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

Jihad Ward – © USA TODAY Sports

QUARTERBACK

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.

RUNNING BACK

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.

WIDE RECEIVER

-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.

TIGHT END

-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.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-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.

EDGE

-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.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-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.

LINEBACKER

-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.

CORNERBACK

-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.

SAFETY

-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.

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

3 STUDS

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

3 DUDS

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

3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

(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.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(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

NEW YORK GIANTS 20 – WASHINGTON COMMANDERS 20…
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.

ROSTER MOVES, PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
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.

POST-GAME REACTION…
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:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
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

THE STORYLINE:
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.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • 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)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
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.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
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.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
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.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
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.”

THE FINAL WORD:
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

QUICK RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYG loses 22-7.

QUARTERBACK

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

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

RUNNING BACK

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

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

WIDE RECEIVER

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

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

TIGHT END

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

OFFENSIVE LINE

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

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

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

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

DEFENSIVE LINE

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

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

LINEBACKER

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

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

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

CORNERBACK

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

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

SAFETY

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

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

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

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

3 STUDS

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

3 DUDS

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

3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

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

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

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

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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

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

© USA TODAY Sports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home:

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

Away:

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

Joe Judge

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I pray that I’m wrong.

THE INJURY REPORT:

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

Darius Slayton – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYG loses, 30-29.

QUARTERBACK

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

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

RUNNING BACK

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

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

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

WIDE RECEIVER

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

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

TIGHT END

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

OFFENSIVE LINE

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

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

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

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

DEFENSIVE LINE

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

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

EDGE

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

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

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

LINEBACKER

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

CORNERBACK

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

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

SAFETY

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

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

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

3 STUDS

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

3 DUDS

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

THOUGHTS ON WAS

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

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

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

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

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

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

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

Sep 172021
 
NFL: New York Giants at Washington Football Team

The second time is the charm – © USA TODAY Sports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Losing Patience – © USA TODAY Sports

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

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

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

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

THE INJURY REPORT:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 23 – Washington Football Team 20

QUICK RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYG wins, 23-20.

QUARTERBACK

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

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

RUNNING BACK

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

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

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

WIDE RECEIVER

Austin Mack: 4 rec / 72 yards

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

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

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

TIGHT END

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

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

OFFENSIVE LINE

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

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

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

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

EDGE

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

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

DT

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

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

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

LB

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

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

CB

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

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

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

S

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

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

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

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

3 STUDS

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

3 DUDS

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

3 THOUGHTS ON WAS

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

3 THOUGHTS ON NYG

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