James Bradberry – © USA TODAY Sports
New York Giants 20 – Washington Football Team 19
Since the 2017 season, the Washington Football Team and New York Giants have hung out together at the bottom of the NFC East standings. They’ve both undergone coaching and front office regime changes, they both drafted a new first-round quarterback in 2019, and they both rank in the bottom 3 among all offenses in the league. The similarities go on, but the point is these two historic franchises have been the bottom feeders of the NFC East for quite some time now and 2020 appears to be no different.
Kyle Allen, who played under Head Coach Ron Rivera and Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner in 2019 in Carolina, started under center for the second week in a row. Dwayne Haskins was benched, as rumors are now surfacing he has not been putting in the time to learn the scheme on his own. Since he was demoted, Haskins has apparently been coping with a non-Covid 19 sickness, keeping him away from the team at all costs. Now there are trade rumors circulating among people I trust.
On to the game, though. Allen led WAS on a 12-play drive that put them in field goal range. Kicker Dustin Hopkins, whom has never missed a field goal attempt against NYG in his 14 tries dating back to 2015, missed the 47-yarder. This gave NYG the initial field position advantage and it took them just one play to pass midfield. They gained 50 combined yards on their first 5 plays, putting them in the red zone. From there, two of their next three plays combined for -7 yards and it made the home team settle on a Graham Gano 33-yard field goal.
Momentum remained on the NYG side, as Allen threw an interception to James Bradberry on the second play of the next drive, giving NYG the ball at the WAS 27-yard line. Three plays later Daniel Jones hit Darius Slayton on a beautifully-thrown ball in the end zone for the game’s first touchdown. NYG was up 10-0 as the first quarter expired. It was the second game in a row NYG had a double-digit lead in the first quarter.
Both WAS and NYG got into the red zone on their next respective drives but couldn’t punch it in. They traded field goals to make the score 13-3. WAS then went on its second longest drive of the day, 13 plays, that netted 70 total yards. NYG had them stopped but a running into the kicker penalty on their punt from midfield encouraged River Boat Ron to opt for a 4th-and-4 attempt. They converted and 5 plays later Allen found tight end and former Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas for a 5-yard touchdown. That was the end of the half and NYG held a 13-10 lead. This was the first lead NYG had at halftime since they faced WAS on December 22, 2019. Teams that have a lead at halftime win 80% of the time.
The two teams traded scoreless possessions to begin the 3rd quarter. On the Giants second drive, their offense was really clicking. They made it 73 yards via 14 plays, 9 of which were handoffs to Devonta Freeman. They were spreading the ball out, using misdirection, and the offensive line was controlling a very solid WAS defensive front. On 1st-and-goal from the WAS 7-yard line, Jones was pressured by 2020 #2 overall pick Chase Young. He couldn’t step into his throw as he tried to get it out and beyond the end zone on a throw-away attempt. Kendall Fuller intercepted the pass. Rather than NYG putting 7 more points on the board, they came away with 0. Three possessions in the red zone and they had just 6 points to show for it.
WAS began the fourth quarter with another long drive, this one being 14 plays long. The bend-don’t-break NYG defense allowed them to march down the field little by little and all the way to the 10-yard line. But they were able to stop them on third down, a rarity in this game, to hold them to 3 points. It was tied up at 13 and NYG and was searching for a big play. Their offense just wasn’t able to put things together well enough after their quick 10 points to start off the game. Jones had a couple of bad throws that led to a punt and all of the sudden WAS had the ball in their hands with the game tied.
As they breached midfield, the Giants defense sent an aggressive blitz on 3rd-and-9. Kyler Fackrell got to Allen and jarred the ball loose. Rookie linebacker Tae Crowder scooped it up and scampered into the end zone. The big play this team was in desperate need of came from the unlikeliest of sources and NYG had the commanding 7-point lead with just over 3 minutes left.
WAS then took the ball and continued to chip away at the Giants defense steadily but with assurance. They gained yards on 6 straight plays, which put them at the NYG 22-yard line with 0:46 on the clock. Allen then hit Cam Sims on a nicely thrown ball up the left sideline over the hands of Logan Ryan for the touchdown. They were an extra point away from a tie with 0:36 left. River Boat Ron quickly decided to use their momentum and go for 2. All or nothing. Win or lose. No ties, no overtime. Allen took the snap and too-quickly evaded the pocket, cutting the field in half for the NYG defense. His targets were vastly outnumbered and with an angry Dexter Lawrence closing in, he aimlessly chucked it into the end zone with nobody near it. NYG took the ball back after the onside kick recovery by Ryan and that was it.
NYG wins 20-19.
-Daniel Jones: 12-19 / 112 yards / 1 TD – 1 INT
Jones also added 74 yards on the ground via 7 carries, including a long of 49 on a designed run. It is a rarity to see a team run the ball more than pass, but that is exactly what happened in this one. His 19 attempts were the fewest of his career over his 18 starts. In fact, he had never attempted less than 31 passes in a game prior to this. The last time NYG threw the ball under 20 times was 2018 in a 38-35 win over TB. Jones started the game off nice and clean. He was 11-for-13 but after Darius Slayton went down, he finished 1-for-6 and an interception. The interception was a costly one. Had NYG not won, this would have been the focal point. You can’t throw an interception on 1st-and-goal from the 7-yard line in a tight game. One can make the argument it “wasn’t his fault” yet again because he got pressured, but from my eyes, he needs to be quicker with the decision when you know the blocking scheme is going to put a tight end on Chase Young. Jones played well enough to win, he looked outstanding on the ground, and he played tough.
-Devonta Freeman: 18 att / 61 yards and 1 rec / -4 yards
No other running back carried the ball so it is safe to say Freeman is now the “Bell-Cow” on this team for the rest of the year unless someone trades for him. Freeman is showing his old-school, aggressive downhill style that we saw when he was with Atlanta. He gets north in a hurry and can show the occasional jump cut that makes defenders miss. His blocking has also been very good. Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman were on the field for a combined 13 plays and they touched the ball a combined one time.
-Darius Slayton: 2 rec / 41 yards / 1 TD
-Good to see Slayton make a couple of big plays, the standout being a 23-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He aggravated an ankle injury on that play but was able to jog off the field. Later on, he went down again and didn’t get back up until the NYG medical staff came out to assist him. At the time of this writing, my guess is he may miss some time. It is pretty easy to see this offense without him out there, in particular the passing game, really struggles. No other wide receiver scares the opposition half as much as he does.
-Golden Tate had a catch for 11 yards and C.J. Board brought one in for 8 yards. Austin Mack caught his first career ball for 1 yard, and that was it for the NYG receivers. One cannot expect a lot of production in a game where they throw the ball 19 times but the issue remains, this group of receivers may be one of the worst 5 in the league. And that is being kind. Sterling Shepard likely won’t return until November.
*Board was taken off the field on a stretcher with a concussion and was released from the hospital Monday.
-Evan Engram was targeted just 3 times. He caught 2 of them for 30 yards. He was covered pretty well by the WAS defense. From my perspective, it looked like he was the focal point of their pass defense. He saw a lot of bracket coverage. I expect teams to replicate that coming up. The Giants seemed to keep him off the field on running plays more than what we have seen this year.
-Kaden Smith led the team with 3 catches. They combined for just 15 yards. Smith was brought here for his blocking prowess and he really has done a poor job there. He allowed a pressure that led to the WAS interception and he allowed a TFL.
-The story of the day was Andrew Thomas being benched for being late to a team meeting. A one-time occurrence isn’t anything to freak out about. All signs have pointed toward Thomas being a good kid who has maturity beyond his years. With that said, extra eyes are on him now. He allowed 1 TFL and 1 pressure. Overall his performance on the field, which was about 50% of the snaps, was average. He got good push in the run game and he was really hustling down the field. His pass protection sets still look inconsistent, however.
-As much as that may have frustrated some, the good news is that rookie 3rd ounder Matt Peart stepped in as the starter at left tackle. He played about half of the game and looked really solid. More on the comparison between Thomas and him below in my closing thoughts but tp be blunt, he proved he should be starting on this line. I predicted mid-season would be that starting point. It may be sooner.
-Cameron Fleming allowed a TFL, sack, and pressure. He was the weak point in this one and continues to be someone we would much rather see as the swing tackle, not a starter. He doesn’t adjust well, he doesn’t recover well.
-Kevin Zeitler and Will Hernandez were up and down. Zeitler allowed 2 TFLs and Hernandez allowed 1 in addition to a pressure. I’ve said this a few times but as long as I keep seeing it, it will keep showing up in the review. Apologies if it seems repetitive: Zeitler looks close to being done. No knee bend, no sustaining with his hands, too many recovery steps to keep himself upright.
-Nick Gates at center is growing on me. He is the one offensive lineman who is getting better each week and that is really important. Do I think he is the answer long term? Not yet. But when you have a guy who proves himself at multiple positions over multiple years, that is huge for the long-term planning and spending. His growth has been a big reason why this NYG running game actually looks pro-caliber after a few nightmarish weeks.
-The first game without Lorenzo Carter went as expected. Nobody stepped up. Markus Golden was on the field for 24 plays. He broke up a pass and hit the quarterback one time. He was single-teamed on nearly every one of his pass rush attempts and didn’t make a sound.
-Rookies Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin were on the field for 5 and 3 plays, respectively. It is hard to get a true evaluation with so little action but Brown’s tool set, as expected, stands out. I think we are going to see a lot of him over the second half of the season.
-Because NYG is so deep at this spot, they can somewhat afford to get away with keeping pure edge guys out of the game plan. Dalvin Tomlinson was all over the field. He finished with 8 tackles, 1 TFL, and a pressure. It isn’t common to see a guy in the middle get involved in so much action, especially one who sees so many double teams against the run. Really solid gamer for him.
-Leonard Williams also had an impressive game with a little but more visible impact. He had 5 tackles, a sack, and 1 pressure. There is some hit-and-miss in his game against the run, which is something I have noticed frequently this year. That may be scheme based, as they send him on a lot of slants post-snap. It can cause him to get ridden out into space, creating big lanes that NYG doesn’t have the linebackers to fill outside of Blake Martinez.
-Dexter Lawrence had 3 tackles and a pressure. Not much to say about him besides the fact he is continuing to show reliability against the run and an occasional flash of athleticism as a pass rusher. B.J. Hill added a pressure and seems to be getting more and more playing time. That may be part of their plan to help offset the pass rush woes coming from the outside.
-Kyler Fackrell is really hitting his stride with the club. He was on the field for every snap, moving all over the place schematically. He had 3 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble that led to a touchdown, and 3 pressures. He was their top pass rusher, as they sent him from all angles. He is a physical, hard-nosed enforcer. That mentality did net a personal foul penalty on a blow to the head of Logan Thomas, but I like what he brings to the table.
-Blake Martinez led the team with 14 tackles while adding a pressure. It looks like the spot next to him may be filled for good. Tae Crowder added 10 tackles and a fumble recovery that he brought all the way back for a touchdown. David Mayo returned from IR and Crowder out-snapped him 62-11. He brings a different level of speed and twitch and he should evolve into a better player in the coming weeks. This is his job for the taking and if he keeps playing like this while cleaning up space-tackling issues (2 misses), Mayo will be the backup.
-This is the best LB core we have had in awhile. Props to the front office, gotta give Gettleman credit where it is due.
-James Bradberry and Ryan Lewis played a fantastic duo game at cornerback. Each had 3 tackles with Bradberry bringing in an interception. He nearly had a second one, but he landed out of bounds with the ball. Lewis added a nice pass break up and was excellent in downfield coverage. These two really controlled the outside passing lanes.
-Logan Ryan had a really up and down game. He had a bad missed tackle, a really big-time pass break up in the end zone, and then gave up the WAS touchdown that nearly tied it up. Overall, he remains a key cog and leader of this defense but there are occasional plays that leave me wondering if there were concentration and discipline issues that led to him not being signed in free agency until really late. His versatility does help a lot, however. When a safety goes down, he steps in. When a corner goes down, he steps in. He had 8 tackles and a sack in addition.
-Darnay Holmes only played 3 snaps before injuring his shoulder/neck area. At the time of this writing, his status is unknown.
-Jabrill Peppers was back to a full-time snap load, as was Julian Love. Love is the one who may have saw a boost in playing time as a result of the Holmes injury. Peppers had 6 tackles including a couple of nice range-plays against the run. Love had 3 tackles and a missed tackle.
-K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 33, 20). His elite season continues.
-P Riley Dixon: 2 Punts – 35.0 avg / 34.0 net
-LB Kyler Fackrell, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, CB James Bradberry
-OG Kevin Zeitler, WR Golden Tate, EDGE Markus Golden
3 THOUGHTS ON WAS
- Funny how things work in today’s NFL both with the media and fans. After WAS beat PHI week 1, everyone and their mother claimed that WAS had arrived and they were the favorite in the division. This happens every year and it is simply laughable at this point. How come there is such a strong desire to make definitive statements about things that lack definitive information? Just a month later, WAS has benched their 2019 1st-round quarterback, they haven’t won another game, and their young up-and-coming talent is no longer up-and-coming. This WAS football stinks, plain and simple.
- The Giants need more talent on the defensive edge. That is no secret or new information, I know. One would assume that more draft resources need to be put there, but no real issue is simply solved with personnel alone. Washington has more 1st round talent along their DL than any team in the league. Chase Young (#2 overall), Montez Sweat (#26 overall), Ryan Kerrigan (#16 overall), Jonathan Allen (#17 overall), and Da’Ron Payne (#13 overall). All that talent and WAS is dead last in the league in QB knockdowns and 20th in pressure percentage. Those are all quality players, too. Not one of them can be considered a bust. It takes so much to get these NYG pass rush woes moving in the right direction, they need to get it going. One positive is that the blitzing schemes seem to be working well.
- Where does WAS stand now? 2020 will be a wash in my opinion but this NFC East will leave a lot of doors open. Is Dwayne Haskins (a product of the previous regime) really done there? What are they going to do at receiver/tight end? It seems they have an OK young guy in Terry McLaurin but continue to falter with middle/late round picks behind him. I think WAS is heading toward a 3-4 win season and will be heavily in the QB/WR market in the 2021 draft.
3 CLOSING THOUGHTS
- In regard to the two young tackles on this offense, I’m not concerned like some are. I don’t see Thomas being another Flowers; meaning he won’t falter here because of immaturity. I am actually on the other side of the boat. The play of Matt Peart further strengthened the notion I had at the start of the season. Thomas/Peart are likely the long-term future at the tackle spots and that will be a very good thing. The difference between the two was obvious. Thomas has more power, twitch, and sheer ability. Peart does a much better job at staying within himself and trusting his technique. Both are big and powerful but playing tackle in this league is so hard. They will need this season to take their lumps, but I feel good about what they have here in regard to the long-term future. And the tackle positions, economically, are very expensive. If they can get away with quality play with these guys on a rookie deal while their QB is on a rookie deal, watch out in free agency in the coming year or two or three.
- I am really looking forward to the game against PHI coming up. It is going to be a very telling game for a couple reasons. One, how does the Joe Judge regime of NYG football respond to a win? The best teams become hungrier. They got the taste of a win and it makes them want it more. They lost 5 games and that can weigh on you throughout a week. All of the sudden, with a win, the energy in the building is different. Confidence in sports means more than most people understand. The second thing I am looking forward to is watching this regime on short rest. NYG has struggled in that department for years and I strongly believe this is where coaching means a ton. The best teams in the league have done well on short rest. Huge test for Judge in a very winnable game.
- Did anyone catch how happy the NYG players were for Joe Judge when Daniel Jones gave him the ball in the locker room after his first win? That wasn’t fake. These players love Judge and respect him and play hard for him. I don’t think I’ve seen this much spirited play since Tom Coughlin was here. And the genuine excitement these guys had for Judge was telling. They talked about culture change, as does pretty much every head coach when at the introductory press conference, but very few put that into practice.