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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (September 22, 2019)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 32 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31

QUICK RECAP

The 0-2 Giants traveled to Tampa Bay to take on the 1-1 Bucs, whom were coming off a 10-day rest. What had become to feel like normal (the sixth 0-2 start in 7 seasons), this winless start was different. There was a buzz leading into week 3 unlike we have seen in quite some time. Besides the wacky, still unexplainable decision to bench Eli Manning week 12 of 2017, Big Blue would march out of the tunnel with a new franchise QB at the helm. After being selected with the 6th pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, Daniel Jones was inserted into the staring lineup after just two games in to his rookie season.

The Giants began the afternoon in similar fashion as the previous two weeks on both sides of the ball. For the third week in a row, NYG allowed a touchdown but also scored points of their own in the first quarter. Jameis Winston, a former number one pick who is currently in a contract year, hit his star receiver Mike Evans in the end zone twice on the Bucs’ first two drives, beating Janoris Jenkins both times. That theme would be repeated all game. In between the TB scoring drives, Jones set the tone for the afternoon, engineering an 11 play – 57 yard drive with two 3rd-down conversions. While it only resulted in 3 points, Jones proved early on he was ready for game time. Fortunately TB missed their first extra point and had their second attempt blocked by Dexter Lawrence with an assist from B.J. Hill. Missed extra points almost always come back to bite you. Remember that.

Jones opened the second quarter with another long, yard-by-yard drive, this one being 12 plays long. TB shot themselves in the foot with two 3rd-down penalties on this one and Jones displayed his athletic ability on two separate occasions, the latter being a 7-yard designed run after a fake to Saquon Barkley inside. Kerry Collins, Kurt Warner, and Eli Manning were the three previous starting quarterbacks for the Giants. None of them would be the best athlete on a team full of senior citizens, thus the burst and speed Jones showed on both those plays seemed almost foreign, but it was a pleasant sight to see.

The rest of the first half was all Tampa. They had four more possessions, giving them six altogether in the first half. They scored four more times (3 field goals and another touchdown to Mike Evans over Jenkins), giving them six altogether in the first half. Yes, six possessions and six scores for the Bucs in the first two quarters, the 27th ranked offense in the NFL after two weeks. Winston finished the half with a 144.5 QB rating, the same Jameis Winston with a career 87.7 QB rating. Jones also lost a fumble, an issue we discussed in the preseason, giving this game a blowout-feel to it as they went to the locker rooms. And the worst of it all, Saquon Barkley went down with what appeared to be a serious ankle injury. TB was up 28-10.

It is often said that the first two possessions of the second half set the tone for the rest of the game. Well, Sunday added to the strength of that theory, as Jones hit Engram for a 75-yard touchdown on the first play and then the Giants stopped the Bucs on their next drive, forcing their first punt of the game. With Barkley on the sideline using crutches and wearing a boot, NYG came out and scored another touchdown via a Jones-to-Sterling Shepard pass. Just like that, NYG had all of the momentum and the TB offense began to stall.

The two teams traded multiple possessions back and forth with both offensive lines starting to fatigue and both quarterbacks turning the ball over. Winston threw an interception but Jones had the ball jarred loose as he wound up to throw just two plays later. TB ended up being the next to score via a 23-yard field goal, making the score 31-25 with six minutes left. The Giants responded with a quick 3-and-out and no choice but to punt it back to TB with the hope their defense could get a quick stop, and that they did. Michael Thomas made arguably the defensive play of the afternoon on a 3rd-and-2 play that left him and TB tight end Cameron Brate alone in space after short completion. TB was forced to punt and Jones, in his pro debut, got the ball back on the NYG 25-yard line with 3:16 left and a timeout at his disposal down 6 points. Stage was set.

He completed his first five passes, the highlight being a 21-yard gain to fellow rookie Darius Slayton whom was also making his pro debut. Jones was quick to the get the ball out while also showing outstanding pocket mobility and awareness. On 4th-and-5 from the TB 7-yard line, it was a do-or-die situation. Jones took the snap, felt pressure on the outside, recognized man coverage with the defenders turning their backs to him, and darted up the middle and easily scored his second rushing touchdown of the day, the first time a Giants quarterback scored on the ground twice in one game since 1991. Aldrick Rosas hit the extra point and NYG was up 32-31 and just over a minute remaining.

The Giants defense, which could not have started worse, quietly came up big for the entire second half. They were on a hot streak but streaks are always meant to be broken. Winston hit Evans one last time, this one for a gain of 44 yards, putting TB within easy field goal striking distance. The wind was officially out of the sails. TB took a delay of game penalty on purpose because Head Coach Bruce Arians was convinced rookie Matt Gay was better from a slightly longer distance. Gay lined up for what appeared to be a chip shot from 34 yards.

28 years – 8 months ago, NYG had a 1-point lead against the Buffalo Bills in Tampa Bay in Super Bowl XXV. Bills kicker Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal by less than a foot, wide right. Giants won 20-19. Same city, different stadium, different opponent, and different magnitude, Bucs kicker Matt Gay missed a 34-yard field goal by less than a foot, wide right.

Giants win, 32-31.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 23/36 – 336 yards – 2 TD / 4 att – 28 yards – 2 TD. Jones also lost two fumbles in this one. Well, what can we say? The first start of Jones’ career was as memorable as any first-start of any Giants QB in the history of the franchise. I can’t say this performance surprised me. Why? Jones showed a certain level of poise and natural decision making during preseason. Add this to the list of reasons why I think preseason games are not only important, but vital. From the minute the game started all the way to the Giants game-winning touchdown, Jones had the look of someone that has been there, someone that can handle anything thrown at him, someone that has the ideal match of tools and intangibles. His throws were accurate, his runs were athletic, his hesitations were minimal. Giants fans it won’t take much more, other than time, to fully convince me that NYG has their guy. By guy, I mean their next QB for a decade-plus. Now, hold onto that football. More on that later.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 8 att – 10 yards / 4 rec – 27 yards. Barkley left the game in the 2nd quarter with an ankle injury. That kind of high ankle sprain usually sidelines backs for a minimum of 3 weeks and it could be 2 months before we see him out there. It was a really quiet start to the game for him regardless with absolutely no running room. TB Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles jammed the box pretty tight with an extra defender and got them blitzing multiple gaps often. Barkley did drop a touchdown pass on a ball that caught him off guard a bit but the damage was nullified by a Jones touchdown run soon after.

-Wayne Gallman: 5 att – 13 yards. NYG didn’t spend a lot of time trying to run the ball after Barkley went down. The TB defensive line was dominating the point-of-attack from start to finish. Gallman didn’t get the fairest of opportunities here but these next 2-4 games where Barkley is out, he will get a big shot to make a name for himself.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Sterling Shepard: 7 rec – 100 yards – 1 TD / 2 att – 21 yards. It was Shepard’s first game back after missing a game with a concussion. Shepard is one of the guys who you realize his value after he isn’t out there. He never has been and never will be a star, but the ability to get open, make things happen after the catch, and block downfield are major game-winning traits. He had gains of 36 and 26 yards in the passing game and a 19-yard gain on a rushing attempt. He is going to be vital for Jones’ success.

-Darius Slayton: 3 rec – 82 yards. Like Jones, it was Slayton’s pro debut and he brought exactly what you were hoping for to the table. He looked rusty early on when it came to running routes and tracking the ball but as the game went on, he had what I would call a mini-breakout performance. His 3 catches went for 15-21-46 yards, two of which were in the second half. Slayton was paired up against former college teammate Carlton Davis on numerous occasions and it is worth noting how much of a cushion he gave Slayton in comparison to other NYG receivers. Davis knew Slayton better than anybody out there, and he knows what Slayton can do deep. This was an extremely encouraging sign to see him make an impact like this even though he played under half the offensive snaps.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram: 6 rec / 113 yards. We are getting to the point where Engram is receiving national spotlight. Only Travis Kelce has more receiving yards among tight ends (by 7). Engram was the favorite target of Jones early on, catching four balls in the first two drives. TB started to bracket-cover him from there on, but the first play of the second half resulted in a 75-yard play-action pass to Engram where his burst and long speed were on full display. Thanks to a key downfield block by Slayton, Engram outran the TB secondary by a pretty wide margin. That was something we have seen glimpses of in his first two years but I think we are at the beginning of a big-time breakout year for him. Watch out.

-Really poor blocking day for Rhett Ellison. He allowed a sack, a pressure, and a TFL.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-It was a horrid day for the tackles. Nate Solder, the second highest paid tackle in the NFL, allowed 1 TFL, 1 pressure, and 3 sacks. He was nothing short of miserable in the second half. Mike Remmers struggled in the run game from the start, allowing a TFL and made both Barkley and Gallman re-direct the instant they approached the line. He allowed 1 TFL and 1 pressure in addition to being flagged for a false start. An offense can usually hide one poor blocking OT, but if both of these guys continue to struggle, it will come back to bite hard against a real defense.

-Guards Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler both graded out very high in the passing game. Hernandez was swift with his lateral footwork and overall recognition. Zeitler is still nursing the shoulder it seems, as his push wasn’t there but he stayed off the radar, which is exactly what you want from a lineman.

-Center Jon Halapio went backwards in this one, both literally and figuratively. He was matched up against arguable the most under-talked about defensive tackle in the game right now, Vita Vea, most of the game. He gets somewhat of a pass but it has to be mentioned he allowed a TFL and a pressure. His lack of push was right there with Remmers in relation to why this running game just couldn’t get going.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-As we saw last week, Dexter Lawrence is getting more and more comfortable. It seems they are getting him over the center more often and it is changing how the entire defense plays. That is something to keep an eye on in coming weeks. He had 2 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 pressure and was found 15-20 yards away from the point-of-attack getting in on the action a couple times. His biggest play was the blocked extra point after the second TB touchdown. You really have to watch him to fully appreciate what he is doing out there.

-Dalvin Tomlinson is a major unknown to me right now. He was a major weakness against the inside running game several times in this one. He was getting pushed back multiple yards, multiple times. Ronald Jones averaged nearly 6 yards per carry and if there was one guy to point the finger at, it was him. He did make a couple of noteworthy plays based on range to the outside and ability to maneuver in space.

-B.J. Hill had a quietly effective game. He re-directed the TB rushing attack a few times but perhaps his biggest play has yet to be mentioned anywhere. On the blocked extra point, it was Hill that jumped the snap and got the push that created the space for Lawrence to drive through and get his hand up.

-Backups Olsen Pierre and R.J. McIntosh got roughed up. They played a combined third of the snaps and the TB offense visibly went right at them. It was a poor day for both.

EDGE

-The Giants edge presence improved for the second straight week after a tough start in DAL. Markus Golden, Lorenzo Carter, and Oshane Ximines combined for 14 tackles / 3 sacks / 4 pressures. Golden was credited with 2 sacks, although I had one of them shared with Ogletree. These three aren’t a what I would call a scary force, but they were consistently getting involved. They have Winston to thank because of how long he holds on to the ball, but it is amazing what changes within a defense when the pass rush starts leaking through.

LINEBACKERS

-Alec Ogletree strained his hamstring while running back a fumble return that ended up not being a fumble, and missed over half the game. Ryan Connelly, who was already in the starting lineup, stepped up his game thereafter. He had 7 tackles, a pass break up, and a key interception in the second half. He got the green dot put on his helmet and this could be the changing of the guard at inside linebacker for NYG. Ogletree, who has been a bit of an underwhelming presence since NYG traded for him, has 2 more years on his contract at $22+ million. With NYG entering the prime years of building a roster around a rookie-contract-QB, this could be the beginning of the end for Ogletree.

-Tae Davis had a quiet game and was replaced by David Mayo after what appeared to be a head injury. I don’t expect him to miss any time.

CORNERBACKS

-Karma. Janoris Jenkins called out the lack of pass rush to the media after last week’s home loss to BUF. He wasn’t wrong, but he handled it wrong. He responded with his worst game as a Giant and likely the worst game of his career. He allowed 3 touchdowns to Mike Evans and was burned deep on the final TB drive that put them in to easy-field goal range. Had Matt Gay not missed the easy chip shot. Jenkins would be been THE culprit of this loss. He simply did not compete in this one.

-Deandre Baker, other than a play where he allowed a first down to Breshard Perriman as a result of him giving way too much cushion in relation to the situation, improved his play after his tough first two weeks. Baker made a key tackle in this one and showed tight deep coverage on a couple of occasions.

-Grant Haley wasn’t tested much but when he was, he didn’t perform. He allowed a deep pass and was late to help in the middle of the field. The issues NYG has defending the middle of the passing tree are mostly attributed to the safeties, but Haley has to take some of the heat here. He hasn’t taken his game to the next level and his days could be numbered if it stays that way.

SAFETIES

-One thing I am noticing about Jabrill Peppers, a fine athlete who plays really hard, is the lack of instincts and “gamer” in him. He just doesn’t read-and-react efficiently and everything seems manufactured. He allowed a couple of downfield completions and was flagged for a pass interference when he was playing catch up against a tight end. Peppers did finish with 8 tackles and he made a nice play when he blew up a wide receiver screen, but I’m not sure he is going to help this team more than hurt them. He is often a notch or two late and a good QB can expose that all day.

-Antoine Bethea led the team with 9 tackles. I give him credit for being a reliable last line of defense when the action is in front of him. He is a good tackler but the lack of deep range limits this secondary as a whole, and it almost seems like it is impacting the cornerbacks and their overall approach.

-Have to give a shout out to Michael Thomas, who only played 17 defensive snaps, for the tackle he made in the 4th quarter on the Bucs 3rd-and-2 completion in to the flat. A half second later and it would have been first down TB and likely a NYG loss.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 1/1 (Made 36).

-P Riley Dixon: 5 Punts – 48.8 avg / 47.0 net. Dixon is tied for 4th in the NFL with a 45.5 yard net average.

3 STUDS

-QB Daniel Jones, TE Evan Engram, DT Dexter Lawrence

3 DUDS

-CB Janoris Jenkins, OT Nate Solder, DT Dalvin Tomlinson

3 THOUGHTS ON TB

  1. Jameis Winston is in a contract year. He’s been in the NFL for 4+ seasons now. He is 22-37. He has thrown 93 TDs / 62 INTs and has fumbled 40 times. He is currently working with his third head coach. Yesterday was a microcosm of his entire career. A short, nice run followed by mental mistakes and a horrid turnover. He has had a few issues off of the field. This is what Winston was in college and this is what Winston has been, and will be, in the NFL. TB will be in the QB market when the 2020 NFL Draft arrives, no question.
  1. OLB Shaquil Barrett could have been signed by any team in the league this past offseason. Almost nobody wanted the 27-year old, 5th-year veteran who had 14 career sacks to his name as a part time player in DEN. He was paid $4 million on a 1-year deal, which is less money than Kareem Martin on a per-year basis and just slightly above what NYG signed Markus Golden for. Barrett leads the NFL with 8 sacks in just 3 games. This is not an indictment on anyone, but yet another sign that as far away as a team may seem at a position or multiple positions, they truly can be just one guy away at all times.
  1. Imagine this TB defensive front with their best player? Don’t forget they lost Jason Pierre-Paul to a neck injury and last I checked, he is expected back at some point. Barrett, Vea, and a potential JPP comeback combined with other solid role players, this front can make a major impact in a division race that is as up in the air as any.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  1. During the preseason, I noted that Daniel Jones had an issue with ball security. He fumbled it numerous times but it wasn’t just that that got me concerned. One of the basic principals of moving your way through the pocket in the NFL is keeping two hands on the ball until you are actually starting the throwing motion. It is a foreign concept to some young QBs because they didn’t have to do that in high school or college. The pass rushers weren’t as fast, weren’t as long, weren’t as strong, weren’t as savvy. However, in the NFL, almost every pass rusher is adept to going after the ball. The second one I give him a pass for, as he was in the throwing motion. But that first fumble, it can’t happen. He will walk away from every game with something to work on and I think this needs to be objective number one.
  1. In week 1, NYG allowed 21 points (3 touchdowns) in the first half. In week 2, NYG allowed 21 points (3 touchdowns) in the first half. In week 3, NYG allowed 28 points (3 touchdowns) in the first half. Sure, one could make the argument that in all three games the defense “stepped up” in the second half but I won’t even give them that much credit. Analytics show that most teams, with a lead, alter their offensive game plan in the second half even though the original game plan worked so well in the first half. At that point they are playing to bleed the clock, playing not to lose, rather than sticking with what worked. Very few teams stay aggressive with a double digit lead in the second half, but NO and NE are one of a few that do. That is not irony. Anyway, NYG’s defense is worse than we even think right now. Personnel wise, they have (literally) nobody that scares anybody.
  1. The Saquon Barkley news is a killer. For a team that just came off as emotional of a win as they have had in a long time, it was a rather quick buzz kill. But if I am going to be real here, this NYG team is not ready to compete. There is no sense is rushing him back on the field until he is 100%. Let Gallman get his time to shine and let’s see if another running back can emerge now that touches are up for grabs. It worked out well for SF, no reason it can’t work here.
Sep 222019
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 22, 2019)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 32 – TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 31…
In his first NFL start, quarterback Daniel Jones led his team in a dramatic, 32-31 come-from-behind victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. However, the win came at a significant price as running back Saquon Barkley was forced to leave the game with what is believed to be a high-ankle sprain. Barkley spent the second half of the game on the sidelines wearing a walking boot and crutches. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday.

The Giants are now 1-2 on the year.

Aside from the play of Jones, the first half was mostly a disaster for the Giants. Not only did the team lose Barkley, but the New York defense allowed scoring drives on ALL SIX Tampa Bay first-half possessions:

  • 10 plays, 75 yards, touchdown (extra point missed)
  • 9 plays, 75 yards, touchdown (extra point blocked by DL Dexter Lawrence)
  • 5 plays, 46 yards, field goal
  • 6 plays, 62 yards, field goal
  • 3 play, 41 yards, touchdown
  • 6 plays 46 yards field goal

The Giants scored 10 points on their first two drives of the game, but the offense simply could not keep pace with the opposing team’s scoring avalanche. The three other first-half drives by New York resulted in two three-and-outs and a fumble by Jones after he was sacked. At the half, the Giants trailed by 18 points, 28-10.

Momentum quickly shifted in the 3rd quarter. The Giants scored touchdowns (and one 2-point conversion) on their first two drives of the second half. On the very first offensive snap of the 3re quarter, Jones connected with tight end Evan Engram on a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown, followed by the 2-point conversion to wide receiver Sterling Shepard. After forcing Tampa Bay’s first punt of the game, the Giants followed that up with an 8-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that ended with a pin-point, 7-yard touchdown pass by Jones to Shepard on 3rd-and-goal. The big play on this drive was a 46-yard completion to rookie wide receiver Darius Slayton.

The Giants had cut the score to 28-25. However, the comeback began to falter despite the New York defense now forcing three punts in a row and their first turnover of the year (an interception by rookie linebacker Ryan Connelly). The Giants were forced to punt twice themselves and after the Connelly interception, Jones fumbled the ball away again after being sacked. Eight plays later, the Buccaneers kicked a 23-yard field goal that gave the them a 31-25 lead with exactly six minutes to play.

Both teams went three-and-out, with safety Michael Thomas making a game-saving tackle on 3rd-and-2. Jones and the Giants had one more chance with 3:16 left on the clock.  Jones connected on passes to Shepard for five yards, Slayton for 21 yards, Engram for one yard, Shepard for 36 yards, and Fowler for five yards down to the Tampa Bay 7-yard line. After his first two incompletions of the drive, Jones faced a 4th-and-5 from the 7-yard line. Jones scrambled up the middle for the touchdown, giving the Giants their first lead of the game, 32-31.

However, the game was not over. Tampa Bay got the ball back with 1:16 left on the clock. Passes of 20 and 44 yards placed the ball on the Giants’ 9-yard line with 13 seconds left to play. However, the Giants were saved from a heart-breaking defeat when Tampa Bay place kicker Matt Gay missed what would have been a game-winning 34-yard field goal with no time left on the clock.

Jones finished the game 23-of-36 for 336 yards, two touchdown passes, and no interceptions (112.7 quarterback rating). Jones was also the team’s leading rusher with 28 yards on four carries, scoring twice. He did fumble the ball away twice on five of his sacks. Jones’ leading receivers were Shepard (seven catches for 100 yards and a touchdown) and Engram (six catches for 113 yards and a touchdown).

The defense allowed 499 total net yards (144 yards rushing, 355 yards passing) with 311 of those yards coming in the first half when the Buccaneers scored on six straight drives. The Giants did accrue four sacks: linebacker Markus Golden (2), linebacker Oshane Ximines, and defensive end Dexter Lawrence (1). Linebacker Ryan Connelly had the team’s only turnover with his interception.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
WR Cody Latimer (concussion), QB Alex Tanney, TE Garrett Dickerson, TE Kaden Smith, OG/OT Chad Slade, OT Eric Smith, and S/CB Julian Love were inactive.

RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), LB Alec Ogletree (hamstring), and LB Tae Davis (possible concussion) all left the game 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 Daniel Jones (Video)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (Video)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (Video)
  • TE Evan Engram (Video)
  • LB Markus Golden (Video)
  • LB Ryan Connelly (Video)

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur and select players will address the media on Monday. The players are off on Tuesday and return to practice on Wednesday.

Sep 202019
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (September 8, 2019)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, September 22, 2019

THE STORYLINE:
In 25-year history of BBI game previews, there has never been a more obvious storyline. Barring a disaster, the 16-year Eli Manning era is over. The Daniel Jones era has begun. For some, the move away from Manning was long overdue. For others, it is too soon. Most Giants fans probably have mixed emotions. They are excited about the change, but feel terribly for Eli. Yes, transition and change are the nature of the sports world. But many young Giants fans have known no other quarterback. Think about where you were in your personal and professional lives in 2004. That’s how long it has been.

As an organization, the New York Giants never fully embraced the necessary rebuilding of this franchise by clinging to the aging Manning. Hell, they have refused to even use “rebuild” in their lexicon. But here we are, in year two of a new regime, with a gutted roster and brand new starting quarterback. The defense appears to be one of the very worst in the NFL and two of the rising teams in league reside in the NFC East. This is going to take a while. What fans are looking for now is hope. Hope that things will eventually get better. That starts with Daniel Jones.

What fans need to understand is this: the 2019 season is already over for the New York Giants. Everything that happens between now and December 2019 is now about 2020 and beyond. The up-and-down growing pains and growth of the new quarterback is the storyline for the remainder of the year. Pat Shurmur is probably safe for one more year, although his defensive coordinator remains on the hot seat.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Sterling Shepard (concussion – probable)
  • WR Cody Latimer (concussion – out)
  • WR Bennie Fowler (hamstring – questionable)
  • WR Darius Slayton (hamstring – probable)
  • TE Garrett Dickerson (quad – probable)
  • RG Kevin Zeitler (shoulder – probable)
  • CB Grant Haley (illness – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
If you are impatient or looking for miracles, you are going to be disappointed. Daniel Jones is a rookie quarterback who is going to struggle. The preseason means virtually nothing. Teams were not game-planning for him or disguising coverages. And he was not playing against front-line players. There is also a chance that Jones looks very good early on until defenses catch up with him. That has happened with many other quarterbacks. Look at how RGIII was anointed the savior in Washington after his first season. I’m not trying to be a wet blanket here, but expectations need to be reasonable.

The perception is that Pat Shurmur has not been able to run his full offense with the immobile Eli Manning. We’re about to find out if that is true or not. Shurmur will undoubtedly scale some things back to not overburden the rookie more than necessary. But will we see things like run-pass options? That would be quite a change for Giants fans.

The Tampa Bay game plan is obvious: stop Saquon Barkley and force Daniel Jones to beat them. Smart coaches usually want to build up the confidence of a young quarterback by giving him easy completions early. I suspect we’ll see some short throws to Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, or Saquon Barkley to start the first quarter. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers will crowd the line of scrimmage, blitz, and mix up their coverages to confuse Jones. They want him to make mental mistakes and throw the ball to places where he should not. They want to rattle him. Bruce Arians was pretty frank when discussing Jones. “He’s a more mobile guy so you have to be a little more cautious of rush lanes and things like that. Expect a little bit more movement passes, but he’s still a rookie… It’s a very hard position to play.”

As an offense, the Giants have looked awesome on both of their initial drives of the season and then faltered for the rest of those contests. There has been no consistency. To make things easier on Jones, Barkley needs to get the ball and gain yardage on a consistent basis. That said, I would not run Barkley into 8- and 9-man fronts. If the Bucs want to crowd the line, let the rookie play. He throws a beautiful deep ball.

On last thing to note with Jones. Keep in mind that he has not had many reps with the starters. In other words, he has much more experience throwing to guys like T.J. Jones and Garrett Dickerson than Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram. Don’t be surprised at missed connections with the starters while there appears to be better chemistry with second-tier players.

Meanwhile, another week, another tough defense for the Giants. Tampa is currently 8th in defense in terms of yardage allowed (6th in rushing defense). And the defense has only given up one touchdown in two games.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
While the Giants continue to face quality defenses on a weekly basis, the are encumbered (once again) with one of the very worst defenses in the league. It doesn’t matter how many coaches they change or how many players they get rid of or newly acquire, the Giants remain near the bottom of league standings. The Giants are 28th in yardage allowed and 31st in scoring defense. And they simply cannot stop the pass. The quarterback rating for opposing quarterbacks playing the Giants is an embarrassing 132.3. Opposing quarterbacks are completing 71 percent of their passes against the Giants. On a yards-per-carry basis, the defense has allowed a respectable 3.8 yards per carry. It’s the pass defense that is killing New York.

Against a lesser offensive line than they faced in week one, the pass rush picked up a bit last week. But both Antonio Hamilton (week one) and Deandre Baker (week one and two) have struggled terribly at corner opposite of Janoris Jenkins. Opposing quarterbacks and coordinators are simply playing pitch-and-catch against these two guys. Worse, the middle of the field has been left exposed by the safeties for yet another year. So far, Jabrill Peppers has not lived up to the expectations set by Dave Gettleman and James Bettcher. He’s been invisible, and not in a good way. Antoine Bethea has been just as poor in 2019 as Curtis Riley was at free safety in 2018. Grant Haley is also not making plays on the football. If the Giants are going full rebuild, it may be time to simply live and die with Deandre Baker, Julian Love, Corey Ballentine, and Sean Chandler. That said, if Baker continues to struggle as poorly as he did last week, the Giants may want to allow him to clear his head on the bench while playing one of the other younger guys outside for a game or two (for example, move Haley outside to stop the worst bleeding and move Love to nickel corner).

Lost in the issues in the secondary and with the edge rushers is that the Giants have a nice trio of defensive linemen developing up front. They are the strength of the defense. What we need to see is the edge guys Markus Golden, Lorenzo Carter, and Oshane Ximines build upon last week. I’d like to see Tuzar Skipper get some snaps soon too. Inside, Ryan Connelly has taken over at one spot. Is Alec Ogletree really the “leader” you want moving forward next to him? I’d have him on a short leash.

The Buccaneers have some talented players at the skill positions but their offense is not good because they don’t have a quarterback. But that doesn’t seem to matter against the Giants, who made Jameis Winston look like Dan Marino last year when he came off of the bench. I can talk about Xs and Os and match-ups, but it comes down to this: can the Giants rush the passer and cover the receivers? Tampa has good tight ends. Expect them to feast on the middle of the field. Until the Giants prove they can even function in these areas, opposing offenses will continue to embarrass the team, regardless of the down and distance.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Aldrick Rosas missed his second kick in two years last week. Let’s see how he rebounds. T.J. Jones had a 60-yard punt return. The coverage units have been strong. Special teams have not been an issue for the Giants yet.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula on Tampa Bay’s blitzing schemes: “They do such a good job, it poses a lot of problems for a lot of offenses. As we go into the game, you can imagine starting a rookie quarterback is probably going to increase it a little bit. They’re really good at what they do, and they’re really fast at doing it, and they give you a lot of disguises, so I think all of those things present problems. So, we’ve really got to be on point with our recognition and our communication.”

THE FINAL WORD:
There is an understandable sense of excitement and nervousness about the beginning of a new era. Again, I want to caution fans who have grown far-too-accustomed to disappointment that this is a process for Jones. This is just the beginning. The last 14 games of this year is the growing experience he needs to go through in order to become the player the Giants hope he will become. There will be both good and bad plays, good and bad games. To expect otherwise is foolish.

On the other side of the ball, the Giants will never become a good team again unless they get their defense sorted out. This has become an annual embarrassment for the Giants. They are not even functioning at a somewhat professional level.

Nov 212018
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (November 18, 2018)

Odell Beckham, Jr. – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 38 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35

QUICK RECAP

Following the Giants Monday night victory in San Francisco, the 2-7 NFC East bottom-feeders took the long trek home and were forced to take on the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers on short rest. However, the newfound “8 game season” that this team has taken on as its mantra created a sense of confidence and “challenge accepted” approach.

NYG put together its easiest, borderline most fluid drive of the season right off the bat. A 6 play-63 yard drive that featured Saquon Barkley 5 times ended in an easy touchdown pass from Eli Manning to the rookie. Tampa Bay, led by the 35-year old Ryan Fitzpatrick, looked off from the beginning. They were using broken plays and some miscues by the Giants front seven to gain yards rather than a fluid offensive system. Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter opted to go for it on 4th and 1 from the NYG 5-yard line despite being on the road, down 7, in the first quarter. The NYG front line created a wall that Fitzpatrick couldn’t get through and NY forced its first de facto turnover on the day.

The NYG offense proved that the first drive wasn’t a fluke and that they may have actually found a rhythm that carried over from the previous week. Head Coach Pat Shurmur had a sit down with Barkley during the week and wanted to create more urgency, a more north/south approach to Barkley’s efforts when the game called for it. Barkley accepted that challenge and more, as he was gashing the depleted TB front seven with the most aggressive running style we have seen out of him yet. A 12-play drive that gave him the ball on half the snaps resulted in another NYG touchdown, this one a 5-yard run up the middle.

Down 14-0, TB found themselves in a 4th and goal situation from the NYG 10-yard line. Koetter opted to go for it yet again and things looked bleak post-snap. A broken play led to Fitzpatrick scrambling for his life but he somehow managed to find a running lane to the outside and dove his way into the end zone for a touchdown.

The Giants offense puttered for the rest of the half, shooting themselves in the foot with poor blocking, penalties, and simple mishaps. TB was gaining momentum thanks to something I may have never seen before. Defensive end Olivier Vernon was flagged for a roughing the passer penalty and then 2 straight offsides penalties. 25 yards back-to-back-to-back. Three plays later, Fitzpatrick threw an interception to safety Michael Thomas on a pass intended for OJ Howard up the seam. NYG opted for the safe approach and took the lead into halftime, 14-7.

Anyone who has followed Fitzpatrick’s career knows that he is one of the more up-and-down, Jekyll-and-Hyde quarterbacks in the league. We saw the ugly side of him in this one, mostly in the second half. On TB’s first possession, he threw a pick six that was deflected by Janoris Jenkins and into the arms of Alec Ogletree. Then, on the next possession, Fitzpatrick lofted a ball, almost Hail Mary-style, into the end zone at the end of a solid drive which NYG safety Curtis Riley came down with. NYG then put themselves into field goal position and Aldrick Rosas booted a 52 yarder though the uprights. They had a commanding 24-7 lead and Fitzpatrick was benched in favor of Jameis Winston, the former #1 overall pick.

Winston has begun his career on a record-setting turnover pace, but TB gave him a shot to bring this team back. He did exactly that. TB scored touchdowns on their next 4 possessions. Yes, 4 straight touchdown scores for the anemic Bucs offense. Thankfully, the NYG offense continued to stay hot via a balanced attack. Manning hit Odell Beckham on an 8-yard touchdown and Barkley crossed the goal line for a third time on a 2-yard run.

It was a back-and-forth affair that turned into the NYG faithful simply hoping for the clock to run out because TB kept creeping closer and closer, making it a 3 point game at one point with over 2 minutes left.

NYG was able to run the clock down to under 30 seconds, but Winston and the offense did come out for one final possession, no timeouts in hand. On the first play, Winston heaved a desperate ball downfield that was intercepted by BW Webb, and that sealed NYG’s 3rd win of the season.

Giants win, 38-35.

QUARTERBACKS

-Eli Manning: 17/18 – 231 yards – 2 TD / 0 INT. Manning finished with a 110+ QB rating for the 3rd time in 4 games. It is amazing, but not surprising, how much better Manning and this offense looks now that the offensive line has stabilized. Don’t look now, but he is trending towards career highs in both completion percentage and QB rating despite being sacked a league-leading 36 times. Nobody is going to mistake Manning for one of the elite signal callers in the NFL, but he is finally finding the comfort zone within this uber-talented offense. Give this guy enough time to read the defense and enough time for the receivers to actually run their routes and we will see more performances like this.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley: 27 att / 142 yards / 2 TD – 2 rec / 10 yards / 1 TD. There was a different version of Barkley on the field against TB. One we had yet to see and it seems to have stemmed from some hard-truth coaching from Pat Shurmur. Barkley’s lone negative in his scouting report last spring was a little too much dancing behind the line of scrimmage, neglecting what the defense gives him too often. Barkley took it to heart and ran harder between the tackles time after time than I have ever seen, college days included. He was constantly finishing runs, falling forward, and gaining yards after initial contact. This is the kind of running style that, if Barkley can turn on and off based on game situations and the opposing defensive approach, can take his game to the next level. His 3 scores proved that he, and this offense, are much more than big-play dependent.

-Wayne Gallman and Elihjaa Penny deserve mention. They combined for 39 yards on 6 touches. Penny has made a couple of athletic catches in recent weeks and while he won’t ever be a feature of the passing game, it is a nice outlet to have. Gallman’s opportunities are so limited, but his quick speed will make a big play at some point.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Odell Beckham: 4 rec / 74 yards / 1 TD. Six days after Beckham went for 4 catches – 73 yards, he put out a similar performance. His touchdown catch was a thing of beauty, one that many could not have made. The ball was well on its way before he turned around and he had to make an backwards adjustment to the pass. He is in a nice groove right now despite seeing a ton of attention from opposing secondaries.

-It was a spread out day for the rest of the WR group. Sterling Shepard had 2 catches for 22 yards and both Bennie Fowler and Corey Coleman each snared a pass. Coleman’s role here seems locked in as he is performing so well as a kick returner whereas Fowler will only make an impact if someone gets hurt.

TIGHT ENDS

-Evan Engram: 2 rec 66 yards. Similar to last week, Engram’s impact on the game wasn’t really felt until the 4th quarter. When TB’s offense kept the game close and within striking distance, Manning hit Engram on a short pass, but Engram’s burst and speed created a 54-yard gain on the play that put them near the end zone that eventually led to a touchdown. What was notable about this day, however, was the fact Engram played just 32% of the snaps, less than half the snaps of Rhett Ellison and even less snaps that Scott Simonson. Is he in the doghouse? Not necessarily. However as I said a couple weeks ago, this team runs the ball better with Engram not on the line. If this offense wants to continue to be run-dominant, I expect to see snap totals like this from Engram.

-With that said, Ellison had an up-and-down game as a blocker. He allowed a TFL and a sack. While you can’t expect him to sustain blocks against a DE like Jason Pierre-Paul, he has constantly been a very inconsistent presence in the trenches. Simonson wasn’t a factor that often as a blocker, but his footwork has come a long way since the start of the year. Curious to see if he can carve a long-term role here for himself as a presence in the trenches.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

-Nate Solder had the responsibility of facing off against former Giant DE Jason Pierre-Paul. The motivated JPP finished with 7 tackles and 1.5 sacks. One of the sacks came through Rhett Ellison, but Solder was still being handled pretty badly. His staying power just isn’t there. The fact Manning only dropped back 23 times helped Solder not get exposed as often as he has been, but I still view him as a major liability to this offense.

-Chad Wheeler had a solid game as a run blocker. His initial contact was violent and he got downfield a handful of times making a difference. I love the hustle this kid plays with. He allowed 1 TFL and had a bonehead personal foul penalty on a PAT late in the game. Otherwise, very solid game for him.

GUARDS/CENTERS

-This is the best combo-guard play we have seen out of NYG in quite some time. Rookie Will Hernandez had the highest grade of the group, as he neutralized and moved All Pro Gerald McCoy all afternoon. He did allow 1 TFL early in the game where his lack of foot-adjustment showed up again, but he was a steady force from there on out. Brown had some of the most dominant run blocks against both DTs and LBs that I saw all weekend. Now that he knows the scheme one more week, he moved with more confidence. I don’t want to celebrate yet, but NYG may have found their RG.

-Spencer Pulley was the one negative of the group and I think that is simply what we are going to have to deal with the rest of the way. You can hide poor OC play if the guards play at a high level. Pulley allowed a sack and had a false start penalty.

EDGE

-Kareem Martin, ever since his days at North Carolina, has a game every now and then that makes evaluators get excited. Well, this was that game. He finished with 7 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 TFL. He was a factor in both traffic and in space, but I will say some of his bigger plays were a product of the action being washed his way. But hey, he got it done. Good game for him.

-Lorenzo Carter continues to show subtle but obvious improvement across the board. He had 2 pressures, 1 of which led to a sack by Martin. Get this guy in pursuit and he can chase down any QB and force him into an early throw.

-Olivier Vernon and Kerry Wynn both had quiet games, although the loudest hit of the day may have been by Wynn on special teams. Vernon had an odd stretch of roughing the passer-offsides-offsides on three straight snaps. That is the kind of thing that makes a fan say “trade him” but let’s not forget guys, this pass rush did improve as a whole when he came back from injury.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-The lack of Damon Harrison’s presence has been apparent these past two weeks. Dalvin Tomlinson and BJ Hill were getting moved off the ball way too much, way too often. The TB running game had wide open running lanes inside for most of the day and while some of that was on the LBs, Hill and Tomlinson weren’t stout enough. They need to be better.

-Josh Mauro and Mario Edwards on the other hand, who both played 37% of the snaps, were exceptional in their backup duty. Mauro had a TFL and a pressure while Edwards had 2 pressures and a forced fumble. Mauro’s pressure was the reason Fitzpatrick threw his final interception. The ball was lofted into the air because he had Mauro creeping up into his face as he threw. That was an overlooked aspect of that key play. Both of these guys play really physical and make a difference at the point of attack.

LINEBACKERS

Another weak showing from the inside linebackers in this one. Alec Ogletree and Tae Davis were not filling lanes against the TB rushing attack. They were a step slow and too late to make reads, giving the TB blockers the proper angles to wash them out. And when TB did use the middle of the field in the passing game, they once again couldn’t get it done. Nice job by Ogletree to come up with the pick six on a Janoris Jenkins tipped pass, but these guys need to play better.

CORNERBACKS

-Speaking of Jenkins, he had a strong game for the most part. The one weak moment came late in the game where he was beat off the ball and for a 44-yard touchdown to Mike Evans. He broke up a pass that ended up turning into a defensive touchdown for NYG. His play has leveled off in a good way in recent weeks. One thing I didn’t like, and we have seen this before out of him, was the fact he made a business decision to not tackle a downhill Peyton Barber near the goal line. Can’t have that.

-BW Webb came down with an interception on a final desperation attempt-type throw on TB’s last drive. This was his best game of the season, as he shut down DeSean Jackson. He finished with 7 tackles and 2 pass break ups as well. Webb has had me thinking the past few weeks that he may have earned his way into a contract next year; he has been consistent.

-Grant Haley played the nickel role again and appears to be getting more and more confident. He dropped a interception and did allow a touchdown late to Adam Humphries, but I think his performance these past 2 weeks warrants a continued role in the nickel. He doesn’t have the physical presence to work through receivers to the ball, but he is reacting fast and getting his hands on the ball.

SAFETIES

-Best game of the season to date for Michael Thomas. He was only on the field for about a third of the plays, but he came up with a key interception in the red zone in addition to a couple of key tackles late in the game. Thomas is the best tackler on this team and I have a feeling the team will give him a hard look if Landon Collins prices him out of this town via free agency in the winter.

-Landon Collins led the team with 11 tackles and was again a solid force in the box. He did recognize running plays late a few times that led to lengthy gains, but he was solid. The glaring issue with Collins arose late in the game when TB obviously had to make a play deep. He was late to give help on a vertical route and it resulted in a touchdown. I’ll say this again, if you can’t send this guy deep ever, he isn’t a safety. Something to think about. Nice interception and return for Curtis Riley but he did miss more tackles and is among the NFL’s league leaders in that department. Not a list you want a safety to be on.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 1/1 (Made 52). In a year where kickers are just failing left and right, Rosas continues to be one of the most steady ones in the league.

-P Riley Dixon: 4 Punts – 41.5 avg / 34.0 net. Nothing notable from Dixon in this one; he had a couple opportunities to pin TB close to their own end zone but overshot one, undershot the other.

-KR/PR: Corey Coleman added another 40 yard return early. He has what I call aggressive speed and he is a major weapon if the blocking is good enough. He is close to taking one to the house.

3 STUDS

-RB Saquon Barkley, S Michael Thomas, OG Will Hernandez

3 DUDS

-LB Tae Davis, OT Nate Solder, DE Olivier Vernon

3 THOUGHTS ON TB

-This is maybe one of 3 or 4 teams in this league that just lack direction. They have a recent #1 pick whom has had some success and a 35-year old journeyman going back and forth at QB. Their offensive line is inconsistent with both tackles, neither of which deserve big money, heading towards free agency. Their best defenders have a hard time staying healthy. And their Head Coach seems to be in over his head on a near-weekly basis. Lastly, they just spent a ton of money on free agents this past offseason. Very odd situation going on down there, it’s been built the wrong way.

-Jameis Winston may, or may not be available this offseason. Crazy prediction, I know. But if he is made available, I know at least some NYG fans will throw his name out there. I’ve watched him plenty over the years and I do think he has some special talents and intangibles. The problem is, they are grouped with off-field red flags that never seem to go away, and a lack of ball discipline. He was lucky that Mike Evans fell on his fumble in the end zone on his first drive of the second half. Like I feel about Sam Darnold, some guys just don’t protect the ball enough in key situations. Winston is who he is and I don’t want him in a Giants uniform. It wouldn’t work here in a high-pressure market.

-This goes to show guys….”winning” in free agency doesn’t get you anywhere. Acquiring expensive veterans as the main catalyst for a turnaround just doesn’t work. Jason Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry, Ryan Jensen, Beau Allen combine for about $36 million in cap space with all of them locked up for another 2-4 years. And this team is going nowhere fast.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-Does NYG have momentum? Well they beat 2 teams on the down slope that have a combined 5 wins through 11 weeks. But just like you don’t get any credit for losing to a good team, NYG deserves credit for 2 wins no matter who they come against. As we see every week in the NFL, there is no such thing as an easy W.

-If NYG is going to keep this offensive flow going (25 + points in consecutive games for the first time since October 2015), the actual devotion to the running game and play-action passing needs to be the staple. Manning has always been at his best from under center in a play-action-heavy routine. I’m glad to see Shurmur, for the first time, stick to a running game throughout all 4 quarters. If he can keep this approach, NYG will continue to score points like this.

-How can NYG fix this defense in-season? It does look like they are trying to spread some snaps out among the front seven with different personnel combinations each week. Credit to them for continuing to try new things. Perhaps the quality of talent isn’t there to defend the middle of the field, but this coaching staff needs to find something. Their toughest test will be this weekend as Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert may very well be the best TE combination in the NFL when it comes to catching the football.

Nov 182018
 
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Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (November 18, 2018)

Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 38 – TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 35…
The New York Giants won their second game in a row and improved their overall record to 3-7 by defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-35 on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Quarterback Eli Manning only threw one incompletion, running back Saquon Barkley scored three touchdowns, and the defense intercepted four passes, returning one for a touchdown.

The Buccaneers significantly out-gained the Giants in a number of categories including first downs (31 to 19), total net yards (510 to 359), and net yards passing (359 to 196). But the Giants dominated the turnover battle (4-0). The Giants were 4-of-4 in red zone opportunities, while the Buccaneers were 4-of-5.

The Giants scored touchdowns on their first two offensive possessions of the game. Wide receiver Corey Coleman returned the opening kickoff 40 yards. Four plays later, Manning found wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. for a 41-yard gain to the Tampa Bay 7-yard line. Two after that, Manning hit a wide-open Barkley for a 6-yard touchdown reception.

The Buccaneers drove 68 yards on their initial possession, but were stopped on 4th-and-1 on the 12th play of the drive, turning the ball over on downs at the Giants’ 5-yard line. The NYG offense then responded with a 12-play, 95-yard drive that ended with Barkley scoring from five yards out. The Giants now led 14-0.

After both teams exchanged punts, Tampa Bay cut the score to 14-7 with an 8-play, 64-yard drive that culminated with a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on 4th-and-goal. The Giants managed to drive the ball to the Buccaneers 37-yard line on the following possession, but Head Coach Pat Shurmur decided to punt the ball away on 4th-and-2. The Buccaneers threatened to score again before safety Michael Thomas intercepted Fitzpatrick at the Giants’ 13-yard line with less than 30 seconds before intermission.

At the half, the Giants led 14-7.

The Buccaneers received the ball to start the second half. On their second offensive snap, linebacker Alec Olgetree snatched a ball away from fellow defender cornerback Janoris Jenkins and returned it 15 yards for a defensive touchdown. The Giants were now ahead 21-7. Tampa Bay drove to the NYG 32-yard line on their second possession of the half, but Fitzpatrick was picked off in the end zone by safety Curtis Riley who returned the interception to the Giants’ 40-yard line. The Buccaneers bench Fitzpatrick after his third turnover.

A 23-yard run by Barkley helped to set up a 52-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas, giving the Giants a 24-7 advantage midway through the third quarter. However, the Giants’ defense then largely collapsed against quarterback Jameis Winston, who led the Buccaneers on four straight touchdown drives of 74, 77, 70, and 66 yards. Thankfully for New York, Manning and his offensive teammates also managed two touchdown drives of their own. The first was a 7-play, 71-yard affair that culminated with an 8-yard touchdown reception by Beckham on 3rd-and-5. The second was a 5-play, 67-yard drive, where the big play was a 54-yard gain by tight end Evan Engram. Three plays later, Barkley scored from two yards out.

Despite all of this, Winston’s 41-yard touchdown with less than two-and-a-half minutes left in the game cut the score to an uncomfortable 38-35. The Giants went three-and-out and Tampa got the ball back with 23 seconds to play. But Winston’s first pass of Tampa’s final possession was intercepted by cornerback B.W. Webb at the Giants’ 25-yard line, ending the game.

Offensively, Manning completed 17-of-18 passes for 231 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a QB rating of 155.8. Beckham was the only Giants’ player to catch more than two passes, catching four for 74 yards and a score. Barkley rushed for 142 yards on 27 carries. He scored on two runs and added another touchdown on a pass reception.

The good news for the defense was the four interceptions (including one for a score) and the stop on 4th-and-1 at the 5-yard line. But the defense allowed over 500 yards of offense and five touchdowns. The Giants accrued only one sack (by linebacker Kareem Martin).

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

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

Defensive end Kerry Wynn left the game with a concussion and did not return.

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:

POST-GAME NOTES…
The Giants 38 points was their highest total since November 1, 2015, when they lost at New Orleans, 52-49. It was the most points they’ve scored in a victory since a 45-14 victory at Washington on September 25, 2014.

Quarterback Eli Manning’s 94.4 completion percentage is a Giants record in a game with at least 10 attempts.

Running back Saquon Barkley is the first Giants rookie to score on a reception and a run in the same game since wide since running back Butch Woolfolk vs. the Houston Oilers on December 5, 1982.

Barkley’s receiving yardage total for the season is 540, a Giants record for a rookie running back. David Meggett previously held the record with 531 yards in 1989.

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

Nov 162018
 
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John Mara and Dave Gettleman, New York Giants (May 11, 2018)

John Mara and Dave Gettleman – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants, November 18, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
The New York Football Giants have won eight NFL championships. They have appeared in 19 NFL championship games. And because they won on Monday night, they are now 5-20 in their last 25 football games. You have to go back to the 1970s to witness a stretch this bad in team history.

The Giants have a decent chance to win two in a row. The 3-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are another bad football team. But win or lose, the question is are the Giants getting better? The win over the 49ers was dramatic and raised the morale of a fan base sick of losing. But aside from the 4th quarter dramatics, objectively speaking, it was clearly a contest between two bad football teams. And the game-winning drive was kept alive by two killer San Francisco penalties.

As I watch the Giants now, the same questions keep entering my head:

  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 good news is the Giants haven’t quit. They are still playing hard. But the answers to those five aforementioned questions still very much concern me.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • FB Eli Penny (back – probable)
  • RG Jamon Brown (ankle – probable)
  • LB Alec Ogletree (ribs – probable)
  • CB Antonio Hamilton (hip – probable)
  • FS Curtis Riley (shoulder – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:

The Giants benched John Greco for recently-claimed Jamon Brown at right guard, and the offensive line play went from “dog shit” to “below average.” It was an improvement so we’ll take it. Brown had his down moments, but he looks the part. He’s a mammoth man and demonstrated the mental wherewithal to adjust and pick up stunts. Brown’s contract expires at the end of the season, but if he is a viable NFL starter and the Giants can re-sign him to an appropriate contract, that will be one less hole to fill in the offseason.

Brown may be the #1 guy to keep your eyes on. Will Hernandez and Jamon Brown are young, big, and strong. They are mauling types who fit in well with Saquon Barkley. Between the two is Spencer Pulley, who struggled against the 49ers. Unless he starts playing better, and unless the Giants have a diamond in the rough in Evan Brown, the Giants still need to acquire a center this offseason.

The tackle situation is also very unsettled. When Gettleman signed Nate Solder and Patrick Omameh, he probably felt he had locked in two starters for the next 2-3 years. Omameh has already been cut. Solder has been a disaster, but may have played his best game against the 49ers. Can he build upon that the last seven games and give the team reason to hope he still can be an asset rather than a liability in 2019? Chad Wheeler is receiving invaluable playing experience. Young tackles often struggle and then it sometimes just clicks for them. Is Wheeler simply a placeholder or does he have a future in this league? Cutting to the chase, is he getting better?

Not to toot my own horn, but I called it last week with respect to Eli:

Eli Manning is due for one of those games where his most loyal supporters can claim he still has “it.” But as discussed ad nauseam, those good games have become too infrequent.

I think a lot of readers of this site think I have it in for Eli. Nothing could be further from the truth. He’s one of my all-time favorites. But my loyalty to him does not supercede my loyalty to the team. And regardless of the reasons, Eli’s play has been a roller coaster for the last few years with more down moments than up. Can Eli play well against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or are we going to see a game where he makes the killer mistake or two? Recent history says the latter. I hope not. Until the game-winning drive, what bothered me about his play against the 49ers were the mental breakdowns on his part. If that part of his game is deteriorating now too, look out.

Some other quick thoughts:

  • Despite the losing and missed opportunities, Odell Beckham is still playing hard. He is maturing.
  • Evan Engram really has disappointed this year. I expected him to be one of the top receiving tight ends in the league. He only has 21 catches for only 191 yards.
  • Rhett Ellison has also been a big disappointment. His blocking has sucked.
  • Corey Coleman is a guy to keep an eye on. The Giants still need a third receiver. Could he become that player?

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

Before the trade deadline, the New York Giants defense was the stronger unit on the team. But that doesn’t mean it was playing particularly well. So it is not surprising that the defense has weakened since the departure of Damon Harrison and Eli Apple.

Somewhat surprisingly, the issue hasn’t been the corners. While Janoris Jenkins hasn’t been on top of his game, and while the other corners are mostly journeymen, they have all done a respectable job. My hat is off to guys like B.W. Webb and Grant Haley for playing above expectation level.

The most glaring weaknesses have been:

  1. Perhaps the most inept NYG pass rush in memory. Through nine games, the Giants have TEN sacks. TEN!!! In the offseason, we were told how James Bettcher would be able to create situations where the team’s new 3-4 defense would be able to attack the quarterback from all angles. Through nine games, Bettcher’s schemes don’t appear to be particularly effective, and the team’s personnel doesn’t appear able to beat their opponent in one-on-one pass-rush situations. Kareem Martin and Connor Barwin have been duds. Olivier Vernon got hurt again, and upon his return, remains the player he has been: someone who teases every now and then but simply doesn’t do enough. Perhaps the Giants should play more 4-3 again. They appear to lack the linebacker talent to make the 3-4 work.
  2. The Giants can’t cover the middle of the field. This has been an issue for years. And while the coaches and players have changed, the reasons haven’t: the Giants don’t have linebackers or safeties who can cover. Dave Gettleman made big mistakes acquiring Alec Olgetree (for 2 draft picks), Kareem Martin, and Connor Barwin. Not trading away Olivier Vernon is looking like a mistake. The Giants have no viable free safety. And Landon Collins is simply too up-and-down. (Again, they may rue the day they didn’t trade him as he is a pending free agent).

So when you combined (1) and (2), you get opposing QBs who have time to scan the field, and inevitably find an open target over the middle of the field. This is why the team’s third-down defense is so bad.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

While the special teams are still making mistakes (i.e., kickoff out of bounds, usually allowing one decent return per game), the unit appears to be improving. Aldrick Rosas has been a pleasant surprise. Riley Dixon has been consistent. And the Giants now have a couple of returners on the team – Corey Coleman and Quadree Henderson – who have made some noise the past couple of games.

THE FINAL WORD:
The Giants have scored more than 20 points in three games this year. They won two of those games. The Giants have scored 20 or few points in six games this year. They have lost all of those games. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure this out.

Against Tampa, can the Giants put more than 20-24 points up on the board? If they do, they probably win. If not, they will probably lose.

Oct 032017
 
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Wayne Gallman, New York Giants (October 1, 2017)

Wayne Gallman – © USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25 – New York Giants 23

RECAP

Typical fall weather in Florida. The sun was out, bright and shining, during pre-game warm ups then at the snap of a finger, the first few drives were played in a torrential downpour of rain. The day’s weather replicated the emotions of the Giants week 4 match-up against the Bucs, sitting at 1-1 having played just 2 games as a result of their forced week 1 bye due to weather.

The Giants offensive line saw a two-part shuffle in the starting lineup, with 2017 free agent signing D.J. Fluker getting the start at right guard, shifting John Jerry over to left guard and Brett Jones into his normal backup role. It didn’t matter who was in there early, as Bucs DT Gerald McCoy was bursting through the line whenever and however he wanted, causing major disruption early in the game. He had three tackles for losses during the Giants’ first three drives. He made both Jerry and Fluker look like high school freshman getting beat by Division I recruits. Whether he was penetrating and altering the running game’s plan or getting into Manning’s face on simple three step drop backs, he was the star of the show early.

The Bucs jumped out to an early 13-0 lead in the first quarter, with 2 touchdowns both from Jameis Winston’s arm. The first, a simple fade-type pass to their own star receiver (who near-rivals Beckham’s career numbers) Mike Evans, beating Eli Apple who did not even locate the ball. The second was a major breakdown in coverage by the Giants linebackers. Rookie tight end O.J. Howard was left all alone on a play-action right, pass left design and ended the 58-yard score with not a single defender anywhere near him. The one positive here was a missed extra point by Nick Folk, an important and oft-repeated theme of the day. The Bucs had 13 points on 12 offensive plays at the end of quarter 1. The Giants…0 points on 19 plays.

On the Giants 6th possession of the game, they finally started to piece together a positive drive into Bucs territory. They made it to the Tampa 21-yard line, 1st and 10. After a near first-down catch-and-run by Brandon Marshall, they lined up for a 3rd-and-1 on the 12-ard line. A quick inside handoff to Shane Vereen was stuffed right away by former Giants DE Robert Ayers, who beat Ereck Flowers off the ball to his inside shoulder. The Giants settled for a 30-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas, making it 13-3 with 7:21 left in the first half.

The Bucs went 3-and-out on their next drive thanks to creative play calling by Steve Spagnuolo, who put safety Landon Collins in position to disrupt the passing game via the blitz all afternoon. On 3rd-and-10, he forced Winston into a quick decision, throwing a ball right into the waiting hands of tackle Jay Bromley, who at least tried to drop in back in coverage. The ball literally went through his hands and we were all reminded that there is a reason why some guys play on the line. That could have been a major missed scoring opportunity for the Giants, but Manning and the offense responded.

Had it not been for an Odell Beckham drop (his second of the quarter), the 7-play drive would have been completely full of positive plays. Manning spread the ball around and ended it with a career long 14-yard touchdown run – the first (and currently only) Giants rushing touchdown of 2017.

Winston and the Bucs got the ball back with 3:17 and marched down the field, all the way to the Giants 1-yard line. A season that seemed to be hanging on by a thread got a major surge from the defense, holding the Bucs to a field goal and limiting the damage. The score going into halftime was Bucs 16 – Giants 10.

In the third quarter, the Bucs inched their way into field range, taking advantage of an over-aggressive Giants back seven and missed tackles. The Bucs backup running back, Jacquizz Rodgers, ran low to the ground and let the Giants defensive backs over-pursue, making it an easy task to run through arm tackles and gain extra yards. Nick Folk lined up for a 49-yard field and missed, supplying the Giants with solid field position as their quest for another comeback ensued.

The Giants marched down the field, never gaining more than 10 yards with the exception of a 13-yard run by rookie Wayne Gallman. After being a non-factor in the first three games, Gallman got his opportunity after the struggling Paul Perkins struggled to get up from a physical tackle by Kendell Beckwith. Gallman seized the opportunity, ending the drive with a 4-yard touchdown catch which put the Giants ahead for the first time, 17-16. The Giants then forced a 3-and-out capped by their lone sack of the day by the blitzing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Momentum had fully shifted in Tampa.

The Giants entered the 4th quarter in Bucs territory. With Weston Richburg out with a concussion, Brett Jones stepped in and helped pave the way for yet another positive, piece-by-piece drive. They set Aldrick Rosas up for a 43-yard field goal attempt, but the rookie pushed it wide right, giving him is first miss of his career including regular and preseason.

The Bucs moved the ball over midfield but were forced with a tough 4th-and-2 decision on their own 36-yard line. Go for it? Or give Nick Folk another chance? This time from 53 yards. They chose the former and Landon Collins continued to do what he does best, disrupt. He broke up a pass intended for Cameron Brate, turnover on downs. The Giants suffered a 3-and-out, but the negative of that was overshadowed by punter Brad Wing’s second complete shank in as many weeks, with this punt traveling a mere 15 yards, keeping Tampa right near midfield.

It didn’t take long for Tampa to reach the red zone with the biggest culprit being a half-effort missed tackle by Rodgers-Cromartie that led to a 30-yard gain by receiver Adam Humphries. The Giants lack of quality tackling is a major issue that supplied the Bucs with way too many valuable yards late in the game. Cameron Brate caught a touchdown over the middle as Jonathan Casillas was simply over-matched dropping back into coverage. The Bucs took the lead back but missed the 2-point attempt. 22-17 with 7:44 left.

On the second play of the Giants ensuing drive, which started at the 25-yard line, Manning hit Beckham for a 42-yard downfield pass. We almost forget how good Manning is at this kind of throw in this kind of situation. With the offensive line altering the Giants approach to the passing game, it is almost upsetting to see what this duo could be if there were 5 capable guys up front. Beckham was off and on the field with his ankle injury continuing to flare up. Between that and a dislocated finger suffered earlier in the game, hats off to this hard-nosed, always-hustling superstar. Gallman helped inch the Giants up to the 2-yard line and on 3rd-and-goal, Manning found Rhett Ellison for the lead-changing touchdown. Beckham did catch a 2-point conversion attempt to give the Giants a safe 3 point lead, however he (barely) stepped out of bounds prior to catching the ball and ended up having to give the points back for illegal touching. The Bucs were getting the ball back, down 1, with 3:16 left.

This is where big-time defenses step up. Sacks, pressure, turnovers….something. The Giants, however, continued to underwhelm on that side of the ball by allowing the Bucs deep into field goal territory in just 5 plays, the back-breaker being a 26-yard pass to Brate, whom beat Collins fairly easily. That play gave the Bucs tight ends a total of 6 catches for 143 yards (and 2 TDs). Instead of making plays, tackles were being missed left and right and no pressure was being put on Winston. Because the Giants mismanaged their timeouts in the 2nd half via a foolish challenge and timeout on a 2-point conversion, they were left watching the clock dwindle as the Bucs perfectly set up Nick Folk for a game-winning field goal. The 34-yard attempt snuck through the uprights by less than a foot, no time remaining. Giants lose 25-23.

QUARTERBACKS

  • Eli Manning: 30/49 – 288 yards – 2 TD/0 INT – 3 att – 21 yards – 1 TD. For the second week in a row, Manning led multiple touchdown-scoring, lead-changing drives in the second half. He had pressure in his face for the majority of his drop backs, but he wasn’t sacked once and appears to be adjusting very well to what the players around him can supply. His poise under pressure has always been a strength and he continues to give this team a fighting chance despite several factors around him heading in the wrong direction.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Wayne Gallman: 11 att – 42 yards – 2 rec – 8 yards – 1 TD. We saw a different level of explosion and decision making with Gallman during training camp in comparison to the other NYG running backs. With Paul Perkins continuing to struggle in addition to getting nicked up, Gallman got his shot in the second half and was one of the main reasons this offense had balance from there on out. He was able to find small windows, dart through them, and make positive plays out of nothing. His touchdown catch in the 3rd quarter and positive blocking grade may very well get him the starting nod in the near future.
  • Shane Vereen: 5 att – 14 yards – 1 rec – 11 yards. Continues to be underplayed, being on the field for just 28% of the plays in this one. Positive things happen with this guy on the field and he needs to get more action. I will keep saying this until it happens.
  • Paul Perkins: 9 att – 13 yards – 1 rec 6 yards. The nightmare season continues for Perkins, who may now have a rib injury to deal with in addition. Perkins finished with 13 yards but had a 14-yard run. Yes, do the math. That means otherwise, he carried the ball 8 times for -1 yard. Perkins is now averaging 1.9 yards per carry on the young season and while it isn’t only on his shoulders, the success Gallman had when he came in might be a damning fact for the second-year back.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Odell Beckham: 7 rec – 90 yards. Beckham is clearly still fighting the ankle injury he sustained during preseason, although he is still fully capable of making plays up and down the field. He came down with a 42-yard reception late in the game with his blazing speed and also came up with a 15-yard gain where he broke 3 tackles with a combination of strength, toughness, and quickness. Beckham, however, dropped 2 more passes and wasn’t aware of the out-of-bounds along the back of the end zone on their crucial 2-point conversion.
  • Brandon Marshall: 6 rec – 46 yards. Halfway through the game I had the thought that Marshall was just so much bigger and stronger than the Tampa corners, the Giants might as well just keep feeding him the ball underneath until the defense stopped it. For the most part, Marshall handled them in those situations but he too is still dropping too many passes. Off the top of my head he already has 5 on the young season.
  • Sterling Shepard: 5 rec – 54 yards. He was thrown the ball 5 times and he came down with all of them. Shepard is showing the necessary toughness and grit over the middle. He is a great option for this offense to have when primary reads aren’t there.

TIGHT ENDS

  • Evan Engram: 6 rec – 62 yards. As the weeks go by, it seems to be the case more and more that Engram is entrenched as the team’s number two receiving option. He is moving exceptionally well and making high-difficulty catches each game. Four of his 6 catches went for a first down and I think moving forward, he needs to be targeted on 3rd down. That only happened twice against the Bucs. He also had a positive blocking grade for the third straight week.
  • Rhett Ellison: 2 rec – 11 yards – 1 TD. Ellison played a season-high 39% of the plays, but I still don’t think it is enough. He saw a couple plays at fullback but with the amount of “11” personnel the Giants use and the emergence of Engram, he is stuck on the sidelines. He has been thrown the ball 5 time this year, and he has 5 catches. The yards he can gain after contact and the reliability as a blocker is part of what the Giants are missing. Two birds, one stone.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: Both Ereck Flowers and Justin Pugh recorded their best grades of the season in this game. Manning wasn’t sacked once and even though the Bucs DEs leave a lot to be desired, these guys deserve at least some credit. Flowers did however allow two tackles for losses and Pugh struggled to maintain his anchor ability after he tweaked his back. But these guys fought hard and played better than any of their previous games. Pugh graded out at a “3”, which is right where I consider the best performances week in, week out around the league. Let’s not forget he is out of position. Makes me really think about him as a left tackle for the long-term future.
  • Interior:  Weston Richburg put together another solid game until he left with a concussion. Brett Jones stepped in and didn’t really factor in either direction. D.J. Fluker and John Jerry got off to horrific starts, as Gerald McCoy had his way with both of them for pretty much the entire first quarter. They cleaned it up well and both played at a very high level in the second half. They both snuck past the bare minimum grade of what I would consider acceptable, but still have plenty of room to improve. Fluker deserves a shot to stay at RG for the near future.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Ends: Jason Pierre Paul recorded 4 tackles, a half sack, and a QB hit. But he continues to underwhelm and is being neutralized by a lone blocker too many times. They are trying to move him around exploit match-ups, but he simply isn’t beating anyone right now. My expectations were so high for him this year, and he is far from meeting them. Olivier Vernon only made it 22 plays before re-injuring his bum ankle. Kerry Wynn and Romeo Okwara both got the opportunity to step up, and neither could produce any pressure. Both had a hard time holding up against the run, as well. Poor game for those two that certainly contributed to the Bucs 5+ yards per carry.
  • Tackles: Two of the bright spots were the consistent high level of play from both Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson. Harrison missed a short stretch with a minor knee tweak, but he demanded so much attention and started to disrupt the passing game via the bull rush with more and more frequency. Tomlinson is playing better each week, showing more confidence and pop off the snap. He is going to make things happen for this defense down throughout the season. Jay Bromley’s missed interception may be one of the NFL’s bloopers of the year and his stoutness against the run hasn’t improved. He is a liability to the defense.

LINEBACKERS

  • B.J. Goodson returned from a 2-week injury-caused hiatus. His presence makes a huge difference for this defense. He is the one defender on this team who I completely trust when it comes to actually bringing down the ball carrier when he has the opportunity to do so. He finished with 6 tackles on the day. His coverage was sub-par, something we saw up close and in person at camp.
  • Jonathan Casillas and Keenan Robinson are getting simply out-matched in coverage and in space. These two need to stop missing tackles and stick to their cover assignments or else tight ends will continue to torch this defense for, how many years in a row now?
  • There are far bigger issues on this defense than Devon Kennard and his versatility in terms of assignment and alignment is respectable. However his weakness in space, most notably coverage, is a huge liability to the defense that will continue to have a big negative impact.

CORNERBACKS

  • Not a bad day for the two starters, Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple, but far from great as well. Apple was beat badly for yet another touchdown in the first quarter when his lack of skill set showed up again. He doesn’t get it yet. Jenkins continues to play bigger than his size and continues to break up passes (2). However he had two very bad missed tackles that did end up impacting the game.
  • Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was the only other CB to play, as he was on the field for the majority of the defensive snaps. I respect what he has turned his game into now, as he no longer has that top-level speed and athleticism. He is very good at anticipating and playing smart. Rarely is he caught out of position or surprised. However his missed tackle on Humphries that I noted above was just downright awful and lazy. And the sad part, it has become the norm with him at least once per game.

SAFETIES

  • A top defensive grade for Landon Collins is slightly overshadowed by his bad coverage on the final drive of the game when Cameron Brate beat him downfield. The timing of that beat couldn’t have been worse. Other than that, Collins led the team with 7 tackles, 2 pass break ups, and 3 QB pressures. The coaching staff is using him in so many ways and he is at such a high, difference-making level.
  • Darian Thompson and Andrew Adams pretty much split duties next to Collins, with Thompson still getting the edge in volume. This shouldn’t last much longer, as his two missed tackles this week were a big deal. His range couldn’t keep up with DeSean Jackson deep and he isn’t making quick enough decisions. Adams needs to be given the majority snaps now.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Aldrick Rosas: 1 for 2 (Made 30, Missed 43). Rosas was put in another pressure situation this week and failed. Those 3 points that were left on the board were huge. Looking forward to seeing how he responds.
  • P Brad Wing: Same story as last week. Overall a solid day until the pressure was really on and he responded with a 15-yard shank. When it gets in your head, it’s over. The Giants can’t let this happen week after week; he needs to put together a few good weeks now.
  • Dwayne Harris: Non factor again.

3 STUDS

  • QB Eli Manning, RT Justin Pugh, RB Wayne Gallman

3 DUDS

  • WR Brandon Marshall, DE Kerry Wynn, S Darian Thompson

3 THOUGHTS ON TAMPA BAY

  • Watching Gerald McCoy wreck havoc on the Giants offense for the entire first quarter all by himself from different angles was eye opening. Yes, it was against the Giants offensive line. However when you have a 300+ pound presence that can get off the ball fast AND powerful like that, he can make a lot of other players look good.
  • I continue to not be sold on Jameis Winston. This guy does play well late in games, but there are so many mental mistakes he continues to make week after week. His arm is erratic and he looks lost out there often, especially when you watch the All-22 tape.
  • CB Brent Grimes won me over this season. I always knew he was solid, but I admit the public perception of him and his wife being out of control via social media and a few rough games in Miami has kept him down my personal CB ranks for awhile. This dude is a legit blanket-cover guy who can hang with speed and quickness in any situation. He will continue to be among the league’s leaders in pass breakups.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • As long as the NFC East teams continue to lose games, the Giants will have a fighting shot. Who knows? Maybe this division will be the the one where an 8-8 team wins the title and a home playoff game. Wishful thinking, I know. There is stretch of schedule coming up that they can take advantage of, starting with the 0-4 Chargers. The Giants have the toughest strength of schedule in the NFL this year and they finally get a break here at home against an absolutely miserable franchise.
  • Even if Paul Perkins comes back healthy, Wayne Gallman and Shane Vereen should be splitting the RB duties for now. Gallman brought new energy and play-making ability and Vereen continues to make things happen for this offense. Time for Perkins to take a step back. Not a goodbye, just a sit tight and watch what happens with these other guys.
  • This Giants defense has major problems, the two worst being downright awful against the run and an inability to create pressure on the passer via four rushers. You can’t have that. Spags is being forced into blitzing a lot, leaving the overly vulnerable linebackers into serious coverage roles which they simply do not have the personnel for. Time to step up JPP. That’s on you and that hefty contract of yours.

This season still isn’t over.

Oct 012017
 
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Nick Folk, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (October 1, 2017)

Giants lose at the buzzer again – © USA TODAY Sports

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 25 – NEW YORK GIANTS 23…
The losing continues for the New York Giants as the team fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. For the second week in a row, the Giants blew two 4th-quarter leads and lost the game on a walk-off field goal. The Giants are still win-less on the season with an 0-4 record.

New York went three-and-out on its first two possessions of the game. Tampa Bay took a 7-0 lead after driving 56 yards in four plays, culminating with a 6-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jameis Winston to wide receiver Mike Evans. The Giants responded by driving to the Bucs’ 30-yard line, but an incomplete pass on 4th-and-4 resulted in a turnover on downs. Two plays later, tight end O.J. Howard scored on a 58-yard reception to make the game 13-0 (the extra point was missed).

The Giants punted the ball away on both of their next two possessions. The Buccaneers punted once and missed a 46-yard field goal. New York finally got on the board in the second quarter with a 30-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas after an 11-play, 52-yard drive. Tampa Bay went three-and-out and the Giants cut into their lead again when quarterback Eli Manning ran for a 14-yard touchdown, closing out a 7-play, 62-yard drive. But the Bucs added to their advantage late in the first half by driving 73 yards in 12 plays to set up a 20-yard field goal. It could have been worse as the defense held after facing 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line. At the half, Tampa led 16-10.

The Buccaneers missed a 49-yard field goal on their initial possession of the second half. The Giants then took the lead on their initial possession by driving 61 yards in 11 plays. Rookie running back Wayne Gallman scored on a 4-yard pass from Manning. Giants 17 – Bucs 16.

Tampa Bay went three-and-out and the Giants had a chance to extend their lead but Rosas missed a 43-yard field goal early in the 4th quarter. The Bucs turned the ball over on downs on 4th-and-2 from the Giants’ 35-yard line with safety Landon Collins breaking up the pass. The Giants could not move the ball and punted. Worse, reminiscent of last week’s lost against the Eagles, Brad Wing shanked punt only traveled 15 yards. It only took Tampa Bay four plays to drive 57 yards with Winston throwing a touchdown pass from 14 yards out. The Buccaneers now led 22-17 (the 2-point conversion failed) with less than eight minutes to play.

To New York’s credit, the offense responded with an impressive 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Rhett Ellison on 3rd-and-goal. The big play on the drive was a 42-yard strike to wide receiver Odell Beckham. Unfortunately, the 2-point conversion failed and the Giants only led 23-22 with 3:16 left to play.

The defense could not hold the lead. Tampa Bay gained 59 yards in nine plays with a crucial 26-yard pass on 3rd-and-1. Place kicker Nick Folk – who missed an extra point and two field goals in the game – then nailed the 34-yard field goal to win the game with no time on the clock.

Manning finished the game 30-of-49 for 288 yards, two touchdowns passing, one running, and no interceptions. His leading receivers were Beckham (7 catches for 90 yards) and tight end Evan Engram (6 catches for 62 yards). Gallman was the leading rusher with 11 carries for 42 yards. Manning was not sacked in the game.

Defensively, the Giants did not force a turnover and only accrued one sack.

The Giants had no return yardage. Rosas missed a field goal and Wing shanked a punt.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were RB Orleans Darkwa (back), RT Bobby Hart (ankle), QB Davis Webb, TE Matt LaCosse, DE Avery Moss, LB Deontae Skinner, and CB Michael Hunter.

RB Paul Perkins (ribs), OC Weston Richburg (concussion), and DE Olivier Vernon (ankle) left the game with injuries and did not return.

WR Odell Beckham (finger) and DT Damon Harrison (bruised knee) were injured but later returned to the game.

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

  • Head Coach Ben McAdoo (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • RB Wayne Gallman (Video)
  • WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (Video)
  • WR Brandon Marshall (Video)
  • S Landon Collins (Video)

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Ben McAdoo will address the media by conference call Monday afternoon.

Sep 292017
 
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Game Preview: New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, October 1, 2017

THE STORYLINE:

Well, it just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead. – Miracle Max

The 2017 New York Giants aren’t all dead yet. But they are officially on life support. Lose to Tampa Bay, and Miracle Max will start rummaging through their uniforms looking for loose change.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Shane Vereen (calf – probable)
  • RB Orleans Darkwa (back – questionable)
  • OT Bobby Hart (ankle – probable)
  • OL Brett Jones (hip – questionable)
  • DE Olivier Vernon (ankle – questionable)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (ankle/wrist – questionable)
  • LB B.J. Goodson (shin – probable)
  • CB Janoris Jenkins (ankle – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
We can talk X’s and O’s, discuss personnel strengths and weaknesses, and analyze match-ups. But all of that is moot unless the New York Giants offensive coaches and players decide enough is enough, man up, and takes their frustration out on their defensive opponent. We can argue about personnel liabilities, but there is enough talent on this offense for it to not be 21st on offense in yardage and 31st in scoring. It is absolutely outrageous that the team is scoring only 12 points per game (with 24 of those points coming in the last quarter played). At least go down swinging. Get angry. Be a man.

Time has run out. The offensive coaches have to decide what the New York Giants’ offensive identity is going to be. It appears that any attempt to be “heavy handed” are fruitless with this offensive line. The Giants are DEAD LAST in rushing in the NFL. They are the only team in the League who aren’t even averaging 50 yards per game. That’s beyond pathetic. Making matters worse is that Tampa Bay is 4th in the NFL in rush defense, allowing only 72.5 yards per game. Ironically, that figure would be a season high for New York…that’s how bad the Giants running game is. But at the same time, New York has only rushed the ball 47 times in three games. Chicken or egg? Is the running game bad because of the personnel or have the coaches shown enough commitment to the run? The wiggle room is gone. They can’t afford to experiment anymore. If they are going to save their season, they need to pick and identity and sink or swim with it.

Exacerbating matters this week is the injury situation. Their most reliable back (Shane Vereen) and their most productive between-the-tackles back (Orleans Darkwa) are hurt. Neither seem to be able to stay healthy. Paul Perkins has been a major disappointment. Whether it is lack of talent, him pressing, or the guys up front, he’s barely averaging 2 yards per carry. Rookie Wayne Gallman has yet to play this year. Would the coaches dare to put the fate of their season in the hands of a rookie?

The waiving of fullback Shane Smith could be a sign that the Giants – for better or worse – are going full bore West Coast Offense finesse again. Tight end Rhett Ellison isn’t getting the snaps anticipated and his run blocking has not been as good as expected. Odell Beckham seems to be rounding back into form. Brandon Marshall finally got into the action. And Sterling Shepard broke what should have been the game-deciding play last week. Evan Engram is still green, but he’s receiving valuable playing time each week and it is only a matter of time before he explodes.

To build upon the 4th-quarter success the Giants experienced last week, New York has to cut down on the mistakes. There were too many penalties, too many turnovers, and an inability to execute in crucial situations (see both 4th-down conversion attempts). The Giants should have beaten a very good Eagles team last week and they know it.

Manning will probably have to throw the ball at least 45 times in this game. Get it into the hands of your play-makers and see what happens.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The offense has sucked. But I’m not going to let the defense off of the hook. Many anticipated that the defense would have to carry the team again this year. It was hoped that the defense might even be better than the 2016 version. That hasn’t happened. Worse, the Giants have fallen to DEAD LAST in run defense. It’s bad. They are allowing over 150 yards rushing per game. And last week, the offense gave the defense two 4th quarter leads that the defense could not hold. Yeah, yeah, yeah… the defense is on the field too much, they wore down, etc. That shouldn’t matter to very good defenses. Make a play. Get off the field. Where are the turnovers? Where are the sacks? Why is the third down defense so shoddy? This group is underachieving, and specifically Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Landon Collins, and Eli Apple. Partially due to injury, the linebackers haven’t been as good. And Darian Thompson isn’t the safety we were told he was.

Tampa can’t really run the ball either (27th in rushing) and doesn’t even try all that much (only team with fewer rushing attempts than the Giants). So the expectation (knock on wood) is that this is a good opponent for the Giants to start improving their league-worst run defense against. Obviously the strength of Tampa’s offense is their passing game (9th in the NFL). Jameis Winston is completing almost 66 percent of his passes. His TD/INT ratio is ordinary at best with three touchdowns and three interceptions. That said, he is a big, mobile quarterback with a strong arm and some very dangerous receivers in Mike Evans and former Eagle/Giants-killer DeSean Jackson. To me, the guy on the spot Eli Apple. I expected Apple to take a major step forward in 2017. Thus far, he has been a liability. The Giants coaches have been very defensive of him and he has had plenty of good coverage too (opposing teams are not racking up big yardage on the Giants – 6th in pass defense). But opposing teams are clearly targeting Apple and those 2-3 bad plays per game are killing New York. It’s not just the coverage breakdowns, but the penalties. Apple still is too grabby. And it won’t get easier with Evans and Jackson this week.

The other guys now officially under the microscope are Pierre-Paul and Vernon. They are being paid to be difference makers. Yet they aren’t making a difference. Get to the quarterback. Landon Collins hasn’t been “bad” but I had exceptionally high expectations of him based on his preseason play. In a secondary with three Pro Bowlers – Collins, Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – the Giants have NOT intercepted a pass this year. Get the ball!

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Folks love to argue talent versus coaching, but I’ve always felt special teams was that one area where coaching deficiencies are obvious. Tom Quinn seems to do just enough to keep his job but his unit rarely excels. And worse, there always seem to be a few games each year where a major breakdown loses the game. It happened against Detroit with the punt return for a TD. And last week it happened again. Is it fair to blame Quinn for Brad Wing’s shank? Perhaps not. But damn it, it always appears to be something. To be blunt, Quinn’s special teams are a MAJOR reason why the Giants are 0-3 right now.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Ben McAdoo on the Buccaneers: “Offensively, they’re led by Jameis Winston, a very aggressive and talented quarterback. The youngest player in NFL history to throw 50 touchdowns. They’re very talented on the perimeter, as talented of a group as you’ll find in this league. Defensively, they’re fast, athletic. They make messes all over the field. They do a good job with their line stunts, and their linebackers run well to the football. (Gerald) McCoy is a tremendous player at the three technique. He can wreck a game if you don’t account for him early and often. Their linebackers are a fast flow and active group. The secondary – they play very well to the front. Special teams – (Bryan) Anger is a tremendous directional punter, does a good job hanging it up there, puts it where he wants to put it. Nick Folk is a reliable kicker. He was just down the street a little bit ago and does a nice job for them.”

THE FINAL WORD

VALERIE: “Bye-bye, boys.”
MIRACLE MAX: “Have fun storming the castle.”
VALERIE (to Max): “Think it’ll work?”
MIRACLE MAX: “It would take a miracle.”

Nov 112015
 
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Ron Swanson

New York Giants 32 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 18

Overview

It’s said that possession is 9/10ths of the law, something Tom Coughlin and his charges clearly believed in on Sunday afternoon in Tampa Bay. Despite being out-gained 385 to 327, the Boys in Blue held serve for 34:55 and won the turnover battle 3-2 en route to an odd victory over the horribly-clad Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Fashion critique aside (as I pen this, I’m clad a taco-stained t-shirt and gym pants that have never seen the inside of an actual gym), the Bucs kept the afternoon interesting with big plays, dropped passes and ultimately a desperation-heave-turned-Giants-touchdown to seal the win. Bucs WR Mike Evans tried to be a WR, then a QB on the game’s final play, but in the words of the immortal Ron Swanson, “Never half ass two things, whole ass one thing.” With that said, you have my whole ass for this week’s recap.

Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (November 8, 2015)

Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

It’s not how you start but how you finish and the Giants started horribly, tossing the ball back to the Bucs at their own 13-yard line just 9 seconds into the game. Buoyed by the return of digitally-challenged DE Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants’ defense went from gossamer to at least cheese cloth this week, and held the Bucs out of the end zone despite the short field. The teams then traded field goals until a Rueben Randle from Eli Manning pass put the G-Men up 10-6. Then the Bucs began to simply self-destruct like an Imperial Probe Droid, fumbling on their next possession to hand the Giants an easy 28-yard field and a 17-6 lead. After a few more boring field goals (seriously I hate them and I don’t know why), the Giants led 20-12 until Captain Irresponsible, Jameis Winston, showed off his athletic ability on a 10-yard TD run to cut the margin to 2.

Two more boring, rainy wet field goals pushed the visitors ahead 26-18, still one a one possession game but with 18 seconds and no timeouts, the Bucs turned to desperation and trickeration when Winston hit \Evans on a short pass which Evans then heaved backwards to G Logan Mankins who…well he’s a guard, he didn’t catch it…Trevin Wade swooped in for the scoop-and-score and the Jints were just above .500 again, sitting at 5-4 alone in first place in the hideous NFC East. For Mankins, it must pain him to see the Giants after Justin Tuck used him like an old hanky in the Super Bowl and he clumsily coughed up a game-sealing TD years later.

Quarterbacks

After peppering the Saints with 6 TDS, Eli’s follow up game started horribly. Manning’s first pass hit Odell Beckham Jr. in the hands, albeit a tad behind him, and the ensuing deflection was picked off by DB Sterling Moore. Eli came right back and led the team down the field for a tying field goal, going 4-of-7, rhythmically firing to Randle, Beckham and Vereen. Eli came back on the next drive going a perfect 7-of-7 for 46 yards and a TD to Randle, as he stepped up into a clean pocket and delivered a strike to one of his former LSU pass catchers. Eli came right back on the Giants next drive, firing another dart to RB Shane Vereen for his second TD and a 17-6 lead. Manning did throw an untimely pick as the Giants were driving up 20-12, which led to Odell’s heinous assault on Harry Carson’s favorite prop. Manning was pressured a little more in the second half, but the Alterraun Verner interception aside, he was able to lead his team on two FG drives and ended with a modest 213 yards on 26-of-40 passing. Most importantly though, Manning directed the offense efficiently and got his team into position to score 6 times and hold the ball for over 35 minutes.

Andre Williams, New York Giants (November 8, 2015)

Andre Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Running Backs

Clearly Andre Williams has taken umbrage with my criticism, so you’re welcome Andre. The Poughkeepsie native bulled his way to 30 yards on 7 carries, nothing big but his 4.3ypc average is a huge improvement over the 2.7 ypc average he dragged Sisyphus-style into this game. Shane Vereen catches the ball out of the backfield as cleanly as any RB this team may have ever had. Vereen doesn’t break stride, catches cleanly, tucks and runs with no loss of speed or balance. Vereen struggled on the ground with only 14 yards on 6 carries but his 29 yards and TD receiving added a needed dimension to the Giants’ ball control attack. Rashad Jennings got the heavy work load on the ground, carrying 13 times for a modest 3.7 ypc average and 48 total yards, but the grinding of the ground game played a huge role in a contest where the heat and humidity were high and possession was crucial.

Wide Receivers

Gatorade bucket assaults aside, Odell Beckham Jr. came to play on Sunday but had a very up and down afternoon. The 2nd-year phenom pulled down 105 yards on 9 grabs and was visibly irate after being somewhat responsible for both of Manning’s picks. After having his route jumped by CB Alterraun Verner, Beckham slapped a bear hug on Verner and rode him a few yards before suplexing him to the ground in disgust. OBJ dropped another easy pass from Manning on the Giants second drive, but followed that up with a long reception and drew an unnecessary roughness against LB Lavonte David after the play. Rueben Randle seemed to just sit 12 yards down the field on the left and catch the ball, wonky hamstring and all. Randle finished with 40 yards on 5 grabs and pulled in one of Manning’s two TD passes. Dwayne Harris victimized David again on a crossing route as the former Husker LB decided to drop Harris about 12 yards downfield on a crossing route, but only netted one yard on one catch on the afternoon.

Tight Ends

What was once Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells is now Will Tye and Jerome Cunningham. Tye had a chance for early glory with a well-run seam route that was just knocked down in the end zone. Tye finished with 2 catches for 19 yards and was serviceable blocking in-line. New TE call-up Jerome Cunningham pitched in with 2 catches and 10 yards, one of them coming on a 3rd-and-3 on the Giants’ second TD drive of the game.

Offensive Line

Another clean sheet for the big dudes, but it wasn’t always pretty. Pretty though isn’t this team’s blueprint but tough certainly is. The big guys paved the way for 114 yards on the ground and once again C Weston Richburg was outstanding, consistently thwarting inside pressure while handling line calls from his play-changing QB. It’s not talked about, but Manning’s ability to step up into a clean pocket to deliver downfield is Richburg’s responsibility and the second-year pivot did it nearly perfectly on Sunday. LT Ereck Flowers was called for a hold that wiped out Vereen’s long run but replay after replay showed nothing. RT Marshall Newhouse played his best game in blue, and LG Justin Pugh was his usual active, pulling self, helping the inside run game to its ball controlling afternoon.

Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (November 8, 2015)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Defensive Line

After a bye-week-quality outing in New Orleans, the Giants’ DL was lively on Sunday with the return of oven-mitted DE Jason Pierre-Paul. JPP made an impact early, extending his arms and jolting LT Donovan Smith to hold the edge and stop the Bucs cold on the home team’s first drive. Pierre-Paul got close to Winston on several plays, and hustled on every snap. His presence will be a much-needed jolt after the pass rush’s disappearance thus far in 2015. DT Johnathan Hankins ripped the ball out Doug Martin’s hand as the 2nd quarter opened but tore his pectoral in the process, landing the big run-stuffer on season-ending IR. Cullen Jenkins had the wack of the day on WR Mike Evans after he bounced off of DRC, just planting the 6-5 former Aggie into the turf. DE Damontre Moore was able to do his usual thing, show up for a play and commit a stupid penalty.

Linebackers

Criticize a guy, and he proves you wrong (Donald Trump will never send me a million dollars, the selfish jerkface). It happened with new Giant LB Jasper Brinkley. Brinkley played much faster than he did in the Bayou, leading the team in tackles. Brinkley shot inside to drop RB Doug Martin for a one-yard loss, and two plays later pounced on a Martin fumble to give the Giants possession deep in Bucs’ territory. Brinkley was aggressive and powerful inside, providing some much needed pop in the center of the defense. Devon Kennard seems to be over his injury woes, chipping in with 6 stops and continually forcing the issue in the running game. Jonathan Casillas was again doing everything on Sunday, covering down field and helping in the running game, but again not many big plays. Overall a steady day for the former Patriot who collected 6 stops.

Defensive Backs

Trevin Wade turned in his best day as a Giant on Sunday, blanketing WR Mike Evans on the Bucs’ first possession to hold Tampa Bay to a FG after starting their drive on the Giants’ 13-yard line and finishing the game with a scoop-and-score after Evans heaved the rock to G Logan Mankins. Wade also managed to recover a fumble early in the 2nd half after a Charles Sims fumble that bounced down the field like a spastic chicken. Clearly Wade can now catch greased lightning, but it will be some time before he eats lightning and craps thunder and becomes a greasy-fast Eyetalian (sp) tank. Wade then showed off his greasy-fastness by running down RB Charles Sims on the heels of a 59-yard jaunt. S Landon Collins flat out missed on Mike Evans 68-yard catch-and-run in the first quarter. Teams are starting to exploit the rookie S down the field. S Brandon Meriweather was a victim of an awful personal foul midway through the 2nd quarter, launching his 197lbs into 307lb center Joe Hawley. Meriweather’s reputation may have elicited the flag because it was neither late nor unnecessary from where I sit. Number 22 also appeared to briefly kill DE Robert Ayers as the two combined to bring down RB Charles Sims, and chipped in with a 3rd-down stop on Jameis Winston to force a Bucs’ FG try. DRC was at it again, popping WR Mike Evans and being right on top of the big receiver on two of Evans’ many drops. Call it what you want, but DRC’s shot early in the game may have contributed to Evans’ inability to hang on when #41 was lurking nearby.

Brad Wing and Josh Brown, New York Giants (November 8, 2015)

Brad Wing and Josh Brown – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Special Teams

K Josh Brown was perfect on field goals, going 4-for-4 and hitting both of his extra points. Brown has not missed in 23 FG attempts. P Brad Wing only had one punt but it was a 64-yard bomb, and the coverage units were again solid, surrendering only 88 total return yards. Dwayne Harris picked up 54 yards on 2 kick returns to round out a solid but not very notable day for the specials.

Coaching

Ben McAdoo’s offense was clicking down the field for the most of game, and his plan to attack the edges and soft spots in the cover 2 (slant and deep seam areas) with his array of pass catchers was enough to propel his offense to a nearly 10-minute edge in time of possession and a performance that was enough to keep the Bucs off balance all day. Without a great running attack, McAdoo is utilizing short passes to Shane Vereen on the edges like short runs and they are keeping defenses honest and mostly unable to double any WR downfield for too long. McAdoo, in true West Coast offense style, is stretching the field horizontally first, then attacking downfield. Credit McAdoo as well for integrating Will Tye and Jerome Cunningham into the game plan after losing his top two TEs.

Steve Spagnuolo’s charges were humbled a week ago, lost their best DT as the 2nd quarter opened and inserted the 3rd MLB of the year into the starting lineup. Sprinkle in some JPP and a breakout-game from his new Mike LB and the defense was back on its feet. Of note throughout the game was JPP at RDE, but in plenty of those sets he was lined up as a rush LB in a hybrid 3-4 front which created favorable match-ups for the talented DE. The defense was again like a neutered dog (sackless). But there was more pressure and few near-misses from Pierre-Paul, that with a few more games under his belt should result in some much-needed QB heat as this team heads into the 2nd half of the season.

How good is Weston Richburg? Sure it’s a 5-yard run. But after double-teaming DT Gerald McCoy with LG Geoff Schwartz for a 9-yard gain on the previous play, Richburg then gets singled up on DT Akeem Spence and it does not go well for the 307 lb DT. Most of the Giants’ rushing yards came inside, and it was the play of Richburg that created most of those opportunities.

richburg1Notice where Spence starts the play, and where he ends up 4 frames later.

Richburg2At the snap, notice that everyone is still in their stance and Richburg is already engaged with DT Akeem Spence, moving his feet to get position on the 307 lbs run-stuffer.

richburg3With LG Justin Pugh pulling, and Schwartz and Newhouse double-teaming DT Gerald McCoy, Richburg already has Spence 3 yards in the backfield and turned out of the hole with outstanding footwork, hand placement and power.

richburg4Darkwa follows Pugh outside of McCoy, but the size of the hole Richburg creates causes LB Lavonte David to hesitate in pursuit instead of abandoning his run fit now that Spence is completely blocked into the backfield and turned completely around. The lower circle shows where Spence started and you can see where Richburg took him, impressive power and technique from the 2nd year center.

NFLW (NFL for Women)

For one week only, the NFL for Women is back. The Joey family dinner coincided with the Giants 4PM start and my quasi-Giants fan sister caught a glimpse of JPP’s oven mitt being wrapped mummy style on the sideline.

Sister: “What happened to his hand?”

Me: “That’s JPP, he blew off 1.5 fingers shooting off fireworks like an idiot”

Sister: “How can he play like that? What does he play?”

Me: “Defensive End, how do you not know this??”

Sister: “Oh you don’t need no hands for defense.”…Yes my sister was born in New Jersey like all of us siblings but the time spent living in Kentucky and Virginia (and possibly a little vino but that’s just hearsay and rumor as she emphatically reminded me) seems to have dulled her grammatical edge. As for possibly imbibing during the game and forgetting who JPP was, I will again invoke my fictional hero Ron Swanson. “Son, there is no wrong way to consume alcohol.”

Cram it in your Cramhole Award

This week’s award goes to almost all of us Giant fans for the silly conjecture and wild speculation after JPP’s hand-altering Independence Day mishap. People from BBI far and wide wanted him cut, wondered why he wasn’t talking to anyone after the Giants dispatched Jessie Armstead and Ronnie Barnes to evaluate the wreckage, and generally wrung our collective hands for months on end about what would become of our Pro Bowl end. It was only one week, but JPP playing with kitchen wear on his damaged mitt, was about as good as one could have expected given his injury and time away from the team. If I knew JPP, and he knew of our illustrious award, I’m sure he’d tell us all to cram it in our cramholes, and I think I speak (or type) for everyone when I say I’m happy to cram this one.

(New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, November 8, 2015)