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

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: New York Giants, Week 14

By Aaron Weiss

The New York Giants won the game of the year, snapping the Cowboys’ 11 game win streak in a brutal 10-7 slugfest. Let’s break it down and look forward to week 15!

The Good:

Every single member of the New York Giants’ defense deserves a medal and a pay raise, but here are the 4 defensive dudes that stood out today (plus a few non-defensive extras):

Romeo Okwara – Okwara was the Giant with the most pressure on him going into tonight’s matchup. Okwara, an undrafted free agent from Notre Dame, was going from having never played more than 50% of defensive snaps in a game to replacing the injured Jason Pierre-Paul, a superstar who had recorded 5.5 sacks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown over the three prior weeks. He’d be regularly facing off against Tyron Smith, who is one of, if not the, best tackles in the game and the rest of the Dallas O-Line, which is the best in football.

And boy, oh boy, did he deliver. He played 60 of 66 snaps, recording a sack, 3 QB hits, one hurry, 2 stops, a pass defended, and 8 tackles (3 solo tackles). He did not provide a weakness for the Cowboys to exploit on a star-studded defensive line. Ezekiel Elliot did run for over 100 yards, but he ran 9 times for 21 yards in the 2nd half. Elliot failed to break a single tackle, the Cowboys failed to enter the red zone, Dak Prescott was pressured on 43% of dropbacks, and on a defense we knew was great, and Dallas knew was great, Romeo Okwara was the weak point, and Dallas could not break him. He is the unquestioned player of the game, and if he plays well down the stretch (and potentially in the playoffs) he could lead to the Giants passing on resigning JPP.

Janoris Jenkins – Jenkins was probably the best corner in all of football this week. JJ recorded 2 tackles, 2 passes defended, a forced fumble and a pick. Prescott had a 0.0 passer rating when throwing to JJ, completing just two passes for 17 yards on 8 attempts, plus he threw the pick, which Jenkins nabbed by cutting off Dez Bryant to make a sweet grab. Dez’s only recorded one catch for 10 yards on a whopping 9 targets, and Janoris made Dez cough up the football on that play. Finally, he also made a crucial play on the Cowboys’ last offensive play, forcing a turnover on downs. This was one of the greatest lockdown corner performances I’ve ever seen.

After questioning the price tag that he came with, he has blown away all expectations. Dez Bryant only has 2 catches for 14 yards and a fumble against Janoris Jenkins in two showings. Jenkins is the only CB this year with 3+ picks, 9+ PDs and less than 500 yards allowed. He was the highest graded player by PFF in this game with a 91.6 rating, the only player to score over 90. He’s also one of PFF’s top ten ranked corners on the year (actually a spot behind teammate Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie). Were it not for Okwara being put on the spot, and the fact that JJ has been fantastic all year, Janoris would clearly be the best player on the day.

Olivier Vernon – Coming in as the star DE with JPP sidelined, he still made his presence felt despite being public enemy number 1 in the trenches. He recorded 8 QB pressures, 4 defensive stops, a batted pass, one QB hit, 5 tackles, and an 83.4 PFF rating. A muted performance compared to the others, but still worth recognition.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – Another performance that was overlooked behind his teammates, DRC allowed 3 catches in 6 attempts for a measly 15 yards and two passes defended. The entire secondary shut down Dallas’ pass game, led by JJ and DRC.

Dwayne Harris – Dwayne twice downed punts on the three yard line, once at the top of the 2nd quarter, which led to Dallas punting 4 plays later, and once with just over a minute left in the game, forcing Dak to throw four times from his own end zone, trying to put together a game winning drive with no timeouts while down 3, and it led to four incompletions. While Dallas still probably doesn’t win if that punt turns into a touchback, there’s no doubt that downing it at the 3 yard line led to making Dak uncomfortable and helped the Giants to a win.

Kangaroo Jack – There are times that I question whether the successes of this year are truly correlated to Tom Coughlin’s firing, since it coincided with the year that Jerry Reese went bonkers in free agency. As an ardent Coughlin fan there’s a large part of me that believes that had TC been given this defense he could have guided the Giants to the same, if not better result (both in this game and on the year).

But then you find out that (one of) Coach McAdoo’s sources of inspiration for the team this week was a viral video of a man punching a kangaroo in the face, and you realize that this is McAdoo’s team. Love or hate Coughlin, he would never have used a viral video as a source of inspiration, let alone one of a man literally punching a kangaroo in the face. And in this critical division game, where the Giants could lose their 2nd straight and potentially collapse after their 6 game win streak, behavior all too familiar to the TC era, McAdoo’s Giants beat the best team in football after watching a man punch a kangaroo in the face. Godspeed to Tom Coughlin, in all of his coaching and non-coaching adventures of the future. This is Ben McAdoo’s team now.

So this week’s game ball should go to that kangaroo, wherever you are, for taking that hit, and inspiring the New York Giants to make the best team in football look mortal.

The Bad:

Eli Manning – Eli was by no means awful, but he made some mistakes. He went 17/28 for 193 yards, a touchdown, a pick, three sacks and two fumbles. The pick was recovered by Anthony Brown, who made a fantastic diving play, but three of Manning’s incompletions should’ve (or at least could’ve) been picked. Additionally if we eliminate Odell’s 61 yard touchdown which happened on a quick slant, and should never have gone for the touchdown if the receiver isn’t Odell, then Eli would only gone 16/27 with no touchdowns and 132 yards. His performance was entirely uninspiring, and error prone, but it was not god-awful.

Clutch/Mental Errors – The Giants did go 2-2 on fourth down, but they were 2-14 on third down, keeping the Cowboys in the game far longer than they should’ve. They also were 0-1 in the red zone (in terms of touchdowns) and they notched 7 penalties for 50 yards (granted one penalty was intentional to setup a punt, but still, 6-45 isn’t ideal). There isn’t a lot to critique, but there are clearly improvements to be made on the play calling and mental discipline side

The Ugly:

Terrance Williams – In a game where Janoris Jenkins shut down Dez, and the Giants D shut down the rest of Dak’s favorite targets (Jason Witten and Cole Beasley), Terrance managed to dent the Giants’ defense with 5 receptions on 6 targets for 76 yards and a TD. While hardly a line worthy of the ugly section, he gets put here due to the godawful blown coverage on his 31 yard touchdown, where he was left uncovered on a play action, behind the Giants’ defense, and walked in for a score. It was the 2nd drive of the game, and this mistake nearly blew the lid on the game, but the Giants’ Defense made sure to take care of business, and the Giants’ offense did just enough to get New York the win. Still, once again the Giants were plagued by the long ball.

 

Injuries – RB Shane Vereen recorded his first snap after missing nine games with a triceps injury, but left the game in the 2nd quarter with a concussion. Whether he can play next week is unknown. No one else was injured.

NFC East Standings – Washington beat Philadelphia this week, which leaves the gap between the Giants and Washington at a game and a half. Dallas still tops the NFL at 11-2 (although the Patriots are 10-2 going into their matchup tonight), the Giants’ are 2nd in the NFC East at 9-4, Washington is third at 7-5-1, and Philly is last (and basically out of playoff contention) at 5-8.

The Giants could still win the East, if they win out and Dallas loses two of their last three games, or if Dallas loses out and New York wins two of their last three games. Considering Dallas has yet to lose to a team that isn’t the Giants, that doesn’t seem likely. Once again, the Giants retain the 5th seed, staying a game ahead of 6th seed Tampa and a game and a half over Washington.

Next Week – The Giants’ play their last home game facing off against Detroit. Detroit beat Chicago this week 20-17. However, QB Matthew Stafford suffered a PIP joint dislocation and torn ligaments to the middle finger of his throwing hand, which will force him to play the rest of the season with a glove on his throwing hand. Apparently his finger was bent at a 90-degree angle, and he had no control over the top of the digit. He will apparently play through the injury, but it’s unclear how it’ll affect his ability to throw, or take a hit. It’s possible he will be forced to take snaps exclusively from the shotgun or pistol, a la Derek Carr in Oakland. Between that, the Giants great pass rush, and the Lions’ starting RB coming off a wrist injury (assuming he’s back), combined with the Giants’ 6-1 home record (the Lions are 3-3 on the road), I think the Giants grab the win (but like always with them, they’ll make it entertaining).

Prediction – Giants wins 23-20

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: New York Giants, Week 13

By Aaron Weiss

The New York Giants win streak came to an end, falling to the Steelers in an ugly 24-14 loss. Let’s break down what went wrong, and look forward to next week’s marquee matchup!

The Good:

Eli Apple/Rookies – The defense as a whole did a fairly admirable job up until the game was truly out of reach, barring one noticeable exception (more on that later). However, the rookie Eli Apple deserves special recognition, notching a season high 2 passes defended, his first fumble recovery, and his first career interception, on a stunning play against Steelers WR Eli Rogers. It was his best performance on the year, leaps and bounds ahead of what we’ve previously seen, and it highlights his potential to match and exceed his 1st round draft position.

Additionally, fellow rookies Paul Perkins and Sterling Shepard made their presence known (and to a lesser extent Andrew Adams, Jerell Adams, Romeo Okwara & Roger Lewis) throughout. Perkins was far better than Rashad Jennings running the ball (although Perkins has no receiving presence yet, whereas Jennings ranked 2nd on the team with 6 catches), averaging 5.4 yards a carry, including an 18 yard rush where Perkins juked the soul out of Stephon Tuitt. Likewise, Shepard still needs work, as he only caught 4 of his 8 targets, but he converted a touchdown and was Manning’s 1st option throughout the first half when Odell was being effectively suppressed by the Steelers’ defense. Shepard also had a nice 21 yard catch negated by a holding penalty on John Jerry.

Antonio Brown – Antonio recorded 6 catches for 54 yards and a touchdown, marking one of his weaker performances this year. It was his 2nd worst performance by yards per catch, 4th worst in total catches, and 3rd worst in yards. Janoris Jenkins and the Giants’ secondary did a good job suppressing him. The only mistake was Brown’s 22 yard touchdown catch, a play on which Leon Hall broke his assignment of doubling Brown, and then Janoris got turned around just enough allow Brown to make an incredible catch in the back of the end zone. All in all, despite that touchdown, it was an admirable effort by the Giants to force Ben Roethlisberger to look elsewhere.

Discipline – The Steelers’ offense only entered the Red Zone once, and they only came away with a field goal. Despite almost 400 yards of Steelers offense, the Giants’ defense did a great job forcing Roethlisberger to go full gunslinger, an ability he is unfortunately quite skilled at. Additionally, the Giants only recorded 4 penalties, which juxtaposed with the Steelers 12 penalties deserves recognition. Unfortunately 2 of those penalties were due to the same man (more on him later).

The Bad:

Eli Manning – Eli played one of the worst games of his season, notching his 2nd worst passer rating, his worst QBR, and his worst average yards on the year. He also tied his season worst with two interceptions, one of which was a 4th down prayer that, considering the low percentage option, is mainly forgivable, and another where Eli made a terrible throw, missing an opportunity to throw a touchdown to Larry Donnell by failing to notice Lawrence Timmons and throwing a very short ball. Three plays after the Timmons pick the Steelers scored a touchdown, turning what should’ve been a 7-5 Giants lead into an 11-0 deficit, a difference the Giants’ couldn’t overcome. Eli was panicky and fidgety, missing several open players, and throwing some atrocious passes, such as a brutal short miss to Will Tye on 3rd and 3, forcing the Giants’ to punt. He’s Eli, and he’ll rebound, especially against a weak Dallas defense next week, but this performance was all too familiar to Giants’ fans.

The Red Zone – In a game the Giants lost by 10 points, the G-Men only converted TD’s twice on four red zone opportunities. As previously mentioned, Eli Manning threw a pick in one circumstance, and in the other the G-Men failed to convert on 4th and 1 on the 3 yard line, as Will Tye failed to reel in a short pass over the middle in tight coverage. In a game like this, the victor is decided by a few key plays, and this week the Giants’ couldn’t produce.

The Ugly:

Ladarius Green – Green recorded catches of 9, 10, 20 and 37 yards, all on third down and all moving the chains. The 20 yarder was a touchdown, where Landon Collins bit on a fake bubble screen, allowing Green to fly right by him and score untouched. Green also had a 33 yard catch. He was a game breaker, destroying the Giants’ efforts against Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. The Giants’ have always been weakest at linebacker, and for the most part it showed, as more often than not Green lined up against Keenan Robinson or Jonathan Casillas. The Giants’ have been burned by TE’s all year (Zach Miller, Tyler Eifert, Zach Ertz, Kyle Rudolph, Jason Witten, etc.), and considering New York hasn’t fixed this problem throughout the year, look for Dallas to exploit this weakness with Giants killer Jason Witten next week.

Ereck Flowers – Although Jerry Reese’s draft record has improved in recent memory, Flowers is redlining, and looking like another one of Resse’s busts. He gave up two of the Giants’ four penalties, one of which, a holding in the end zone, resulted in a safety. He was beaten time and time again against the Steelers, making Eli incredibly panicky, and disrupting too many plays. He was responsible for 8 of the 12 pressures the Giants’ o-line gave up, and he was Pro Football Focus’ third worst player on the week. Flowers’ now has 11 penalties on the season, tied for the most among NFL o-lineman, and his 7 holding penalties is most in the NFL. He’s PFF’s 62nd ranked tackle out of 77. This year has been a roller coaster for Flowers, but this week was an all time low. If he can’t turn it around then former starter Will Beatty, who was a top 5 tackle in his prime, is waiting in the wings.

 

Injuries – The Giants’ lost three players in the game. DE Jason Pierre-Paul missed the 2nd half with a groin injury, DB Coty Sensabaugh also missed the 2nd half with a chest injury, and DT Johnathan Hankins was removed from the game with a thigh injury. While none appeared to be overly troublesome, especially for starters JPP and Hankins, the status of these players for next week is unknown.

NFC East Standings – Dallas won their 11th straight, squeaking by the Vikings, but Washington lost to Arizona and Philly to Cincinnati. This means Dallas is 11-1, and owners of a playoff berth, the Giants are 2nd at 8-4, Washington is 3rd at 6-5-1, and Philly is last at 5-7. At this point the only chance the Giants’ have of winning the NFC East is if they beat Dallas next week and Dallas loses at least 3 of their last 4 games, an unlikely scenario. On the wildcard front, the Giants retain the 5th seed, staying a game ahead of 6th seed Tampa and a game and a half over Washington.

Next Week – The Giants’ play the game of the season (or at least their season), facing off against Dallas in New York on Sunday night. The Giants won their last matchup 20-19, but Dallas has evolved, winning out since. This is a must-win if the Giants’ want to win the NFC East, and an emotional must win to avoid a 0-2 streak and losing their wildcard safety net going into the final stretch. While my head says Dallas is more complete, and they are, the fact remains that Dallas has no pass rush, and the Giants’ defense, especially the run defense, is one of, if not the best Dallas has faced this year. If the Giants’ can emulate their defensive performance Week One, or Minnesota’s defensive performance last week, the Giants can win. This insane optimism, combined with the fact that the Giants are 5-1 at MetLife this year, means I’m going to give them the season changing victory, but don’t be surprised if Dallas secures their 12th straight win.

Prediction – Giants wins 14-10