The Good, The Bad & The Ugly – New York Giants Week 6

By Aaron Weiss

The New York Giants defied the odds and any semblance of logic, rolling over the now 3-2 Denver Broncos by a score of 23-10. While there are a good number of things to criticize (such as Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins getting beat all night by Demaryius Thomas, although he redeemed himself with a critical pick six), considering the Giants got their first win of the season, in primetime, against a Super Bowl contender and their premier defense, with their top three receivers, starting center, top EDGE rusher, captain linebacker, and star slot corner out, I’m going easy on the G-Men. Let’s breakdown everything that happened and look forward to the Giants last game before their bye!


The Good:

Evan Engram – With the Giants top three receivers out this week (and two of them out for the year), Engram was thrust into the top spot as it comes to receiving options, and he did not disappoint. He had more targets, yards, and touchdowns than the Giants 3 wide receivers combined, and he caught 45% of the Giants completions, had 64% of their receiving yards, and their lone offensive touchdown. Sterling Shepard will return either next week or after the bye week, which will lighten the load on Engram somewhat, but there’s no doubt that the continuing success of the Giants offense is going to depend on Engram putting up numbers like he did on Sunday.


Jason Pierre-Paul – Denver RT Menelik Watson is the weak link on the Broncos’ offensive line, coming into the contest with a PFF score of 40.2, and he had the unenviable task of going up against Pierre-Paul. JPP definitely won the matchup, notching 6 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, and a forced fumble, all in the first half (which was as far as Watson would make it in the contest, he’d get hurt and be replaced by Billy Turner and his 38.9 PPR grade in the 2nd half). Despite not having Olivier Vernon to draw primary or even double coverage on the other side, JPP totaled 3 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, 2 QB hits, and a QB hurry, continually spooking Trevor Siemian even when he wasn’t generating pressure. JPP reminded the world why he remains a premier edge rusher in this league.


The Offensive Line – The offensive line hardly qualifies as above average yet, but perhaps they’ve found their best iteration. The Giants moved star LG Justin Pugh to RT, moving RG John Jerry to LG and backup OL DJ Fluker to RG (also with C Weston Richburg out Brett Jones played center, although that will undoubtedly revert to Richburg when he’s healthy). I don’t know if this is the “we need our best OL at tackle” gameplan, or if it’s the “lets put our best OL on their best DL,” which in this case is Pugh vs Von Miller, but either way, this o-line kept the pressure on Eli Manning limited while absolutely punishing Denver in the run game (especially with Orleans Darkwa in the backfield). With the Giants’ wide receives not doing a whole lot, credit this offensive line for keeping this offense on the field.


Mike Sullivan – For the first time since Ben McAdoo joined the Giants as their offensive coordinator, McAdoo wasn’t calling the offensive plays, passing off those duties to current offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, and in Sullivan’s first opportunity he showed what he brings to the offense. He didn’t call any crazy plays, and you have to wonder how much of the play calling changes are due to Sullivan and how many are due to the new receivers the Giants are stuck with, but Sullivan was incredibly solid, sticking to the ground game while not overextending Eli or making him rely on his new receivers (the Giants ran the ball 32 times while passing a mere 19). McAdoo also looked more in control without having to call the offensive plays. Sullivan will almost certainly call the plays next week and for the immediate future, and we’ll see if he can continue to be successful, but tonight Sullivan earned his pay as the Giants’ offensive coordinator.


The Bad:

The Little Three – With the big three of Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, and Brandon Marshall out, the Giants turned to the new lesser three in Roger Lewis, Tavarres King, and Travis Rudolph, and…it didn’t really work out. They combined for 2 catches on 4 targets in the first half, collectively getting outworked by TE Evan Engram. As mentioned above, Shepard will return to the lineup and inherit the top receiving spot, but GM Jerry Reese should be looking to find outside help this week. Perhaps disgruntled Pittsburgh WR Martavis Bryant could be an option going forward.


The Ugly:


Injuries:

The Giants had a couple of players banged up, with players like Jay Bromley and BJ Goodson briefly going down on the field, but the only significant injury was to rookie linebacker Calvin Munson, who had a quad injury in the game and was unable to return. While he is a backup, meaning his loss isn’t as critical, the Giants are currently paper thin at linebacker, with Jonathan Casillas missing the contest with a neck injury. Should Munson be out for an extended period it would be wise of the Giants to acquire some depth at the position.


NFC East Picture:

Dallas had their bye week, so they remained in third place at 2-3. However, their stock in the division fell dramatically with news that star RB Ezekiel Elliott had his suspension reinforced immediately, meaning that, barring further legal directives, he will miss the Cowboys’ next six games. Philly won a tight battle against Carolina on Thursday night football, going to 5-1, and Carson Wentz and his Eagles continued to show they’re in a different class than their division counterparts. Finally, Washington eked out a victory against the now 0-6 San Francisco 49ers, leaving them in second place at 3-2.


Next Week: The Giants come home to face the Seahawks before they go on their desperately needed bye week. Seattle comes into the game at 3-2, coming off of their bye week, which means they’ll be fresh against a Giants team that could not be more battered. On the other hand, Seattle is 1-2 on the road, although those losses came against a Mariota-led Titans and a Rodgers-led Packers. Still, the Giants showed they’re capable of contending with top defenses with mediocre offenses, and while the Seahawks offense is much better than Denver’s, their putrid offensive line will mean more JPP sacks and pressures, keeping this one close. Look for a slugfest, but considering what the Giants have as receiving options, look for Seattle to edge out a victory.

Prediction – Seahawks win 17-13

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly – New York Giants Week 5

By Aaron Weiss

In a season that somehow keeps getting worse, the Giants lost their week five matchup against the now 1-4 Los Angeles Chargers 27-22, dropping to 0-5. The Giants simply could not hang around with the Chargers after suffering a rash of injuries, in what ended up being one of the worst three hour periods in New York Giant history. Let’s break down what little went right, everything that went wrong, and anything else in between while look forward to New York’s week 6 match-up.


The Good:

Wayne Gallman & Orleans Darkwa – The Giants may finally have a run game! Gallman, playing his second regular season game, and Darkwa, coming back from injury, combined for 19 carries, 126 yards and a touchdown. The pair alone had the Giants best single game effort on the ground this year (with a 91 yard performance coming in second and a 62 yard performance coming in third), which doesn’t include contributions by Shane Vereen and Odell Beckham, who brought the Giants’ run game total to 152 yards on 25 carries. Darkwa has looked impressive all year when he’s been healthy, and Gallman has made a impactful impression to start his career, averaging 3.8 yards per carry after contact. Given the other developments of the day, look for the Giants to try and push this pair further into the spotlight.


Darian Thompson – Thompson was all over the field on Sunday. He may not have the skillset or the star power of his fellow safety Landon Collins, but Thompson recorded his first interception, along with a team high 11 tackles, 2 passes defended, and 1 QB hit. To date he hadn’t made much of an impression to distance himself from fellow sophomore and last year’s starting safety Andrew Adams, but performances like this will secure his status as the starting Free Safety.


Damon Harrison & Dalvin Tomlinson – While the Giants got absolutely steamrolled by Chargers RB Melvin Gordon, the big interior duo on the Giants’ defensive line did a remarkable job holding Gordon and anyone else trying to work down the middle in check. Gordon rushed 7 times down the middle for a measly 22 yards (3.1 yards/carry), as opposed to 13 carries for 83 yards (6.4 yards/carry), when rushing to the left or right side of the offensive line (although Gordon did have a 26 yard run up the middle negated by a holding penalty). Snacks Harrison also excelled in pass defense, recording 4 QB hurries on 24 pass rushing snaps.

 

The Bad:

Penalties – Once again this season, the Giants’ agonizing mental mistakes were overshadowed by worse ones from an opponent, but that’s no reason to give the Giants a pass. The G-Men had 10 penalties for 67 yards (as opposed to LA’s 11 penalties for 87 yards). Some of the more egregious penalties were unnecessary roughness from BJ Goodson, running into the kicker from Nordly Capi (which thankfully didn’t extend the Chargers’ drive), and 2(!) defensive offsides penalties from beleaguered edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul (his 50.4 PFF grade is 24.2 points worst than his previous worst PFF grade). In a game where everything outside of New York’s control went wrong, the Giants couldn’t make sure to do the easy things right.


Pass Protection – Bobby Hart and his 36.6 PFF grade returned to the lineup after missing time with an injury, and boy oh boy did it show. Unlike Philip Rivers, who wasn’t sacked once, Eli Manning was brought down 5 times, losing 42 yards and one fumble in the process. Manning took 7 QB hits on the day, and once again he often looked spooked in the pocket. To be clear, the offensive line continues to “improve”, with the average rush yards before contact increased to 2.0, but once again this offensive line showed it couldn’t stop the duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

 

The Ugly:

Injuries – Wow. Just wow. In what has to be one of the most wrath of godlike moments in NFL history, the Giants lost 4 of their 5 active WR’s on injury throughout the game. WR Sterling Shepard sprained his ankle early in the second quarter, only to have fellow WR Brandon Marshall hurt his ankle the very next play (while Coach McAdoo called his injury a sprain, the fact that he’s undergone surgery implies it’s something more serious). Special teams ace and plugin WR Dwayne Harris broke his foot on a special teams play in the third quarter, and, most significantly, superstar WR Odell Beckham fractured his ankle in the fourth quarter, a huge blow both in the short term (he was scorching hot against star cornerback Casey Hayward, making 5 catches on 8 targets for 97 yards and a touchdown, and Eli Manning would fumble the ball the play after Odell left), and in the long run. Of the 4, only Sterling Shepard avoided injured reserve, and he is listed as day to day, although the odds he plays this upcoming week are slim. This rash of injuries left Eli Manning with one active healthy receiver for the last few minutes of the game, Roger Lewis, and on the Giants last make or break drive, Manning had Lewis and TE Rhett Ellison lined up outside, with TE Evan Engram on the inside and pass catching specialist RB Shane Vereen in the backfield, a recipe that led to a disastrous interception. No offense, and no quarterback (excepting perhaps Aaron Rodgers) can successfully win a game with only a 4th string wide receiver and no other WRs, and the rash of injuries doomed any chance that Giants had to win a close game they so desperately needed.

 

NFC East Picture:

In one of the more contentious divisions to date, it was the Philadelphia Eagles who stood out the most, convincingly beating the Arizona Cardinals 34-7, and going to 4-1 on the season in the process. Washington had a bye week, and the Dallas Cowboys met the same fate most teams do when facing the inhuman god that is Aaron Rodgers, falling to 2-3. Barring a miracle, the Giants are out of playoff contention, but for the first time this season, it looks like one of the teams in the NFC East is on the cusp on breaking away from the competition.


Next Week: The Giants signed veteran WR Tavarres King, who they cut in the offseason, and practice squad WR Travis Rudolph to replace Beckham and Marshall (they also signed WR Darius Powe, who they also cut in the offseason, to the practice squad). That means, unless Sterling Shepard makes a remarkable comeback and plays this week, that King, Rudolph and Lewis, who have a combined 19 career receptions (15 for King, 4 for Lewis and 0 for the rookie Rudolph), will go head to head with Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr, and Bradley Roby, who have a combined 55 career interceptions and 7 Pro Bowl appearances. The rest of the Denver defense is just as intimidating, and while the Giants may make headway against the run, they still only ran the ball to the left side twice against the Chargers, so clearly there are still issues to be addressed. While it would not be surprising to see the Giants’ defense push around Trevor Siemian and the mediocre Denver offense, it’s honestly more likely that the Giants score a touchdown on defense than offense. There’s no way, especially on the road, and with the Broncos coming off their bye week that this Giants’ team beats the 3-1 Denver Broncos.

Prediction – Broncos win 17-3

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly – New York Giants Week 4

By Aaron Weiss

The New York Giants suffered another demoralizing loss on a game-ending field goal, losing on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 25-23. The Giants ended up once again gaining a lead in the 4th quarter, only to blow it after being incapable of halting the Tampa offense. Still, while there is next to no hope for this 0-4 squad, this team improved in many ways this week, while also taking some major steps back in other areas. So, as always, let’s break down what happened this week, and look ahead to see what’s coming up next week!


The Good:

Wayne Gallman – Welcome to the NFL, Wayne Gallman! The 4th round pick out of Clemson got his first NFL action on his 23rd birthday, taking over the reins in the 3rd quarter after Paul Perkins left the field with a rib injury. By comparison, the rookie shined, putting up 42 yards on 11 carries, significantly outpacing the Giants’ other two backs on the ground (Vereen and Perkins combined for 27 yards on 13 carries; Orleans Darkwa was held out of the contest with a back injury). The rookie also caught 2 passes for 8 yards and a touchdown. His 3.8 yards per rush is normally uninspiring, but he was a breath of fresh air compared to what the Giants normally put out on the field. Look for him to join the flustercuck that is the Giants’ running back committee on a more consistent basis.


Eli Manning – Manning was at his best on the deep throw today in spite of his 5.8 yards per catch average, nailing passes of 42, 21 and 19 yards, and he remained incredibly consistent, throwing for 288 yards and 2 touchdowns while going 30/49. Plus, the old man notched his first rushing touchdown since 2014, sneaking out of the pocket and speeding in for a 14 yard score. While this entire team is in disarray, and Eli is somewhat responsible, the old stalwart mostly remains a pillar of reliability in the chaos that is this team.


Everything I’ve criticized the Giants about this year – So far this year there has been a lot of chide the Giants about, but on Sunday the Giants excelled in many aspects that they’d previously failed at. Their run game was almost as good as Tampa’s, they dominated time of possession, holding the ball for a whopping 34 minutes, they had more first downs than Tampa, they were 3/4 in the red zone, they were the far better 3rd down team (8/17 as opposed to Tampa’s 3/11), they ran 15 more plays than Tampa, didn’t turnover the ball, didn’t give up any sacks, and, perhaps most importantly, they only had one penalty for 0 yards. On paper this team corrected almost everything they’d done poorly in the past, but once again it wasn’t enough to get the win.

 

The Bad:

Aldrick Rosas – The rookie finally stumbled, missing a key 43 yard field goal in the 4th quarter, which, considering the Giants ended up losing by 2, was mildly significant. It was his first miss on the year, which complemented his competitive counterpart Nick Folk 2 missed field goals (from 49 and 46 yards). At this point it’s still unclear how good Rosas is. He’s yet to be fully utilized (for comparison’s sake, Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein attempted more FGs on Sunday (7) than Rosas has all year (5)), and he’s not been significantly challenged, having not had to kick a 50+ yard FG. So until the offense becomes a little more scoring heavy, Giants’ fans will have to wait to see what the rookie can do.


Run defense – The Giants could not contain the run game for the second week in a row, giving up 111 yards on the ground, including 83 to lead back Jacquizz Rodgers on 16 carries (5.2 yards per rush). Lead run defender Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison missed some of the game with an injury, but at the end of the day this is starting to become the standard as opposed to the aberration. Look for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to dial up more blitzes and put even more faith in his top heavy secondary, especially against run dominant teams.


Brad Wing – Wing strikes again, putting together a relatively mediocre game (plus one great 56 yard punt) that was absolutely eviscerated by a brutal 15 yard punt with just under 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Wing is spared from the Ugly section because unlike last week this didn’t set up the game winning score, but it did give the Bucs an easy touchdown and the lead, which took Rhett Ellison and the Giants about 4 or 5 minutes to reclaim. While it’s too early to pull the plug on the 2-year Giant now, he needs to figure out how not to choke in the clutch, or he will be out of a job.

 

The Ugly:

Defense against tight ends – BJ Goodson reclaimed his role as the starting middle linebacker this week, just in time to be obliterated by Tampa’s pair of TEs. The Giants gave up 143 yards and 2 touchdowns on 6 catches to the Tampa duo of TEs (OJ Howard and Cameron Brate; the two combined for 10 targets). Howard’s touchdown came on a truly horrifying blown coverage, which allowed him to basically walk in from 58 yards out. Meanwhile, Brate had 35 and 26 yard catches, plus another 14 yard completion for his touchdown. While Janoris remains incredibly good in spite of his various ailments, and even Eli Apple looked much improved from the past few weeks, the Giants continue to have no answers over the middle of the field.


Injuries – While it was Tampa who came into the game looking like the banged up team, it’s New York that limps away. Odell Beckham left the game twice, first for an apparent ankle injury and then for a dislocated finger; he returned after both injuries and neither is projected to affect his availability going forward. Others weren’t so lucky. DE Olivier Vernon came into the game listed as questionable with an ankle injury, and he pulled up near the end of the first half, seeming to have aggravated said injury. He did not return, and it’s unclear how this will impact him next week. C Weston Richburg left the game with concussion symptoms, and while he has yet to be officially diagnosed he did not return to the game, so his availability will be dependent on his ability to clear concussion protocol. Finally, starting RB Paul Perkins left the game in the third quarter with a rib injury, which he did not return from. Without more specifics we’re left in the dark about how this will affect him going forward.


0-4 – At this point in the season the Giants should probably start packing up for the season, as their chances of a playoff berth are all but extinguished. In spite of more well rounded play the Giants shot themselves in the foot, and made a few key mistakes that doomed them to their fourth loss in a row. To add to the dumpster fire that is this season, the Giants need only look to the other locker room to find the New York Jets, universally considered the worst team heading into the season and now 2-2, tied with the defending champion New England Patriots. The Giants should be able to salvage something of this season, and it’s unlike them to tank, but a quarter of the season in and Jerry Reese reaps what he sows, especially when it comes to the Giants offense, particularly the run game and offensive line. With no hope left for 2017, Giants fans can find comfort in Coach McAdoo’s subdued Jim Mora impression.


NFC East Picture:

Washington will play tonight against the league-best Kansas City Chiefs, while the Cowboys lost a shootout against one LA team (the Rams) and Eagles won a shootout against the other (the Chargers). This leaves Philly on top at 3-1, while Washington is 2-1, Dallas 2-2, and New York 0-4. The way this division is shaping up it may only take 8 or 9 wins to take the division, so don’t count anyone out, but at this point the Giants need close to a miracle to remain in contention.


Next Week: They say misery loves company, so MetLife Stadium should be a stadium of anguish come Sunday afternoon, when the 0-4 Giants play the 0-4 Chargers (the San Francisco 49ers are the only other team currently 0-4). The Chargers are coming off a 26-24 loss to Philly, in a game where, excluding one 35 yard TD run by the 3rd string RB, the Chargers rushed 12 times for 23 yards on the ground. However, unlike fellow 2004 draft pick Eli Manning, Philip Rivers remains a master of the long ball, hitting a 75 and 50 yard pass in the contest. While I hope New York gets off the schneid, it’s all too easy to envision a game like this week where a “good enough” offensive effort and a “good enough” defensive effort is spoiled by one or two blown coverages on big plays, especially with the Giants suffering a few major injuries this week. Fingers crossed I’m wrong, but don’t be surprised if things go from bad to worse for the Giants.

Prediction – Chargers win 27-20