By Aaron Weiss
The New York Giants defense carried them to victory against the Los Angeles Rams in London, 17-10, bringing them above .500 as they head into their bye week. Let’s break down the game, and look towards week 9!
Landon Collins – The clear player of the day was Landon Collins, who collected 8 solo tackles, 2 passes deflected, and 2 picks, one of which he stylishly took to the house. He was on fire all day, forcing pressure on Case Keenum when he blitzed, and consistently getting tackles all over the field. It’s been clear going back to last year that the player the Giants traded up to draft was going to be a premier strong safety, and it seems over the past few weeks he is really beginning to bloom.
The Giants’ Defense – I praised them last week and I’m going to do the same this week. This group recorded three sacks and four picks (the other two corralled by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) and a game changing touchdown. Despite being on the field for 10 more minutes than the offense and facing 76 total plays to the Giants’ 57, this defense kept the total yards per play down (4.5), kept Todd Gurley and the run game in check with a total of 74 yards, made two stops in the red zone (only blowing an early setup from a Larry Donnell fumble, more on Donnell later), keeping the Rams 3rd down conversion rate under 50%, and, perhaps most importantly, they only gave up one 1st Down from penalties. While the entire Giants team was incredibly disciplined with only 3 penalties, one of which was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, it is particularly pertinent to laud this defense for it’s successes today, as yet again they were the driving force of this team.
The Rushing Game – Last week the Giants totaled 38 yards on the ground on 17 plays, and this week they tallied 36 yards on 20 plays. This running attack is stale, largely due to an inability to consistently move people up front. Rashad Jennings looked a little better this week, removed from his troublesome thumb injury, scoring a goal line touchdown and catching a pair of passes, but he still averaged 1.9 yards a carry. While there are issues all across this offense, the running game has put up less than 50 yards 4 times, and only over 100 yards once, and it makes game planning for this team simplistic for opposing defenses. Hopefully the running attack is more robust after the upcoming bye week.
The Passing Game (including ODB) – While the passing game wasn’t atrocious, it was definitely out of sync in too many familiar ways. With under 200 yards, 9 missed targets amongst the big three (Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, and Sterling Shepard), and no touchdown, this passing game really never showed up to bail out the paltry running game, like Odell alone did last week. The Giants’ running backs put up 10 less yards receiving than they did rushing on 16 less touches, again showing the one dimensionality of this team. Perhaps most egregiously this offense only converted on 31% of 3rd downs. All in all this offense was bailed out by the defense this week. At least Eli Manning wasn’t sacked, the only consolation from a mediocre showing.
Larry Donnell – Donnell caught one pass for 8 yards on three targets, and a fumble on the 2nd play of the game to setup a Rams touchdown. It is incredibly unclear why Donnell is out on the field with the regularity that he is, given that he isn’t the pass catcher Will Tye is, and he doesn’t have close to the upside Jerell Adams has. It isn’t like he’s a tremendous blocking TE either. While perhaps the Giants’ have an affinity for Donnell due to his good run with the team back in 2014, his yards per game is at an all time low by over 11 ypg (excluding his 3 catch 2013 season. He’s also getting 20 less ypg compared to his 2014 year), reaching the halfway point of the season he has 1 touchdown compared to the six he had in 2014, and now he has a fumble to his name, on top of the 4 he recorded in 2014. He should not be resigned when his contract expires at the end of the year.
Josh Brown – Robbie Gould flew out to London on short notice and drained two extra points and a field goal at a 100% clip, proving that it is possible to accurately kick a ball and not have an innate need to abuse women.
Injury Report – The Giants were remarkably injury free, barring a scary looking back injury to Dwayne Harris at the end of the 1st half. However, he returned to the game. With the Giants looking at a bye week they should be healthy and well rested for their week 9 matchup against the Eagles.
NFC East Standings – Despite their win, the Giants currently remain 4th in the division at 4-3. The Cowboys are on bye, and will remain in 1st place at 5-1. The Eagles are second at 4-2 after an impressive in over the previously undefeated Vikings and the Redskins are third at 4-3 after losing to the Lions (they hold a one game tiebreaker over the Giants). For another week, the NFC East remains the only division with no team below .500.
Next Week – The Giants are on bye next week, and look to facing the Eagles at home in Week 9. A pivotal divisional matchup, the Giants will look to capitalize on the bye to beat an Eagles team with a stellar defense but average offense quarterbacked by a rookie. Look to Ben McAdoo as the X-factor, as he will dictate the mindset of the Giants over the break, and if they come out flat that’s on him as the coach. However, I expect the Giants to play with fire, and come out with a surprisingly easy win.
Prediction – New York wins 30-20