter, Manning connected with wide receiver Sterling Shepard on a short pass that Shepard broke for a 67-yard scoring strike.

For their part, the Eagles started off strong with a 7-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on their first possession, aided by a 32-yard pass interference penalty on safety Darian Thompson, as the Eagles briefly went up 7-6. But then the Eagles were forced to punt twice and turned the football over on downs when the Giants stuff a 4th-and-1 rushing attempt from the Giants’ 44-yard line.

The game began to turn at this point midway through the second quarter. Manning’s pass intended for wide receiver Roger Lewis was intercepted at the Eagles’ 43-yard line and returned 37 yards to the Giants’ 20-yard line. Five plays later, Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles hit tight end Zach Ertz for a 10-yard score as Philadelphia cut the lead to 20-14. After a three-and-out by the Giants, Brad Wing’s punt was blocked, setting up the Eagles on the Giants’ 18-yard line. Three plays later, Foles threw his second touchdown, this one from 13 yards out to tight end Trey Burton. The Eagles now led 21-20.

The Giants got the ball with 2:15 left before halftime and managed to regain the lead as New York drove 65 yards in 11 plays to set up a 28-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas. At the half, the Giants led 23-21. Manning set a career high for passing yards in the first half of a game with 252 yards.

The Eagles regained the lead at the the beginning of the third quarter by driving 64 yards in 11 plays to set up a 28-yard field goal, giving them a 24-23 advantage. After a three-and-out by the Giants and a 34-yard punt by Wing, Philadelphia went up 31-23 as they drove 59 yards in five plays and culminated the possession with a 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Nelson Agholor.

To their credit, the Giants responded with a touchdown drive with Manning finding King for a 57-yard score to cut the lead to 31-29. However, Manning was sacked on the 2-point conversion attempt. After the Eagles went three-and-out, the Giants were handed an opportunity to take the lead as the team drove into field goal range early in the 4th quarter. But the Giants’ special teams melted down again as Rosas’ 48-yard field goal was blocked. This momentum swing continued as the Eagles then drove 60 yards in 14 plays to set up a 20-yard field goal that extended their lead to 34-29 with just under four minutes to play.

Needing a touchdown, the Giants started the next key possession at their own 20-yard lines with 3:51 left to play. The Giants managed to move the ball into the red zone and set up a 1st-and-goal situation from the 9-yard line. Unfortunately, New York was stopped and turned the ball over on downs with 43 seconds left to play. The Eagles were forced to punt but the Giants got the ball back with only 13 seconds left on the clock. The game ended two plays later.

Manning finished the game 37-of-57 for 434 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. His leading targets were Shepard (11 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown) and tight end Evan Engram (8 catches for 87 yards). King only caught two passes, but they went for 70 yards and two scores. Running back Wayne Gallman carries the ball eight times for 39 yards and also caught six passes for 40 yards.

Defensively, the Giants surrendered 341 net yards (108 rushing and 233 passing). The Giants only had one sack (by defensive end Olivier Vernon) and did not force a turnover.

Special teams were a disaster. The Giants had an extra point, punt, and field goal blocked.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were wide receiver Travis Rudolph (hamstring), safety Nat Berhe (hamstring), quarterback Davis Webb, running back Paul Perkins, wide receiver Hunter Sharp, offensive guard Damien Mama, and linebacker Jeremy Cash.

Wide receiver Tavarres King (concussion), linebacker B.J. Goodson (ankle), and safety Landon Collins all left the game with injuries and did not return.

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

POST-GAME NOTES…
The New York Giants’ 12 defeats tie the franchise season record, set in 1966 (1-12-1), 1974 (2-12), 1980 (4-12), and 1983 (3-12-1).

The Giants dropped to 0-10 in NFC games and 0-5 in NFC East games.

The Giants’ 29 points was their highest total since a 35-30 loss to the Eagles on January 3, 2016.

The 23 points scored by the Giants in the first half was their highest first-half total since the December 7, 2014 game against the Tennessee Titans.

The Giants gained 504 yards, their highest total since they finished with 525 yards in a victory against San Francisco on October 11, 2015.

For the first time this season, the Giants scored on their first possession.

The Giants did not have a takeaway for the fifth time this season. They are 0-5 in those games.

The last time the Giants had an extra point blocked was September 2001.

Quarterback Eli Manning’s 57 pass attempts were the second-highest total of his career; he had 63 attempts at Philadelphia on December 22, 2016.  The 37 completions were the third-highest total of Manning’s career. The 434 yards were the fourth-highest total of his career.

Manning has now thrown 51 touchdown passes vs. the Eagles, his highest total against a single opponent. He has thrown for 49 scores against the Dallas Cowboys.

ARTICLES…

Dec 152017
 
Share Button

Game Preview: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, December 17, 2017

THE STORYLINE:
At this point, I suspect everyone would like to fast-forward to January in anticipation of the intrigue surrounding the selection of the new general manager and coaching staff. But we have three torturous games left, including the Giants’ annual humiliation at home by the Philadelphia Eagles. This one-sided “rivalry” gets worse with each passing year. The Eagles have won an astounding 15 of the last 18 games dating back to 2008. Last year was the first time the Giants had won a home game against the Eagles in 10 years!!!

The Giants-Eagles decade-long mismatch is perhaps one of the best indications that this franchise needs a cultural shift… a spiritual enema if you will. Steve Spagnuolo can’t and shouldn’t be the next head coach. We saw more of the same in his inaugural game as NYG head coach last week. His defense – which was second in scoring defense last season – is DEAD LAST in yards allowed in 2017. And it sucked before injuries started hitting that side of the ball. And this isn’t the first time his defenses have been dead last in the NFL and among the worst in NFL history. It’s time to part ways. Nice guy. Not a consistently good coach.

The bigger issue is what to do at GM. Most expect Dave Gettleman will get the job. Those calling for dramatic change – a cultural shift – are uneasy about that prospect because of Gettleman’s long ties with the existing organizational (group think?) structure that dates all the way back to 1979. Hiring Gettleman would be the “safe” move. And it would probably allow for a Gettleman-Kevin Abrams marriage that would eventually morph into Abrams taking over when the 66-year old Gettleman is ready to retire. If this occurs, one would suspect that most (if not all) of the scouting staff would retain their jobs. The key figure to watch in such a scenario would be Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross (really Director of College Scouting). If Ross stays, that would be a major red flag to many.

There are those who argue that it can’t get worse than it is now and that the whole thing should be blown up and completely new faces introduced. The problem is it can always get worse. There is risk with staying the course and there is risk with changing things completely. The important thing is make the right decisions and not be terribly wed to how dramatic the change is or isn’t.

Let’s cut through the bullshit. The Giants need to recognize one important thing: IT ISN’T WORKING! This team hasn’t been right in six years. It’s been poorly constructed. Drafting is always a bit of a crapshoot, but you have to hit on more than you miss. And it is quite telling that very few Giants players drafted are re-signed when their initial contracts are up. Rather than building a roster, it feels like the Giants are constantly trying to fill holes because of crappy drafting and poor free agent decisions. The team has not been able to put together a viable offensive line despite spending significant resources in that area (including three premium draft picks). The Giants are not mentally or physically tough. They are a finesse team that is annually plagued by injuries. They can’t pick up an inch in short-yardage. They can’t run the football. They can’t rush the passer or create enough turnovers. They can’t stop the opposing team when it matters. They start and end games poorly. And special teams are an annual disaster.

If the Giants can’t see this, then the franchise is in real trouble. It’s becoming more and more clear that 2017 was an iceberg that was slowly approaching that the Giants couldn’t see. But it was an iceberg created by their own mismanagement of the roster and coaching staff.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Roger Lewis (ankle – questionable)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring – probable)
  • WR Travis Rudolph (hamstring – questionable)
  • TE Rhett Ellison (finger – probable)
  • DE Jason Pierre-Paul (finger – probable)
  • DT Damon Harrison (not injury related – probable)
  • LB B.J. Goodson (ankle – probable)
  • CB Brandon Dixon (heel/hamstring – questionable)
  • S Landon Collins (ankle – doubtful)
  • S Nat Berhe (hamstring – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
If you asked me what I want the next version of the New York Giants offense to be, I would answer with one word: TOUGH. I’m tired of finesse. I want to turn back the clock and have a team that may not have a lot of pretty highlight plays but will physically hurt the other team and be able to run the football. That’s not the direction the game is headed, but I’m a dinosaur and a contrarian. I can’t stand having a team that you know can’t pick up an inch on 3rd-and-short. The Giants have four rushing touchdowns this year, and one of those are by the quarterback. They had six rushing touchdowns in 2016. Those stats are ridiculous.

Other than sentimental reasons and possibly as a transitional bridge to the new quarterback, it makes little sense for Eli Manning to remain with the team much longer. New GM, new coaching staff, needing a roster rebuild. Soon-to-be 37-year old, declining quarterback? The longer they hold on, the longer the rebuild is going to take. Excuse my French, the Giants fucked up the last six years of Manning’s career here. But they can’t go back in time and fix it. It sucks but dwelling on it won’t make things better. You have to move forward.

Some other quick roster thoughts:

  • As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, Davis Webb hasn’t played because they Giants never gave him enough reps to get ready. This goes all the way back to training camp. I hope he plays in the last two games but he hasn’t been prepped correctly and it’s too late to learn anything of note that will affect the 2018 NFL Draft. Another screw up.
  • As I’ve mentioned for weeks, the Giants are wasting snaps on Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen. Neither will be with the team in 2017 (if they are, another major red flag). The Giants need to know what they have in Wayne Gallman and Paul Perkins. Too many snaps have been wasted here on guys who are not part of the future. Screw up.
  • Other than Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard, there isn’t anything at wide receiver. And Beckham’s future contract status is a major question mark and Shepard has been hot-and-cold (and a bit injury-prone).
  • Tight ends are good.
  • I don’t think the Giants can re-sign the injury-prone Justin Pugh. If he leaves, there is another hole. Time to part ways with guys like John Jerry and Bobby Hart. Tough call on Weston Richburg but I’d offer him a prove-it type deal. I still see more upside with him than Brett Jones, who I don’t think is a starting-caliber center. If the new coaching staff wants to run the football, bringing back D.J. Fluker and Ereck Flowers makes some sense. Long story short – this aspect of the team is still a shit show despite three premium draft picks. That alone was reason enough to fire Jerry Reese.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
In terms of personnel decisions, the biggest issue other than quarterback the Giants face is what to do with over-priced, under-performing Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon? If they are going for a major rebuild, it might be best to take their medicine, swallow the painfully expensive cap hits, and clear the decks more for 2019 and 2020. JPP is a coach killer. There was a hope/thought that the fireworks accident may have woken him up to take the game more seriously, but whether it is his physical limitations or his mental approach, he’s just a guy out there who teases. Vernon is a tougher call because when healthy, he’s played well. But he seems to be nicked up a lot and isn’t as effective when he is. What we do know is that the Giants are not getting the pass rush they expected out of him. The offensive line may have been reason #1a why Reese was let go, but his free agent decisions on JPP and Vernon are a close second.

  • Damon Harrison is the kind of football player you can build around. He was Reese’s greatest free agent decision. The Giants can win with Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson at defensive tackle.
  • The help wanted sign is out at linebacker. This unit needs a complete rebuild. The only two the new coaching staff may consider retaining are the injury-prone B.J. Goodson and the smart, versatile, but athletically limited Devon Kennard.
  • Landon Collins is a very good STRONG safety – please note the word strong. Darian Thompson has had an up-and-down season in what basically is his rookie year. They need better depth here.
  • Corner is going to be an interesting area to watch. Janoris Jenkins has All-Pro ability. Much depends on how the new coaching staff feels about his personality. Same with the aging and somewhat fragile Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Then there is Eli Apple. Many fans think he isn’t a good player. When his head is screwed on right, he is. Apple has shut-down ability. But the fucker needs to grow up and stop acting like an entitled little bitch. Football careers are short and momma isn’t going to be around to pick up the pieces at some point. Grow up. Football is a job. Good news is that Reese may have stolen Ross Cockrell from the Steelers.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
I suspect this game will be the final nail in the Tom Quinn story.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
(What Steve Spagnuolo says at this point really doesn’t matter. He’s a place holder).

THE FINAL WORD
This “rivalry” has become a one-sided joke. Nothing changes on Sunday.

Sep 272017
 
Share Button
Odell Beckham, New York Giants (September 24, 2017)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles 27 – New York Giants 24

RECAP

If there were ever a must win for the Giants in the first quarter of the season, this was it. Their second NFC East match-up of the season was on the road in Philadelphia, a place they haven’t won since 2013, against the 1-1 Eagles. As bad as the first two weeks were, Eli Manning has led the Giants out of a 0-2 hole to the pinnacle of the NFL before.  A win on the road, in the division, would get this ship heading in the right direction.

Things started off on a positive note, with the Eagles going 3-and-out on their first drive highlighted by an Olivier Vernon sack. Then began the theme of the Giants first half. They got to 1st-and-10 on the Eagles side of the field but it resulted in zero points. As a matter of fact, that happened on every single possession in the first two quarters. They put together solid drives, mainly through their passing game, but couldn’t quite seal it to the point of getting rid of that zero on the scoreboard. Missed opportunities and lack of execution.

After a 10-for-11 start by Eli Manning, he threw his first of two interceptions on the day. The pass was intended for Brandon Marshall who was targeted 11 times, more than the first two weeks combined, but Manning misfired and threw the ball towards the middle of the field rather than the sideline. It was a momentum killer after the Giants spent the entire first half knocking on the door.

The Giants were already in a 7-0 hole, thanks to an Eagles offense that was having an easy time running the ball via bad New York tackling and efficient blocking by their very solid offensive line. On 4th-and-8 on the Giants 43-yard line, Carson Wentz was sacked by Devon Kennard, giving Manning and the offense one more shot at a first-half score. 1st-and-10 at midfield with 2:29 left.

Slowly but surely, they got the ball to the 2-yard line, with 32 seconds left and a timeout remaining. Manning threw two touchdowns to Sterling Shepard but both were reviewed and correctly overturned. After a scoreless half and knowing the Giants would receive the ball after halftime, Ben McAdoo opted for the aggressive move on the road, foregoing a sure-thing 3 points, and gave it a go on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line, trying to run the ball behind an offensive line that has been pushed around since he’s been here with no change in sight. The result? Orleans Darwka being tackled for a loss. Giants down 7-0 at halftime.

The Giants and Eagles traded scoreless possessions to start off the second half, with the Giants gaining the field position advantage after a missed 42-yard field goal by Eagles kicker Jake Elliott. Two plays into the drive, Manning threw his second interception on a tipped slant pass intended for Odell Beckham. Thanks to a 41-yard pass interference by Eli Apple, the Eagles turned the Giants’ mistakes in a 14-0 lead after Carson Wentz found tight end Zach Ertz in the end zone before Darian Thompson could intervene.

Manning led a solid, piece-by-piece drive where both the ground game and air attack looked alive and well. They got it to the 13-yard line but McAdoo felt the pressure to score a touchdown a tad too early and opted to forgo an easy field goal attempt again just to be shut down on 4th-and-2, forcing another turnover on downs. The Giants entered the 4th quarter down 14-0.

Starting near mid-field yet again, Manning hooked up with Brandon Marshall three times before finding Beckham in the end zone for a 10-yard score. His ability to get his feet down in-bounds near the back of the end zone after out-leaping the defensive back is a play many won’t appreciate enough. He makes extraordinary plays look much more doable than they really are. The ball was quickly back in the hands of New York thanks to a dropped ball/fumble by Zach Ertz. Just 1:50 of game clock passed after that before Manning hit Beckham for another amazing, contested TD catch, this time with one hand. Another three minutes of game clock pass and all of the sudden, Sterling Shepard is racing downfield on his way to a 77-yard touchdown, the vast majority of which was after the catch. That had the look of a play that would turn the season around as New York took a 21-14 lead, their first lead of the season.

With momentum fully on the Giants side, Carson Wentz got aggressive by air mailing a pass to deep threat Torrey Smith. The ball would not have been caught, but the always-grabby Apple was flagged for another pass interference, this time being 36 yards. This brought the Eagles to the 15-yard line and on the next play, rookie Corey Clement made Jonathan Casillas and Darian Thompson look silly on his way towards the Eagles third touchdown of the day. It was a 1:32 drive.

The Giants and Eagles traded field goals towards the end of the quarter as both defenses failed to step up. The Giants got the ball with :51 left and cautiously went for the yards necessary to put Aldrick Rosas in a game-winning situation. However two penalties brought them back to a point where a punt with 19 seconds was the Giants only move. Brad Wing then made the mishap of the day, shanking one off his foot, totaling 28 yards.

Wentz was able to find Alshon Jeffrey over Eli Apple for a 19-yard gain, putting Jake Elliott in position to make a 61-yard field goal with :01 left on the clock. The result? Elliott is now the Eagles record holder for the longest made field goal in franchise history. 0-3 Giants.

QUARTERBACK

  • Eli Manning: 35/47 – 366 yards – 3 TD/2 INT – 100.1 rating. This game replicated Manning’s entire career to this point against the Eagles. He played well, threw for a lot of yards, came up big in the 4th quarter, but ended up losing. Manning is now 10-17 against Philadelphia all time. The “typical Eli” comments are warranted to an extent, as his interceptions came up at inopportune times but credit needs to be given for the poise and high pressure throws he made throughout the entire fourth quarter when this team needed him most.

RUNNING BACK

  • Orleans Darkwa: 7 att – 22 yards. Throw in an 11 yard reception as well. Darkwa continues to look like has more life with the ball in his hands. The word “impressive” cannot be used for any of these backs, but Darkwa at least showed he can break more tackles and push piles. At this point, that is the only thing the running game is creating; slow, crowded piles. His 20-yard run in the 4th quarter is the longest NYG has seen this year.
  • Paul Perkins: 9 att – 22 yards. Also note 2 catches for 8 yards. Perkins had a stretch on one drive in the 3rd quarter where he looked halfway decent. Yes, the sample size was that small. He rushed 3 times for 16 yards on that drive; you can do the math on what he put out the rest of the way. Again, a victim of poor blocking but also again, lack of impact after contact.
  • Shane Vereen: 2 rec – 18 yards. One carry for another 5 yards as well. On the field for less than 30% of the snaps. Not nearly enough playing time again and at some point he needs to be on the field more than the two names above.

WIDE RECEIVER

  • Odell Beckham: 9 rec – 79 yards – 2 TD. Moving forward it is safe to say that Beckham is as healthy as he will be in relation to the preseason ankle injury he sustained. It was good to see the emotion out of Beckham, as maddening as he can be. This guy plays his heart out and made two touchdown receptions that very few WRs in the league can make, trust me on that. There was a stretch of plays that stood out to me in the 3rd quarter. Manning went to him four consecutive plays, the third of which he dropped a ball. He responded right after with a 13-yard catch for first down, a high effort play. We can say what we want about his childish antics but if this team is going to make a turnaround, it will center around him. He is that big of a difference maker.
  • Brandon Marshall: 8 rec – 66 yards. Not an impressive stat line but it was good to see so many passes (11 total) thrown his way. We got to see what this guy can be to opposing defensive backs trying to tackle him in space. A glimpse anyway. I fully expect to see a big game out of him in Tampa Bay now the game chemistry is there with him and Manning.
  • Sterling Shepard: 7 rec – 133 yards – 1 TD. The play of the game was going to center around his 77-yard touchdown, one in which he made a move or two and raced 70 yards after the catch. The collapse late, however, overshadowed how big of a play that was. Shepard has an opportunity here to really shine. He is proving to be overly reliable in this slot-dependent, slant-dependent, YAC-dependent passing game. His toughness and consistency since the start of his rookie year are impressive.

TIGHT END

  • Evan Engram: 5 rec – 45 yards. Overall a quiet game from Engram. He continues to lead the tight end in snaps played by a huge margin. As a blocker, his grade was better than weeks 1 and 2 respectively. The progress there is encouraging but it is still a weakness to his game and the overall offense.
  • Rhett Ellison: Wasn’t thrown to at all and his performance as a blocker was average, although he played just 29% of the snaps. Tough to make an impact on the game with such little playing time. If this coaching staff wants more production out of the running game without taking to big of a bite out of the air attack, Ellison should be in for more than 50% of the plays.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: Admirable performance, for the most part, by both Ereck Flowers and Justin Pugh. Neither allowed any sacks and with the help of the quick-release passing game, their combined pressures allowed were just 2. Flowers graded out much higher than he did the first two weeks but still graded out slightly negative. Pugh has been a steady rock all three games. Pugh did allow some inside pressure but because he is so often in good position from top to bottom, he had enough to keep his man away from making a big impact. Pugh is making money every week with his performance at RT as he heads towards his free agency.
  • Guards/Center: Hard-nosed effort from these three, although there wasn’t a ton of movement at the point-of-attack. Weston Richburg was the highest-graded lineman although he is making it a common habit to play a recovery style after getting drilled off the ball. At some point, that is going to be a major issue for this offense. John Jerry had a positive grade. What’s ironic here is, he led the group in negative-plays and positive-plays. He made some play-altering blocks, especially when they had him trap across the line, on some of the Giants’ biggest gains. He also did a nice job neutralizing the inside rush. Brett Jones gets beat initially almost every time, but in the same breath he fights back hard and won more often than not. He, too, graded out positively.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Ends: Jason Pierre Paul was matched up against one of the best right tackles in the game, Lane Johnson. Johnson won. Pierre-Paul had a very quiet day against the pass and struggled to disengage from the lateral blocking by the athletic Johnson. He has been one of the most disappointing players on this team through the 0-3 start. Time for him to step up. Olivier Vernon recorded a sack early on a play where Wentz held onto the ball too long, but also recorded 5 tackles. His performance against the run was very up and down and he did have to fight through an ankle injury in the second half. Romeo Okwara and Kerry Wynn rotated in and out for about 20% of the plays but failed to make any serious impact.
  • Tackles: Damon Harrison was avoided by the Eagles’ ground game. They made him move laterally often and it tired him out. He was only on the field for 58% of the plays. The Eagles made sure to not let him impact the game. Dalvin Tomlinson, Robert Thomas, and Jay Bromley all had a hard time maintaining their positions. They were being driven back and out of holes. Thomas especially lacked gap discipline, opening up massive cutback lanes. None were very impactful as pass rushers.

LINEBACKERS

  • The most underwhelming position group when it comes to overall grades. Jonathan Casillas and Keenan Robinson led the group in playing time, and both led the team in negative plays. They had a hard time disengaging from blockers, especially on the outside. Don’t let Robinson’s team-leading 10 tackles deceive you, he was a liability against both the run and pass.
  • After a solid showing in his first week as the starting MIKE, Calvin Munson only played 30% of the snaps. Was there an injury? Did the coaches see something I didn’t? Was it the PHI personnel grouping that often had them running out three wide receivers? Could be any of those but Munson, in my opinion, deserves to be on the field. His play against the lateral run has been a major plus so far and NYG really struggled there Sunday.
  • Hats off to Devon Kennard who has been showing a healthy dose of versatility each week. He filled in at DE and strong side linebacker, finishing with a sack and a QB hit.

CORNERBBACKS

  • Janoris Jenkins broke up two passes, the only two of the day for the NYG defense. His effort and impact against receivers that are so much bigger than him is admirable to say the least. He is a major plus for this defense and is grading out as one of the best corners in the league so far in this young season.
  • Eli Apple is up for the dud of the week. Teams are obviously targeting him downfield because of his inability to keep his hands away from grabbing. It was his red flag coming out of college and there has been little-to-no progress there so far in his career. His two long pass interference penalties in the second half both led to PHI touchdowns. He also missed a tackle and allowed too much separation on underneath routes to Torrey Smith, a receiver who is not known for short-route running ability.
  • With the Eagles in a 3 WR formation so often, Dominique Rodgers Cromartie played a season-high 41 plays, showing more than solid man coverage. Ross Cockrell has been impressive in his limited action.

SAFETIES

  • Underwhelming game from both Landon Collins and Darian Thompson. Other than Thompson’s big hit which knocked Darren Sproles out of the game, his game review was full of negative plays. He is late to recognize underneath passing routes and he missed 3 tackles that resulted in big gains, including a touchdown. His leash shouldn’t be too long, as he has yet to show much in his short NFL career. Collins didn’t finish with a negative grade, but his impact wasn’t felt the way we are used to. He overran a few lateral pursuits. And his coverage was average at best. The forced fumble you see in the box score was a mere drop-of-the-ball by Zach Ertz that Collins had little to do with.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K Aldrick Rosas:1/1 (42) – 3/3 on extra points. Rosas attempted his first high-pressure kick. Tied 21-21 with 3:11 to go, he nailed the 42 yarder with plenty of extra room.
  • Brad Wing – 4 punts – 38.5 yard avg – 1 inside 20. His horrendous shank in the 4th quarter was the main reason for the Eagles being set up for a game-winning field goal.
  • Return: For the third straight game, Dwayne Harris made zero impact on the game via his returns.

3 STUDS

  • WR Odell Beckham, QB Eli Manning, CB Janoris Jenkins

3 DUDS

  • LB Jonathan Casillas, P Brad Wing, CB Eli Apple

3 THOUGHTS ON PHILADELPHIA

  • Despite Dallas’ 13-win season last year with their young nucleus coming back, I noted Philadelphia as the team NYG would have to fend off for a division crown. NYG’s poor start aside, I think the Eagles are as well balanced as it gets in the NFC East. Wentz is a gamer, the team will control the trenches on both sides of the ball most weeks, and their schedule is pretty favorable.
  • The Eagles secondary is very banged up, but the young guns put together a couple solid performances. I was impressed with how CB Rasul Douglas played. He prevented the deep ball from being an option a couple times and played tough underneath against Marshall.
  • The Wentz-to-Jeffrey duo is only going to get better as the season progresses. Jeffrey doesn’t do a lot of things right as a route runner, but he has a Plaxico Burress-type approach to his game. He is bigger, taller, and can reach longer than almost everyone covering him. He is a guy who can be thrown to even when he is covered, something Wentz has never done. Once he gains confidence and chemistry there, I expect their offense to jump to the next level.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • The Giants are one of 3 teams in the league that have faced three teams with winning records this season. If there is a glass half-full approach, it can center around that this was a very difficult set of games to start off the year. Two road division games and one of the most up-and-coming NFC teams on a Monday night. The upcoming stretch has a lot of winnable games. The Bucs and Chargers are very beatable. The Seahawks are not the Seahawks we have come to know the best 5-6 years. The Rams and 49ers have yet to prove that they are really out of the bottom third of the league. Those 4 teams make up 80% of the upcoming 5 games.
  • I wouldn’t call the offense broken anymore. It isn’t good, but it’s not broken. It’s improved each week and the biggest positive taken from this game is the fact that Beckham appears to be back, fully. When a player like that hesitates, a player who depends so much on explosive movement, he is a shell of himself. It is easy to tell that Beckham let it loose in the second half and I think his confidence will be back in Tampa – a defense that can be torched. Also, the fact Marshall got much more involved is a huge plus. He still has it.
  • This defense, at least to me, was supposed to come in and be a top 5 unit in the NFL. Right now, they are middle of the pack. There is too much talent here to think this is where they are. They are relatively healthy, too. There is a string of games coming up that could really elevate the confidence of this unit.  It’s not coaching or play calling, these guys simply need to beat their respective opponents.