Jan 112022
 
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Jake Fromm, New York Giants (January 9, 2022)

Jake Fromm – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

In a year where the NFL opted to add a week to the regular season and one more game to every team’s schedule, NYG just happened to go through arguably the worst season of its long history. What has seemed like a painfully-long 4+ months finally had an end in sight, as NYG matched up against division-rival Washington in front of a home crowd that appeared smaller and less interested than a preseason game. Washington, entering the game 6-10 in Year 2 of the Ron Rivera regime, had lost 4 straight and was without several key defenders. It was one of a handful of games around the league that had zero impact on the playoff picture but could move the needle a bit when it came to the 2022 NFL Draft order.

The opening drive resulted in an easy 3 points for WAS as they marched right down the field with minimal resistance from the NYG defense. Quarterback Jake Fromm marched out under center, receiving another shot at the job after Mike Glennon missed the game with a wrist injury. The opening NYG offensive drive resulted in a couple first downs as they approached field goal range. Rather than taking the points via the foot of Graham Gano, they opted for a jet sweep to Alex Bachman on 4th-and-1. He was tackled for a 3-yard loss as somebody forgot to block the one defender who had the first shot at blowing up the play. Turnover on downs.

The rest of the first half included four 3-and-outs by the NYG offense and uneventful drives by WAS. The standout play, however, was an ideal summary to what this NYG offense and team overall have become. NYG was backed up inside their own 5-yard line with 5:42 left in the half. Fromm missed fullback Elijhaa Penny with a poor throw before Penny was flagged for a false start. They were now on their own 2-yard line, 2nd-and-11. Judge made the call to QB sneak it two straight plays. It was an obvious decision as well, as the formation told everyone with half a brain what was coming. I have never seen this before especially for a team that had nothing to lose.

WAS added 3 more points as they maintained a solid grip on the field position battle and were up 6-0 at halftime. NYG had 48 yards on 22 plays against a bottom-third defense that was missing half of its starting lineup.

NYG began the second half with the ball and gained a first down on a Devontae Booker run. Perhaps they figured something out during the break? Booker was then tackled for a 2-yard loss before 2 straight incompletions by Fromm. Another punt. After forcing a stop once WAS was approaching field goal range, NYG got the ball back on their own 14-yard line, still down 6. The drive was over on the fourth play, as Fromm was intercepted by cornerback Bobby McCain who returned it 30 yards for the game’s first touchdown. The 2-point conversion attempt failed, and the WAS lead was at 12.

The 3rd quarter came to a close as the NYG drive stretched to 14 plays and included two conversions on 4th down, two on 3rd. All stemmed from the arm or legs of Jake Fromm. On 3rd-and-7 from the WAS 22-yard line, he hit Darius Slayton (yes he is still on the team) for a touchdown. They were within 5 against an offense that had yet to put the ball in the end zone themselves. That lasted one drive, as Antonio Gibson who rushed for a career-high 146 yards on the day, ran one in for a 1-yard touchdown.

Fromm was sacked on the very first play of the ensuing drive and lost a fumble, putting WAS in superb field position yet again. That resulted in a 23-yard field goal to put the game at 22-7 as every NYG fan, what was left of them, watched the clock waiting for it to read 0:00 with more intent than Times Square on New Year’s Eve waiting for the ball to drop.

The two teams traded uneventful possessions as NYG had the ball for the final time of this dismal season. Fromm, right on cue, ended that drive with an interception into the hands of McCain for the second time.

NYG loses 22-7.

QUARTERBACK

-Jake Fromm: 15/31 – 103 yards / 1 TD – 2 INT / 40.1 RAT

Over the team’s final 4 games, Fromm’s 40.1 RAT was the best out of a starting quarterback on this team. Yes, you read that right. He did add 53 yards on the ground, which was more than the Barkley-Booker duo. His accuracy on the easy underneath throws was poor and his arm talent simply isn’t good enough for anything downfield on a consistent basis. The question will eventually be asked, should Fromm be in the fold for a backup job next year? Personally, I saw enough. He isn’t a pro quarterback. There is no physical upside. Unless he is a top-notch presence in meetings and on the practice field, I’ll pass.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley ran for 30 yards on 11 carries and caught 3 of 4 targets for 19 yards. He finishes the season with 856 total yards (4.2 per touch), 4 touchdowns, and 2 fumbles in 13 games (12, really). Such a far cry from his 2,028 yards (5.8 per), 15 touchdown, 0-fumble rookie season in 2018. Is there anything positive to take from this season regarding Barkley coming from someone that wanted him back in 2018? To be short, no. His best rushing performances did come on the back of the season, but I still see far too much hesitation and a lack of consistent burst out of his cuts. I don’t see a real trade market for him, thus we will see #26 in 2022 if I had to guess right now. We won’t ever know what he is until the group up front gets fixed and even if the team uses top the 10 picks on linemen, there is no guarantee it will make a major difference right away. Rookie offensive linemen are generally very inconsistent.

-Devontae Booker ran for 14 yards on 8 carries and caught both of his targets for 12 yards. If nothing else, the 6-year veteran was always there for this team. He didn’t miss a game and was the back who made the most of his opportunities. He didn’t fumble once on 185 touches, something we would be very happy about had this team been a contender. His 861 yards were the highest of his career since his rookie season where he started 6 games (played in all 16) for DEN. Booker’s cap hit is $3 million in 2022. Should he be brought back or should NYG take the $1 million cap hit and cut him loose? I think Barkley will not be in the long-term vision of the new regime, thus I would love for them to use a mid-round pick on a new back with fresh legs. Let him and Barkley man the backfield in 2022, cut Booker loose and use the money elsewhere.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Kenny Golladay’s horrid season after signing his $72 million deal isn’t getting enough attention. There are bigger issues with this franchise, but this is a contract that may rival the Nate Solder one that was signed in 2018. Currently he has one of the biggest 7 contracts in the league at wide receiver and is coming off a year with 0 touchdowns, just over 2 catches per game, and a career low 14.1 yards per catch. His speed and suddenness look half of what it was in DET and I can’t say he inspired me with a ton of hope for the future. His cap hit for the next 3 years are all $21 million respectively. NYG will be feeling that one for a while.

-Darius Slayton caught 2 passes, one of which was the lone NYG score of the day. It was his second touchdown of the season, the first coming against WAS as well on September 16. The 10.3% drop percentage and lack of progress across the board since his strong rookie season should kick him to the curb this offseason and be replaced with a rookie.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram caught a pass for 4 yards and Kyle Rudolph led team with 4 catches, totaling 17 yards. This is another position where NYG may need to wipe the slate clean and start over. As my draft grades are becoming more and more clear each week, I see several potential picks here that are worth drafting as early as round 2. Engram proved he does more harm than good, and the Rudolph signing was a good idea on paper but he has a whopping $7.4 cap hit in 2022. The team could save $5 million (using it elsewhere such as the OL? DL?) by cutting him. That is a no brainer to me.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Andrew Thomas pitched a shutout and capped off an incredibly-successful sophomore season in the NFL. There are a few players on this team who can be a part of the long-term future and Thomas may be the lead guy. Not a bad place to start considering the position he plays. He is reliable on an island, made strides with his consistency, plays through pain, and shows up to work every day.

-NYG was torched inside and even though I think NYG will likely go OT with one of their first 3 picks, I think the biggest issue are the 2 guard spots and center. They can’t get a push at all, they’re terrible in pass protection, and there is no hope for the future with anyone on the roster. Ben Bredeson relieved Will Hernandez, who went down with an ankle injury. He received the lowest grade on the line, allowing 3 pressures and a half-sack. He was also flagged for a hold, but it was declined. Matt Skura moved back to guard, as Billy Price returned. Price allowed 2.5 sacks, Skura allowed a TFL, and both allowed 1 pressure.

-Nate Solder played what was likely his final game in the NFL, most certainly last as a Giant. He was flagged for illegally being downfield but was pretty quiet otherwise. He finished with an above average grade for just the 3rd time this season.

-Korey Cunningham and Wes Martin saw time as extra blockers in this high school-caliber offense. We even saw Cunningham running routes asking for the ball like we saw kids in recess do back in the day.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Dexter Lawrence summed up his season perfectly in this game. He finished with 5 tackles, 1 TFL, and 2 pressures when looking at the positives. The negatives don’t show up on the traditional stat sheet. He was the guiltiest culprit, or at least tied with Jaylon Smith, for WAS running back Antonio Gibson going crazy on the ground. Several runs went right by him, as he was late to reach his points and didn’t disengage well enough. He is such an up-and-down presence who struggles to play the lateral game.

-Leonard Williams had a sack and a pressure. Again, credit to him for finishing the year while playing with what I have heard is a very painful elbow injury. This kid is here for the long term and remains one of the top-5 defensive tackles in the game. I do wish he offered more against the run, however. Because of his lack of stoutness, the players around him need to specialize in that department. Another reason why I’m not confident Lawrence is the right fit here.

LINEBACKER

-Lorenzo Carter finished the season on a hot streak that began toward the beginning of December. He was all over the field, finishing with 10 tackles (a career high) and a sack. I recorded it as a split sack with Azeez Ojulari, who finished with 3 tackles and 2 pressures, but the official scorekeeping gave it to Carter by himself. That gave him 5 sacks on the year, all of which came in the final 4 games. Carter’s margin in his movement from now to the start of the year, Defensive Coordinator’s Patrick Graham’s affirmation of respect for him, and the way he ended the year will likely get him a spot on this roster next year. The speed bump and potential roadblock there, however, is whether or not there will be a market for him in free agency. 14.5 sacks in 49 games (32 starts) doesn’t exactly spell big contract, but there is no denying his tool set and this league has a way of surprising when it comes to the pursuit of pass rushers.

-Tae Crowder led the team with 12 tackles (1 TFL) and finished the year with 130 on the year. 17 starts and ranking 15th in the league in tackles is quite impressive for a 7th round pick in his second year. Make no mistake about it, Crowder is a solid player who many teams would love to have as an inside backup. But as we have seen for most of the year, he had too many negative plays that led to the big rushing day WAS had. Moving forward, Crowder can be an accessory piece to this defense but you can’t keep his spot in the starting lineup etched in stone.

-Jaylon Smith ended with 5 tackles and a pass break up. From the broadcast angle and to the casual fan, Smith looks like a player. Part of the reason is the fact he makes a dramatic scene every time he makes a play. Focusing in on his play-to-play impact led me to a lower outlook though. He has terrible gap integrity and washes himself out of so many running plays. There is also a hitch in his step that I don’t recall seeing when he was at the top of his game.

CORNERBACK

-Adoree’ Jackson and James Bradberry both played the entire game. They were torched early on as Terry McLaurin made them look silly via route running and playing the ball in the air. They settled down a bit with WAS leading for nearly the entire game, they weren’t challenged much. These 2 will almost certainly be back for the 2022 season. Not a bad duo, but a very expensive one.

-Rookie Aaron Robinson saw just 8 snaps and didn’t impact the game much. Unfortunate rookie year for him, as he missed much of the year but there was enough for me to remain optimistic in this scheme.

SAFETY

-Logan Ryan remained one of the main contributors and leaders of the defense, playing hard through the end. He had 7 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 pressure.

-Xavier McKinney finished with 8 tackles and a pass break up, a ball he nearly intercepted but didn’t fully control when he went to the ground. His midfield-to-sideline speed shows up and the anticipation he shows is a weapon. Really impressive year for him, a season after he missed 10 games.

-Julian Love finished with 2 tackles, playing about two-thirds of the snaps. His playing time has been so back and forth this season, but he still has another year on his rookie deal, and I expect to see the same out of him next year. He brings a lot of value to the table with his versatility.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 1/1 XP.
-P Riley Dixon: 6 punts / 51.0 avg – 47.2 net

3 STUDS

-OT Andrew Thomas, OLB Lorenzo Carter, S Logan Ryan

3 DUDS

-OC Billy Price, OG Ben Bredeson, QB Jake Fromm

3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

(1) Year Two of the Ron Rivera regime looked awfully like year one. 7 wins in 2020, 7 wins 2021. The defense went backward, they’re in no-man’s land at quarterback, and they’re too far down the draft list to go after a top target in Round 1. They are strong in the trenches, but that talent pool won’t be together too much longer because of finances. Next season will be a big one for Rivera and you must think he is going to bang the table hard to be one of the teams in the QB trade market this offseason. They’re ready for it.

(2) Jamin Davis, their 1st round pick last April, opened a lot of eyes as the season progressed. We all knew about the elite tool set but at the start of the year, he looked lost mentally. His back half of the season looked completely different, and I think they can go into the offseason very confident in yet another component on their defense.

(3) Right guard Brandon Scherff is the highlight free agent of this current WAS squad. The 30-year-old is one of the top 5 or 6 guards in the league, but will he shake free? Because WAS won’t have much money wrapped into the quarterback spot, he could very easily be brought back on a long deal. They could also franchise him. If he does hit the market, expect him to be the highest paid guard in football.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) It is really hard for me to sum up this season without sounding like a jerk. I’ll try my best by focusing in on the building blocks NYG has on the roster. They appear to be set at 2 positions that are VERY hard to find. Andrew Thomas is a keeper at left tackle if that foot holds up. Hate to see such big guys deal with lower joint issues early in their career. Xavier McKinney looks to be a true centerfield threat in the middle of the defense. These guys are incredibly hard to find, there are only a few good ones in the league. And he still doesn’t have a lot of game experience yet. Lastly, Azeez Ojulari finished 4th in the league among rookies in QB hits (13) and 3rd in sacks (8). I’ve highlighted several times how much he disappeared between those big plays, but there is no denying the strong start to his career. A pass rusher, a left tackle, and a ball hawking free safety all under rookie deals for the next few years is a solid base to stand on as this rebuild moves on.

(2) NYG will have 5 of the first 80 picks in the draft, including 2 in the top 10. We have countless discussions in our future about what they should, and should not, do. I look forward to them if they remain respectful and humble. There is A LOT that will happen between now and then. I suggest everyone stay very open-minded at this moment. Anything and everything are on the table and I likely won’t marry myself to an idea or prospect until April when my final grades are dished out. I will say this to get it all started: I don’t see a QB worth pursuing in the top 10. I think it will be an interesting idea on Day 2. Nonetheless, I am under the assumption Daniel Jones will be the QB without any intra-team competition. This is barring the neck injury keeping him out for good which is still a possibility.

(3) Dave Gettleman is gone. Joe Judge appears to be safe for now. I will go on record now that the season is over saying there is no point in keeping Judge around. This team likely won’t be ready to compete until 2023 at the very earliest. He didn’t earn a thing. I would rather have the new head coach in ASAP, pair him with the new GM, and get this all-time losing culture out of the basement. Keeping Judge around may make the ownership feel loyal, warm, and fuzzy but barring an unlikely miracle of epic proportions, Judge will be out at this time next season. Why delay the inevitable? Why not let the new GM start from scratch rather than move backwards after a year? Ownership needs to do a better job of forecasting than they have over the past decade. Start with the obvious, go from there. The only scenario where I see it making sense is the ideal HC candidate simply not being there yet or NYG ownership not being prepared, which would not be a surprise to anybody. The timing on this is sensitive and there is a very small margin for error.

***Thank you for reading the reviews. See you in April when the draft previews come out.

Jan 092022
 
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New York Giants Fan (January 9, 2022)

© USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM 22 – NEW YORK GIANTS 7…
The New York Giants ended yet another dismal season on yet another dismal note. In a dreary, mostly empty MetLife Stadium, the Giants were once again pummeled by their opponent, this time the Washington Football Team, losing 22-7. The Giants lost their final six games of the season and finished with a 4-13 record, dead last in the NFC East. The Giants were 1-5 in the division, being swept by both Washington and the Dallas Cowboys.

The game was an unwatchable mess in the first half, with both teams struggling. Washington was less incompetent, beginning and ending the first half with field-goal drives that resulted in a 6-0 halftime advantage. In between those two possessions, Washington punted four times.

New York was worse. The Giants’ first possession gained 45 yards on 10 plays, but ended with a turnover on downs on a wide receiver end-around on 4th-and-1 that lost three yards. The Giants did not gain another first down for the rest of the half, punting four times.

The comical low point came late in the 2nd quarter. Facing a 2nd-and-10 at their own 3-yard line after a terrible pass from quarterback Jake Fromm, the Giants were first forced to call a timeout because they didn’t have enough men on the field. Then came a false start. Unbelievably, on 2nd-and-11 and 3rd-and-9, the Giants ran quarterback sneaks just to set up a punt and prevent disaster.

At the break, New York had only accrued 48 yards of offense (38 rushing, 10 passing) with just two first downs.

The teams exchanged punts to start the 3rd quarter. Then Washington went up 12-0 when cornerback Bobby McCain intercepted Fromm and returned the pick 30 yards for a touchdown (the 2-point conversion attempt failed).

The Giants did manage to stay in the game a little longer by finally putting together a scoring drive, moving the ball 69 yards in 14 plays, including converting on two 4th-down plays. Fromm finished the possession with a 22-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Darius Slayton, who was left uncovered on the play. Washington 12 – New York 7.

But in typical Giants’ fashion, it was now the turn of the defense to disappoint as Washington responded with an easy 8-play, 72-yard drive that extended the lead to 19-7 with just under six and a half minutes to play. Washington immediately got the ball back when an untouched Fromm fumbled the ball away out of his throwing motion. The “Football Team” recovered at the New York 12-yard line. Four plays later, Washington kicked a 23-yard field goal to make it a 22-7 game.

Both teams punted once more. The game ended on a Fromm interception at the Washington goal line.

Offensively, the Giants only gained 10 first downs and 177 total net yards (94 rushing, 83 passing). Fromm finished 15-of-31 for 103 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, and one lost fumble. His “leading” receiver was tight end Kyle Rudolph who caught four passes for 17 yards. Fromm was the leading rusher, carrying the ball five times for 53 yards. Running back Saquon Barkley was held to just 30 yards on 11 carries; running back Devontae Booker only had 14 yards on eight carries.

Defensively, the Giants only allowed 16 first downs. But Washington did gain 325 total net yards with 226 of those coming on the ground. The defense did not force a turnover.

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

ROSTER MOVES, PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
On Saturday, the Giants signed WR David Sills from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster. In addition, QB Brian Lewerke and WR Alex Bachman were activated from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster for this game. The team also re-signed QB Clayton Thorson to the Practice Squad.

Inactive for the game were QB Mike Glennon (wrist), WR Kadarius Toney (shoulder), and WR John Ross (knee).

RG Will Hernandez left the game in the first half with an ankle injury and did not return.

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

POST-GAME NOTES…
In their final four games, the Giants scored just two touchdowns on 46 offensive possessions.

The Giants passed for less than 200 net yards in each of their last nine games, their longest streak since going 12 games in a row spanning the 2004-2005 seasons.

The Giants lost their sixth consecutive game, their longest season-ending losing streak since they lost their final eight games in 2003.

2022 NEW YORK GIANTS OPPONENTS SET…
The New York Giants will face the following teams in the 2022 regular-season:

Home:

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Washington Football Team
  • Chicago Bears
  • Detroit Lions
  • Carolina Panthers
  • Houston Texans
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Baltimore Ravens

Away:

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Washington Football Team
  • Green Bay Packers
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Tennessee Titans
Jan 072022
 
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Joe Judge

THE STORYLINE:
Unless I’m reading the tea leaves incorrectly, the New York Giants appear to be screwed. While rumors run rampant from anonymous sources that “nothing has been decided” by ownership with respect to the general manager and head coaching positions, those who cover the team for a living unanimously believe that Joe Judge will return as head coach of the franchise.

Why?

I have nothing personal against the man. I want him to succeed. But he’s clearly bamboozled John Mara into believing he’s something that is not: a competent NFL head coach.

With a modicum of truth, his advocates will allege that he has been sabotaged by a poor personnel department, injuries, and Covid-related absences. “It’s not his fault! He’s not to blame!”

Bullshit. Joe Judge’s handprints have been all over this team for two years. He has been intimately involved in personnel decisions, perhaps the driving force behind many. Other teams in the NFL have had major injury and Covid-related issues to deal with but they can at least field a competitive, even playoff-caliber, product.

The Giants are averaging 15.7 points per game. More telling is that they have gotten markedly worse as the season has progressed. Since the bye week, the Giants are averaging 10.3 points per game. In the last contest, they scored three points against one of the worst teams in the NFL. In the last two years, a Joe Judge-coached football team has scored 30 points or more only once, and that was in a loss to the Cowboys where the NYG defense scored.

Last year, it was a challenge for New York to score 20 points in a game. Now, it’s a challenge to score 10. This isn’t 1931, it’s 2021. Things are not getting better. They are getting markedly worse.

All of this despite the offseason emphasis being on adding “weapons” such as WR Kenny Golladay (4-years, $72 million), TE Kyle Rudolph (2-years, $12 million), and WR Kadarius Toney (1st round). The result? These three players have ONE touchdown between them! One!

The top passing target on this team is a tight end who everyone wants gone. He “leads” the Giants with just 45 catches and three touchdowns. No wide receiver on this roster has more than one touchdown catch, in other words, the same amount of TD catches as left tackle Andrew Thomas.

Dave Gettleman may be the GM, but Joe Judge has been irrevocable in his support of Daniel Jones as the starting quarterback. He was OK with Mike Glennon as the back-up. He was OK with the state of the offensive line entering training camp. When he decided to fire Jason Garrett, he hand-picked replacement was Freddie Kitchens, who has actually been worse than Garrett. And don’t forget all of the changes he made to the offensive coaching staff in the offseason (Kitchens to senior offensive assistant, Derek Dooley coaching the TEs, two new offensive line coaches, and three more quality control coaches).

While the defensive side of the football has not been as bad, it did not get better in 2021 despite a number of free agent and draft additions that were expected to improve the unit. The Giants have fallen from 12th in yards allowed in 2020 to 20th. More damning is they have fallen from 10th in points allowed to 23rd. The failures at the end of the first half have been well documented. The pass rush has gotten worse (40 sacks in 2020 to 31 this year).

And have the special teams been noticeably different at all with special teams “guru” Joe Judge at the helm?

Joe Judge is what he is: a 10-22 head coach. His .312 winning percentage is better than Pat Shurmur’s (.281) and worse than Ben McAdoo (.464). Ray Handley won more games in two years.

So all we read now is that John Mara thinks Joe Judge is a good coach and should remain with the team another year. Some have reported what many of us have feared, that is, accepting Joe Judge as head coach of the team is a prerequisite for becoming the new general manager. Why? Where is this faith in Joe Judge coming from? It makes no sense. Nothing has gotten better and is clearly getting worse. Judge should have no political capital with this team. None.

Adding to this hot mess is that Joe Judge is beginning to go on long-winded rants defending his teetering regime. The Monday press conference after the 37-21 loss to the Chargers and the post-game press conference after the 29-3 loss to the Chicago Bears were extremely bizarre, overly-defensive, and long-winded affairs that just went on and on and on. Personally, I’ve never seen anything like it. It was almost as if Judge was trying to convince himself that he knew what he was doing. Worse, in some truly pot-calling-the-kettle-black hypocrisy, Judge took shots at Pat Shurmur and his his upcoming opponent Ron Rivera. The latter now has all the incentive in the world to humiliate Judge on Sunday.

We can see the train wreck coming, but we are helpless to prevent it. John Mara is going to keep Judge, hire a new GM mainly based on his ability to work with Judge, but then fire Judge at the end of the 2022 NFL season after the Giants finish dead last in the division again. And the Giants will be stuck with a GM who they may not have gone with had Judge not been the head coach. If John Mara can’t see this, we’re all doomed as fans of this team.

I pray that I’m wrong.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • QB Mike Glennon (wrist – out)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle)
  • FB Cullen Gillaspia (knee – questionable)
  • WR Kadarius Toney (shoulder – out)
  • WR Darius Slayton (shoulder/COVID ramp up)
  • WR John Ross (knee – out)
  • WR Collin Johnson (hamstring – questionable)
  • TE Kyle Rudolph (ankle)
  • OT Andrew Thomas (shoulder)
  • OT Korey Cunningham (COVID ramp up)
  • OG Will Hernandez (ankle – questionable)
  • DL Dexter Lawrence (personal/COVID ramp up)
  • NT Austin Johnson (foot)
  • NT Danny Shelton (COVID ramp up)
  • LB Lorenzo Carter (illness)
Sep 182021
 
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Darius Slayton, New York Giants (September 16, 2021)

Darius Slayton – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

Most fans do not watch games beyond their favorite team. They’ll watch every contest that includes the team they root for, maybe a few nationally televised matchups, and then the postseason. I bring that up because the typical Washington Football Team follower could easily be under the impression this NYG team, despite all the losses (49 of their last 67), is a team “on the rise” under their young stud franchise quarterback, Daniel Jones. After all, he entered the game 4-0 against WAS. What that typical fan may not realize, however, is Jones also entered the game 4-19 against everyone else. It was a rainy night on a short week for two teams that were torched on third down in their respective week 1 losses. Nobody wants to start the year 0-2 and everybody wants the division win. NYG has owned this matchup, winning 14 of 20 since 2012 and this version of WAS was being led by an undrafted quarterback who had two career starts in four years under his belt.

That quarterback, Taylor Heinicke, was forced into a quick 3-and-out to start the night off. Jones, who had a 100.0 career-quarterback rating against WAS, the highest among all his opponents he has played more than once, started where he left off against this defense. He led a drive with a solid blend of run and pass, mainly featuring himself in both regards, to put the early score on the board. A designed QB-draw, running behind new center Billy Price, put the away team wearing their home blues up 7-0 just 8:20 into the game. WAS responded with their second straight three-and-out in as many drives at the hands of quality NYG pass rushing from the outside.

The first “ugly” of the night appeared on the second NYG drive. First, right guard Nick Gates was rolled up on and broke his leg. It was such a gruesome injury that the telecast opted to not show the replay. The team captain shifted over to guard from center, where he had been excelling, because of the injury to Shane Lemieux, who was placed in Injured Reserve earlier in the day. On the very next play, however, the momentum was back as Saquon Barkley darted through the right side of the line, thanks to Chase Young vacating his lane, and up the sideline for a 41-yard gain. What a sight to see that was! Maybe this would be the night NYG fans have been waiting for after all.

The run brought NYG to the WAS 35. They got to 3rd-and-2 from the WAS 29 via two more running plays before calling an early timeout. And this is where the “no excuses” thought enters one’s mind. After a timeout, Jones had a really hard time lining up the offense. They were shockingly scrambling to get aligned with the play clock reaching :00 as Andrew Thomas jumped out of his stance early, getting flagged for a false start. They moved back the necessary 5 yards, just to have Jones sacked for an 8-yard loss, knocking them out of field goal range. They had WAS by the throat, they called a timeout to get on the same page, and it ended up looking like football’s version of the Bad News Bears. Just an awful, awful display of professional football.

WAS then took control via a 13-play drive where Heinicke connected with one of the most underrated receivers in football, Terry McLaurin, four times. The fourth was an 11-yard touchdown to tie the game up. Both offenses traded three-and-outs before NYG started a drive on their own 22-yard line. The lack of discipline shown by the hyped WAS edge rushers last week against LAC kept showing up in this contest as well. Jones was roasting them with read option runs and he took one 58 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown. However, a questionable holding call on receiver C.J. Board took the ball back to the WAS 22. They eventually had a 1st-and-10 from the WAS 13, thanks to a pass interference called on cornerback William Jackson III. Two poor play calls gained a total of 2 yards and the 3rd-down conversion attempt, a short pass to Sterling Shepard, came up 2 yards shy. The Giants settled for a 23-yard field goal by Graham Gano.

After being torched by Denver quarterback Teddy Bridgewater at the end of the first half in week 1, Heinicke did the same in Week 2. They couldn’t cover the likes of Adam Humphries and Logan Thomas. They couldn’t stop the likes of running back J.D. McKissic. The coverage was soft, the pass rush was non-existent, and they couldn’t come up with situational stops. The talk from coaches about specializing in situational football seems like an oxymoron when watching this team play. The drive ended in a 2-yard score by McKissic to give WAS a 14-10 lead heading into halftime.

The opening drive of the second half got off to a hot start. NYG crossed midfield in a hurry and had a 1st-and-10 from the WAS 33 following a defensive holding penalty by former Giant Landon Collins. Yes, he is still in the league but holding on by a thread. A poorly-designed outside run resulted in a loss of 6 yards and then a poorly-designed run play resulted in a gain of 2 yards. NYG was in danger of missing out on a field goal opportunity, but an 8-yard gain via a pass to Darius Slayton put them on the 29-yard line. Gano nailed a 47-yarder to make it a 1-point deficit.

WAS responded with a 3-and-out and the momentum shift was back on NYG’s side. Following a 3rd-and-13 incomplete, the refs flagged WAS corner Kendall Fuller for a pass interference. NYG took advantage of it with a…9-yard loss on…yet another poorly-designed running play. A 9-yard loss on a running play. That is really hard to do. Jones then took control of the game with surprisingly good pass blocking by the hodge-podge offensive line. He completed 3 passes in 4 attempts for a combined 64 yards, the final one being an absolute dime to Slayton for a 33-yard touchdown. NYG was up 20-14.

The rest of the game, as it entered the 4th quarter, was a constant seesaw. The next four drives resulted in both teams netting two field goals each. NYG remained ahead by 6 points with under five minutes left. A 56-yard pass to McKissic, beating Tae Crowder, and a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Seals-Jones, beating Adoree’ Jackson, put WAS ahead by 1 point. All of the sudden, NYG was trying to play catch-up once again. Their drive stalled and they were forced to punt for the first time in seven possessions. WAS started the with the ball inside their own 10, just over 3 minutes left.

After being absolutely roasted by McLaurin all night, James Bradberry came up with the game’s first turnover on a beautiful read of the route and break on the ball. NYG had the ball on the WAS 20, down 1, with just over two minutes left. The running game had one constant that worked all night. Read option with Jones keeping to the outside. They had a solid short passing game over the middle to Shepard and the tight ends. Jones was 22/31 (71%) with zero turnovers. This was his game. He was the reason NYG was in position to win and all they had to do was gain a first down, get the clock well below 2:00 while burning through WAS timeouts. Jason Garrett, who struggled with calling productive runs all night (18 carries for 27 yards on non-Jones runs other than the 41-yard gain by Barkley early on), failed again. Two obvious run calls netted just three yards. WAS stopped the clock twice and Jones threw an incomplete pass to Shepard that wouldn’t have reached the sticks anyway. Two poor running plays and a too-short pass to Shepard was the exact same three-play routine we saw in the second quarter when they were near the end zone. Remember? WAS did. Gano hit a 35-yard field goal to give NYG a 2-point lead but there were 2 minutes left on the clock and the NYG defense all of the sudden can’t stop a nosebleed.

There was never a feeling that they would come up with the big stop. Heinicke carved them up yet again, quite easily getting into field goal range. McKissic might as well been Alvin Kamara and Heinicke might as well been Tom Brady. This defense let down the entire organization and fan base, allowing them to get within field distance in a hurry. And that wasn’t even the worst part. Kicker Dustin Hopkins pushed the 48-yard attempt wide right. NYG had the 2-point win in the bag but the yellow flag was thrown on to the field. Dexter Lawrence jumped offsides, giving Hopkins a second life. He nailed it from 43 and WAS won the game. Just like that, NYG starts 0-2 for the fifth straight year and the 7th time in 8 years.

NYG loses, 30-29.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 22/32 – 249 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 102.2 RAT

Jones also added 95 yards and a touchdown on the ground. So, 344 total yards of offense and 2 touchdowns. This was easily one of the best games Jones has put on display in his short career. And he was a Slayton drop away from another 43-yard touchdown. I wouldn’t call the game flawless, as Jones still threw four woefully inaccurate balls on passes across the middle. That needs to improve because it is where the best quarterbacks to their most damage. That aside, Jones put this team on his shoulder. High level throws, gutsy running plays, 3rd-down success, and most importantly the zero turnovers kept this team in the game. Without Jones’ big game, NYG had no shot.

RUNNING BACK

-Saquon Barkley: 13 att – 57 yards / 2 rec – 12 yards

You can call this a (small) step forward for Barkley’s return. He played on short rest and not only did he play, but he was also on the field for 84% of the snaps. He also broke off a 41-yard run where that burst and speed in the open field was on display. Overall, however, it is easy to say that he’s just not fully back yet. On his other 12 carries, he had 16 yards. He looked hesitant and did not see cutback lanes. It is easy for me to say from the All-22 angle that he should be cutting into different lanes, I know. But I see other backs do it on a routine basis and it is because they run without hesitation. Barkley hesitates nearly every time he gets the ball. Is he running scared? On 2nd-and-10 from the 43-yard line in the 4th quarter (6:25 left), Barkley ran through an inside crease and simply fell to the ground. He wasn’t touched, he didn’t trip over his feet. He was anticipating contact, looked scared, and fell to the ground. He tried to save face by punching the ground a few times. He’s done that a handful, if not more, of times over the years. I am starting to turn south on him and I was one banging the table FOR NYG to draft him in 2018.

-Elijhaa Penny had 2 carries for 5 yards. He is the best short yardage back on the team and I am glad they are using him in that role as I stated last year.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Sterling Shepard paced the group again with 9 catches on 10 targets. He was back in his 10 yards-per-catch area (10.4), but a few of them were big plays. It is early in the year to say this, but with how the passing scheme looks and how well Shepard is moving, he has a good shot at finishing top 5 in the league in catches. This is the best we’ve seen out of him.

-Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton each caught 3 passes and dropped one. Slayton’s drop, however, was in the spotlight as it would have been an easy touchdown. Easy catch? Absolutely not. Should a pro receiver bring that in? Absolutely. There are negative plays each week from Slayton it seems. If John Ross gets on the field, Slayton will be the one that loses his snaps. More on Golladay and his sideline antics below. On the field, however, I’m not worried about his low production through 2 games. He will get his. WAS got away with 2 pass interference penalties on him but I expect to see a lot of that, as he is a physical receiver himself and won’t separate a lot. In addition, Golladay had a monster-block on Barkley’s 41-yard run.

TIGHT END

-A better game from the duo of Kyle Rudolph and Kaden Smith. They both came up with a tough grab each and totaled 49 yards on 4 catches. They both were much more effective in the running game with key blocks on some of the better runs Barkley had, Rudolph especially. He did allow a sack, however. I expect Evan Engram to be back for week 3 against Atlanta. He was very active on the field in pre-game warm ups and the team has some extra rest to work with.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-A very back-and-forth, up-and-down performance by the group as a whole. After watching the tape two times, I still don’t know how to best describe the performance of this group. They were very good when it mattered most, but there were a ton of negative plays. Let’s start with the move of Nick Gates to left guard after the team moved Shane Lemiuex to IR. He allowed a sack early before breaking his leg and is now out for the year. Unfortunate for him and NYG, as a strong case can be made for him being the top OL on the team. Ben Bredeson came in and played pretty well, allowing just 1 pressure.

-Billy Price got his first start since being acquired for defensive tackle B.J. Hill (who had 2 sacks for CIN week 1). Overall, it was a very poor game for the fourth-year center. While he did have a key block on the Barkley 41-yard run, he allowed a sack, a pressure, and was flagged for 2 penalties. He looked off balance as well with a couple really ugly displays of blocking even though it did not impact those particular plays.

-The tackles, Andrew Thomas and Nate Solder, both played 100% of the snaps. Matt Peart didn’t see the field on offense. Thomas allowed 2 TFL (one of which wasn’t on him), 1 pressure, and a half-sack. He was also flagged for 2 false starts. Considering who he was up against, I give Thomas another thumbs up for this game. I still want to see a cleaner record and less penalties, but he was left alone often against Chase Young and I thought he got the best of him. Solder, as expected, struggled when he was left alone. He did get a decent amount of help and when he did, he kept it together. He allowed a pressure, 1 TFL, and half-sack.

-Will Hernandez allowed a pressure and made his presence known in the running game. His footwork and lower body bend looked better as well. That said, he simply isn’t on the same level as WAS defensive linemen Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Another quiet game from this group. Dexter Lawrence wasn’t heard from most of the night until his offsides penalty. Danny Shelton added 1 tackle. He was on the field for 21% of the snaps and didn’t hold his ground the way I expected him to.

-Austin Johnson and Leonard Williams at least combined for 9 tackles and made a few plays away from the ball. They pursued well and made a couple physical plays. Williams was the only one who  put pressure on the quarterback but missed the tackle attempt on a near-sack.

EDGE

-Rookie Azeez Ojulari recorded a sack for the second straight week. He has 2 of the team’s 3 sacks so far in this young season. He was quiet thereafter and while I won’t give him a negative grade, I do want to see more snap to snap consistency and variety. He hasn’t shown any effective rush moves quite yet, although we’ve seen glimpses.

-Lorenzo Carter looked better in Week 2 than he did in Week 1, an encouraging sign knowing he missed most of last year with an Achilles’ injury. He was flagged for a neutral-zone infraction late in the game, however – a black eye on his 3-pressure, 4-tackle game. He needs to finish plays more often, as he’s been getting locked on to by pass blockers too easily.

-Oshane Ximines played nearly half the snaps and didn’t impact the game much. The more he plays, the more evident it becomes he just won’t ever turn into a quality player. He is below average across the board. He just doesn’t win against lone blockers.

LINEBACKER

-Blake Martinez led the team with 12 tackles and cut out the mistakes we saw from a week ago. Tae Crowder added 4 tackles and a pressure, but his biggest mistake resulted in the big passing play to running back J.D. McKissic in the 4th quarter. He got beat on an obvious wheel route and just couldn’t make up for it. Huge play and a huge part of the NYG collapse defensively. Reggie Ragland added 2 tackles.

CORNERBACK

-There is no sugar coating the fact James Bradberry played his worst game as a Giant. Had it not been for his interception in the 4th quarter, a fantastic, high-level play on the ball, he would have finished on the “Dud” list. Terry McLaurin dominated him from start to finish. He allowed a touchdown and was flagged twice, once for holding and once for pass interference.

-Adoree’ Jackson added 5 tackles and 2 pass defenses, but allowed the late touchdown to Ricky Seals-Jones on a play where he did a poor job of locating the ball. He also missed a tackle. His movement looks great, but his ball location looks poor. Darnay Holmes is in the same boat. His twitch and burst is so enticing and I like how hard he plays, but he is an easy target for opposing quarterbacks on 3rd down.

SAFETY

-Logan Ryan and Jabrill Peppers were back to the majority-snap roles when they had 2 safeties on the field. Ryan was solid, finishing with 7 tackles and was superb in coverage for most of the game. He is an excellent open field tackler as well. Peppers had a pressure, 6 tackles, and a pass break up. He missed one tackle.

-Julian Love played just 8 snaps. Xavier McKinney has been disappointing over the first 2 weeks. He made 3 tackles and missed 2 others. He isn’t finishing when he gets in contact with the ball carrier and he just doesn’t have the man-power behind his hits yet. His movement in deep coverage did look very good, however.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 5/5 (Made 23, 47, 52, 55, 35). He has now made 35 straight field goals.
-P Riley Dixon: 3 punts / 41.3 avg / 41.3 net

3 STUDS

-QB Daniel Jones, K Graham Gano, S Logan Ryan

3 DUDS

-OC Billy Price, CB Adoree’ Jackson, RB Saquon Barkley

THOUGHTS ON WAS

(1) What is Taylor Heinicke? Can he be a franchise quarterback? If I am WAS, this is the guy I am riding with the rest of the year. You know Fitzpatrick isn’t the long-term answer, but you can’t say the same about Heinicke. Remember, he went toe-to-toe with Tom Brady last January in the playoffs. I think he ends up being another Case Keenum type, but I love the grit he shows play-to-play, drive-to-drive. His interception late was such a killer, but he came right back and made play after play when they got the ball back. If WAS can get by with him, maybe they could end up keeping all those 1st rounders on the DL.

(2) The WAS defense looks downright scary on paper. Their defensive line is loaded with first round picks that they hit on, their corners are a top-10 pair in the league, and I think the second level will improve as rookie Jamin Davis gets more and more comfortable. What is missing? They’re vulnerable at safety and their depth is nearly non-existent. If they get even just a couple injuries (odds are that will happen), I don’t see enough talent to step up. I also think a quality passing game can exploit the safeties.

(3) WAS quietly put together a quality, impactful rookie class. I wrote about that in May. They went hard after high-end athletes on both sides of the ball. Dyami Brown and Samuel Cosmi will be starters for the rest of the year barring injury, and Brown is the one I think can be a nice player. Jamin Davis made some eye-opening plays Thursday night and Benjamin St. Juste is good enough to allow Fuller to go inside in nickel packages. In addition, undrafted free agent running back Jaret Patterson was one of the top backs I saw in preseason who doesn’t currently have a starting job.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) The tempers flaring on the sideline don’t bother me one bit. Kenny Golladay got caught on camera yelling at Jones, presumably for not getting the ball when he thought he should. Want to know what is one hundred times worse? Watching Odell Beckham laugh on the sideline as the team is getting crushed on the field. We have now seen both, and I’ll take guys that hate losing all day. Tempers are allowed to flare up every now and then, as long as it doesn’t impact their play. I don’t think it will.

(2) Is this defense bad? Was the outlook on them a little inflated after 2020? Things change in the NFL so much and even though NYG didn’t really lose any talent from the 2020 unit that was around a top-10 defense, this doesn’t surprise me. Why? The pass rush is woefully poor when they rush 4 or 5. The only way they impact the opposing quarterback is with the blitz. It is a volatile way to play defense and a good passer can see right through it to their advantage. If Graham continues to play soft coverage with poor pass rush, we will see this on repeat week after week.

(3) The NYG running game design left me scratching my head. They have an odd fascination with running toward the strength of a defense. They run into crowded areas, and they make life hard on an offensive line that, quite frankly, is still bottom third in the league. The WAS edge defenders were biting on the inside fakes all game, leaving things open for Jones (NYG’s leading rusher). Why not use that in more key moments? How come they aren’t engineering more space touches for Barkley? Do we really need to see more jet sweeps? It almost looks pre-determined no matter what and it appears the opposing defenses were in on it too.

Sep 172021
 
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NFL: New York Giants at Washington Football Team

The second time is the charm – © USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM 30 – NEW YORK GIANTS 29…
The New York Giants lost an absolutely heart-breaking contest to the Washington Football Team at FedExField in Maryland on Sunday night, losing on the final play of the game 30-29 when Washington’s place kicker got a second chance to kick the game-winning field goal. The Giants are now 0-2 for the fifth season in a row.

Worse for New York is that on a night that they placed left guard Shane Lemieux on Injured Reserve with a knee injury, they also lost center/guard Nick Gates with a broken left leg. Gates started at left guard in this game with Billy Price starting at center.

Quarterback Daniel Jones and offense had one of their best games during the brief Joe Judge era, but saw two potential touchdowns wiped out, one by a questionable holding penalty and another on a dropped pass. Nevertheless, it was the defense that really let the team down, allowing over 400 yards and 30 points to a Washington team led by back-up quarterback Taylor Heinicke. The defense simply could not hold any lead the offense provided in the game.

The defense actually started off strong, forcing two three-and-outs on Washington’s first two possessions. In between, the Giants scored a touchdown on their first possession of the game, driving 79 yards in 11 plays, culminating with a 6-yard touchdown run by Jones on 2nd-and-goal. The Giants threatened on their second possession as well when running back Saquon Barkley broke off a 41-yard run to the Washington 35-yard line. However, Jones was sacked on 3rd-and-2 from the 32-yard line and the Giants punted. Washington responded with a 13-play, 90-yard effort that ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass by Heinicke. Washington converted on 4th-and-1 on this possession. The game was tied at 7-7 early in the second quarter.

After both teams exchanged punts, New York drove deep into Washington territory on a 10-play, 73-yard possession. However, the drive stalled in the red zone and the Giants settled for a 23-yard field goal by place kicker Graham Gano. It was on this possession that Jones had a 58-yard touchdown run nullified by a holding call on wide receiver C.J. Board.

With four minutes to go before halftime, the defense once again collapsed late in the second quarter, just like they did last week against the Denver Broncos. Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham’s unit allowed Washington to march 84 yards in 12 plays to take a 14-10 lead at the half when running back J.D. McKissic ran for an easy touchdown on 3rd-and-1 from the 2-yard line.

The Giants received the ball to start the third quarter. They picked up 46 yards in nine plays to set up a successful 47-yard field goal by Gano to cut the score to 14-13. The defense forced a three-and-out, and it looked like the Giants were in the process of taking control of the game when they put together yet another scoring drive, this one 65 yards in seven plays and resulting in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Jones to wide receiver Darius Slayton. Giants 20-Washington 14.

Washington responded with a scoring drive of their own, moving the ball 44 yards in seven plays to set up a 49-yard field goal. The Giants now led 20-17 near the end of the third quarter. Back came New York with their own field goal drive, this one traveling 41 yards in six plays to set up a 52-yard field goal by Gano. The Giants were now up 23-17 early in the fourth quarter.

The tit-for-tat field goal drives continued. Washington drove 56 yards in 11 plays with the 37-yard field goal cutting the score to 23-20. New York picked up 38 yards in eight plays and Gano impressively connected from 55 yards out. The Giants were up by six points with 4:50 left in the game. However, the Giants missed a tremendous opportunity to put the game away here when Slayton dropped what should have been a 43-yard touchdown catch. That would come back to haunt New York.

Once again, the defense collapsed. In just two plays, Heinicke first found McKissic for a 56-yard reception, and then immediately followed that up with a 19-yard touchdown. It took just 17 seconds for Washington to regain the lead, 27-26.

It looked bleak for the Giants when they were forced to punt on the ensuing possession after gaining just one first down. Washington got the ball back, with a 1-point lead and 3:13 on the clock. After allowing 14 yards on two rushing plays, the defense finally made a play when cornerback James Bradberry, who had been abused all night, intercepted Heinicke on 2nd-and-7 at the Washington 20-yard line with 2:16 left in the game.

Two runs by Barkley only picked up three yards, and Jones’ 3rd-and-7 pass fell incomplete. Gano kicked his fifth field goal of the night, this one from 35 yards out. The Giants were up 29-27 with exactly two minutes left to play.

Again, the defense folded as Washington moved from their own 25-yard line to the New York 30-yard line in nine plays. Washington also converted on 4th-and-1 for the second time in the game on this possession. With five seconds left, Washington’s kicker attempted a 48-yard field goal to win the game. The kick sailed wide right. However, defensive linemen Dexter Lawrence was offsides. Washington’s kicker did not miss the subsequent 43-yard kick with no time on the clock.

Jones had a strong game. He completed 22-of-32 passes for 249 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. He also ran for 95 yards on nine carries. Jones should have had two more touchdowns had it not been for a holding penalty and dropped pass. His leading receiver was Sterling Shepard with nine receptions for 94 yards. Barkley had a 41-yard run, but only gained 16 yards on his other 12 carries.

Defensively, the Giants allowed Heinicke to complete 34-of-46 passes for 336 yards. They only sacked him once. Washington also ran for 87 yards on 22 carries.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

ROSTER MOVES, PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
LG Shane Lemieux (knee) was placed on Injured Reserve before the game and OC Matt Skura was signed from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster.

WR C.J. Board and TE Chris Myarick were activated from the Practice Squad for this game.

Inactive for the game were TE Evan Engram (calf), LB Cam Brown (hamstring), WR Collin Johnson, LB Quincy Roche, LB Justin Hilliard, CB Sam Beal, and CB Josh Jackson.

OC/OG Nick Gates broke his lower left leg in the first half and did not return.

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

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

Sep 152021
 
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New York Giants Fans (September 12, 2021)

Losing Patience – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE:
The honeymoon is over. Giants’ fans have begun to turn on Joe Judge. It was predictable development as the need to scapegoat eventually had to move past just Dave Gettleman, Jason Garrett, and Daniel Jones. In some ways, it is humorous to watch. Fans who only weeks ago said they loved his press conferences now call him a blowhard.

So what’s going on? The obvious answer is the team isn’t winning. If the team had won last Sunday, fans would keep their negative comments directed at Garrett and Jones. But if you don’t win, the grace period will last only so long. Social media has destroyed time horizons. Fans don’t see the brief Joe Judge era (2020-present) as distinct from the sad end of the Tom Coughlin era (2012-2015), Ben McAdoo era (2016-2017), and Pat Shurmur era (2018-2019). Notice a pattern here? See the risk? If many fans get their way, Judge and Jones will be gone soon. The team will have to start over, but these fans won’t really see it as starting over. They will expect immediate results because the team has been bad for a decade. Unfortunately for these fans living in a figurative drunken stupor, it doesn’t work that way. When you start over, you start over. It’s 2017 all over again. Screaming “fix it now” isn’t living in the real world.

Joe Judge may or may not be the right head coach for this team. Jason Garrett may or may not be the right offensive coordinator. Same with Patrick Graham. Same with Daniel Jones. Most fans have already made up their minds. But truth be told, none of us really know. Certain posters in The Corner Forum will scream from the rooftops that they know for sure, but they really don’t. How do I know this? Because I’ve seen it before. I’ve seen Giants’ fans try to get rid of Bill Parcells, Phil Simms, Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning, etc. Think of the tragedies if those fans were listened to at the time.

My educated guess on what is going to happen is this: the NFC East is going to suck again this year. Because of that, every team in the division will be mathematically alive for most, if not all, of the season. I think the Giants are going to look and play a lot more impressively in November and December than they will in September and October. Why? Because injuries and shortened camps/preseason kept many of the team’s new component parts from developing chemistry and cohesion. Once again, the offensive line is out of sorts. The Shane Lemieux injury was a big deal. Kenny Golladay and Daniel Jones are not in sync. Saquon Barkley is rusty as hell. Kadarius Toney is so far behind that it isn’t funny. He still has no idea how to run professional routes. “Blah, blah, blah…these are just more excuses!” Yup, but it’s also the truth.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Saquon Barkley (knee – questionable)
  • TE Evan Engram (calf – out)
  • OG Shane Lemieux (knee – out)
  • LB Cam Brown (hamstring – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Full disclosure. One of my all-time pet peeves is fans saying the reason an offense sucks is the coaching staff when it is obvious there are larger on-field talent issues. One of the few things I’ve learned over the years is that a competent offensive line “miraculously” makes it easier to call a game. It’s hard to play defense when the other team is generating five yards per carry and you are constantly in 2nd-and-5 situations. The internal alarm clock in your QB’s head isn’t going off prematurely because he’s afraid he won’t have time to throw. Your red-zone offense is a lot more difficult to stop when you push the pile on 3rd-and-goal.

My point is you will be amazed at how good an offensive coordinator becomes when his players execute. Look no further than how fan opinion of Kevin Gilbride changed from game-to-game, season-to-season from 2007 to 2013. Hell, I’ve seen the same posters who wanted the guy fired now lament that he is gone. Remember the 4th-and-1 deep shot to Amani Toomer against the Steelers in Pittsburgh in 2008? Objectively speaking, that was a stupid, high-risk play. But it worked. And fans thought the call was “brilliant.” Why did it work? The OL blocked. Eli threw perfect pass. Amani Toomer made a fantastic catch. Execution at all three levels.

How are the Giants going to get out of this funk and score more than 20 points on a consistent basis? Run the football. When the Giants were at their best last year, they were able to run the football. I saw posters claim in The Corner Forum that the problem with the offense against Denver was that it wasn’t “aggressive” enough. What does that mean? The team only handed off to running backs 14 times in that game. “You can be aggressive with the passing game!” Again, what does that mean? I think fans are conflating “aggressive” with what actually results in chunk yardage plays. If your quarterback is bird dogging receivers or inaccurate, if your receivers drop the ball, if your offensive line misses a block or gets called for a penalty, being “aggressive” doesn’t work.

The Giants are not going to get out of this funk until the offensive line gets its act together and creates some holes for Saquon Barkley. And Barkley has to get that rust off quickly and hit the freaking hole. If not, don’t re-sign him. “This offensive line can’t block!” If fans are right about that, the team is screwed. But I think it is far too early to tell. I’m afraid Shane Lemieux is going to have to end up on IR soon. He couldn’t even make it through the first game. Andrew Thomas had a strong game last week. I think those writing off Matt Peart are doing so way too prematurely. Again, Peart was raw coming out of college and he didn’t get a lot of snaps in full pads this offseason (NFLPA doesn’t allow it). He will continue to see his reps increased as the season progresses. (BTW, Nick Gates snapped the ball early on the play where everyone wants to knock Peart). I suspect we’ll see a lot of Ben Bredeson and Billy Price soon. There is a good chance Price will be the new center with Nick Gates shifting to guard. If Will Hernandez falters, Bredeson will take his job.

As for Daniel Jones, as Sy’56 pointed out in his game review of the Denver game, 1 down, 16 more games to go to determine his future here. The fumble last week was a game-altering turnover. If he can’t fix that, it’s time to move on. I will say this: Jones’ turnover issues briefly disappeared last year when the team ran the football. Funny how that works.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
Full disclosure. Because I am an old Giants fan, I will always hold the defense to a different standard than I do the offense. It sounds stupid to blame the defense for losing a game that the offense only scored 13 points (6 of which came in garbage time). However, it’s a different game if the Giants had held on any of those three fourth-down conversions last week. It’s a different game if the defense holds at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half. If a defense wants to be great, it has to win games when the offense is not getting the job done. We saw that repeatedly under Bill Parcells/Bill Belichick from 1984-1990 and in spurts under Dan Reeves, Jim Fassel, and Tom Coughlin.

You’ve heard me say this repeatedly over the years. You will forever look at football differently when you realize there are only so many offensive possessions per game. Denver only had eight offensive possessions last week, four in the first half and four in the second half. That’s it. Three of those drives took 22 minutes off of the clock. So while we can lament New York’s offense only running 20 plays in the first half, some of that also had to do with the fact that the defense needs to get the ball back quicker for the offense. The Giants actually moved the ball in the second half of the Denver game. But the pressure to score touchdowns increased dramatically when what had been a 7-3 game quickly turned into a 20-7 game with the Giants offense only having ONE possession during that span. You can’t score when you don’t have the ball.

I talked last week about an early season trend last year by the Giants’ defense of allowing scoring drives at the end of halves. And that unfortunately reared its ugly head again in the opener. As much as the Daniel Jones’ fumble was game-altering, so was the defense’s inability to stop Denver at the end of the first half, including on 4th-and-2. Then at the start of the 3rd quarter, Denver scores on 4th-and-goal. (Also keep in mind that Denver’s first field goal drive occurred after converting on 4th-and-7). That’s 17 points. Denver was 3-of-3 on 4th down and 7-of-15 on 3rd down (it actually felt worse than that given when those conversions came in the game).

I can talk until I’m blue in the face about this match-up or that match-up, but we all know what the problem with this defense has been: they can’t get off of the field on 3rd down (and now sometimes 4th down). Yes, that is related to the pass rush. Against Denver, the Giants actually were buzzing around the QB more than fans realize and had six official quarterback hits. The Giants are spending a lot of money on that secondary. They have to make more plays on the football. And ideally, pick off some passes. Get the ball back for the offense on a short field. The defense must be the strength of the team this year or the Giants have no chance.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
C.J. Board gained 66 yards on two kickoff returns last week. That’s very good. Jabrill Peppers gained two yards on one punt return. Joe Judge and Thomas McGaughey may need to break into their bag of tricks soon if the offense continues to struggle.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Joe Judge on Washington’s defense:They play off what the disruption of the front causes in front of them and they do a good job right there limiting big plays. You play against this team, you have to be prepared to go down the field tick by tick by tick. They’re a very good team situationally getting off the field on third down and red area. They’re a very good team of not allowing explosive plays.

THE FINAL WORD:
It won’t surprise me if the Giants fall to 0-2. It won’t surprise me if the Giants soundly beat Washington. This is not a good division. The quarterback change means nothing to me as a Giants fan. We’ve seen plenty of times where that bites us in the ass. But the Giants have won five in a row against Washington despite their very strong front seven on defense. For whatever reason, Washington doesn’t intimidate New York.

This is a big game for a number of reasons. The most important being that the division title will likely be determined by the division record.

(One last piece of advice to fans… stop overreacting to a small sample size. If a player plays a good game in the latest game, it doesn’t mean anything. He has to string a bunch of good games together. The reverse is also true, if a player has a bad game, it doesn’t mean anything unless he strings a bunch of bad games together. Look for trends not snapshots).

Nov 102020
 
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Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence, New York Giants (November 8, 2020)

Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 23 – Washington Football Team 20

QUICK RECAP

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones took on the Washington Football team for the fourth time in his young career. He entered the matchup 3-0 against the fellow NFC East basement dwellers while having a 1-16 record against everyone else. The Giants last played Washington on October 18, a matchup they won by 1 point. Since then, they lost two games by a combined 3 points and WAS defeated DAL by 22 points before entering their bye week. A home game following a week off against a team playing on short rest (NYG played the previous Monday night) is historically a very advantageous situation.

NYG reached the WAS 35-yard line on the opening drive and were faced with a 4th-and-1 . They opted to send Dion Lewis, their least powerful back, up the middle where he was stuffed for a no gain. Fortunately, WAS gave the ball right back on a fumble by rookie running back Antonio Gibson on their very first offensive play. NYG took advantage of the that first turnover, creating 3 points out of it via a 38-yard field goal by Graham Gano. The key play on the drive was a 50-yard pass, the longest of the season for NYG, from Jones to rookie Austin Mack. Mack saw an uptick in playing time after Joe Judge made the decision to keep Golden Tate at home after showing up the team last Monday night against the Bucs.

NYG forced a 3-and-out on the next WAS drive before punting themselves just two plays after tight end Evan Engram dropped a pass and had it nearly land in the hands of a WAS defender. The play was originally called an interception, but the replay review overturned the call. On that NYG punt, rookie Isaiah Wright muffed the catch and the ball was recovered by Madre Harper. Four plays later Wayne Gallman crossed the goal line to give NYG a 10-0 lead, both scores coming off WAS turnovers.

WAS then made it to the NYG 10-yard line but multiple WAS penalties pushed them far enough back that the field goal attempt ended up being 48 yards. Dustin Hopkins nailed it through the uprights to cut the NYG lead down to one score, 10-3. On that drive, however, Jabrill Peppers broke the ankle of WAS quarterback Kyle Allen. It was a gruesome injury and the irony behind it was the fact that Alex Smith was the backup who trotted onto the field. Smith had a career-threatening, even life-threatening, injury to his leg just two years ago.

NYG marched down the field on their next drive to set themselves up for another field goal, this one being 48 yards. Gano put it through the uprights again to lengthen the lead back to 10 by a score of 13-3. The NYG defense then forced another 3-and-out, setting up the steady Big Blue offense to put more space between them and Washington. Alfred Morris, a former Pro Bowler who saw his best days in WAS, took over in the backfield for the next drive. He gained 35 yards on his first 3 carries of the possession. NYG kept the momentum going, with Jones hitting Engram in the end zone up the seam for a 16-yard touchdown.

The WAS offense, with under 2 minutes left, got deep into NYG territory. But the drive ended with an interception by Smith as a result of running back J.D. McKissic slipping and falling as the ball was being thrown. Blake Martinez came up with the pick. NYG had as 17-point lead at the half.

Washington then scored on their first three drives of the second half. Despite a slow first half marred by turnovers, they came out converting third downs and neutralizing the NYG pass rush. They scored 2 touchdowns, one on a short run by the rookie back Gibson and the other on a freak pitch, catch, and run to Terry McLaurin. They also added 3 points via a 44-yard field goal by Hopkins. NYG was able to put up three points of their own from Gano’s 18th consecutive successful attempt but the lead was just now three points, 23-20.

The NYG offensive line had been solid until this point, but the WAS defensive front started to get consistent pressure and an offensive pass interference call on Engram killed NYG’s next drive. They punted back to WAS, who had the ball back, down 3, with over 5 minutes left. Their offense was red hot, coming off three straight scoring possessions that netted 17 points.

The NYG defense has shown signs of life all year but they came up short in key situations multiple times and they just haven’t been able to come up with the big, timely play. Well, that was another trend that was about to end. Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham has been finding creative ways to create pressure all year despite not having a true edge presence. A Logan Ryan blitz forced Smith into throwing an interception to Jabrill Peppers. On the final WAS drive of the game, a Leonard Williams pressure forced yet another interception, this one to Ryan. The NYG defense put the breaks on the WAS offensive surge and won for the 4th time in as many tries with Jones at the helm.

NYG wins, 23-20.

QUARTERBACK

Daniel Jones: 23-34 / 212 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 94.2 RAT

The Giants’ leading rusher added just 4 yards on the ground. Two things are most important from this one: Jones didn’t turn the ball over and he got the win. It is amazing that he is 4-0 vs WAS but 1-16 elsewhere. Some guys just have a team’s number and vice versa. Jones didn’t have many opportunities to really throw the ball downfield in this one. It was obvious he was trying to get the ball out faster and that he did. He was accurate short and intermediate in addition to appearing decisive. A good step in the right direction for Jones and he was fortunate he didn’t turn the ball over on his fumble where a defender didn’t come in contact with him. That could have changed the outcome of this one. Jones has turned the ball over in every one of his starts outside of this game and the 12/22/19 matchup against WAS. One can easily see just how much more winnable these games are when they don’t lose that intra game battle.

RUNNING BACK

Wayne Gallman: 14 att / 68 yards / 1 TD and 1 rec / 9 yards

Gallman is another one who seems to have his best volume work against WAS. He now has 294 career yards against them; he doesn’t have more than 125 against any other team. Gallman was impressive inside where he seemed to be one broken tackle away from breaking off a big play on multiple occasions. He also pushed the pile twice, showing good power and grit. Gallman continues to impress with the ball but he is the one back who seems to struggle when pass blocking.

-Alfred Morris played a huge part in the win. He gained 67 yards on 9 carries while adding 4 yards on a catch. His 7.4 yards per carry were the highest of his career since September 15, 2013 in games where had had more than 2 carries. Talk about coming out of nowhere. Morris made a couple key blitz pickup blocks as well and I think that presence and reliability back there are key reasons why he is on the roster and seeing time. The production on the ground is simply icing on the cake.

WIDE RECEIVER

Austin Mack: 4 rec / 72 yards

Mack was a few inches shy of his first career touchdown in the first quarter. It was an impressive scamper after the catch where he broke a tackle and lunged for the end zone, but his knee was ruled down just prior to crossing the goal line. Mack also brought in a 50-yard reception, the longest of the year for NYG. Much of his opportunity came from the Golden Tate situation and it may end up being a blessing in disguise. Always good to see a young talent get looks and capitalize on them at the expense of a disgruntled, unhappy, and overpaid veteran.

-Sterling Shepard added 39 yards on 6 catches as he was featured on several short passing plays. He came up with a couple of key 3rd-down conversions and he made key blocks on long NYG running game gains. His impact isn’t seen in the box score but he was a key part to the win.

-Darius Slayton was targeted just one time. That is the first time that has happened in his young career. In 4 career games vs. WAS, he has 4 catches for 54 yards.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram has gotten his fair share of roller coaster reviews over the past few years and we can only add to it at this point. In a week where it was confirmed multiple teams tried to trade for him last week, NYG decided to hold onto the talented playmaker. He led the team in targets with 10, catching 5 of them for 48 yards and a touchdown. There were multiple bumps in the road, however. Engram dropped 2 passes that were literally right in front of his face. One of them was just inches away from resulting in an interception. He also allowed a TFL and was flagged for offensive pass interference. Engram’s touchdown was a huge play and it was a high-skill level catch. I have been banging the table for this offense to send him up the seam more because that is where I think he does the most damage athletically, that is where he can be nearly impossible to cover. Hopefully Jason Garrett can see that now. It’s hard not to think about what Engram and this offense can be if he gets rid of these focus-drops.

-Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo saw the field a considerable amount. They were excellent in sealing off the edge on some of the longer NYG runs.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Center Nick Gates continues to impress and grade out as the top OL on this team. This is now becoming a week after week occurrence and one has to think this can be the norm here. He had never played center before and obviously the preseason was shortened to the point where those first few weeks could have been erased in a normal year. Gates is a tone setter for this group. His energy, hustle, and attitude are making a difference and he is quickly becoming a key leader and component to the direction in which this team is heading.

-Rookie tackles Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart both put out solid efforts and performances. Thomas allowed 1 sack but was pretty clean otherwise. I still see mechanical issues with his pass protection sets but he was able to maintain good contact for the most part for the second week in a row. Two of his three best performances on the year have come over the past 2 weeks. Peart played 31% of the snaps, mostly for Cameron Fleming but he did step in for Thomas for a drive. I think that was pre-determined, as the staff is clearly trying to get Peart in the mix more at both spots. The move did occur after Thomas’ worst series, however.

-The two veterans of the group, Kevin Zeitler and Fleming, both finished with below average grades. Zeitler was better, however. He allowed 2 pressures and a sack, although the sack could be put on Jones. Zeitler came up with multiple key blocks in the running game and he showed some juice as a lead blocker to the outside. That was the best I’ve seen him move this year athletically. Fleming allowed a pressure and a TFL. His down blocking in the running game was really poor. I think we see one more start out of him.

-Rookie Shane Lemieux got the start at left guard for the second week in a row as Will Hernandez was kept on the Covid-19 list. Similar to last week, there was a lot of good and some really bad. He allowed a sack and a pressure in addition to getting flagged for a holding penalty that ended up being declined by WAS. Lemieux looks really solid from a balance and technique perspective. His hands and feet are very in sync with each other and he seems to pick up what the defense throws at him schematically. I think another year in the pro-strength/conditioning program will put him where he needs to be. He looks like a player who can be counted on.

EDGE

-Another quiet day for the NYG edge defenders. Kyler Fackrell was the one who saw the field the most and he ended with 3 tackles and 2 pressures. Not a bad day at all. He was flagged for an offsides penalty as well.

-Jabaal Sheard and Trent Harris saw the next tier of EDGE snaps, neither making a strong impact. Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown barely saw the field again.

DT

-Big day for Leonard Williams, one of his best as a Giant. His stat line read 3 tackles / 3 pressures / 1 sack. He also created penetration that led to a TFL by Dexter Lawrence and his pressure at the end of the game forced the game-ending interception. Williams was all over the field and continues to dominate one-on-one blocking. If this defense can find a true EDGE threat, Williams is going take off.

-Dexter Lawrence and Dalvin Tomlinson both made plays behind the line of scrimmage. WAS only ran the ball 9 times but these two were still very effective up front.

-B.J. Hill had 1 tackle and a pressure while Austin Johnson added a tackle in his limited role.

LB

-Tackling machine Blake Martinez led the team with another 10 in this game. He is just so automatic and reliable. He also came up with a key interception in the red zone toward the end of the first half. Big play, great timing, as WAS was heading toward at least 3 points.

-Devante Downs played the majority of the other ILB snaps when NYG used that personnel. He recorded 3 tackles but was exposed badly in coverage two times. This is a growing hole in this defense that may need to be addressed this offseason unless the staff is confident in Tae Crowder when he gets back on the field.

CB

-Isaac Yiadom had his finest day as a Giant. Although he is still limited in coverage, he made a couple impact plays. He split a sack with Tomlinson and recorded 8 tackles. He allowed a freak touchdown to McLaurin and a 3rd-down conversion but he played a sound, aggressive game.

-James Bradberry wasn’t thrown at much. WAS clearly tried to attack elsewhere in the NYG secondary. He did allow a 3rd-and-1 conversion pass where he simply lost track of McLaurin. Otherwise, quiet game from him in a good way.

-Rookie Darnay Holmes is quietly improving. He made 5 tackles, most of which came on plays where he allowed a catch in man coverage. He did get beat on 3rd down a couple times, but I like how well he is staying in phase and maintaining body control. He plays in a really fast and aggressive fashion that impacts his game as a cover man, blitzer, and run defender.

S

-Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan both came up with multiple key plays in NYG’s 5-turnover performance. Peppers recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass in addition to breaking up 2 others. Ryan had the game-sealing interception and created pressure via a blitz that rushed WAS QB Smith into rushing a throw that ended up being an interception. Ryan also forced a fumble and added 6 tackles and Peppers added 6 tackles of his own. Impact game by these two, even though they both played balls poorly in coverage that resulted in big plays for WAS.

-Julian Love played just under half the snaps. He made 1 tackle and was beat in coverage a couple times in addition to a poor angle on one of WR Cam Sims’ big gains. Not a great game for him and I question what his role is on this defense right now with the hope he is taking notes on the versatility of Ryan, who may not be here next year.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Graham Gano: 3/3 (Made 38, 48, 42). Gano has made 18 straight, the longest active streak in the NFL this season.

-P Riley Dixon: 4 punts / 39.5 avg / 36.5 net

3 STUDS

-S Jabrill Peppers, DT Leonard Williams, OC Nick Gates

3 DUDS

-OT Cameron Fleming, S Julian Love, EDGE Jabaal Sheard

3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

  1. About a month ago, I discussed how poor I thought this WAS team really was and just how dark of a time they were entering. Since then, they did beat an awful DAL team in a game where the Cowboys backup QB was injured and taken out of the game, then they had a bye week, then they lost to NYG again. I’ve seen their last 4 games in full in addition to 2 others. Unless they find a solution at QB (Haskins won’t be it from what I hear), we may be looking at the next NYJ or JAC. They are about to hit a point where they can’t pay all of their DL, the best part of their team, and “QB Hell” is approaching.
  1. One player on this team who I have liked since last year, but who hasn’t received a consistent number of opportunities, is Cam Sims. He finished with 3 catches for 110 yards. The third-year receiver from Alabama has played in just 16 games (primarily on special teams) but has seen 11 targets that has produced 9 catches / 198 yards / 1 TD. I think they have something in him and it would be wise to use the rest of this season to expose him to regular snaps and opportunities.
  1. Chase Young, the number 2 overall pick, got off to a nice start prior to injuring his groin. For those that don’t know much about soft tissue injuries to that area, it isn’t fun and they heal very slowly. The snap out of his stance and torque when involved with blockers just isn’t there. He looked much differently early in the year and just doesn’t seem 100% right now. Tough to get an evaluation on him knowing that.

3 THOUGHTS ON NYG

  1. Check out these numbers. NYG gained 350 yards, WAS gained 402. NYG had 74 total offensive plays, WAS had 50. NYG averaged 4.7 yards per play, WAS averaged 8.0. NYG had 2 sacks, WAS had 5. NYG averaged 4.7 yards per pass play, WAS averaged 8.9. NYG punted 4 times, WAS punted 2 times. If you showed me just these numbers and I didn’t know anything else about the game, I would have said there was little-to-no shot NYG won this game. This is how vital the turnover battle is in the NFL. Giants did not turn it over once, WAS turned it over 5 times (and the margin if victory was still only 3 points). So when I bring up just how vital it is that Daniel Jones is not a turnover machine, do not bring up Brett Favre. If Jones keeps the turnovers away, NYG can win right now, not just down the road.
  1. The Golden Tate situation was a breath of fresh air. I’ll be honest, Tate yelling “Throw me the damn ball” last week wasn’t a huge deal. Was it notable? Yes. It wasn’t a big deal, though. The fact that Judge took that (and perhaps some stuff behind the scenes we don’t know about) and used it to bench him / keep him home from practice for a day / put him on the scout team / keep him home from the game was great to see. I think he is laying the foundation for anyone and everyone to see that the little things that other coaches overlook won’t be tolerated. They can morph into bigger issues down the road. Young players can take it in and realize that won’t be acceptable in the future. Another check in the box for Judge who, I will say, has this team feeling different than what we have seen in recent years.
  1. The Giants’ defense is getting a little bit of a pass because of the turnovers and because of the win itself. Truth told, they were awful in the second half against an offense that ranked 30th in the NFL. They are right there with NYJ and NYG as the worst offense in football. Alex Smith passed for 260 yards in the second half alone. What happened? NYG played a lot of zone coverage and it didn’t pan out. I think Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham has done a fine job mixing things up, playing matchups, and creating a pass rush with a lack of true pass rushers. I just don’t think he has the horses right now to be effective in every-down man coverage. James Bradberry is solid but the other corners can’t be relied on in that kind of role. In addition. I’m not sure the safeties are good enough over the top to even somewhat make up for it. That is going to need to be a key focal point to the upcoming NYG roster build.
Nov 082020
 
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Dalvin Tomlinson, New York Giants (November 8, 2020)

Dalvin Tomlinson – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 23 – WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM 20…
The New York Giants earned their second win of the 2020 season by sweeping the Washington Football Team in Maryland on Sunday, 23-20. With the win, the Giants improved their overall record to 2-7.

The Giants dramatically out-rushed Washington 166 to 37 while Washington dramatically out-passed New York 365 to 184. The Giants’ team rushing figure was a season high. The real difference in the ball game was the Giants won the turnover battle 5-0. It was the first time quarterback Daniel Jones did not turn the football over in his 21 NFL starts (although he did fumble the ball twice).

The Giants received the ball to start the game, picked up two first downs, but turned the ball over on downs when running back Dion Lewis was stuffed on 4th-and-1 at the Washington 35-yard line. Nevertheless, New York got the football right back when on Washington’s first offensive play, defensive back Logan Ryan forced a fumble after a long reception by running back Antonio Gibson. Safety Jabrill Peppers recovered the fumble at the New York 19-yard line. On their second possession, highlighted by a 50-yard pass from Jones to wide receiver Austin Mack, the Giants were able to set up a 38-yard field goal to take a 3-0 early lead.

Washington went three-and-out on their second possession. The Giants picked up one first down and punted. However, the Washington returner muffed the punt with cornerback Madre Harper recovering the loose ball at the Washington 16-yard line. Four plays later, running back Wayne Gallman easily scored from two yards out. Giants 10 – Washington 0.

Washington’s only scoring drive of the first half occurred on their third possession as they drove 44 yards in nine plays to set up a 48-yard field goal. On this drive, starting quarterback Kyle Allen suffered a serious ankle injury after being sacked by Peppers. He was replaced for the rest of the game by Alex Smith. The Giants responded with their own field-goal drive, traveling 45 yards in nine plays, and place kicker Graham Gano kicked a 48 yarder of his own. Giants 13 – Washington 3.

After another three-and-out by Washington, New York took charge of the game with a 10-play, 77-yard drive that ended with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Jones to tight end Evan Engram just before the 2-minute warning. Washington threatened to score in the final two minutes of the half, reaching the New York 18-yard line, but linebacker Blake Martinez ended this threat by intercepting Smith.

At the half, the Giants led 20-3.

The Giants did not make it easy on themselves in the second half. Washington received the ball to start the 3rd quarter and easily drove 75 yards in six plays to cut the score in half, 20-10. Gibson ran the ball in from one yard out. The Giants responded with a 12-play, 51-yard drive that took over seven minutes off of the clock and resulted in a 42-yard field goal. This would be New York’s last points of the day.

Washington scored again on their second possession of the half, gaining 53 yards on nine plays to set up a 44-yard field goal. New York 23 – Washington 13 early in the 4th quarter. The Giants gained two first downs and then punted. But it took only three plays for Washington to go 84 yards with wideout Terry McLaurin breaking free for a 68-yard score. With just over 10 minutes to play, the Giants only led 23-20.

Once again, the Giants gained a couple of first downs. But a holding penalty on Engram and a sack pushed the Giants back and forced a punt. With five minutes to go, Washington was looking to tie or win the game. They gained 49 yards in nine plays, but on 3rd-and-10 from the New York 40-yard line, Smith threw a high pass that was tipped an intercepted by Peppers.

The Giants’ offense could not run out the clock and Washington got the ball back at their own 28-yard line with 1:48 left to play. Two plays later, Logan Ryan intercepted Alex Smith at the Washington 30-yard line to end the game.

Jones completed 23-of-34 passes for 212 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. He was sacked five times. His leading targets were wide receiver Sterling Shepard (6 catches for 39 yards), Engram (5 catches for 48 yards and a touchdown), and Mack (4 catches for 72 yards). Gallman rushed 14 times for 68 yards and a touchdown. Running back Alfred Morris also gained 67 yards on nine carries.

Defensively, the Giants forced four turnovers (three interceptions and one fumble). Washington only gained 37 yards rushing on nine carries. The Giants picked up two sacks, one by defensive lineman Leonard Williams and a sack shared by defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson and cornerback Isaac Yiadom.

Video highlights are available on Giants.com.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
Activated from the Practice Squad for this game were RB Alfred Morris, G Chad Slade (COVID-19 Replacement), and S Montre Hartage.

Inactive for the game were RB Devonta Freeman (ankle), WR Golden Tate, TE Eric Tomlinson, OT Jackson Barton, OG Kenny Wiggins, DE R.J. McIntosh, and CB Brandon Williams.

TE Kaden Smith left the game in the second half with a concussion.

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

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

Nov 062020
 
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Dexter Lawrence, New York Giants (October 18, 2020)

Dexter Lawrence – © USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: New York Giants at Washington Football Team, November 8, 2020

THE STORYLINE

These two teams played less than one month ago, supplying the New York Giants with their only win to-date in the 2020 NFL season. In recent years, Washington has become New York’s “feel good” opponent, a rare bright spot in otherwise dreary seasons. That said, only a highly-questionable coaching decision to go for a failed 2-point conversion on October 18th prevented the “Football Team” from keeping the Giants winless.

As I wrote about in last week’s preview, the Giants are still clutching defeat from the jaws of victory. Three times in the last four weeks, they have squandered 11-point leads against the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At times they have regained the lead only to see it evaporate again in a series of heart-breaking defeats. The Giants could easily be 4-4 right now. But they aren’t. And it is hard to argue against the notion that this is a team that expects to lose.

Publicly, many of the players say they are close to turning this around. But ultimately those are just empty words until they decide collectively to make plays in the clutch on offense, defense, and special teams to win football games. This is a bottom line business.

THE INJURY REPORT

  • RB Devonta Freeman (ankle – out)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (shoulder/toe)
  • OG Will Hernandez (COVID – out)
  • LB Blake Martinez (hamstring)
  • LB Devante Downs (shoulder)
  • CB Ryan Lewis (hamstring – placed on IR – out)
  • S Logan Ryan (hip)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE

    It’s pretty much a consensus that Daniel Jones’ two interceptions and missed opportunities in passing game cost the Giants the game last week. On the flip side, he continues to tease with sometimes incredible plays to keep drives alive both with his right arm and legs. The mounting media and fan frustration with Jones is palpable. Right or wrong, the quarterback is always the target of fan venom when football teams lose. The problem for Jones is twofold: (1) he is playing in an era where there is almost zero patience level for “developing” a quarterback. “Look at so-and-so on this other team, he’s playing great in his second year!” (2) the more the Giants lose, the more likely the team is going to have a good opportunity to draft another “franchise” quarterback. Everyone is already talking about it. Daniel Jones knows it. The pressure on him to perform for multiple reasons is now immense.

    Unlike many, I still have not given up on Daniel Jones. Perhaps its a function of my age and the football era I grew up in, but I don’t think it is wise to form a definitive judgment on a quarterback in less than two seasons. Daniel Jones’ issues are not his character, work ethic, competitiveness, intelligence, athleticism, arm, or ability to make difference-making plays. As we all know, his main issue been turnovers. Jones also suffers from some deficiencies that are not abnormal for young quarterbacks such as bird-dogging primary receivers, waiting for receivers to come “open” before throwing the football, not reading what the defense is giving you, not throwing the football away instead of forcing the mistake. Can those things be fixed? Sure. Happens all of the time. Will they be fixed? Unknown. The NFL graveyard is filled with failed 1st-round quarterbacks who couldn’t do so.

    I still get the feeling that if you put Daniel Jones on a team with a respectable offensive line, an average running attack, and some decent weapons to throw to, he can develop into a very good quarterback in this league. But given we’re living in 2020, time is running out for him. He has to stop making stupid mistakes. At this point, unless the situation calls for him to take more risks, he has to be more of a game manager. Throw the football away, take the sack (while holding onto the football with two hands), don’t make that super-risky throw on 2nd down.

    Sterling Shepard is not an outstanding receiver. But he is solid, viable, professional target. Even though the injury-prone Shepard is battling a turf-toe injury that will likely nag him the rest of the season, his return has helped the offense. When you add talent the football field, it opens things up for everyone. His presence makes life a little easier for the other receivers, the running backs, and the quarterback. Breaking the 20-point barrier is a big deal for this team, and the Giants did it the last two weeks with Shepard on the field. That said, we will have to hope that Darius Slayton, Evan Engram, and Golden Tate can build upon last Monday’s performance. Those three tend to disappear. (Note: There is a chance Tate will be benched for this game due to disciplinary reasons).

    The upside to Devonta Freeman’s injury is that it forced this coaching staff to give Wayne Gallman an extended look. It’s pretty obvious that the last two coaching staffs – for whatever reason – were not enamored with him. He has eight more games to change minds.

    The performance of the offensive line against an outstanding opponent last Monday was encouraging. Most were ready to dump Nick Gates after only a few games, but the coaching staff seems to have made the right call with him. Expect growing pains but he is trending rapidly in the right direction. Andrew Thomas also settled down, but one game does not make a trend. He has to start stringing solid games together. Shane Lemieux’s NFL debut was predictably inconsistent, but encouraging. The coaches usually know best, but I’m anxious for the team to make the switch from Cam Fleming to Matt Peart. One thing to keep in mind when judging the OL this year is that they have played a series of outstanding defensive fronts almost all year.

    As for Washington, as I covered in my game preview from less than a month ago, the strength of their team is their defense. Washington has improved since these teams last met, now ranking 4th overall in defense (1st against the pass and 17th against the run). They have a bunch of 1st-round talent and are very well coached on that side of the ball. They badly mauled the Dallas Cowboys (held to a field goal) before their bye week and have had two weeks to prepare for a struggling New York team.

    The last time these two teams played, the Giants ran the ball more than they passed. They kept it conservative and it worked out (barely) for them. I expect more of the same. It can be boring, but often times boring is good.

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE

    I strongly felt the biggest question mark on this coaching staff was Patrick Graham. It’s still very early, but my worries seem to have been misplaced. To be honest with you, I have no idea how he has this defense ranked 13th in yards allowed and 15th in points allowed, given the personnel issues at edge rusher and in the secondary. Outside of 2016, the New York Giants defense has ranked near or at the bottom of the NFL in defense with more talent. Graham has these guys playing above their level of ability. It just shows you what solid coaching can do.

    The one thing killing this defense right now, and you can tell it is eating Graham up inside, are the breakdowns at the end of each half. Yes, I keep harping on this, and I will continue to do so, because it is also a major factor in why the team is 1-7. Good defenses make the critical stop in the clutch with the game on the line. This has been an issue for the Giants for years, spanning multiple head coaches and defensive coordinators. Obviously it is related to the pass defense issues (lack of pass rush, issues in the secondary). But it’s happening each and every game. Stop the bleeding!

    Like the Giants, Washington remains a miserable offensive football teams. Washington is ranked 30th, the Giants 31st. Both teams struggle run and pass. Keep James Bradberry on wideout Terry McLaurin, cover tight end Logan Thomas, and cover the backs out of the backfield as Washington loves to dump the ball off to them. Because of the final point, it may be better to get the more athletic, younger linebackers on the field in obvious passing situations.

    The Giants are a bit banged up on defense with three linebackers on Injured Reserve (Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Tae Crowder) and two limited in practice on a short week (Blake Martinez and Devante Downs). CB Ryan Logan is out so Isaac Yiadom is on the spot again. Logan Ryan is also dealing with a hip issue.

    NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

    The NYG return game is starting to pick up steam. The Giants have a history of big returns against Washington. This will be a close game and special teams could very well make the difference. Is this the week Jabrill Peppers finally breaks one?

    FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH

    Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett on teaching Daniel Jones when to give up on a play: “I think that’s the nature of most quarterbacks. Quarterbacks who are worth their salt have a play-making instinct in them. They want the ball in their hands and they want to be the guy who’s guiding the offense but making an impact on what goes on on the field. I would say every quarterback I’ve been around who’s been a really good player has that same instinct. Over time, you learn through experience what plays you simply have to fold on, and you have to get the ball out of your hand and live for another day. Whether it’s punting on the drive or just simply going to second and 10, I think that’s an important thing to understand. The more situations you’re in, if you approach them the right way, you’ll learn from those experiences. Daniel continued to do that. Most guys I’ve been around have gone through that very similar process.”

    THE FINAL WORD

    I’m literally going to copy and past what I wrote when these two teams met less than a month ago:

    Two bad football teams with two bottom tier offenses that lack talent. This will likely be a low scoring game with the team making fewer turnovers and more plays on special teams wins the game. It will be one of those ugly games where even winning won’t feel particularly good.

    Oct 202020
     
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    James Bradberry, New York Giants (October 18, 2020)

    James Bradberry – © USA TODAY Sports

    New York Giants 20 – Washington Football Team 19

    QUICK RECAP

    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.

    QUARTERBACK

    -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.

    RUNNING BACK

    -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.

    WIDE RECEIVER

    -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.

    TIGHT END

    -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.

    OFFENSIVE LINE

    -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.

    EDGE

    -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.

    DEFENSIVE TACKLE

    -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.

    LINEBACKER

    -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.

    CORNERBACK

    -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.

    SAFETY

    -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.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    -K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 33, 20). His elite season continues.

    -P Riley Dixon: 2 Punts – 35.0 avg / 34.0 net

    3 STUDS

    -LB Kyler Fackrell, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, CB James Bradberry

    3 DUDS

    -OG Kevin Zeitler, WR Golden Tate, EDGE Markus Golden

    3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

    1. 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.
    1. 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.
    1. 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

    1. 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.
    1. 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.
    1. 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.