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

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly – New York Giants Week 3

By Aaron Weiss

The New York Giants were handed a soul-crushing and seemingly-postseason-eliminating loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, on a time expiring 61 yard field goal by rookie kicker Jake Elliott (who had already missed a FG earlier in the day; this is also the last you’ll hear of him today, as he is a blight on me and every other Giants fan today). With a final score of 27-24, the Giants have to stagger home and somehow find a way to resurrect the season, as only 5 teams have made the playoffs after the starting 0-3 since 1980; none have done it since the turn of the millennium. So while the Giants look to do what’s next to impossible, we’ll break down what happened this past Sunday!


The Good:

The first 8 minutes of the fourth quarter – For the first 8 minutes of the fourth quarter we saw a Super Bowl caliber squad Giants team. The defense was on the field for 3 drives: one finishing a 3 and out, one ending after a fumble on the first play, and 1 ending in a punt after 6 plays. Offensively, there was a five play, 55-yard TD drive where Eli was 5-5, a 4 play, 33 yard TD drive where Eli was 2-2 (connecting in the end zone with Odell Beckham for the 2nd straight drive), and Orleans Darkwa was 2 for 22 on the ground, including a powerful 20-yard rush, and finally a 2 play, 78 yard TD drive where Eli Manning connected with Sterling Shepard for 77 yards and the TD. Granted this version of the team was incredibly pass heavy, which isn’t ideal for a Super Bowl squad, but it showed all that the Giants offense (the main source of the Giants early woes) could be; it was the driving force behind Eli Manning’s 366 yard day (and 7.8 yard/pass average), it was the predominant reason for the success of the big 3 receivers that was envisioned by Giants fans this offseason (7/133/1, 9/79/2, 8/66/0 for Shepard, Beckham and Marshall respectively), and most of all, a high octane offense with too many options to cover that’s only overshadowed by a smothering defense. Instead, the Giants are looking at a winless record and more doubt than ever.


Janoris Jenkins – After missing the Week 2 Monday night game with an injury, Jenkins, who was listed as questionable before the game, came out strong, allowing 4 catches on 6 targets for just 38 yards. He spent a lot of the day covering Alshon Jeffrey, and was a large factor in his uninspiring day (4/56/0 on 8 targets).


Calvin Munson – Starting in lieu of the injured BJ Goodson for the 2nd straight week, Munson continued to improve, recording 3 tackles and .5 tackles for loss, with two of those tackles instigating defensive stops. It was a rather ordinary stat line, but he was clearly better in pass coverage, and on a team that hasn’t had a quality healthy MLB since Antonio Pierce, it’s reassuring to know that Munson is a viable option with BJ on the sideline.

 

The Bad:

Eli Manning – All in all Eli played well on Sunday, and for a full breakdown of his performance you’ll want to check out our film study on his game, but the stat I wanted to point out was his gunslinger stat. Eli only threw the ball further than 20 yards in the air once on Sunday, and it ended up being intercepted. As I said in past weeks, you can make a noodle armed QB work (just ask the Peyton Manning-led Broncos), but it is clearly debilitating when the opposing secondary knows the QB cannot consistently attack it deep.


The Running Game – As I’ve mentioned in the past, obviously a ton of what ails the offense, especially the run game, is as much on the offensive line as it is the RBs, but after the offensive line yards before contact per attempt “skyrocketed” to 1.35 (Giants fans, this is your cue to start crying), I’ve got to come after the backs, who collectively went 17 for 49 and no TDs, averaging 2.9 yards a run. Remove Darkwa’s 20-yard run and that number goes down to 1.8 yards/run, and Darkwa specifically goes from 7/22/3.1 to 6/2/.33. The trio of Giant backs (Darkwa, Perkins, and Vereen) made some headway in the passing game, going 5 for 37 on 5 targets, but with each aspect of the offense that can’t produce (the long ball, the run game, etc) it becomes harder and harder to be productive, and easier and easier for defenses to game plan for.


Brad Wing – Usually one of my favorite players, I have to criticize Wing for perhaps the first time. He averaged a paltry 38.5 yards per punt on 4 tries, including two shanks of 28 yards apiece. Those shanks culminated in 10 Philly points, including the game winning field goal. He’ll rebound, but something about Lincoln Financial Field rattled the Aussie.

 

The Ugly:

Time of possession – I harped on the significance of this stat last week, but despite the 24 points scored the Giants managed to only hold the ball for 22 minutes and 28 seconds, clinching the worst average mark in the NFL at 25:09, a full minute behind the next worst team, the San Francisco 49ers (whose average TOP of 26:19, and they’re a whole minute behind the next worst team, the LA Chargers (27:19)). This led to the Giants defense being on the field almost twice as long as the Giants offense, which led to injury, exhaustion, and an inability to stop the Eagles late after the Giants claimed the lead. The Giants are somehow nearly three minutes worse than their average TOP last year, which was 28:08 and 4th worst in the league. Unless the Giants offense can play like they did early in the 4th quarter all game, and put up 50+ points per game, the Giants will continue to lose football games until they get their TOP closer to 30 minutes.


Eli Apple/Penalties – Both teams were atrocious when it came to penalties, but the Giants just edged out the Eagles in terms of crappiness, with 10 penalties for 137 yards (the Eagles had 9 penalties for 103 yards). For once the brunt of this atrocity doesn’t land on the offensive line (although, Ereck Flowers was true to form with back to back penalties on the Giants final drive, leading to 2nd & 18, and an eventual shanked punt that put Philadelphia at their on 38 yard line with 13 seconds to go), but rather on Eli Apple, who was atrocious in coverage while notching two defensive pass interference penalties for 77 yards. In both instances the Eagles would go on to score touchdowns shortly thereafter. And while some, including myself, would argue that one of those calls was bollocks, as the ball was not catchable, the 41 yard DPI against Alshon Jeffrey was so flagrant that you almost have to consider benching him at that point. If there’s any one player responsible for this loss, other than the Eagles kicker (and to be clear, there isn’t), it’s Eli Apple.


Run defense – The Giants defense that is generally phenomenal against the run, led by the league’s best run defender in Damon Harrison, got creamed on Sunday, giving up 193 yards and 2 touchdowns on 39 attempts, with a whopping 4.9 yards per attempt. Put that on exhaustion, or on the fact that it was around 100°F on the field, but no matter who was in the Philly backfield, they managed to run all over the Giants. The Eagles had two runs of 20 yards apiece, and two of their backs, Smallwood and Blount, managed over 50 yards. While the story of defensive exhaustion is somewhat similar to the chicken and the egg, the Giants’ defense can’t help themselves if they allow this sort of action in the run game, or if they can’t sack the quarterback, who himself had 6 rushes for 22 yards while scrambling out of the pocket. While I’d refer critics of this defense to my section on time of possession, there is no doubt that this team needs to do better up front if they’re going to have any success going forward.


Odell Beckham – Odell appears close to full form, but he may have gone too far with a touchdown celebration where he mimed a urinating dog, which led to a ruff unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Beckham would later go on to clarify that this was inspired by President Trump’s referring to NFL players who don’t stand for the National Anthem as “son[s] of bitch[es]” (adjusted to be grammatically correct). The celebration did not sit well with Giants owner John Mara, who has put Odell in the doghouse, saying he’s “very unhappy” and that the Giants “intend to deal with it internally.” We’ll see if Mara’s bark is worse than his bite, but in my opinion, if it takes a day and a confirmatory tweet to figure out why one does a celebration, you may need to find a new celebration.


Darren Sproles – The 34 year old Philly vet and longtime inspiration to short people everywhere managed to break his arm and tear his ACL in a single play. Between the injury itself and his declaration last December that 2017 would be his final year, There’s as good a chance as not that this is the end of his NFL career (and it’s definitely the end of his run as short person ambassador for the NFL; that title firmly belongs with Chicago RB Tarik Cohen), and if it is we want to applaud him on a stellar 12 year career. In the meantime, we hope and pray he has an effective and speedy recovery.


Injuries – Olivier Vernon and Orleans Darkwa both got hurt during the game on Sunday, but neither is reported to be serious, and both should be good to go this week. Additionally, BJ Goodson is expected back at practice tomorrow, so New York should be close to full strength.


NFC East Picture:

The other NFC East teams all had statement wins this week, none more so than Washington’s truly dominant 27-10 win over the Oakland Raiders, who had looked phenomenal up until that game. Dallas rolled over the Cardinals on Monday Night Football 28-17, and the Eagles obviously beat the Giants. This puts New York two games behind everyone else, and a game behind in divisional tiebreakers. All of that combined with a rough schedule (games at Denver and versus Seattle in heading into the bye week, and a back stretch that includes 4 divisional games, a game at Oakland, and a game versus one of the 2 remaining undefeated teams (the Chiefs)) means the Giants are going to need every break to return to contention.


Next Week: The Giants stay on the road and go to Tampa, who is 1-1 after having their Week 1 matchup cancelled due to Hurricane Irma. They convincingly beat Chicago in Week 2 and were convincingly beat by Minnesota in Week 3, so it’s hard to peg where this leaves the Bucs. The good news for the Giants is that the Bucs are more injured than a Tom Coughlin Giants’ roster. Pro Bowlers Brent Grimes and Lavonte David are most likely going to miss the contest, while Pro Bowlers Gerald McCoy and TJ Ward are also questionable for the contest, along with Noah Spence, Kwon Alexander, and Jacquies Smith. Only one team has ever made the playoffs after starting 0-4, the 1992 Chargers, so this game is a must win for the Giants, and, after showing flashes against the Eagles, I think the G-Men notch their first win against this injury riddled Bucs squad.

Prediction – Giants wins 31-21

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly – New York Giants Week 2

By Aaron Weiss

Everyone’s favorite New York Giants’ weekly recap is back for the 2017 season (for any masochistic Giants’ fans, John did a great video recap on our Youtube Channel covering the Giants’ week one loss to Dallas). The New York Giants failed to gain any traction in the 2017 season, falling to the Detroit Lions 24-10 on Monday Night Football. Let’s break it down and look ahead to what’s upcoming next week!


The Good:

Aldrick Rosas – We’re going to have to start with baby steps. In an uninspiring game, and season to date, perhaps we’re seeing the birth of the next great Giants kicker? Granted, it’s incredibly early to hand him that title, which currently belongs to Lawrence Tynes, and the kid has only kicked three balls, none longer than 35 yards. But in a league where missed extra points and field goals are becoming more and more frequent, and teams are blowing 2nd round picks on failures at the position (looking at you Tampa Bay), it’s nice to think that Rosas, only 22, could have a successful career racking up points for the G-Men.

Odell Beckham – The Giants’ premier receiver didn’t have a standout day, but coming into the game as a game time decision, he did look somewhat like his old self. Beckham was limited, playing only 60% of offensive snaps in the game and despite the limited showing (and self describing himself at 80% health) he was Eli Manning’s second favorite target on the night. Most importantly, Odell looked like he walked away from the night unscathed, meaning that he should only be better in Week 3.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – The defense played without two key starters, most important of who was shutdown corner Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins. Still, at the ripe old age of 31 DRC played like a quality CB1, racking up a PFF score of 78.3, 3rd best among all Giants, and he wasn’t really exposed in pass coverage. He did miss a few key tackles on blitzes and other plays close to the line of scrimmage, but for a secondary with few veteran leaders, DRC stepped up in a big way.

Eli Manning – Obviously the Giants offense is currently mortifying, and as is the case with all offenses everything does start with the QB. However, if the season ended today Eli would have his best single season completion percentage by 9.2 percentage points. Eli completed 68.8 percent of his passes this week, throwing for 239 yards and 7.5 yards per pass. He also threw a touchdown and an interception, and he had a huge 20+ yard dime of a pass dropped by an untouched Brandon Marshall (more on him in a second). This year’s Eli does not look like the high flying Eli of the past few years that won then OC Ben McAdoo the head coach position, but he does look like 2016’s Alex Smith, who completed 67.1 percent of his passes at 7.2 yards per pass. Maybe at age 36 Eli is no longer the gunslinger he once was, and clearly his statistical success is not enough to carry the offense, but if 2016’s Alex Smith was good enough to make the AFC divisional round (with some help from head coach Andy Reid), then perhaps Eli can do the NFC equivalent with the help of Coach McAdoo and more.

Evan Engram – As much as it was any Giants’ night, it was Engram’s. Engram caught 4 passes on 7 targets for 49 yards and a sweet TD, on a great play call by Coach McAdoo that gave the rookie tight end a free release off the line of scrimmage. Engram continues to look fast and fluid at the TE position, although he still isn’t close to Rhett Ellison’s prowess as a blocker. Engram also had a nice pass from Manning broken up by a hard hit from Darius Slay, and some of Engram’s thunder was stolen by backup TE Jerell Adams, who had a sweet 38 yard catch in relief of Engram (that was the longest reception of the night). Still, Engram is clearly taking advantage of Odell Beckham’s limited presence by developing a good rapport with Eli Manning, something that not everyone else is doing….


The Bad:

Brandon Marshall – After being heralded as the receiving complement to Odell Beckham, Marshall has looked like a shell of himself two games in. Granted, he still is learning his way around the new system, and no one expected him to be WR1 material, which has been his de facto position with Odell limited so far, and he hasn’t been targeted a tremendous amount. All the same, Marshall has caught two passes in two weeks, and after not making his first catch until the final minutes of the week one game, Marshall dropped one perfect 30 yard pass from Eli that would’ve put the Giants in Lions’ territory early in the fourth. Instead the Giants would punt two plays later and give up an 88 yard return for a touchdown. He also had no chance at contesting a jump ball in the end zone. Marshall should see more opportunities when Odell is fully healthy, but right now he looks like he’s behind Odell, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, Shane Vereen, and Roger Lewis in Eli’s pecking order.

Time of Possession – The Giants gained more total yards, more 1st downs, an equal number of turnovers, and more yards per play than the Lions, and yet despite these paper stats and the fact that this was a one possession game going into the 4th quarter, the Giants never felt like they were close to competing. This is predominantly due to the time of possession, where Detroit outperformed New York by over 5 and a half minutes. After a whole two games (which granted is a small sample size), the Giants average time of possession is just around 26.5 minutes, which is in the bottom five of the league. This is predominantly due to the Giants’ inability to sustain drives, only having one drive last longer than five minutes, and one drive last longer than 10 plays. Despite admirable efforts by the defense, this team will only go as far as the offense takes them.


The Ugly:

Paul Perkins – I maintain a good amount of faith in the second year running back, leaving a good chunk of blame for the Giants woes in the running game for the offensive line (more on them later), but two games in and Perkins is out there looking like last year’s Rashad Jennings. He was the lead back with seve carries, but only managed 10 yards, for an abysmal 1.4 yards per rush. Both Shane Vereen (6 for 28, plus 3 for 27 as a receiver) and Orleans Darkwa (3 for 17) looked more capable of making something out of nothing than Perkins, which considering the state of the offensive line is something the running backs need to be able to do. This committee should still be led by Perkins for the time being, but unless things start to improve look for Darkwa or even rookie Wayne Gallman to take the reins as the lead back.

Ereck Flowers/The Offensive Line – Had Jerry Reese not had the tremendous signings that triggered a defensive renaissance, the state of the Giants’ offensive line would be an immediate fire-able offense. After an abysmal year in 2016 where the Giants’ offensive line ranked 20th in the league by PFF standards, Reese went out and basically left the line untouched; he signed former San Diego Charger DJ Fluker (which, if you couldn’t cut it on San Diego’s 31st ranked offensive line, you probably can’t cut it anywhere), and he drafted OT Adam Bisnowaty with the Giants’ last pick. Bisnowaty ended up on the practice squad while other UDFA’s made the 53 man roster, but the entire starting line from last year returned, and it still looks awful. The horror show starts with and stars LT Ereck Flowers, who notched a PFF score of 47.3 while being continually wrecked by Lions DE Ezekiel Ansah. His only saving grace was that he was somehow better than Lions LT and penalty connoisseur Greg Robinson. Still, if Jerry Reese won’t put Flowers at RT, which is where he was initially drafted to play and where might still perform best, then he really belongs on the bench.

Meanwhile starting RT Bobby Hart aggravated an ankle injury on the 2nd play of the game, forcing him out and pushing starting LG (and perhaps the Giants’ best O-lineman) Justin Pugh to play at RT. This left Eli’s blind side covered by the aforementioned Ereck Flowers and Brett Jones, and while Manning was remarkably calm for how pressured he was, he was sacked 5 times. While there probably isn’t much that can be done to improve the offensive line this season, Reese will have to make massive changes in the offseason if he wants to retain his job (and he still has it to begin with), and in the interim he will have to pray that Eli continues to be the ironman he’s always been.


Other notes:

Starting MLB BJ Goodson was out, meaning undrafted rookie Calvin Munson was the man in the middle for the night. He played remarkably well, notching 7 tackles and a sack, although he also got beat early on for a long Eric Ebron reception; in fact much of Ebron’s success and Detroit’s leading receiver could well be attributed to Munson.

There were some miscues on special teams, with the aforementioned punt return (which came with a fair share of awful tackling), and a 37 yard shanked punt by Brad Wing. Still, Wing outperformed Lions’ punter Jeff Locke in terms of yards per punt.

Each team had one turnover, with Jason Pierre-Paul forcing a strip sack on Matt Stafford, only for Eli Manning to have a pass tipped for a pick one play later.


Injuries – Other than Bobby Hart, the only Giant injury appeared to be J.T. Thomas, who hurt his groin and missed the second half. Obviously the top 4 injury concerns right now are Odell’s health, Hart’s health, and the statuses of Janoris Jenkins and BJ Goodson, who both sat out the game. All in all not a bad day in terms of health.


NFC East Picture:

Despite being 0-2 New York is only a game and a half out of the division lead, with Dallas getting creamed in Week 2 by Denver (after efficiently handling the Giants in Week 1), Philly getting manhandled by Kansas City, and Washington making up for their Week 1 loss against Philly by beating the Rams. It is too early to count the Giants out, but since 1990 only 12% of teams who started 0-2 went on to make the playoffs. The Giants will need to be strong in divisional matches and win next week to continue to keep the division a close race.


Next Week: The Giants go on the road to face division rival Philadelphia in what is as close to a must win game as possible for a Week 3 matchup. The Philly offense looks solid, albeit not particularly inspired; it’s not any more intimidating than Dallas or Detroit. However, as always the Giants’ chances will boil down to their offensive productivity, and with this offensive line going up against the defensive monsters that are Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, Derek Barnett, and Brandon Graham, my first thought isn’t if the Giants win, but rather if Eli Manning makes it out of there alive. I have to admit things look grim, and if the Giants are going to win look for the driving force to be a certain bad boy wide receiver who may be fully healthy come Sunday.

Prediction – Eagles win 24-20

T.O. 2.0? Not Even Close

By John Camera

The prodigal son returned. Odell Beckham Jr. was back at the Giant’s practice facility last week for mandatory team OTAs and if you listened to much of the mainstream media, you would think Beckham was holding out and threatening not to play until he got a new contract. Beckham is going into the fourth year of a four year rookie contract with a fifth year option that the Giants have already picked up. During interviews, Beckham committed himself to his teammates and to playing, noting that his absence at voluntary mini-camp had nothing to do with his quest for a new deal despite what anyone said, wrote, or tweeted.

Still, since Beckham achieved super stardom quickly into his 2014 rookie campaign, the spotlight has followed the young Wide Receiver for better and for worse. In this case, it has been negative, Beckham’s absence from New Jersey overshadowing other players who decided not to show up for their team’s voluntary practices, including his teammate and fellow blue-chip player Defensive End Olivier Vernon.

With all this noise about Beckham, his contract, and practice, the New York sports media has a wealth of stories to publish based on these rumors that attract readers with a big-name during the deadest part of the NFL off-season. And in the wake of it, one media and fan-driven storyline has been dredged back up from its ugly depths; Odell Beckham is a diva and locker room cancer akin to Terrell Owens.

Beckham hasn’t exactly been a quiet player since achieving his near-immediate fame, enjoying the lime light while fellow stud receivers like Julio Jones shy away from it. But there’s a big difference between being a loud mouth and being a distraction. Detractors of Beckham’s and supporters of the latter point to Beckham’s issues with Josh Norman, and while Beckham escalated things in their infamous 2015 clash, many leave out that Norman initiated the cheap shots and Beckham held back greatly in 2016.

Other issues that have cropped in Beckham’s career include sideline explosions against Tampa and Carolina in 2015 as well as 2016’s incidents against Washington, Minnesota, and the kicking net. Opponents of Beckham’s, not just Norman but other Cornerbacks like then-Bills’ CB Stephon Gilmore have accused him of being a prima donna, cheap shot artist, and generally an annoyance.

Perhaps the biggest piece of evidence Beckham fed critics was his much-publicized boat excursion with fellow Giants’ Wide Receivers as well as Justin Bieber and Trey Songz. Their next game, a Wild Card matchup against Green Bay, saw the Giants’ receiving corps, and Beckham in particular, rack up drop after drop. Those who see Odell Beckham as an antagonist to his team are fair in using these examples in their argument but more often than not, choose to ignore or conveniently leave out what makes Beckham a great teammate and locker room leader.

A scan of several Giants’ Snapchat stories, including Jason Pierre-Paul, Sterling Shepard, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, shows Beckham joking and interacting with his teammates in a positive manner. One in particular depicts Beckham showing DRC a particular dance and another centered on Beckham and Defensive Tackle Jay Bromley having a dance battle. Beckham is not just a guy who sticks to his teammates on offense but seems to get along with everyone on his team.

Beckham is also not a player who is ever content or satisfied with what he has done. His first three seasons have been the best of any receiver in NFL history. And yet, he is still always working at his craft. Beckham trained in the offseason with Vikings Hall of Famer Chris Carter and has discussed how new acquisition Brandon Marshall has given him tips he can take and adapt to his own game.

While some of the things Odell Beckham does has attracted negative attention to himself and his team, Beckham has been an important player both on the field and in the locker room for the New York Giants. He has been a franchise-changing player, perhaps the biggest star the Giants’ have drafted since Lawrence Taylor in 1981. Don’t let anyone tell you Beckham is a locker room divider ala Terrell Owens; they simply aren’t telling the whole truth.

2017 New York Giants Mock Draft 1.0

By John Camera

The New York Giants returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2011 last season and enter this year with some needs but few glaring red flags. This is a team that could very well draft by best player available, which is difficult to project. Here is my take on what the Giants could do to improve their roster for 2017 and beyond.

1st Round: David Njoku, TE, Miami (Fl.)

Njoku is one of the most athletic Tight Ends in this year’s class and would give this Giants offense the extra dimension they were lacking this past season over the middle. Njoku would feast on single coverage from Linebackers and Safeties and give Eli Manning a dual threat up the seam and in the flat.

2nd Round: Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami (Fl.)

The Giants double up on Miami prospects and get their QB of the future in Kaaya. Eli Manning isn’t getting any younger and steps into a nearly perfect situation. He’ll have some dangerous weapons at receiver and an O-line that is getting better around him. He can sit for a year or two and be the Aaron Rodgers to Eli’s Brett Favre.

3rd Round: Antonio Garcia, OL, Troy

Garcia has showed a lot of promise playing tackle at Sun Belt standout Troy. He could stand to add more weight and strength but Garcia is a lot closer to being a polished, starting-caliber Tackle than most seem to think. He could compete right away for a starting tackle job.

4th Round: Duke Reily, LB, LSU

Reily is exactly what the Giants need at Linebacker; youth and speed. He brings both in spades and ought to be New York’s starting WILL for the long term. He’s an underrated player who was overshadowed by bigger names like Jamal Adams and Kendell Beckwith on his team. He was arguably the best linebacker on his team on the tape I’ve watched.

5th Round: Matthew Dayes, RB, North Carolina State

The Giants have one half of their backfield future filled out when Paul Perkins grabbed the starting job late in the year. Matt Dayes is the perfect change of pace, power back to complement Perkins. While Dayes isn’t the biggest RB in the world, he has good strength to push the pile and succeed as a short yardage and goal line runner.

6th Round: Carroll Phillips, EDGE, Illinois

Although teammate Dawuane Smoot may be getting more pub from the draft media, Phillips could turn out to be the better NFL player. He’s a lot more athletic than Smoot and while he is a project pass rusher, he is worth drafting and developing.

7th Round: Aarion Penton, CB, Missouri

New York has their  CBs of the future in Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie likely lasting one more year. The Giants should keep DRC but drafting his replacement is a good idea. Penton is a good fit in Steve Spagnuolo’s aggressive defense and despite being just 5’9″, the feisty corner could develop into a productive third CB.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: New York Giants, Week 17

By Aaron Weiss

The New York Giants closed the regular season by eliminating Washington from playoff contention, in a defensively charged 19-10 victory. Let’s breakdown the game and look forward to the wildcard round of the playoffs!

The Good:

Paul Perkins – The Giants notched their first 100+ yard rusher in the final game of the season, and they did it with style. Perkins was dominating on the ground, rushing 21 times for 102 yards, averaging 4.9 yards a carry. They also got another 52 yards and a touchdown from veteran Rashad Jennings, but Perkins, especially in the first half, ran through Washington’s defense like they weren’t even there. The Giants averaged just over 22 rushing attempts a game on the season, but today The G-Men, led by Paul’s 21 attempts, had a season high 40 rushing attempts and 161 rush yards. While the Giants seemed to lean on the running game to make sure Eli Manning didn’t get hurt in a meaningless game, in many ways today’s output was close to the optimal scenario for the Giants’ run game in the playoffs, as they ran the ball effectively, managed the clock well, holding the ball on offense for nearly 36 minutes, a season high, and had 0 turnovers for only the third time this season.

Odell Beckham – Odell only caught 5 passes for 44 yards on 7 targets, and he sat for most of the 2nd half, but he gets the nod for getting his first complete victory against Josh Norman. He maintained his cool throughout his time on the field, unlike earlier in the season in the loss to Washington, and he consistently beat Norman (if not for an a beautiful deflection by Mason Foster on a 4th down there’s a good chance Odell would’ve taken a ball to the end zone with Norman eating Odell’s dust. Odell was not flagged once, whereas Norman was twice called for unnecessary roughness. His maturation from week one to week 16 is only overshadowed by his ability on the field.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – In a year where DRC had been pushed down the depth chart with the additions of first round pick Eli Apple and budding superstar Janoris Jenkins, and a year where his good play had been overshadowed by the aforementioned Jenkins, DRC still managed to be one of the best corners in all of football, right on par with his teammates, and he ended his campaign with a bang. He ended the season with 6 picks, two of which he recorded today, which tied him for 2nd in the league, alongside Marcus Peters and Quintin Demps, and one pick behind Casey Hayward. He leapfrogged teammate Landon Collins. His sack against Kirk Cousins tied him with his superstar teammate Janoris Jenkins with one sack on the year, and he ends the year with 21 passes defended, more than Apple or Jenkins (2 of which he recorded this week). With Jenkins benched in the 2nd half to avoid reinjuring his back, DRC played shutdown defense, and throughout the first half he was great as well. He notched a PFF grade of 92, giving up one reception for 5 yards while being targeted 5 times. With Jenkins and Apple going nowhere, and DRC under contract for two more years, not to mention Landon Collins emerging as one of, if not the best safety in the league, this secondary should emerge as one of, if not the best in football for many years to come.

Ben McAdoo – Just enjoy: https://twitter.com/JordanRaanan/status/815640488476692480

The Bad:

Pierre Garcon – Garcon went for 96 yards on 4 catches. He caught passes for 23, 49, 21, and 3 yards. He led the charge on the Washington comeback, and on a day where DeSean Jackson couldn’t get going, Jamison Crowder only got a little movement, and even Jordan Reed was limited, Garcon was the best weapon for Kirk Cousins.

2nd Half – The Giants held Washington to 78 yards and 0 in the first half, while notching 177 yards and 10 points themselves. The 2nd half didn’t go so well, with Washington notching all of their 10 points, nearly 200 yards, and holding the Giants to 3 points up until the very last play, which meant that the game was actually close until DRC picked Kirk Cousins with under 90 seconds left. There isn’t much to critique here, but clearly the 1st half was much better on all fronts for the Giants than the 2nd half.

The Ugly:

Only good vibes after this big win! No Ugly section this week.

 

Injuries – While there were some scares, such as with Dwayne Harris, it doesn’t appear as though any Giant was hurt in this game, which is fortuitous going into the playoffs.

NFC East Standings – The Cowboys benched Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott for most or all of the game, which led to a loss against the Eagles. The Cowboys finish the division with the 2nd best record in the NFL of 13-2. The Giants ended up in 2nd at 11-5, Washington fell to third at 8-7-1, and Philly ends in last place at 7-9. The only change to the state of the playoffs was Washington was eliminated from the playoffs with their loss to the Giants.

As for the other seeds, Atlanta beat New Orleans to clinch the 2 seed with an 11-5 record. Seattle beat San Francisco to get the 3 seed, and Green Bay gets the 4 seed after beating Detroit to close the regular season (Detroit therefore receives the 6th seed). The Giants will go to Green Bay next week, while Detroit travels to Seattle, and in the AFC a Carr-less Oakland travels to Houston, and Miami will be at Pittsburgh.

Next Week – As previously mentioned, the Giants face Green Bay and the blazing hot Aaron Rodgers. After averaging 6.7 yards per attempt in the first 10 games of the season, when the Packers were 4-6 and had lost 4 in a row, the Packers finished the season 6-0, with Rodgers averaging 8.3 yards per attempt. Rodgers hasn’t thrown a pick since week 10, the Pack have developed a run game in the past few games behind converted WR Ty Montgomery. All in all this offense is one of the most dangerous in football.

Furthermore, the Packers beat the Giants in week 5 23-16. In a putrid showing on offense, Eli Manning had a 51% completion percentage and a whopping 199 yards, while the Giants run game only produced 43 yards, led by Bobby Rainey. On the other side of the ball, Rodgers also only completed 51% of his passes, and he threw two picks, yet he had 259 yards and 2 touchdowns. Additionally, led by one of Eddie Lacy’s best games on the season, the Packers ran for a whopping 147 yards.

Clearly both teams have evolved since then, and there should be a lot of intrigue in this matchup. Both of the Giants’ Super Bowl runs in ’07 and ’11 went through Green Bay. This is Ben McAdoo’s chance to notch his first playoff win as head coach, against his former mentor and team. This is Odell Beckham’s first playoff game, and of course considering the Giants’ history there is intrigue to a potential wildcard to Super Bowl run. As a Giants’ fan I have to believe that the notion of “Playoff Eli” still exists, after an incredibly blah season on Manning’s part, and considering the Giants’ oppressive defense, improving run game, and a fading Packers secondary (who knows if Quintin Rollins will play next week; fingers crossed he’s okay), I’ll say the Giants are going to win, but this game could go either way.

Prediction – Giants wins 30-24, Seattle over Detroit, Pittsburgh over Miami, Oakland over Houston

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: New York Giants, Week 16

By Aaron Weiss

The New York Giants could not survive the short week on the road, losing to the Eagles 24-19. Let’s break down the game, examine the playoff implications, and look ahead to the last week of the regular season!

The Good:

Paul Perkins – In a depressing showing across the board, Perkins continues to shine, showing us flashes of his ability for when he inevitably replaces Rashad Jennings (who had a respectable day in his own right). He carried 15 times for 68 yards, averaging 4.5 yards a carry, and he also added a 9 yard reception on 2 targets. While this offense drowned in the amount of passing attempts (63 attempts were a career high for Eli Manning), it was not due to an ineffective rushing attack, but rather a dramatic increase in the time of possession (the Giants’ held the ball for 34+ minutes, a season high).

Victor Cruz – Vic had caught 5 passes in the previous 6 games, essentially becoming a decoy for OBJ and Sterling Shepard, and falling on the depth chart behind rookie Roger Lewis. However, this week, on the site of his 2014 season ending injury that kept him off the field until this season, he caught a whopping 8 catches on 13 targets for 84 yards. On a day where Jim Schwartz’s defense continually played Cover 2 defense to avoid a gamebreakinig play by Odell Beckham, Cruz jumped into the spotlight, continually making excellent plays on first and third down, including a sweet 29 yard catch. In what will probably be his last year as a Giant, this was the highlight of a bittersweet year.

Robbie Gould – On a day where the Giants could not get into the end zone, scoring a TD only once in a whopping 5 red zone trips, Gould, who was a mid-season replacement for the suspended domestic abuser Josh Brown, nailed all 4 of his field goals, plus the one extra point, keeping the Giants in the game until the very end.

Trevin Wade – Star CB Janoris Jenkins was held out on the short week with a back injury, which thrusted Wade into the starting lineup. He had been ranging from mediocre to awful in his other showings this year (and in general). However, in a game where he was definitely a target for the Eagles’ offense, he stepped up big time, recording 3 tackles and a pass defended, plus a 85.9 PFF grade and two incredible plays, one a fantastic open field tackle on a third down screen where the Giants were beat, and one a deflection on a deep pass from Carson Wentz. While it may not have paid dividends with a W, this secondary did well in JJ’s absence.

The Bad:

Pass Protection – While Eli threw an incredible number of passes, and he wasn’t sacked despite that, he was still pressured on way too many attempts. According to PFF he was pressured 19 times and hit 10 times, which, combined with his sloppy play, led to a very jumpy Eli.

Will Tye – Tye finished with a tolerable 5 receptions for 23 yards on 8 targets, although the 2.9 average yards per target is clearly awful. However, the Giants’ last offensive play was a pseudo-hail mary to Tye, and he didn’t even attempt to try to contend to grab the ball, allowing Terrence Brooks to make the interception. He doesn’t qualify for the ugly section as he isn’t exactly a wide receiver, he isn’t designed to make deep catches, and I imagine that his decision to not contend had some logic behind it. I suspect as someone who doesn’t do that sort of route running, he thought that if he stopped to contend the catch (and did so successfully) the clock would run out before the Giants would score, and therefore he naively thought it’d be better to catch it while falling backwards. Still, Tye admitted he needed to do better in those situations and I imagine he’ll work on it going forward.

The Ugly:

Eli Manning – In his defense, he did throw for the 3rd most yards this season (for him), he did complete a tolerable 60% of his passes, and he attempted a career high 63 passes. However, he threw 1 touchdown to 3 picks, 2 of which were entirely on Eli (the Tye pick wasn’t as much), and he continually threw bad passes. He wasn’t throwing spirals and his receivers continually had to contort their bodies to make catches, at the expense of yards after the catch. The numbers look better than he performed on the field, and the lack of protection didn’t help, but if Eli was a little more collected and a little more savvy the Giants win this game, even if they still started in a 14-0 hole.

Reffing – There were a few bad calls and non calls throughout the game. Most significantly, a bad roughing the passer penalty on Eli Apple, which the Eagles piggybacked off of to score a 40 yard TD on the next play, and no pass interference was called on a 4th and 6 that would’ve resulted in a 1st down.

John Jerry – 3 of the Giants’ 5 penalties were on the offensive line (the other two were roughing the passer), and two of the 3 o-line penalties were on Justin Pugh (holding) and Brett Jones (false start). However, the most egregious penalty of the night belonged to John Jerry. As the Giants were driving down the field with 2 minutes left in the game, down 5, the Giants ended up being stuck at 4th and 1 due to a well called challenge by the Eagles. The Giants had already notched 3 first downs on the drive and looked really good, and it was clear on 4th down that the Giants were going to run the ball and attempt a hard count beforehand. And yet the only one fooled by the hard count was Jerry, who jumped, causing a false start. This killed all the Giants’ momentum, pushed them back to 4th and 6, and led to a turnover on downs on an incomplete pass to Sterling Shepard (that should’ve been called for defensive pass interference). In most cases that would’ve killed all of the Giants’ chances, and in this case they still received an opportunity afterwards, but given that required the Giants to go 85 yards in 90 seconds with only one timeout, Jerry’s penalty basically ended the game. These sorts of miscues will doom the Giants in the playoffs, and they’ll need to get their acts together if they wish to succeed.

 

Injuries – DT Damon Harrison was the only Giant who was hurt in the game, with a knee injury, but he later returned. The Eagles lost Ryan Mathews for the season with a neck injury, as well as Allen Barbre and Jaylen Watkins for the game.

NFC East Standings – With this loss the Cowboys clinched the division and the 1 seed in the NFC. The Giants fell to 10-5 and the Eagles climbed to 6-9. Dallas, 12-2, faces Detroit on Monday Night Football, and Washington dominated the Bears to go to 8-6-1.

While the Giants can no longer win the division, they did clinch a the 5th seed in the NFC this week with Tampa Bay losing to New Orleans. It’s their first playoff berth since 2011, the last time the Giants won the Super Bowl. This means the Giants will face the 4 seed in the wildcard round.

As for the other seeds, Atlanta will clinch the 2 seed with a win next week, Detroit would clinch if Atlanta loses and they win out (against Dallas this week and Green Bay the next), and Seattle clinches if Atlanta loses, they win, and Detroit doesn’t win out.

The 3 and 4 seeds will be split by the two odd teams out for the 2 seed, plus Green Bay if Detroit doesn’t get the 2 seed. This means the Giants will open the playoffs against one of Green Bay, Detroit, Atlanta, or Seattle, whichever gets that 4th seed. If you’re a Giants fan you have to pray that Detroit is the one to nab the 4 seed.

The only other potential contender in the NFC is Washington, who could clinch the 6th seed if they beat the Giants and either Detroit or Green Bay loses out. Considering my pick for the Washington game below, I don’t like Washington’s odds.

NFC East Seed predictions:

  1. Dallas (already secured 1st seed and division)
  2. Atlanta (clinched divison)
  3. Seattle (clinched division)
  4. Green Bay
  5. New York (clinched 5th seed)
  6. Detroit

Next Week – The Giants’ play their last game of the regular season against Washington, in Washington. In week 3 the Giants recorded their only home loss on the season against Washington, 29-27, in a game that the Giants should’ve won, but let slip away. Additionally, it was the beginning of an early season down spiral for Odell Beckham, as Josh Norman got into his head (although Odell beat Norman in the matchup statistically and on the field). While it is possible for the Giants to blow it on the road in what is a meaningless game, the G-Men seem to play best when they are in a “prove it” mode, and after losing two of their last four, there is still doubt around the league about the legitimacy of the Giants as a playoff team, and I imagine the Giants will go out with that “prove it” attitude. While it’ll be close, as all Giant games are, I think the Giants end the regular season with a W.

Prediction – Giants wins 24-18

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: New York Giants, Week 15

By John Camera

The New York Giants stayed the course, winning their 8th of the last 9 games. Another dominant defensive performance powered the Giants to a 17-6 victory over the Detroit Lions in the Giants final regular season home game of 2016. Let’s review this past week and look forward to a massive Week 16!

The Good:

There was a lot of good this week, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But we would be remised if we didn’t start with the Mann himself.

Eli Manning – For anyone who’s been watching the Giants this season, it’s not hyperbole to claim that this has been one of Manning’s worst seasons. Manning hasn’t been particularly putrid but the offense around him has struggled and, unlike what he has done most of his career, he hasn’t been able to lift them up and drag them to 20 point performances very often. And although the offense only put up 17 points against Detroit, Manning was efficient, mistake-free, and put points on the board when his team needed it. His 25-yard pass to Odell Beckham Jr. on 3rd and 10 was perhaps his best pass of the season. ODB described it as a “dime.”

Brad Wing – Coach Ben McAdoo has described his punter as a “weapon” and it’s certainly an apt acclamation. Wing, and his special teams gunners, have done a fantastic job of pinning opponents deep inside their own side of the field. Wing punted four times in the 4th quarter and was able to stick three of them inside the Detroit 20-yard line, including two inside the 5-yard line.

Odell Beckham Jr. – Yeah, yeah, yeah. One handed catch? Check. Game-sealing touchdown? Check. A fun touchdown dance? Check. Yawn. Just another day at the office for the most prolific young WR in the NFL today. ODB breaks records every week, and become just the third receiver in history to catch 80+ passes, 1,000+ yards, and 10+ TDs in his first three seasons.Keep in mind he played 12 games in 2014, 15 in 2015, and has two left this season.

Justin Pugh – Pugh returned from a bad knee injury that sidelined him for the past five games and made an impact for the get-go. The Giants’ best lineman cleared the way for 12 rushing yards on the offenses’ first two plays, starting off a perfect first drive that ended with a touchdown. Pugh’s return also seemed to spark Ereck Flowers, who bounced back with a solid outing after a rough first half versus Dallas.

Damon Harrison – “Snacks” gets attention despite not being a pass-rushing DT but it still doesn’t seem to be enough. He is the heart and soul of this defensive line, a dominating front-four that even without JPP continues to own the line of scrimmage. Snacks’ combination of size, speed, and quickness is uncanny and allows him to knife through offensive lineman to blow up running plays before they can start. Like every other free agent this year, Harrison has been worth every penny.

The Giants’ Linebackers – Yes, the ‘backers get some love! A unit infamous for its mediocrity over the years, the rag-tag group played extremely well, tackling efficiently and flying to the ballcarrier. Jon Casillas, Devon Kennard, Kelvin Sheppard, Keenan Robinson, even rookie B.J. Goodson were out there making plays. Goodson in particular, perhaps auditioning for a starting role in 2017, blew up Detroit FB Michael Burton on his way to making a tackle for a minimal gain.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – When Janoris Jenkins went out early in the second quarter (more on that later), pretty much every Giants fan felt like throwing up. DRC, the man who would replace him, was ready to have a “heart attack” with his teammate laying on the ground, in pain. However, DRC didn’t allow the quality of CB play to drop very much. The veteran, who had been replaced on the outside by Jackrabbit and rookie Eli Apple, made 7 tackles and 3 huge pass deflections. His biggest plays though were a touchdown-saving tackle on Golden Tate when DRC recovered after being beat, and then the game-icing, end zone INT. DRC proved his worth once again today and likely will be CB1 for the Giants again in Week 16.

The Bad:

Rashad Jennings – Jennings can still run with power, pass-block well, and exhibits great ball security. However, the veteran RB just isn’t a dynamic runner and rookie Paul Perkins regularly got through holes the offensive line opened up faster than the vet. It’s time for Jennings to take a seat on the bench and allow the young gun to take the reins. The veteran would still be a valuable asset on the goal line and in grind it out situations.

Touchdown-Killing Penalties – The Giants’ had two of these against the Lions and prevented the game from being pretty lopsided. The first occurred on RT Bobby Hart, who was flagged for illegal hands to the face and negated a fumble recovered in the endzone by Victor Cruz, which would’ve been six for NY. The Giants instead settled for a Field Goal to make it 10-3, Giants. With 5 minutes left in the game, NYG leading 17-6, Odell Beckham ran to his left, broke some tackles, then reversed field to his right on his way to a spectacular punt return for a touchdown. Except this too was called back on a penalty by Safety Eric Pinkins, the second time an ODB punt return TD has been nullified.

The Ugly:

Janoris Jenkins and Trevin Wade – Unfortunately for the Giants’ All-Pro caliber safety, he couldn’t make it through the game unscathed. Jenkins and Wade both attacked downhill on an out route to Detroit TE Eric Ebron. At the point of attack both defenders collided in the air, with Jenkins receiving a knee to the back. After a scary few minutes, Jenkins was taken to the locker room and went through a battery of tests, the Giants’ taking precautions and holding him out for the rest of the game. Everything came back negative and it seems Jackrabbit lucked out; no internal injury, no spine injury, just a bad back bruise.

 

Injuries – Besides the aforementioned Janoris Jenkins injury, Shane Vereen was revealed to have re-torn the triceps he injured in Week 3. Vereen can’t catch a break and seems to be headed back to IR.

NFC East Standings – The Eagles, also playing a 1 p.m. game, lost their fifth straight; a one-point heartbreaker to the Baltimore Ravens. They fell to 5-9 and look to play spoiler the rest of the way. The Cowboys silenced any doubters by rebounding at home against the red-hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 26-20. They moved to 12-2 but would need to lose out with the Giants’ winning out for the G-Men to grab the NFC East title. Washington was embarrassed at home by a depleted Carolina team in an uninspiring 26-15 Monday night loss. Washington is now 7-6-1.

Next Week – The Giants head to Philadelphia on a short week to do battle with a tough Eagles team. NY can clinch a playoff berth with a win, their first since 2011. Despite losing five straight, Philly plays every opponent tough and has a defensive front that can wreak havoc on any given night. The setting for this game is a frighteningly familiar one for NY; on the road, prime-time, their down-the-road rivals dressed in all back. The Giants typically you-know-what the bed against Philly in this situation the past few seasons but with the attitude of this team, it won’t be anywhere near that bad. Victor Cruz returns to the spot that both launched and nearly ended his career. But of course, the Giants make it hard on themselves, setting up a do-or-die game in Week 17 in Washington.

Prediction – Eagles win 16-14