Oct 242023
Tyrod Taylor, New York Giants (October 22, 2023)

Tyrod Taylor – © USA TODAY Sports


-Tyrod Taylor: 18/29 – 279 yards / 2 TD – 0 INT / 116.9 RAT / 25 rushing yards

Taylor started for the second straight week as Daniel Jones remains out with a neck injury. Once again, he was playing behind an offensive line missing multiple starters, with Justin Pugh playing left tackle, and another starter who was signed off someone else’s practice squad just days prior (Tyre Phillips). The line was overmatched by the Washington defensive line that features four first round picks, all of which have met expectations over the years of someone drafted that high. On paper, this did not look good. Taylor responded with the best game of his career since 2017, a 26-16 win over Trevor Siemian-led Denver in Week 3.

Taylor has a couple of standout traits in his game as a 34-year old, 13th-year veteran. His release is lightning quick. Some quarterbacks have it, some do not. Taylor can make his decision and get it out in such a sudden kind of way. The second trait I like centers around decision making. While the offensive line has stabilized a bit, do not make the mistake of thinking that group has turned things around. Taylor getting the ball out in a hurry hid some major matchup losses up front. Watching from the All-22 angle shows how often he threw guys open. He was not waiting for them to get open, he knew the coverage, where the leverage was, and got that ball out with great anticipation. There were several high-level throws that made me go back and watch them again. I am impressed with Taylor. He is 1-1, and about 2 inches away from 2-0.


-Saquon Barkley: 21 att – 77 yards / 3 rec – 41 yards – 1 TD

Barkley’s stat line is solid, but nothing special. But this was one of the most impressive and influential performances we have seen out of him over the last dozen games. Barkley hyperextend his elbow in the first quarter. That is not a serious injury, but it does impede strength. The pulling muscles (bicep/forearm) are compromised. Not an ideal situation for a running back and it did end up leading to a lost fumble in the fourth quarter. But Barkley toughed this one out. He was constantly lowering his shoulder, constantly picking up some extra yards, and constantly breaking tackles. The touchdown followed a short pass in which he created most of the yards himself. Barkley, playing for a contract, pushed through a lot of discomfort, ran behind a bad offensive line, and was a key reason to this win even though he almost fumbled it away.

-Matt Breida played just 11 snaps, gaining just 9 yards on 4 touches. Rookie Eric Gray saw an early exit after muffing another punt and getting bent backward on his ankle as he got hit. More on that below but here is a hint. That experiment needs a new answer.


-We have been discussing this for weeks. Here is a blurb from my Week 2 review in Arizona, the other win this year. “Hyatt is the key, here. A lot to be put on a third rounder but the way he moves and the way he is tracking the ball and how fast he can easily get over the top can change how defenses work the short to intermediate routes. Hyatt looks ready for more.” After that comment, Hyatt had a total of two passes thrown his way in three games (all losses with one offensive touchdown combined). Then? A near-upset win in Buffalo and this win against Washington which included 9 targets, totaling 96 yards. Hyatt is not just important; he is vital to NYG’s offensive success. Whomever plays quarterback needs to lean on that, hard. A 42-yard catch and a 33-yard catch. Both led to scoring opportunities (Gano missed a field goal / Barkley fumbled). He changes this team the more he gets involved.

-The rest of the receiver group combined for 60 yards on 5 catches. Isaiah Hodgins, Wan’Dale Robinson, Darius Slayton, and Sterling Shepard. The ball was properly spread out (only Hodgins had more than one catch), and there were no drops. I will touch on Shepard and his attempts at returning punts below, but it was ugly.


-Darren Waller: 7 rec – 98 yards – 1 TD

Waller led the team in targets, catches, and yards. He is turning a corner after a slow start that centered around a sore hamstring. He had two grabs, one of which was his first touchdown as a Giant, where he displayed elite receiver-caliber ball skills. Do not underestimate how rare it for a player this size to turn his body in the air and pluck the ball with strong, accurate hands. He did this in traffic and in high-pressure situations. The blocking impact was a negative in standout fashion again, however.

-Speaking of poor blocking, Daniel Bellinger was abused up front. Having him help on a few select passing plays did help (although he did allow a sack), but he got messed up in the running game. Multiple times his missed assignment or sheer loss prevented Barkley from bursting through the initial traffic. His impact as a receiver is going to be limited with Waller on the roster, plain and simple. He needs to improve up front if this offense is going to work, plain and simple.


-Justin Pugh returned to tackle. Remember, that was his college and early pro career position, but not recently. He was matched up against Chase Young and took a beating in pass protection. He allowed 4 pressures and 2 sacks (1 of which was called off by a WAS penalty) and was also flagged for a hold. Pugh was a factor, however, as a run blocker. They moved him around often on outside zone runs where he pulled across the line and found work. He had key blocks on multiple positive runs. Tyre Phillips, signed off the PHI practice squad, manned the right tackle spot. He was the beneficiary of Taylor getting the ball out in a hurry a few times. He allowed a sack and a pressure, but the sack could easily be written off by the coaching staff if I saw it correctly. The blocking scheme on that play was clearly about cutting off the inside rush lane and simply stiff-arming the edge defender outside because the pass was supposed to be out quickly. Sterling Shepard fell, causing Taylor to hold onto the ball, and Phillips’ man went in for the easy sack. Overall, Phillips played arguably the best right tackle we have seen to this point all season but no, there is no controversy if Neal is healthy enough to play next week.

-Inside we saw the ship steadied, most notably in the passing game. Positive grades for both Ben Bredeson at center and Mark Glowinski at right guard were heavily engineered by their pass protection performances. Glowinski allowed just 1 pressure and Bredeson was clean.

-Markus McKethan saw a position change. He played left guard for the first time of his career. He did not play there even in college. I am curious to hear more about that decision but even though he finished with a negative grade overall, he played better than previous weeks. Young players take time to develop and there is at least some optimism that the shift to the left side (which likely had more to do with Glowinski playing his more natural right guard spot) will show us a different version of him. He allowed a TFL and 2 pressures on plays where he lost initially. Whiffs, oversetting, and inaccurate hands get him into positions where he just cannot athletically recover.


-Kayvon Thibodeaux made an impact in two different ways, one of which obvious and the other not so much. He split three different sacks (1.5 total for him individually) and added 2 other pressures. He had a tackle and was credited for a pass break up (a gift-wrapped ball he should have caught and returned for a touchdown). A solid, productive game on a day where the Giants held to their opponent to just 7 points. The other impressive component here was the fact he played all but one snap. The injury to Azeez Ojulari and lack of options they have beyond him put this on the 2022 fifth overall pick. The 68 snaps were the third most of his career and watching the one-on-one wins against Washington left tackle Charles Leno, Jr. changed how they ran their passing game and protections up front. This defense and team needed Thibodeaux to step up, and he did.

-Jihad Ward saw another uptick in playing time for the third straight week. He added one tackle and one pressure. He and backup Boogie Basham did not stand out in any way, but they both set the edge for the entire game against the run. Physical and consistent. That helped funnel things inside where the defensive tackles and linebackers were dominating.


-Dexter Lawrence did it again. Please do not overlook how good these performances are simply because of how often he is doing it. This is what an All-Pro looks like. Former Giant and fan favorite Nick Gates was taken to school by Lawrence. He had 6 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 pressures. More impressive than that was what he did on the Leonard Williams sack in the first quarter. They stunted the two and three guys tried to block Lawrence, two of which ended up on their backs, and Williams ended with the 3rd-down sack, forcing a punt.

-Speaking of Williams, as I mentioned, he had a 3rd-down sack and 2 pressures in addition to 2 tackles. Solid game up front for a guy who has been a tad quiet this season. His biggest play, however, was a blocked field goal early in the 4th quarter in a 14-7 game. Had he not gotten his hand on that, the entire tone of that last quarter would have been different. Huge play in an unlikely moment by the team’s most expensive player.

-Rakeem Nunez-Roches and A’Shawn Robinson were the two most-used backups inside. They both added a pressure and Robinson had 3 tackles. I’ve said this before, but I like the options this depth chart gives them to prevent too much of a workload for Lawrence and Williams.


-A game after one of the best single-game performances I have seen from a Giants linebacker, Bobby Okereke led the team with 11 tackles and a pass break up. Micah McFadden added a half-sack and a pressure along with 5 tackles. Between the two of them, they rushed the passer 17 times. Individually, they both blitzed the same number of times. I was surprised to see Washington not attack these two in coverage when the opportunities were there.

-Isaiah Simmons brings versatility to the table. In this game we saw him line up at outside linebacker a season-high 24 times, as snaps were needed for the injured Ojulari. In all games combined prior to this one, he lined up at outside linebacker 22 times. So, he more than doubled that alignment position. He added one pressure (a key play in the fourth quarter) and 3 tackles. A QB spy/hybrid pass rusher is the best spot for him.


-The Deonte Banks surge continues. The rookie intercepted the first pass of his career in the second quarter. Two plays later, Barkley scored the second touchdown and New York took a 14-0 lead. A turnover and an explosive play and a touchdown all within three snaps? It seemed like for six weeks the Giants couldn’t squeeze out any of those over the course of an entire game. The Banks play spurred everything. Banks got into it with Terry McLaurin early on and it may have come back to bite him a little in the second half. He was also flagged for a hold. But Banks made a big play and it can hide other issues. The other thing that I liked was how well he prevented yards after the catch. It means he is close, it means he can recover. Those are two basic, but must-have traits for the position.

-Adoree’ Jackson missed the game with a neck injury. This opened the door back up for rookie Tre Hawkins, who played a career-high 59 snaps. He and nickel Cor’Dale Flott both played a solid game against Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel. The two averaged about 7 yards per catch. Like Banks, these two did an excellent job at minimizing what happened after the catch. They combined for 10 tackles and Hawkins came up with a 3rd-down pass break-up.


-Yet another week, yet another game with both Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock on the field for every snap. Pinnock was a bit more active, finishing with 8 tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 sack where he went untouched. His play speed stands out. McKinney added 4 tackles. More importantly, the two of them did not miss a single tackle for the fourth-straight week. They combined for 9 missed tackles over the first three weeks. Since then? Zero. McKinney was flagged for a bogus penalty that I did not dock him for. It was a poor judgement call by the ref.


-K Graham Gano: 0/1 (missed 42)
-P Jamie Gillan: 8 punts / 49.4 avg – 45.3 net

Gillan is quietly having a strong year. He leads the league in fair catches and is third in net average.


-DT Dexter Lawrence, DT Leonard Williams, OG Mark Glowinski


-TE Daniel Bellinger, OT Justin Pugh, WR Sterling Shepard


1. It is hard to be a believer in Sam Howell. From my 2021 scouting report summary: “He had very little integrity and feel in the pocket…He also played in a very simple offense even for college standards…Howell does not look like a pro to me…” Now, I will say this kid deserves more time to develop, as he’s started just 8 games to this point. But when looking at the college evaluation and watching his tape over those 8 starts, the optimism cannot be high. He is making this offensive line look worse than it is, he is not fully maximizing the weapons at his disposal. Washington not pursuing a different route at quarterback this past offseason puzzled me then and it puzzles me now.

2. Terry McLaurin is a very good receiver, and I would assume most people agree. But do we have any idea how good he is? Here are the quarterbacks he has caught passes from: Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Colt McCoy, Alex Smith (post injury), Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke, Garrett Gilbert, Ryan Fitzpatrick (1 quarter), Carson Wentz, Sam Howell. Talk about a rough lineup that never gets over the hump. McLaurin is just another example of a guy we often see in sports over the years. Someone who has the ceiling of being elite but never gets even close because of the situation around him. He really can’t be cut or traded because of cap reasons until after 2024 and at that point he will be entering his age-30 season.

3. Chase Young or Montez Sweat? Who are you taking? Both of the Washington defensive ends are free agents next spring. Both are former first rounders. Young has the better pedigree. Remember when many fans were upset in 2019 when NYG won two of their final three games, pushing them out of reach for Young in the following draft? Unfortunately, NYG had to choose eventual All-Pro Andrew Thomas that year while Young has missed 24 out of 57 games. Example #1,000 why getting too happy or too upset draft weekend can make one look foolish. Sweat, on the other hand, has missed just 7 out of 73 games and is a top-10 edge defender in the NFL who very few talk about. Young’s upside was and probably still is higher. He is playing some of the best football of his career right now, but that injury history needs to be considered when paying someone a long and expensive second contract.


1. A team that needs to scrape by to win games must ensure their special teams are on point. It can undoubtedly be the difference in multiple close matchups. Kicker Graham Gano is trustworthy, and Jamie Gillan is quietly having the best season of his career. Kick returners simply do not matter much. However, the punt returner can still be incredibly influential in either direction. New York has dropped the ball here, literally, and figuratively. The Eric Gray experiment is odd. He did not do it once in 2022 with Oklahoma and had minimal experience in that role at Tennessee. Shepard had never returned a punt (college or NFL) prior to this past Sunday. The blunder with Adoree’ Jackson last year still stands out. This needs to be figured out even if it means another off-the-couch signing. They got lucky their issues there did not cost them the game.

2. Winning this game was important. The first reason being obvious. They were 1-5 and they’ve created a minuscule margin for error from here on out. Two, the easier stretch of their schedule is here with a bunch of teams hovering around .500 coming up. A couple more games like this and yes, they’re back in the playoff hunt. Don’t believe me? Go look for yourself. They’re still in it and the reinforcements are coming.

3. This was a clean game by NYG. There were fewer missed tackles. There were fewer miscommunications along the offensive line. There were no drops. There were fewer penalties. They were dominant defensively on third down. They averaged just under 10 yards per pass attempt. Football is complex on many levels, but the results are usually rather simple. Avoid mistakes and you win almost every time. There will never be a mistake free player or team or game, but this team can compete like they did last year if those avoidable issues (listed above) are in the rear-view mirror. Whatever changes the coaches made in their preparation last week worked.

Oct 222023
Deonte Banks, New York Giants (October 22, 2023)

Deonte Banks – © USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t pretty, but the New York Giants won their second game of the season by defeating the Washington Commanders 14-7 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. The Giants snapped a four-game losing streak and are now 2-5 (1-1 in the NFC East).

The Giants were without starting quarterback Daniel Jones (neck) for the second game in a row, as well as three starting offensive linemen, including both offensive tackles. Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (neck) also missed the game.

The contest should not have been as close as it was. Two fumbles and a dropped interception turned what should have been a blowout by the Giants into a nail-biter that was decided by a goal line stand at the end of the games.

The Giants out-gained the Commanders in first downs (16 to 14), total net yards (356 to 273), net yards rushing (106 to 76), and net yards passing (250 to 176). New York also held Washington to 1-of-15 (6.7 percent) on 3rd down. Washington won the time-of-possession battle (31:14 to 28:46) and turnover battle (2 to 1).

The two teams combined for 17 first-half offensive possessions. Washington’s eight possessions resulted in 46 yards, two first downs, seven punts, and an interception by cornerback Deonte Banks. Quarterback Sam Howell was also sacked five times, doubling New York’s league-low sack total entering the game.

Meanwhile, the Giants started off slowly with a three-and-out on their initial possession. They followed that up with a 9-play, 66-yard drive that ended with a missed 42-yard field goal by place kicker Graham Gano. Their third possession resulted in another three-and-out.

The Giants scored an offensive touchdown for the first time in the first half of game this year on their fourth possession. New York drove 88 yards in eight plays, as the team overcame a red-zone holding penalty, and quarterback Tyrod Taylor threw a 15-yard strike to tight end on 3rd-and-goal. The Giants led 7-0 early in the 2nd quarter.

The Giants’ fifth offensive possession resulted in their third three-and-out. But after Banks picked off Howell, the offense responded with their second and last scoring drive of the game. It took two plays, the first a 16-yard throw to Waller and the second a 32-yard catch-and-run by running back Saquon Barkley for the touchdown. With just under nine minutes to play in the first half, the Giants led 14-0.

The Giants could have put the game away had outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux held onto a pass thrown right to him. It should have been an easy defensive score, giving the Giants a 21-0 lead. Instead, both offenses sputtered for the remainder of the first half.

At the break, the Giants still led 14-0.

Washington received the ball to start the second half and promptly went three-and-out again. However, New York’s punt return woes now came to the forefront. Running back Eric Gray had muffed a punt (recovered by the Giants) early in the game and had left the contest with a calf injury. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who was now returning punts, muffed the Washington punt. It was recovered by the Commanders at the New York 21-yard line. Six plays later, including a 4th-and-1 conversion, running back Brian Robinson scored from four yards out to cut the score to 14-7 early in the 3rd quarter.

Neither team’s offense did much for the remainder of the quarter. Three New York possessions resulted in one first down and three punts. Two Washington possessions resulted in one first down and two punts.

However, the Commanders threatened to tie the game late in the 3rd quarter and early into the 4th quarter. They drove 81 yards in eight plays, reaching the red zone. There the Giants’ defense held and Washington’s 27-yard field goal attempt was blocked by defensive lineman Leonard Williams. The score remained 14-7 with 13:23 left to play.

The Giants’ offense responded with what looked like game-clinching drive. New York took 5:37 off of the clock and gained 72 yards in 10 plays. However, on 1st-and-goal from the 10-yard line, Barkley fumbled the ball away at the 8-yard line, giving Washington the chance they needed to tie or win the game with 7:46 left on the clock.

In a nearly 7-minute long possession, the Commanders gained 85 yards and six first downs in 17 plays, including another 4th-and-1 conversion. With a minute left in the game, Howell’s 4th-and-5 pass to wide receiver Jahan Dotson was dropped, sealing the victory for the Giants.

Taylor finished the game 18-of-29 for 279 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He was sacked four times and rushed for 25 yards on eight carries. His leading receiver was Waller, who caught seven passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. Wideout Jalin Hyatt caught two passes for 75 yards. Barkley carried the ball 21 times for 77 yards and caught three passes for 41 yards and a touchdown.

The Giants’ defense came into the game with five sacks, but got to Howell six times, including sacks by defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence (2), Thibodeaux (1.5), Williams (1), safety Jason Pinnock (1), and linebacker Micah McFadden (0.5).

GAME VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS are available on YouTube.

On Saturday, the Giants activated QB Tommy DeVito and OL Jalen Mayfield from the Practice Squad.

Inactive for the game were QB Daniel Jones (neck), LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring), RT Evan Neal (ankle), OC John Michael Schmitz (shoulder), OT Matt Peart (shoulder), CB Adoree’ Jackson (neck), and DL Jordon Riley.

Running backs Eric Gray (calf) and Gary Brightwell (hamstring) left the game in the first half. RB Saquon Barkley hyperextended his left elbow in the first half but remained in the game.

Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Brian Daboll and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

Head Coach Brian Daboll will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Oct 202023
John Mara, New York Giants (September 17, 2023)

John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports

There was a pretty big seismic change in the NFC East this year when Dan Snyder sold the Washington Redskins / Football Team / Commanders. For over two decades, Snyder oversaw the demise of the once-proud franchise. How unstable did Washington become? While Snyder’s teams managed six playoff appearances since 1999, Snyder also had 10 different head coaches during his reign. The overall impression left in the minds of fans from New York, Philadelphia, and Dallas was that as long as Snyder owned the team, Washington would never be a truly serious threat in the division.

Publicly, John Mara and Steve Tisch do not engender the same creepiness of Snyder and Jerry Jones (Cowboys). But there is a danger that Mara and Tisch will now be viewed as the division’s new Dan Snyder in terms of sheer incompetence. Jeff Lurie in Philadelphia operates one of the NFL’s premier franchises. Despite all of Jones’ warts, the Cowboys usually are in playoff contention. Notably, both teams have absolutely owned the Giants for the better part of a decade. Now with Synder gone, a solid defense, and a new quarterback who is turning some heads, the Commanders appear on the upswing. They are already two games ahead of the Giants in the standings. If the Giants lose on Sunday, there is a very good chance they will finish dead last in the NFC East and be viewed as the division’s new punching bag for all three rivals.

Are Mara and Tisch the new Dan Snyder of the NFC East?


  • QB Daniel Jones (neck – questionable)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle – probable)
  • RB Gary Brightwell (ankle – probable)
  • WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee – probable)
  • OL Andrew Thomas (hamstring – out)
  • OL Evan Neal (ankle – questionable)
  • OL OL John Michael Schmitz (shoulder – out)
  • OL Mark Glowinski (quad/ankle – probable)
  • OL Matt Peart (shoulder – out)
  • DL D.J. Davidson (knee – probable)
  • CB Tre Hawkins (knee – probable)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (neck – questionable)
  • CB Cor’Dale Flott (ankle/shoulder – probable)
  • PK Graham Gano (knee – probable)

Personally, I’ve been on the fence with Daniel Jones for the last few years. I have not been willing to commit to either side of whether he is a bust or a victim of circumstance. Despite the turnovers, his rookie season was promising. But it was offset by a lack of progress and disappointing play in 2020 and 2021. Last year, under the tutelage of the new coaching staff, it appeared Jones had turned the corner and might turn into a halfway decent quarterback. A fan base that once booed him now cheered him. Most of that goodwill has evaporated again. Fans are back arguing that he is a bust or a victim of circumstance. Complicating matters further is that Jones now has suffered his second neck injury in three seasons. He may miss his second game in a row.

Is Jones a dud or a tragic figure? Valid arguments can be made for either point of view. However, after this week, there will only be 10 games left in the NYG season. Unless Jones returns soon and then lights it up in the last 10 games, can this franchise operate under the assumption that they have a quarterback? I don’t think so. And I’m pretty darn sure Jones isn’t going to go on a 10-game run where he erases all doubt. What I’m suggesting is that this may be Jones’ final season with the team. Ownership and management gambled and lost with Jones. They’ll have to eat what’s left of the contract and move on. If they don’t, they are simply prolonging the inevitable. Jones isn’t performing. And he’s damaged goods, a running quarterback with a bad neck. Tyrod Taylor is one good performance away from sealing Jones’ fate. If Taylor fails, it reinforces the impression that the team has no quarterback.

The Giants entered the 2023 season with nine offensive linemen on the roster, most of whom are now hurt and have missed games. This week, they have made seven transactions involving the offensive line. Two were placed on IR. Three were signed off of Practice Squads. And that doesn’t even count Justin Pugh, who was signed off of his couch a couple of weeks ago. If it wasn’t so painful, it would be comical. The only positive one can say at this point is that despite massive patchwork job, the experience level has actually increased and thus, in the short-term, there might not be as many mental breakdowns and free rushers.

Regardless, this does not bode well for an offense that still has not scored a first-half touchdown, and scored touchdowns in only two of six games. The Commanders have a talented defensive front that can get after the quarterback. That said, statistically speaking, Washington’s defense has had issues, both against the run and the pass. But the patchwork offensive line has to give the quarterback, Jalin Hyatt, and Saquon Barkley time and room to operate. It’s really that simple.

In my preview last week, I talked about the defense trending in the right direction. It certainly did that against the Buffalo Bills, holding a prolific offense scoreless in the first half. However, the two long touchdown drives in the second half of the game put a damper on the performance. It showed that the defense still has a lot of room for improvement. Yes, holding a team to 14 points should be enough, but sometimes situations demand more. Last week was one of those situations.

The way I view this defense now is more about getting a good read on 2024. There are some players – given their salary situation vis a vis their overall performance – who I do not expect to be here next year. That includes Leonard Williams and Adoree’ Jackson. Don’t be shocked to see someone get traded before the Halloween trade deadline. Injury history and age will likely weed out others such Azeez Ojulari and Jihad Ward. There are players whose contracts expire, such as A’Shawn Robinson, Isaiah Simmons, and Xavier McKinney. The last player mentioned – McKinney – has not played poorly. But if he expects to get paid, he needs to make more plays on the football.

The good news here is that management was smart enough to hold off decisions on guys like Williams, Jackson, and McKinney. Previous management would have prematurely extended these contracts. The team will now have more flexibility moving forward. There is some decent youth to build around. The glaring issue is finding more edge rushers, especially with Ojulari flaming out and Kayvon Thibodeaux not providing a consistent impact. The Giants will also have to replace Leonard Williams with a decent starter.

As for this game with Washington, it’s the usual suspects with one major exception. The go-to guys to watch are still WR Terry McLaurin, RB Brian Robinson, and TE Logan Thomas. There are others at receiver and back-up running back who can make some noise. The big change is at quarterback where second-year Sam Howell looks like a 5th-round steal. Howell will hold onto the ball too long, but he’s a gunslinger who is not afraid to take chances. This could work to New York’s advantage if the secondary does a good enough job disguising its coverages and confusing Howell. But don’t underestimate him. Commanders fans are very excited about their quarterback situation.

For lack of a better description, management and coaching on the Giants have somehow lost their mojo this year. There are a number examples, including how the depth chart was handled at wide receiver. For most teams, the 5th and 6th wideouts are special teams players. Sterling Shepard is not that and yet he hasn’t played much on offense either. Meanwhile, Jamison Crowder, who flashed at wide receiver at times in the summer, was let go despite his return experience. Last week, Crowder earned “Special Teams Player of the Week” honors for his 61-yard punt return. To be blunt, keeping Shepard and letting go of Crowder made no sense given how little Shepard has been used.

Why do I get the feeling that Crowder is going to be a problem on Sunday?

I’m not posting a quote this week. Instead, just a friendly word of advice. Brian Daboll, at least publicly, has understandably appeared a bit shell-shocked and beaten down this year. 2023 has obviously been a disaster. But he’s got to pick himself and the team up and just say “fuck it” at this point. The rest of this season is more about 2024 than 2023. Embrace the challenge and do the best you can with a positive attitude. Find “your guys” and ride with them.

As strange as it sounds, had the Giants been able to pull off the upset in Buffalo (and they should have won that game), they still had a shot at stabilizing this situation with a win against the Commanders. Now this game will likely determine just how deep the abyss is. A loss here and the Giants may be looking at a top-5 pick in the upcoming draft. Given the questions at quarterback, that might not be a bad thing.

Dec 202022
Azeez Ojulari, New York Giants (December 18, 2022)

Azeez Ojulari – © USA TODAY Sports


-Daniel Jones: 21/32 – 160 yards / 0 TD – 0 INT / 77.6 RAT

Jones added 35 yards on 10 carries. He led the NYG offense to 13 points and one touchdown. It was far from an impressive group-performance on tape, but the key here is what he did when it mattered most. Jones made several key plays in big moments that led to the win. NYG’s best drive of the year took place in the second quarter. They were up 7-3 and started on their own three-yard line. 18 plays and 97 yards later, Barkley scored a touchdown to give them a commanding 11-point lead which they carried into halftime. On this drive alone, Jones went 10/12 for 91 yards. Almost half of his completions and over 55% of his yards from the game took place here. He came up with a big-time throw on 3rd-and-9 and then another one on 4th-and-9. Both of which went to Richie James.

The other major positive in this game was the fact Jones did not turn the ball over. In a game like this, the turnover battle means as much as any component to the game. This is the ninth game Jones has not turned it over. This was the major red flag in Jones’ game early on, but undoubtedly the biggest improvement we have seen out of him. It is a good sign to see the player show he can make objective improvements that are vital to team success. While I would not say Jones put the team on his shoulders and led them through the fire, this was more of what I wanted to see. I care less about touchdowns and yards per attempt (5 yards per is VERY low) because of the handicap he is playing with at receiver. I do care about making the big throws in big moments. I do care about him protecting the ball. I do care about him creating opportunities on his own. Jones did all of the above. The quickness in getting the ball out made all the difference and it is amazing how much better the result is when he does so. It took him an average of 2.55 seconds to throw. It was the best of the year and I believe there is a correlation between that time and the offensive efficiency. The quality pass protection helped a lot, too.


-Saquon Barkley: 18 att – 87 yards – 1 TD / 5 rec – 33 yards

Now this is what we all want and what NYG needs out of Barkley. The funny part is, I knew after his first carry that we were going to be watching the best version of him. It was immediate energy. It was a lack of hesitation. It was the immediate acceleration and sharp cuts. Barkley did not blow the box score up, but on a day where the team gained 288 net yards, his 120 total were a big deal. The true value of having an elite back like this shows up in the second half. What were his second half numbers? 11 att / 74 yards – 2 rec / 14 yards. Jones carried NYG on the game’s most important drive in the second quarter, as noted above. It was Barkley that took it over on the second most important drive of the game which took place in the fourth quarter. With a five-point lead and 6:06 left, WAS had all three timeouts remaining. This is where having the elite back is near vital. Barkley (and the NYG offensive line) responded with four straight running plays. Gains of 12, 15, and 14 yards began the drive. The runs were some of the best I have ever seen out of Barkley including his long highlight-reel touchdowns. He pressed the hole, made subtle adjustments, showed spin moves while moving at a full rate of speed, and he fell forward.

I will touch on this below, but the contrast between the best version of Barkley and the worst is enormous. Why is that? Can it actually be solved with a better group of blockers? Because I’ll tell you what. The NYG offensive line had one of their best games of the year in this game. If they play at this level week to week (with the same bodies or new additions), does Barkley become a guy gaining 5-6 yards per carry every week and playing the role of closer? Does that change the long-term outlook? Watching him in the fourth quarter is what makes many hold onto the hope of what #26 could be here. And it is real. It is not just a fantasy. And the number one factor why it may be overlooked by most.

-Matt Breida added 12 total yards (6 rushing / 6 receiving). Not a major impact but he brought a physical brand to the game.


-Richie James continues to be one of the key players to this team who is stepping up when it matters. This time it was in a winning effort. He ended the game with 4 rec / 42 yards and returned two punts for 23 and 9 yards. Once again, we are not talking about taking over the box score, but he deserves the credit for shining in big moments. He caught all but one target. Three of his catches went for a first down. He was the recipient on 3rd-and-9 and 4th-and-9 conversions. He added 19 yards after the catch.

There are 51 NFL receivers who have caught 42 passes this season. James is 1 of 10 who have dropped 1 or zero balls. As I said last week, he is the one guy who I trust the most to get himself open and now he is proving he can be the go-to guy on conversion attempts.

-Isaiah Hodgins continues to impress and build his rapport with Jones. Four targets, four catches. The classic possession receiver is a tough and hard-nosed dude with plus-route running ability. That works in this league. The big play potential may not be there, but he is going to help move the chains. He’s done so 9 times over the last three games and Jones passer rating is 133.3 when throwing his way.

-Darius Slayton had 5 catches for 23 yards. He did not get any real looks downfield. NYG tried to kill the WAS pass defense with a thousand paper cuts. I would have liked to see one or two deep balls to Slayton. But the game plan was evidently short, quick passes and feeding Barkley.


-Daniel Bellinger played a career-high 98% of the snaps while Nick Vannett and Chris Myarick only saw 16% and 10%, respectively. Bellinger was targeted 3 times, bringing in just 1 of them for 4 yards. He dropped a ball at the end of the third quarter that was a result of him simply not getting his head around fast enough. He has good, strong hands but the timing was simply off by a second there. Vannett’s catch went for 15 yards.

The group did a nice job on the edge in the running game. NYG’s run-success was between the tackles so these guys did not factor much, but they both had successful wham blocks on successful plays.


-Andrew Thomas allowed just one pressure on a play where the rusher used an inside move at the same time Jones had to step up into the pocket. Otherwise, a very good pass blocking game for the left tackle. But I thought he left some on the table in the running game. There was a little too much upper-lean to his game. Evan Neal got off to a rough start, but I thought he stabilized as the game went on. He also performed well in key spots. That said, he allowed 3 pressures and was flagged for a false start. Being matched up against Montez Sweat is no small task (second in NFL In QB hits) and he allowed Sweat to hit Jones just once without much help. He was also a force in the running game.

-Nick Gates (21 snaps) and Ben Bredeson (42 snaps) split time at left guard. They were both excellent. This was Bredeson’s first action since Week 7 in Jacksonville. I would love to know the plan here because I have a strong opinion that Bredeson at guard and Gates at center would give this offense their best line. I don’t think it will sway it too much, though. And one can make the case that the rotation will help keep these guys fresh. It appeared to help in the fourth quarter in this game, when the OL really took over.

-Nice work by Mark Glowinski. Two weeks ago, in his first matchup against WAS and Daron Payne, he ended up on the “Dud” list. This is one of the values to an experienced player who shows the blue-collar style of play at the absence of pure ability. Get beat, study film, go to a different part of the tool box, and try again. It worked. He threw multiple key blocks on their successful running plays and allowed just one pressure. Center Jon Feliciano allowed a TFL (5 yards) and was flagged for holding. He was excellent in pass protection when it came to help and staying home on stunts.


-NYG does not win this game without Kayvon Thibodeaux. Plain and simple. You draft edge defenders high with the expectation they take games over. Not every week, not even every other week. But multiple times throughout the year they simply take over. 12 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 pressure, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 touchdown. The grand slam (sack + FF + FR + TD) changed the game. It was one of the most athletic plays I have seen league-wide this year from a pass rusher. Thibodeaux, like Barkley, is playing with an increased sense of speed and twitch. It is turning into power, he is playing with great pad level, and opposing blockers are having a really hard time with it. The icing on the cake is the hustle he is showing. This dude emptied the tank, he gave the team everything he had. We saw him hustling downfield over and over. When the best players are the hardest working players, it is amazing what happens to the culture.

The one negative on his sheet will be the multiple times he got beat on the edge as a run defender. Like Wink Martindale, there is a wide spectrum of results with the way he plays the run. We saw the good (making plays behind line of scrimmage), but there were four separate times where he either got sucked in by a fake or took the wrong angle against the blocker. And they all resulted in big gains. Coaches will see that on tape.

-Azeez Ojulari added 4 tackles, 2 pressures, a half-sack, and a half-TFL. Solid, disruptive game and his mere presence on the other side has helped Thibodeaux put together a strong consecutive set of games. I like how he seems to increase his impact in the second half of games.

-Jihad Ward played a season-low 26 snaps and was not involved in much action. The lack of speed in pursuit almost allowed Taylor Heinicke to get into the end zone on the final drive but Thibodeaux saved the day. Tomon Fox and Oshane Ximines saw a little bit of playing time and did not make an impact. In games like this, it really comes down to the main two guys on the outside.


-Leonard Williams was back. While he didn’t play his best football, his presence is a difference maker. Having the front four of Williams-Lawrence-Ojulari-Thibodeaux is so crucial. It is a quartet that complements each other so well. Williams recovered a fumble and added a pressure in the fourth quarter. He stepped up when it mattered most.

-Dexter Lawrence continued his quality play. It was the second straight week we saw him under 75% of the defensive snaps, but he still ended with 3 tackles, a half-TFL, 3 pressures, and a forced fumble that NYG recovered. Like Williams, I thought his best football was played in the biggest moments.

-Henry Mondeaux, Justin Ellis, and undrafted rookie Ryder Anderson all played 12 snaps each. Anderson made the standout play, a sack (second in as many weeks) and continues to show what I saw over summer. There is something this team can work with here. The ceiling is high and he has a game similar to a young Leonard Williams (scaled back of course). Mondeaux and Ellis were run plugs and not much more. The run defense issues have more to do with the second level, and these guys are doing a good job of eating blockers and holding their ground, but neither are getting off blocks and making any plays. I would like to see one or two from each.


-When it comes to quickly filling running lanes, creating less space to work with is key to a downhill, early-down rushing attack WAS uses. Jaylon Smith mightily struggled here in the first half when the WAS running game was really moving. He did pick it up in the second half and he had 9 tackles, but he also allowed 3 catches on 3 targets for 35 yards. This has become a focal point to pick on by opposing offenses.

-Rookie Micah McFadden was better at getting into the inside running lanes quickly, but the lack of lateral range caught up to him. A good run defense needs that backside pursuit to be there, and I am not sure he has it. Landon Collins saw some real playing time in the second half and made two impressive tackles at the line of scrimmage. I like what Collins brings to the table and I think he is going to be a big part of the defense moving forward.


-Fabian Moreau was put on shadow-duty against Terry McLaurin once again. It resulted in 5 catches for 66 yards on 5 targets. The help over the top on vertical routes from Julian Love was a factor in McLaurin never having the explosive play.

-Cor’Dale Flott was tested multiple times downfield. While he did not break up anything up, I liked the movement traits once again. He needs to eventually progress with the ball skills and making plays, but the ability to play sticky is most important. He has that down on multiple levels of the route tree. There are major concerns with him as an outside run defender, however. He is getting overmatched physically.

-Nick McCloud and Darnay Holmes were the weak points of the defense in the secondary. McCloud allowed a touchdown and dropped an interception. While it goes down as a pass breakup, that is a play that simply needs to be made. While I am careful to put him down at all considering he was added via waivers and has exceeded expectations, I cannot look past the blown opportunity at game-changing plays. Holmes was penalized for the 8th time this year, second most in the NFL. And he got away with a blatant pass interference on the final WAS offensive play of the game. On that same drive, he allowed a huge play in coverage. Defenses know who to pick on in big spots.


-I like what we are seeing on a week-to-week basis from Jason Pinnock. He has run away with the starting safety job from Dane Belton while McKinney is out. He had 5 tackles, a forced fumble, and 2 pass breakups in addition to an untouched pressure. Pinnock’s closing speed is such a factor on outside runs. He is also limiting yards after the catch with quick, sure tackling.

-Julian Love added 7 tackles and missed one, while Tony Jefferson provided extra physical play with 2 tackles himself. NYG has been getting torched in the front seven against the run, but these safeties have stopped the bleeding.


-K Graham Gano: 2/2 (Made 50, 50)
-P Jamie Gillan: 5 punts / 42.6 avg – 41.8 net


-EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, WR Richie James, K Graham Gano


-CB Darnay Holmes, OT Evan Neal, CB Nick McCloud


(1) As the broadcast did a nice job noting, this loss makes the playoff odds for WAS take a nosedive. While they’re not out of it, they pretty much have to win two of their last three to have a shot. They are playing at a motivated SF next week, a game I can’t see them winning. Then two home games against CLE and DAL. Their hope may need to be that DAL would be resting starters in that game. SEA has games against NYJ and LAR remaining. DET has games against CHI, CAR, and GB remaining.

(2) Brian Robinson’s story is one of my favorite of the year. Getting shot, coming back much sooner than expected, and then taking the number one job in the backfield all within months of each other tells us a lot about the character of the man. That and his running style are going to cause problems for the Giants for years. The ideal blend of power, aggression, and quick speed.

(3) During the broadcast, color commentator Chris Collinsworth noted how vital it is for a team to have that third receiver in the passing game. Not sure if he is thinking Curtis Samuel is a real number two guy or not (I don’t), but I think he is one short. A real passing game that strikes fear into a defense needs four targets. Without the amount of nickel and dime being played and how quickly pass rushers are disrupting the timing now, I think the number is four. Three of them need to be receivers, and the fourth can be a tight end or a running back. Goes to show how far away NYG currently is from that kind of potential and how long it can and will take.


(1) Why do we see a difference in movement traits with Barkley throughout the year? As I noted above, the first five steps of his first carry were all it took for me to note we were going to see the best version of him. Speed, burst, agility, stop and go. All of it. I did a quick look at games of his on grass in 2022 vs. games on turf. On grass, he averages 6 yards per touch and just 4 yards on turf (73 carries – 431 yards / 18 rec – 124 yards on grass and 196 carries – 739 yards / 29 rec – 170 yards on turf). All of this talk when it comes to the non-contact injuries on the turf could certainly be a block between Barkley and his ability. Something to think about and track.

(2) While we can all agree NYG is still early in the process of building a Super Bowl contending roster, I will say something about where they currently sit. This is the kind of team you get a little scared to play against in the playoffs. They have the tools to be very competitive if/when they get a lead. A running game that is capable (albeit inconsistent) of taking over late in games. A pass rush that now has four credible weapons if they stay healthy. There is more to it than that, I know. But those two pieces, when clicking, can do a ton of damage in cold weather games.

(3) Yes, when it comes to projected odds, NYG has a 90+% chance of making the playoffs. In my opinion, that means next to nothing. They need to get at least another win. 9 is the number you feel good about and they’re simply not there yet. MIN is a tough matchup. PHI Week 18 could still be a high-effort game for the Eagles because of home field advantage. And yes, the IND game looks easy on paper, but I still don’t think NYG is the kind of team that can look past anyone in that kind of situation. This win in WAS had some deeper meaning than just the micro-level result. I can’t help but continue to think down the road here and how much this game against MIN can mean for the culture-build. Emotional wins like this, league-wide, tend to lead to a letdown. I want to see the same effort against the Vikes. That will mean something beyond the result.

Dec 192022
Kayvon Thibodeaux, New York Giants (December 18, 2022)

Kayvon Thibodeaux – © USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants won their biggest game in six years by defeating the Washington Commanders 20-12 on Sunday night at FedExField in Landover, Maryland. With the victory, the Giants improved their overall record to 8-5-1 while the Commanders fell to 7-6-1. The Giants also now own the head-to-head advantage over Washington in the race for a Wild Card playoff spot.

In terms of overall team statistics, Washington held advantages in first downs (20 to 19), total net yards (387 to 288), net yards rushing (159 to 128), and net yards passing (228 to 160). The Giants had a 1-minute advantage in time of possession. Both teams were terrible on 3rd-down conversions with New York being 2-of-10 (20 percent) and Washington 1-of-10 (10 percent). The big difference in the ball game was turnovers, with the Giants recovering two critical fumbles.

The Commanders received the ball to start the game, gained 41 yards and three first downs, but punted. In turn, the Giants went three-and-out on their first possession. Washington then drove 47 yards in nine plays to set up a 41-yard field goal that gave them a 3-0 advantage. New York only gained one first down before punting again on their second possession.

The first key moment in the game came early in the second quarter. The Commanders began their third possession from their own 18-yard line. After picking up two yards, a holding call pushed Washington back to their own 10-yard line. On 2nd-and-18, outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux beat the left tackle, stripped the ball out of quarterback Taylor Heinicke’s hand, recovered the loose ball at the 2-yard line, and scored. The Giants were now up 7-3.

Washington’s offense did somewhat compose itself, picked up 28 yards and two first downs, but then punted with the punt being downed at the New York 3-yard line. The Giants’ offense did not do much on Sunday night against the NFL’s 4th-ranked defense, but they did on this drive, the best of the season for Big Blue. New York’s third possession lasted over eight and a half minutes, traveling 97 yards in 18 plays, and accruing eight first downs. Key moments included a 10-yard pass from quarterback Daniel Jones to wide receiver Richie James on 3rd-and-9 and an 11-yard pass from Jones to James again on 4th-and-9 from the Washington 35-yard line. Three plays later, running back Saquon Barkley took a direct snap and scored from three yards out on 2nd-and-goal. The Giants now led 14-3 with 1:43 left in the second quarter.

The Commanders picked up one first down, but were forced to punt again before halftime. At the break, the Giants still led 14-3.

The Giants received the ball to start the second half, gained one first down, but punted, with the punt being downed at the 9-yard line. However, it took Washington only six plays to travel 91 yards to cut the score to 14-9. The Commanders picked up chunk plays of 18, 13, 15, 20, and 11 yards before Heinicke threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jahan Dotson. An offensive pass interference penalty wiped out a successful 2-point conversion and then Washington missed the extra point.

The Giants responded with a 10-play, 43-yard drive that set up a successful 50-yard field goal by place kicker Graham Gano. New York was now up 17-9 with 3:11 left in the third quarter. After both teams went three-and-out, the Commanders chipped into the Giants’ lead again with a 7-play, 25-yard possession that ended with a 51-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

New York responded with a couple of first downs, crossing midfield, but punting again. On Washington’s first snap of following possession, Heinicke connected with Dotson on a 61-yard pass that moved the ball from their own 9-yard line to the New York 30-yard line. Four plays later came another monumental turnover. On 3rd-and-4 from the 5-yard line, Heinicke was sacked by defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence and outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari. An instant replay challenge by Head Coach Brian Daboll showed that the ball came loose before Heinicke was down. Since defensive lineman Leonard Williams had recovered the football, the fumble was awarded to the Giants at the 14-yard line with 6:06 left in the game.

Barkley and his blockers responded with four runs that gained 44 yards to the Washington 42-yard line. Jones picked up a first down with his feet and Gano kicked another 50-yard field goal right after the 2-minute warning. The Giants were now up 20-12.

However, the game was not over. The Commanders returned the ensuing kickoff 43 yards to their own 43-yard line. Heinicke then threw passes of 27, 6, and 14 yards to the New York 10-yard line and ran for nine yards to the 1-yard line. On 3rd-and-1, a touchdown run by the Commanders was wiped out by an illegal formation penalty, moving the ball back to the 6-yard line. After an incomplete pass with pressure from Ojulari, Heinicke’s last attempt, on 4th-and-goal, was broken up by cornerback Darnay Holmes on a play where defensive pass interference could have been called. The Giants took over with 48 seconds left and knelt on the ball to seal the victory.

Jones finished the game 21-of-32 for 160 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. He was not sacked and only officially hit four times. Barkley and wide receiver Darius Slayton led the the team with five catches each, but only for a total of 56 yards. Barkley ran the ball 18 times for 87 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Thibodeaux had a monster game, being credited with 12 tackles, one sack, three tackles for losses, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery that he scored on. Ojulari (2 quarterback hits) and Lawerence (3 quarterback hits) split the other huge sack that led to turnover. Defensive lineman Ryder Anderson was also credited with a sack.

Gano nailed both his 50-yard field goal attempts. Punter Jamie Gillan’s net punting average was 41.8 yards with three punts downed inside the 20-yard line. James returned two punts for 32 yards.

GAME VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS are available on YouTube.

On Saturday, the Giants activated (standard elevation) QB Davis Webb and LB/S Landon Collins from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster.

The team also placed OG Joshua Ezeudu (neck) on Injured Reserve and activated OG Ben Bredeson (knee) from Injured Reserve.

Inactive for the game were CB Adoree’ Jackson (knee), OG Shane Lemieux (toe), QB Davis Webb, WR David Sills, OG Jack Anderson, ILB Tae Crowder, and CB Rodarius Williams.

OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux was poked in the eye on the defense’s last play of the night.

Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Brian Daboll and the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Brian Daboll (Video)
  • QB Daniel Jones (Video)
  • RB Saquon Barkley (Video)
  • DL Leonard Williams (Video)
  • OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux (Video)
  • ILB/S Landon Collins (Video)

Head Coach Brian Daboll will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Dec 162022
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (December 4, 2022)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

To date, the New York Football Giants have had an NFC East problem. The facts are right in front of us:

  • Overall record: 7-5-1
  • NFC East record: 0-3-1
  • Record outside of the division: 7-2

And any serious fan of this team knows this has been a problem for years. The Eagles are 23-6 against the Giants in their last 29 games. The Cowboys are 11-1 against the Giants in their last 12 games. Even against lowly Washington, the Giants are 0-2-1 in their last three games.


The obvious answers are talent and coaching. But if you dig a little deeper, the real problem appears the Giants are simply losing the battles within the trenches more than anything else. The other teams in the division have better offensive lines, and the teams in the division have been better and deeper in the front seven on defense. The Giants took steps to rectify these problems in offseason, including with both 1st-round picks, but they still are bringing up the rear in the division and a lot more talent acquisition remains to be done in order to close the gap.

The Eagles are clearly the best team in the NFC, and their 48-22 dismantling of the Giants last Sunday demonstrated just how much better they are than Big Blue. The Cowboys swept the Giants, but those contests were closer. Dallas is also clearly the better team, but the Giants can compete with them. The Commanders and Giants are fairly equally matched, as indicated by their 20-20 tie two weeks ago. However, injury issues on the Giants, particularly in the secondary, but also on the offensive line and in the receiving corps, most likely give the Commanders the tactical edge at this point in time. Washington has also had three weeks to prepare for the Giants (the week before the last game and the past two weeks since they had a bye week) and is almost completely healthy with no players missing practice this week.

Nevertheless, right now, everything is in front of the Giants. They are not a super-talented team. They have injuries. They are 0-3-1 in their last four games. But they are still 7-5-1 in mid-December. Their playoff fate is still in their own hands. Technically, the Giants are in 4th-place in the NFC East. The 7-5-1 Commanders have a better division record. But if the Giants beat the Commanders, they will own the head-to-head match-up and be in the driver’s seat for Wild Card spot. For all intents and purposes, Sunday night’s game is almost as important as a playoff game. It is probably the most important game this team has played since the 2016 season.


  • WR Richie James (concussion – questionable)
  • TE Daniel Bellinger (rib – questionable)
  • OG Josh Ezeudu (neck – out)
  • OG Shane Lemieux (toe – out)
  • DL Leonard Williams (neck – questionable)
  • OLB Jihad Ward (concussion – questionable)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (knee – out)
  • CB Nick McCloud (illness – questionable)
  • LB Micah McFadden (neck/ankle – probable)

The Washington Commanders have a damn good and well-coached defense. They are currently 4th in the NFL overall and one of the most balanced defenses, being 9th against the run, 7th against the pass. They are also 10th in scoring defense. Two weeks ago, despite playing four full quarters and 10 minutes in overtime, the Giants were held to 316 total net yards (134 yards rushing and 182 yards passing). While quarterback Daniel Jones was 25-of-31 (104.3 QBR), only missing on six passes, including a costly drop by Darius Slayton, the Giants average gain per pass play was just over five yards. A bigger issue was that Saquon Barkley was held to 63 total yards with only three of those yards embarrassingly coming after halftime.

Pundits and fans can point fingers everywhere: coaching, quarterback, wide receiver, running back, tight end, offensive line. All had a role in the team’s inability to score a single point in the 1st and 4th quarters, as well as overtime. Indeed, had it not been for Azeez Ojulari’s sack-fumble-recovery early in the 3rd quarter, the Giants’ offense would not have been given a very short field to score their final points of the game. Their final seven possessions resulted in six punts and a missed field goal, gaining only six first downs, three of which came on one drive. After the 20-yard drive for a touchdown at the beginning of the 3rd quarter, the Giants gained only one yard for the rest of regulation. It was ugly.

If I was to pinpoint one primary problem for the NYG offense in that game, it was the inability of LG Nick Gates, OC Jon Feliciano, and RG Mark Glowinski to block stud defensive tackles Daron Payne (4 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 TFLs) and Jonathan Allen (8 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 forced fumble). Both of these players were wreaking havoc both against the run and the pass. The New York offensive tackles actually held up well in this game, but the interior line just couldn’t handle the strength of the Commanders’ defense. Gates is still rounding into form after a long layoff from a career-threatening leg injury. Feliciano and Glowinski played despite neck and back injuries, respectively, that made them both questionable for the December 4th game against the Commanders. Hopefully, all three play better.

Saquon Barkley said he had a great week of practice and readily admits his team needs him now to make big plays. Daniel Jones has a history of playing extremely well at Washington (7  touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 111.4 QBR in 3 career starts there). But the Giants are not going to be able to do much unless Gates, Feliciano, and Glowinski play much better than they did on December 4th. It’s almost really that simple. Barkley and Jones can’t do their things if the line doesn’t give them room to operate.

“Those two D-tackles – especially Allen – I think he’s one of the better defensive tackles in the league,” said Gates this week. “And especially what he does, there’s not many other defensive tackles that can play in that body. They’re big, strong guys. The big thing is trying to keep them away from your body and move your feet on them. You don’t want them to get coasting.”

“Allen is one of the premier tackles in the league, one hundred percent,” Feliciano said. “He kind of gets, I don’t want to say ‘lost in the sauce’ there. They have a lot of first round guys… But Jon Allen is definitely a really, really good player.”

“There’s things that they do that definitely create problems,” Glowinski said. “But it will always be us controlling our techniques, making sure we’re putting ourselves in places to succeed, making sure that we’re (executing) proper assignments and things like that. There are things that pop up throughout the game. It’s just us making sure that we’re putting ourselves in the right position and place, making sure that we’re all on the same page, communications, fundamentals, just knowing where we’re going.”

One added advantage Washington will have this time is the return of top draft pick DE Chase Young. Like the Eagles and Cowboys, this is another team with a good secondary and New York’s talent-challenged receiving corps will likely struggle. Commanders get CB Benjamin St-Juste back. Slayton had a big 55-yard catch in the last game, but also had a huge drop. It sure would be nice if Kenny Golladay could make ONE freaking memorable play before the Giants cut him in the offseason.

Personally, I think Jones and Barkley have their fate in their hands. The contracts of both are up. Both will want big money. This is the biggest game of the season for the Giants. And in order for New York to win, both Jones and Barkley need to elevate the play of those around them and be difference makers. If they can’t do that, in a game like this, then I’m not sure these are the players to build around.

Giants fans have known for some time that this game was going to be the most important of the regular season. We had all hoped that FS Xavier McKinney and CB Adoree’ Jackson would be back for this contest, giving a huge boost to a New York defense that has increasingly struggled in their absence. Alas, it is not to be and the Giants will have to get by once again with their depleted secondary. In the last game, Taylor Heinicke threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. WR Terry McLaurin caught 8 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. Slot receiver Curtis Samuel chipped in with 6 catches for 63 yards and WR Jahan Dotson had 5 catches for 54 yards and a costly touchdown. Tackling was an issue for the New York linebackers and secondary with the targets making big yards and scoring after the catch.

If that weren’t bad enough, the Giants also gave up 165 yards on the ground, allowing 4.6 yards per rush. Rookie RB Bryan Robinson out-performed everyone on the Giants, carrying the ball 21 times for 96 yards.

The reporters finally asked Wink Martindale about his unit’s struggling run defense. “It’s been a struggle,” replied Martindale. “We’ve played with more DBs than we ever have this year, just to change things up. So, I think that’s part of it. I think teams are just running the ball more and we’ve played three really good mobile quarterbacks.” (My interpretation of this is that Martindale feels like he has to play more defensive backs in order to prevent big plays in the passing game due to the talent dropoff. The tradeoff is weakening your run defense).

When asked about defending the edges, he responded, “I think there’s a multitude of things that we’re working on to try to remedy that. I don’t think it’s just always on the edges, I think there’s some right up the middle too that we’ve had some issues with. So, it’s like one of those things when you start working on it, you’re plugging the dike. I’m running out of fingers and toes to plug the dike. So, we’re just going to continue to work at it and try to get better and play better defense, coach better defense, and go attack this team just like we do every Sunday.” (Pure speculation here but I think Wink knows he needs better depth on the defensive line and better talent at inside linebacker).

The issue for the Giants against Washington two weeks ago wasn’t Dexter Lawrence or edge players Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, and Jihad Ward. They all played fairly well. Leonard Williams left the game with a neck injury that still has him limited. This will be his first action since leaving that game. It’s absolutely critical that he plays a full game and is effective in doing so. The Giants desperately need him. The drop-off to the no-name reserves is just too great. In addition, while both Micah McFadden and Jaylon Smith had their moments on December 4th, they also struggled in lateral pursuit. Like many running games today, the Commanders use a lot of sleight of hand and misdirection. Both inside guys need to play disciplined football.

The defensive keys are obvious. The same things that were true two weeks ago remain. Attempt to limit the damage of Robinson and the other running backs. Without Adoree’ Jackson, pray CB Fabian Moreau can do a better job in defending McLaurin this time around. Moreau may have had his worst day of the season that day. (To keep things in perspective with the Giants right now, remember Moreau, who is currently the team’s top healthy cornerback, was cut by the Texans in August). What may help the Giants is the return of slot corner Darnay Holmes, who missed the first game with a shoulder injury. The Commanders were able to exploit his replacement, Zyon Gilbert, at times in that game. The Giants also need a strong game from Nick McCloud, who has been battling illness all week. If he is under the weather, we may see more of Cor’Dale Flott or Rodarius Williams.

Washington’s interior offensive line is more consistent than New York’s. But the outside tackles had problems with Thibodeaux, Ojulari, and Ward. The Giants need more of that from these three this week. We also saw how big turnovers were in the December 4th game. A fumble by the Giants led to three points for Washington. A fumble by the Commanders led to a touchdown for New York. The team that wins the turnover battle will likely prevail on Sunday night.

One final point: New York’s tackling was atrocious in the last game against Washington. If they can clean that up, that could be the difference as well.

Despite the punt block, the Giants had two more costly special teams plays last week, including the botched punt and a 66-yard kickoff return. Special teams have been one of the most disappointing elements of New York’s play this year. In the last game between these two teams, the Giants did an OK job on punt and kick coverage, as well as punt and kick returns. Jamie Gillan had one of his better games with a net average of 42.7 with three punts downed inside the 20. Keep in mind that Washington has one of the best punters in the NFL. Returner Dax Milne, who missed the last game, returns and the Giants will have to deal with him this time around.

Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka on Washington’s two defensive tackles: “They’re aggressive, they’re violent, they get up field and they play almost every snap. They never come off the field. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

These are two teams that are relatively evenly matched, but Washington will have the advantages of playing at home, having three weeks to prepare for the same opponent, and being healthier. On the flip side, coming off a bye week can lead to rusty play. The Commanders get Chase Young back, but the Giants will also hopefully have Leonard Williams for a full game this time around. The addition of Darnay Holmes could be significant too. I would also not underestimate the rustiness of Gates, nor the injuries that Feliciano and Glowinski played with in the last game.

I’ll finish with what I said earlier. Jones and Barkley need to make plays in key situations. Turnovers and tackling are also huge.

Dec 062022
Jihad Ward, New York Giants (December 4, 2022)

Jihad Ward – © USA TODAY Sports


Daniel Jones: 25/31 – 200 yards / 1 TD – 0 INT / 104.3 RAT

Jones also led the team in rushing with 71 yards on 12 carries. He lost a fumble in the first quarter. Besides a spike toward the end of the first half to stop the clock, he completed his first 16 passes and had two more taken off the board because of penalties. Jones’ first true incomplete pass came in the fourth quarter with 1:45 left. That one was a drop by Darius Slayton on what may have been considered a poorly thrown ball, but more than good enough for Slayton to come down with. Jones went 8/8 (and one more spike to stop the clock) for 64 yards in overtime.

Because of the conservative decision making by Brian Daboll, we do not know if Jones could have led this team to a win. Did he leave much out there? No, not really. Jones got what he could have out of this JV-caliber group of pass catchers. The biggest question surrounding him and his long-term outlook revolve around can he shoulder the entire offense in key moments? Can he do it? NYG could have used this game to help answer that question and they cowardly walked in the other direction. Starting off 16/16 (minus the spike) and starting 8/8 in overtime (minus the spike). Having a deep ball dropped by Slayton that, had he come down with it, could have led to a game-winning field goal. The quick decisions and play-making ability he created with his legs. After watching the All-22, Jones played a good game, even keeping the first quarter fumble in mind. The lack of confidence Daboll showed on the 4th-and-3 was unwarranted from my perspective and may be more telling than some want to think. They do not believe in him. How many head coaches who are confident in their quarterback make that decision? Almost NONE.


Saquon Barkley: 18 att – 63 yards – 1 TD / 5 rec – 18 yards

60 of Barkley’s rushing yards came in the first half. So yes, between the third quarter, fourth quarter, and overtime Barkley carried the ball 7 times for 3 yards. NYG had the lead from the 11:40 point in the third quarter until 1:53 left in the fourth quarter. They ran ten offensive plays over that span and Barkley ran the ball three times for -1 yard. This is where I feel there is yet another disconnect between what the team is and what they said they would be. They have the bell-cow back. They have the second half lead. They have a terrible passing game. And Barkley gets one yard on three carries while WAS works their way back to a tie? Part of this can be play-calling, but the other part is, at least in my eyes, a lack of trust in Barkley.

There is no denying he is failing to put his shoulder down, break tackles, and show some blue collar in his game. He took a pass in overtime, looked at a defender about to meet him just beyond the line of scrimmage, and used his 225+ frame and tree trunk legs to drive the defender back multiple yards. NYG picked up seven on the play. He is clearly capable of playing the power game. He clearly does not do so on a consistent basis. A 225+ pound back with elite movement traits is averaging 2.75 yards after contact per carry. That ranks 28th in the NFL among backs with over 100 carries. Behind the likes of Devin Singletary, Isaiah Pacheco, Raheem Mosert, D’Onta Foreman, Tyler Allgeier, and Khalil Herbert to name a few. Multiple things needed to be better when it comes to this running game, but it starts with #26.


-Darius Slayton remains WR1 on this team across the board. He had a team high 6 catches and 90 yards, including a 55-yard catch where he made a great play on the ball. As usual, however, Slayton had arguably the biggest whiff of the day. He dropped another deep ball with 1:40 left in the fourth quarter of a tie game that would have put NYG into near-field goal position. He mistimed his jump for the ball, increasing the difficulty of the actual catch. He lost it when he hit the ground. A true #1 threat in the passing game who brings a consistent skill set to the table is by far the biggest need on this roster.

-Isaiah Hodgins has my attention and the attention of many others as well. He caught 5 passes for 44 yards including a touchdown. The two standout traits in his game that can make him stick here are the toughness after the catch and reliable route tempo. There are sharp, quick route runners but they do not always get open. Then you have guys who understand tempo, patience, and macro-level play sets. That is Hodgins. He also came up with two key first downs that completely stemmed from his strength and toughness. Hodgins is at least 215 pounds, and he brings some fire behind those pads when he has the ball. I feel good when it is thrown his way and he brings a couple elements to the table that others do not.

-Richie James added 3 catches for 20 yards and 12 punt return yards. James has caught 11 of his last 12 targets. I give him a lot of credit for bouncing back from the Seattle fumble issue.


-Welcome back Daniel Bellinger. His first game back after the eye injury sustained October 23. He caught all 5 targets for 25 yards. There is a better blend of talent when it comes to size and speed when comparing him to the revolving door of replacements NYG went with while he was out. He was beat routinely as a blocker, however. He allowed 2 pressures in pass protection and was flagged for a hold.

-Nick Vannett was the TE2 for this game, out-snapping Chris Myarick 30 to 8. Neither caught a pass and both allowed a pressure. Overall, a really poor game by the NYG tight ends.


-I was encouraged by the play of the two tackles. This was rookie Evan Neal’s first game back since injuring his knee October 23 in Jacksonville. I put the microscope on him early and it wasn’t pretty. He wound up on the ground four times in the first quarter. Huge red flag. But he responded well and picked it up as the game went on. He pitched a shutout in pass protection. Andrew Thomas allowed 1 pressure. There was a sack that some will put on him, but I did not. There were multiple communication issues on the offensive line throughout the game and it is hard to peg who that is on. When it comes to actual blocking, Thomas had a very good game.

-The interior of this line was a disaster. The WAS group is outstanding between the tackles. I have discussed them multiple times over the years and while the team has not been very good over that span, the interior DL is more than solid. I have also discussed the NYG interior OL shortcomings since my first in-person look at them in camp. It is a bad, bad group. Mark Glowinski allowed 2 sacks and a TFL, but he did throw a key block on the Barkley touchdown run. He was getting out-reached by Daron Payne over and over. Combine that with no anchor and you just have no shot in that scenario. Nick Gates got abused by Jonathan Allen athletically. He allowed 3 pressures and a TFL. Center Jon Feliciano was solid, showing quality movement to the outside. His taunting penalty was a questionable call but that was at least partially derived from his reputation. Feliciano is widely known as a guy who goes overboard with that kind of stuff. Whether the flex was meant for Slayton or not, it could have been easily avoided. And yet another sign that the numerous scuffles one gets involved in throughout their career will come back and bite you at some point.


-Azeez Ojulari played 30 snaps in Week 3 against Dallas. He played 30 snaps in Week 4 against Chicago. Entering this game, that was it. Finally back, he broke out with one of the best games of his young career. He was on the field for 49 plays and ended with a sack, a forced fumble that he recovered, and a team-high 5 pressures. The movement traits and power game were what I was most impressed by. Ojulari obviously put in work this past offseason on adding bulk and power (take notes Kayvon), but this was the first time we really got to see it in action. He was getting under the pads of blockers with tremendous knee + ankle flexion while maintaining an upright torso with balance. That all stems from lower body strength. If he stays on the field, he changes this defense.

-Rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux was second on the team with 4 pressures and he added a sack to go along with 5 tackles. He also penetrated on a running play that led to a TFL. While there is still some hesitation in his game that is leaving production on the table, we have now seen two big time performances in back-to-back weeks.

-Jihad Ward had 3 tackles, 1 pressure, and 1.5 sacks. On his second sack, Ward forced a fumble that was recovered by WAS. One of the most important players on the defense who nobody ever talks about, Ward will now get used more economically with Ojulari back. His inside-out versatility is a big deal for this scheme and one I am focusing on in scouting prospects should he leave town in free agency. It can be a hard spot to fill.

-Oshane Ximines added 2 tackles, including 1 TFL. He lost the edge again on a 15-yard run. This has been the biggest issue in his game from the beginning.


-Dexter Lawrence is turning into an ironman at the position. Yet another game at over 91% of the snaps. Check this out. In 2019, Lawrence played over 80% of a game’s snaps one time. 2020? Zero times. 2021? One time. This season Lawrence has played 81%, 94%, 90%, 97%, 86%, 91%, 88%, 84%, and 91% of snaps in individual games. It is one thing to do that at Aaron Donald’s size. It is almost unheard of for a player this size to play this many snaps. His dominant play continues, finishing with 9 tackles, 1 sack, and 3 pressures. He is a tone setter for the defense in that he is the guy who is 14 yards downfield near the sideline making a tackle. It means a lot when your best players are also the best-effort players.

-Leonard Williams played just 35 snaps, the second lowest of the year. He is battling a neck injury. He still finished with 3 tackles and a pressure that led to a sack. The NYG run defense did suffer a bit without him in there.

-The trio of Justin Ellis, Henry Mondeaux, and Vernon Butler had their fair share of snaps. Ellis got credited with a sack, although I have him down for a half-sack. Fun fact. Ellis has played in 112 games including 53 starts dating back to 2014. That was his first ever full-sack on the official stat sheet. Mondeaux finished with 2 tackles and Butler flashed a bit with 4 tackles. Remember this is a former 1st round pick who had 6 sacks in 2019.


-This is now a two-man show at linebacker and it works well enough. Jaylon Smith is the straight-line, explosive guy who brings some emotional leadership to the mix. He finished with 5 tackles. Micah McFadden is the more physical inside-gap filler with better instincts and initial movement. He finished with 9 tackles and a forced fumble that ended up falling out of bounds. Both are solid in their respective roles, but the issue here is they both struggle on lateral running plays. They were eaten up by blockers in the running game because they just don’t get to their points fast enough.


-Be careful what you wish for when hoping Fabian Moreau gets back. The former Redskin missed the week 12 game against Dallas but was back for this one. He got absolutely roasted. He missed an open field tackle that led to a touchdown in the first quarter and that was just the beginning. He was beat on 3rd down multiple times and was also flagged for holding on a 3rd-down stop.

-Zyon Gilbert saw the first regular season action of his career as Darnay Holmes was out with an injury. He flashed some quality aggressive play but was often successfully targeted and beaten by WAS down the stretch. He also missed a tackle on the game-tying score. Gilbert did finish with a TFL and a PD that was a near-interception on a well-read play.

-Nick McCloud has made the most of his opportunity here. He played all 85 snaps and finished with 8 tackles and 2 pass break ups. While I like the physical nature he plays with, his missed tackle on the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter is textbook for what a defender cannot do in that situation. He made zero effort to tackle Dotson; he simply just lowered his shoulder, looked away, and threw an elbow. Poor play at a crucial time and it overshadowed his otherwise solid game.

-Rookie Cor’Dale Flott played about a quarter of the snaps. He came up with a key tackle on a 3rd down stop where he quickly read the play and undercut the blocker. Flott’s movement traits both in pursuit and coverage are impressive.


-Julian Love had one of the best efforts of the day. He was all over the field, leading the team with 12 tackles, one of which was for a loss. He fills running lanes like an inside linebacker. His tackle rate is currently one of the best in the NFL at all positions among full-time players and the absolute best among safeties. He did get beat in coverage a handful of times but considering everything that he is doing for this defense week to week, he is proving to be one the best sheer values on the team.

-Dane Belton appears to be passed on the depth chart by Jason Pinnock. Belton didn’t see a snap and Pinnock saw 79 of them. He finished with 3 tackles and 2 pressures and a big PD in the fourth quarter.

-Tony Jefferson was back and finished with 4 tackles as he saw his first action in nearly 2 months. The 28 snaps were over twice as many as any game he has played this season.


-K Graham Gano: 2/3 (Made 48, 27 / Missed 58)
-P Jamie Gillan: 7 Punts / 46.3 avg – 42.6 net


-EDGE Azeez Ojulari, WR Isaiah Hodgins, DT Dexter Lawrence


-OG Nick Gates, OG Mark Glowinski, CB Fabian Moreau


(1) The move from Carson Wentz to Taylor Heinicke reinvigorated this entire team. They’ve lost one game since Week 5 after starting 1-4. While the schedule has done them a few favors (like the rest of the division) it is hard to argue against their results. WAS has rotated through multiple different quarterbacks since Heinicke was brought to town in 2020. Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Garrett Gilbert, and Wentz. Heinicke does not check all the boxes when evaluating quarterbacks in the draft. He is small and he doesn’t have a power arm. But watching the throws this kid makes purely from innovation and reaction is impressive. The 4th-and-4 throw he made to Curtis Samuel for 20 yards in the 4th-quarter, game-tying drive was a top-5 throw in the league this season. I really mean that. He is getting better and better and I bet if the kid was 6’3” everyone would be behind him as a franchise guy.

(2) One of the more interesting contract situations to follow league wide will be what WAS decides to do with Daron Payne. He is playing on his fifth-year option deal (what Lawrence will be playing on next season) and the predominant thought around the league is he will be elsewhere in 2023. However, if they team stays with the cap-friendly Heinicke, it can open the door for Payne sticking around. Some believe they will pursue a high-priced corner, however. If that is the case, I don’t see them also signing Payne.

(3) Just how good is WAS? Besides having the best record in the NFL since Week 6, are they a credible NFC contender? If I had to make a tier system in the league, they are a notch above NYG right now only because of the injury situation. WAS has been relatively healthy all year. They also have immense strength in the trenches, a top-notch playmaker at WR, and an active back seven on defense especially in the middle. If I am an opponent, I don’t want to play these guys in the playoffs especially if Chase Young comes back strong from injury. They have game-wreckers, guys who can take over a game. And yes, the QB is underrated.


(1) What happened to Brian Daboll’s aggressive approach that he spoke of after their Week 1 win in Tennessee? “We’re going to be aggressive. That’s what we want to do. That’s the mindset I want the players to have. If it didn’t work, I could live with it,” Daboll exclaimed after that W. Multiple times over the past 6-7 weeks, I’ve seen his stance soften. Whether it be at the end of a first half in a close game or on 4th-and-under-5 in enemy territory. Ignoring the 4th-and-3 opportunity from the WAS 45-yard line right as the offense was clicking for the first time since the third quarter was mind-boggling. They needed 3 yards. 6 of the 7 previous plays gained 7, 5, 10, 12, 4, and 3 yards. Have things changed that much since Week 1? What exactly has? The playoff-bubble all of the sudden makes them scared to try and go for a win? This was Daboll’s biggest gaffe of the year and if you don’t think that decision changes the “mindset” (his words) of players moving forward, you are dead wrong. To me, it is no coincidence that Daboll is all of the sudden afraid to keep his foot on the gas is occurring at the same time as we are all seeing a drop off in aggression from Barkley. Good coaches dictate culture and confidence.

(2) The long-term outlook of this franchise is in question. As I have said multiple times, they appear to be in much better hands when it comes to the decision makers creating and sticking to a vision. The most important part, however, is seeing who produces on the field and letting that steer the direction of the ship. The NYG defense has holes, as do most pro defenses, but we are seeing the creation of its core. Ojulari, Thibodeaux, Lawrence, Williams, and Love will make up nearly half of the defense. Throw in supplements like McKinney and Jackson, add another year or two of personnel acquisition, and the defense has a nice trajectory that could end up being a top-shelf unit. Getting that homegrown core is vital to the process and NYG is very much getting there.

(3) A matchup against the Eagles and then another one against the Commanders who will be coming off a bye. Creating the NFL schedule is a MUCH more complex process than many believe. I’ve done some research on that and I know someone who was with the league office in the 2008-2015 timeframe. Learning about the nuances and algorithms that go into it was eye opening. With that said, having a team play the same opponent two games in a row (with a bye in between) should be a major no-no. That one is easily avoidable and I am shocked to see the NFL let that happen.

Dec 042022
Graham Gano, New York Giants (December 4, 2022)

Graham Gano – © USA TODAY Sports

The big game against the New York Giants and Washington Commanders ended in an unsatisfying 20-20 tie on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants are now 7-4-1 on the season and 0-2-1 in the division.

In terms of overall team statistics, Washington held clear advantages in first downs (25 to 20), total net yards (411 to 316), net yards rushing (165 to 134), net yards passing (246 to 182), and time of possession (41:11 to 28:49). Both teams turned the ball over once with fumbles.

The Giants received the football first to start the game, picked up one first down, and then turned the ball over when quarterback Daniel Jones fumbled at the end of a 5-yard run on 2nd-and-5. Washington recovered at the New York 48-yard line. The Commanders reached the Giants’ 3-yard line but were forced to settle for a 21-yard field goal.

The Giants quickly went three-and-out on their second possession. Washington responded with an 8-play, 62-yard drive that ended with a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Taylor Heinicke to wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who broke a tackle on the play to score. The Commanders were now up 10-0 with just under two and a half minutes to play in the 1st quarter.

New York finally got on the scoreboard on their third possession. The Giants gained 45 yards in eight plays to set up a 48-yard field goal by place kicker Graham Gano. After a quick three-and-out by the Commanders, which was aided by an 8-yard sack by defensive lineman Justin Ellis, the Giants tied the game. Jones connected with wide receiver Darius Slayton on a 55-yard deep throw. On 3rd-and-7, Jones then ran for 10 yards down to the Washington 13-yard line. On the next snap, running back Saquon Barkley scored from 13 yards out.

The Commanders regained the lead on their next possession with a 12-play, 51-yard drive. The key play was a defensive holding penalty called on cornerback Fabian Moreau on 3rd-and-7 which gave Washington a first down. The Commanders kicked a 42-yard field goal to take a 13-10 advantage.

The Giants’ final possession of the first half began with 2:23 on the clock. After a first down and a 21-yard run by Barkley, the Giants were at the Washington 30-yard line with 1:07 left with all three timeouts. But the Giants did not handle the clock well in the last minute, despite converting on 3rd-and-10 and 3rd-and-1, and settled for a 27-yard field goal on 2nd-goal from the 9-yard line with five seconds left.

At the half, the game was tied 13-13.

The second half started well for New York. On 3rd-and-8, Heinicke was sacked by linebacker Azeez Ojulari. The ball came loose and Ojulari recovered the fumble at the Washington 20-yard line. Jones ran for seven yards on 3rd-and-4. Two plays later, he threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins as the Giants were now up 20-13. Unfortunately for New York, these would be the last points they would score on the day.

The Giants pinned Washington at their own 5-yard line on the ensuing kickoff, but the Commanders neared midfield before punting. The Giants went three and out near the end of the 3rd quarter. The Commanders then drove 40 yards but missed a 52-yard field goal with just over 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter.

After two more punts by the Giants and one by the Commanders, Washington began their game-tying drive with 3:43 left in the game. Starting from their own 10-yard line, the Commanders drove 90 yards. The key play was a 20-yard completion on 4th-and-4 from Washington’s own 27-yard line. Heinicke then completed a pass of 25 yards down to the New York 28-yard line. He then threw to wide receiver Jahan Dotson, who avoided a couple of tackles en route to the score with 1:45 left on the clock. The game was tied at 20-20.

The Giants went three-and-out again. Washington picked up two first downs but were stopped at their own 38-yard line. The Commanders punted and Jones knelt on the ball once from the New York 16-yard line with 13 seconds left. After scoring a touchdown early in the 3rd quarter on a short field, the Giants’ offense only had one first down for the remainder of the 3rd and all of the 4th quarters, netting just one yard.

The Giants won the toss, picked up one first down and then punted. The Commanders picked up one first down and then also punted. The Giants reached the Washington 45-yard line but could get no closer. Head Coach Brian Daboll decided not to go for it on 4th-and-3. The Commanders got the ball back with 1:36 but could not move the ball. Washington was very fortunate that Heinicke did not fumble the ball when he was blindsided for a sack by linebacker Kayvon Thibodeux near the end zone. The Giants got the ball back with 28 seconds left at their own 43-yard line. New York gained 17 yards. With five seconds left, Gano’s 58-yard field goal attempt came up short and the game ended.

Jones finished the game 25-of-31 for 200 yards and one touchdown. He was also the leading ground gainer for New York with 12 carries for 71 yards. Barkley ran the ball 18 times for 63 yards and a touchdown. The leading receiver was Slayton, who caught six passes for 90 yards.

Defensively, the Giants were credited with five sacks, 10 quarterback hits, and three forced fumbles. The sacks were by Ellis, Ojlari, Thibodeaux, defensive linemen Dexter Lawrence, and linebacker Jihad Ward.

GAME VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS are available on YouTube.

On Saturday, the Giants activated OLB Azeez Ojulari and S Tony Jefferson from Injured Reserve. The team also waived TE Tanner Hudson and signed TE Nick Vannett to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad.

The Giants activated (standard elevation) DL Vernon Butler and CB Zyon Gilbert from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster.

Inactive for the game were WR Kenny Golladay (illness), OG Josh Ezeudu (neck), OG Shane Lemieux (toe), CB Adoree’ Jackson (knee), TE Lawrence Cager, OLB Elerson Smith, and CB Darnay Holmes.

DL Leonard Williams (neck) left the game and did not return.

Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Brian Daboll and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

Head Coach Brian Daboll and select players will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Dec 022022
Don "Wink" Martindale, New York Giants (November 13, 2022)

Don “Wink” Martindale – © USA TODAY Sports

Glass half full or empty? The optimist will say this is an intriguing contest between two tough, over-achieving, well-coached teams that are playing above expectations. The naysayers will call this a game between two teams that are trying to keep out of last place in the division. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Regardless, this is an absolutely critical game for both franchises. The winner will have the inside track to the 3rd spot in the division and a possible Wild Card spot. The loser is going to be behind the proverbial 8-ball.

The Giants and Commanders are two similar teams. Both are largely carried by their defense. Both like to run the ball more than they throw it. But at the moment, both appear to be heading in opposite directions. The Commanders have won six out of their last seven games, including an impressive win in Philadelphia. The Giants have lost three of their last four and have already been swept by the Dallas Cowboys.

Can the Giants regain their footing and reverse Washington’s surging momentum? That’s the storyline.


  • RB Gary Brightwell (illness – questionable)
  • WR Darius Slayton (illness – questionable)
  • WR Richie James (knee – questionable)
  • TE Daniel Bellinger (eye – questionable)
  • OC Jon Feliciano (neck – questionable)
  • OG Josh Ezeudu (neck – out)
  • OG Shane Lemieux (toe – out)
  • OT Evan Neal (knee – probable)
  • OT Tyre Phillips (neck – probable)
  • DL Leonard Williams (neck – probable)
  • LB Carter Coughlin (thigh – questionable)
  • CB Adoree’ Jackson (knee – out)
  • CB Fabian Moreau (oblique – questionable)
  • CB Darnay Holmes (shoulder – questionable)
  • CB Cor’Dale Flott (concussion – probable)
  • S Dane Belton (clavicle – questionable)

I’ve outlined the Giants’ passing game issues for the past two months. The cavalry is not going to crest the hill and save the day in 2022. Kadarius Toney was a bust and is gone. 29-year old Kenny Golladay has had one of the greatest career implosions in NFL history. Wan’Dale Robinson is on IR. The Giants will have to get by with Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins, and Richie James, all of whom may not even be on the team in a few months. Making matters worse is James has been nursing a knee issue for the past couple of weeks. It’s not a good situation, but there is little that can be done about it.

More worrisome has been the marked decline in the Giants’ ground game in recent weeks. There is a direct correlation between the team’s last three losses and Saquon Barkley’s lack of productivity. In those games, Barkley rushed for 53, 22, and 39 yards, averaging only 2.5 yards per carry. In the last two games, he only rushed the ball for a total of 26 times. This was after his career-high 35-rush game against the Texans. And it’s not just that the blocking hasn’t been there. Barkley is not running as decisively or physically as he did in September and October. Cutting to the chase, the Giants can’t win unless Barkley gets back on track. They don’t have the weapons in the passing game to compensate.

Relatedly, Daniel Jones’ declining rushing figures are having a negative impact on the offense. Since his 107-yard effort against the Jaguars on October 23rd, Jones has only rushed for 108 yards in the last four games, averaging only 25 yards per game. Some of this has been due to opposing defenses playing more in a more disciplined fashion. But Jones’ number has not been called as much either. He carried the ball only three times against the Cowboys. The Giants need to get back to their old 1-2 punch formula of Barkley and Jones presenting problems on the ground.

The good news is that the team is getting reinforcements up front. Evan Neal and Daniel Bellinger are back. Both were injured against the Jaguars on October 23rd. The Giants have gone 1-3 since they have both been out. Neal not only will help the ground game, but his presence will allow Tyre Phillips to serve as the 6th offensive lineman in heavy packages, another upgrade. Bellinger has been missed not only as a target, but as a viable, point-of-attack blocker at the tight end position. In addition, the return of Nick Gates should help to settle down the interior of the line, be it at left guard or center.

Which brings us to the Commanders, a well-coached defense that is currently 7th in the NFL in yards allowed (one spot below the 6th-ranked Cowboys). Washington is 10th against the pass and 8th against the run. They are also 10th in points allowed. To be blunt, they are playing far better defense than the New York Giants. The strength of Washington is their defensive line, led by defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, as well as end Montez Sweat. They can play the run and all three have over six sacks each. The Commanders also may be getting back #2 overall pick in 2020, Chase Young. Making matters worse is a secondary that has been playing good football. Starting corner Benjamin St. Juste will miss his second game in a row however. The Commanders are excellent in 3rd-down defense, being able to rush the passer as well as cover.

The man on the spot is Daniel Jones. He does not have the weapons that Washington has. He’s also going against a tougher defense than his counterpart in this game. With six critical games left, starting this Sunday, Jones still has the opportunity to make a statement. He must out-play Taylor Heinicke, not only for his team to have a chance but probably for Jones’ own fate with this franchise. Jones was the #6 overall pick. Heinicke was undrafted. Don’t turn the football over. Make plays in crucial situations to keep drives alive and score points. Win the game.

Not only has the Giants’ ground game deteriorated, but so has its defense. It’s pretty easy to connect the dots as to why. The loss of Xavier McKinney caused a domino effect on the entire defense. This was exacerbated by the loss of the team’s #1 cornerback in Adoree’ Jackson. I don’t think it is a coincidence that we have seen a marked decline in 3rd-down defense and red-zone defense since both were lost. The problem for Wink Martindale and the defense is these two are still out as the key stretch run begins.

The defensive key to this game is obvious: run defense. Like the Giants, the ground game is the heart of the Washington attack. Stop their ground attack and stopping the Commanders becomes much easier. Washington is only 22nd in offense in yards, and 24th in points. But they average over 121 yards per game rushing and lead the NFL in time of possession. Rookie Brian Robinson has been impressive and is coming off his best game against the Falcons, averaging almost six yards per carry. Antonio Gibson is the other back, and presents more of an issue as a receiver (47 catches). He’s dealing with a foot injury however.

The problem for New York is that their run defense has been bad this year. The Giants are 26th against the run, allowing almost 139 yards per game. Worse, the Giants are allowing 5.2 yards per rushing attempt, one of the worst figures in the League. The lack of depth on the defensive line, talent issues at inside linebacker, and sporadic tackling by the secondary have all contributed to the disappointing play. But Washington is surely going to approach this game by attacking the New York weakness. Washington’s yards-per-carry is usually not impressive (sub 4.0), but they stick with the run and hope to wear down their opponents in the 4th quarter. It has been working.

The other fly in the ointment is the quality of Washington’s receiving targets is vastly superior to New York’s. Terry McLaurin is one of the best receivers in football. He can beat you deep and he can beat you by keeping the chains moving. With better quarterbacking, he’s be a real star. Curtis Samuel is also a quality slot receiver. These two, plus Gibson and tight end Logan Thomas, are Washington’s main receiving threats.

Which brings us to Heinicke, the 29-year old undrafted quarterback now with his sixth NFL team. He took over for Carson Wentz in Week 7 and has gone 5-1 as a starter. He’s no stud quarterback, but he’s managed games well and made just enough plays when called upon. That said, he lacks a top arm and has gotten lucky with a number of his throws. If the Giants can stop the run and make the Commanders more one dimensional, New York’s pass rush could make things uncomfortable for Henicke and cause turnovers.

The good news for the Giants is that Kayvon Thibodeaux is coming off of his best game. Azeez Ojulari finally is back as well and will help the pass rush. Combine these two with Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence and the Giants finally may have some real horses to rush the quarterback. The Commanders will also be without right guard Trai Turner. Center Tyler Larsen has also been limited with a shoulder injury.

Priority #1 is stopping the run. The inside linebackers will be on the spot, especially with as much motion as Washington employs offensively. But an undermanned New York secondary will also have to deal with McLaurin and Samuel. The return of Fabian Moreau should help, but the Giants will need Darnay Holmes, Nick McCloud, Rodarius Williams, and Cor’Dale Flott to rise to the occasion as well.

Thomas McGaughey’s special teams units have been a disappointment this year. The return game has been a net negative. Punting has been a problem. Coverage has not stood out. Giants face one of the league’s better punters in Tress Way. Punt/kick returner Dax Milne is out.

Defensive Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale on his run defense: “We’re just going to have to get 11 hats to the football, and right now statistically, our run defense isn’t very good. We need to continue to work on fundamentals and technique and getting everybody to the football. When you start putting in all the other runs, the wide receiver sweeps and all the other plays off of it, I think run averages are up across the league, but I think we need to get better at it.”

These are two similar, over-achieving teams that are unfortunately playing in the same division as the Eagles and Cowboys. After Sunday, one will be in far better shape than the other. This contest almost has the feel of a playoff game. If the Giants win, hopes for a real playoff spot continue. If they lose, fan attention will likely increase about the upcoming offseason. This is the biggest December game the Giants have played since 2016.

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

Jake Fromm – © USA TODAY Sports


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.


-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.


-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.


-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.


-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.


-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.


-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.


-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.


-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.


-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.


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


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


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


(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.


(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.