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

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: New York Giants, Week 12

By Aaron Weiss

The New York Giants finally broke the 7 point curse, beating the Cleveland Browns 27-13. Let’s break down the game and look towards Week 12!

The Good:

Jason Pierre-Paul – While I could laud the defense as a whole, as they probably deserve, there is no doubt that JPP deserves special distinction for his play on Sunday. He recorded 7 tackles, a game high 3 sacks (the team had 7), 4 tackles for loss, 4 QB hits, and a beautiful fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. The touchdown was set up by DT Johnathan Hankins knocking the ball away from Cleveland QB Josh McCown. JPP was a force on the line, causing a 3rd down sack to start the 4th quarter & the game ending strip sack, among other things. This game was his best of the year, a tour de force, and he’s now had 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in the last two games, after only recording 1.5 sacks and a fumble over the 9 preceding games. With his play matching his talent, in a contract year, he should be paid handsomely by the Giants or another suitor.

Odell Beckham Jr. – He did only connect on 6 of his 11 targets, but he also notched 96 yards and two touchdowns, including a key 32 yard TD on a shallow crossing route to give the Giants a 14-3 lead just before half (although the Browns scored a FG with time expiring). He also had a beautiful 59 yard touchdown on a punt return that was nullified by offensive holding. It’s a little distressing that 73 of Odell’s 96 yards came on two plays, but nonetheless, he was impressive in his two touchdown showing.

Brad Wing – The Giants punted on a whopping 9 of their 13 drives (12 if we exclude the victory formations to end the game), and 5 of those punts ended up within the 20 yard line. Three of them ended up inside or at the 5 yard line, excepting the muffed punt by Bobby Rainey, the Browns never received the ball past their own 37, and that 37 yard starting point was after a whopping 56 yard punt. For all the troubles the Giants had continuing offensive drives, it was Wing who ensured the Browns had to spend extended time with the ferocious Giants D.

The Bad:

Terrelle Pryor – Terrelle Pryor has been a top 10 receiver this year, and yet Janoris Jenkins and Landon Collins decided it wise to call out Pryor before the game. Jenkins said he didn’t see Pryor as a challenge, as he was “another receiver” and “just big”. Landon said that Pryor “only has some height over [Jenkins].” Pyror seemed to take this rather well, scorching the Giants for 6 catches on 12 targets for 131 yards, including a 54 yard catch. Granted Pryor’s best work came either in zone coverage or against rookie CB Eli Apple, but nonetheless Jenkins attacks before and after the game fell flat after Pryor’s performance. If you’re going to roast a guy, keep it tactful.

Sterling Shepard – After collecting a touchdown in each of the past three games, and putting up either 50 yards or 5 catches in each, Sterling went ahead and roasted the Browns defense for 0 yards. On 0 catches. On 0 targets. While he did drop 22 yards on an end around rush that was the Giants’ longest run of the game, Shepard was nonexistent in the passing attack (and that 22 yarder was his only touch of the game). While this almost qualifies as ugly, not just bad, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that this is an odd aberration. He had 6 targets in each of the nine games prior to this one, so look for him to rebound against the Steelers.

The Ugly:

Penalties – After weeks of impeccable self-control, the Giants looked like the Raiders, dropping 9 penalties for 100 yards. This included a holding penalty on Ereck Flowers and a false start on Bobby Hart on back to back plays to ruin a drive that started at the 50 yard line, a 35 yard pass interference penalty on Eli Apple (covering Terrelle Pryor), defensive holding on Trevin Wade that turned what would’ve been 4th and 8 (and a 56 yard FG) into 1st and 10 and an eventual FG as time expired in the 2nd quarter, and holding on Mark Herzlich that nullified a 59 yard punt return touchdown from Odell Beckham. More than perhaps anything else, the Giants’ lack of discipline kept this game feeling much closer than the score indicated, and with an unspectacular offense or special teams, there is no way the Giants’ contend with the top teams in the league if they are this careless.

Bobby Rainey – Bobby Rainey sucked. He did have two kickoffs of 25 and 26 yards, which is respectable. But on three punt returns in the 1st half, he had his first return of 10 yards nullified by an invalid fair catch signal on his part, he managed a meh 7 yards on his second return, and he muffed a punt on his third, which, due to impeccable defense, only led to a field goal. He was removed from punt return duty in the 2nd half, with Odell Beckham taking his place. It was an atrocious showing, and probably not indicative of his skills as a returner in general. But it would not be surprising if the Giants take the injury risk and have Odell replace Rainey permanently.

 

Injuries – Odell Beckham hurt his thumb in the first quarter, but he appears to be unaffected in any long term way. CB Eli Apple left the game in the 4th quarter after cramping, but he should be fine. S Nat Berhe suffered a concussion in the second quarter, and his status for next week is unclear. Considering he missed four games earlier in the year with a concussion, there’s a chance he fails to see the field for the rest of the regular season. LB Mark Herzlich also suffered a concussion, and his status for next week is unknown. Finally, DE Owa Odighizuwa injured his left knee and left the game in the 2nd quarter, only to later return, and KR/WR Dwayne Harris was off of special teams duty due to a variety of injuries, but he did record his first catch and touchdown on the season. Whether or not he returns to special teams duty next week is unclear.

In the long term, RB Shane Vereen is supposedly targeting a return from his torn triceps on December 11, against the Cowboys, but Coach McAdoo only commented “We’ll wait and see,” so it’s unclear if he’ll make a return this year at all. The O-line remains banged up, as Adam Gettis became the fourth player to start at LG against the Browns. McAdoo says he doesn’t know if starter Justin Pugh (knee) or backups Brett Jones (calf) or Marshall Newhouse (knee) will be able to practice this week. Going forward look to this O-line to remain a rotating, somewhat porous unit starring whoever is healthy.

NFC East Standings – Dallas won their 10th straight game against Washington on Thanksgiving, establishing a 10 game streak for the first time in franchise history. The Eagles play tonight against the Packers. Ergo the Giants remain in 2nd place in the division at 8-3. The Giants currently have a solid lock on the 5th seed in the NFC, with a game and a half lead on Washington, who has the 6th seed, and 2 games ahead of the next contenders (Tampa Bay, Minnesota, potentially Philadelphia). With a quarter of the season left, the Giants’ playoff fate is entirely in their hands.

Next Week – The Giants travel to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers, who get a long week after cruising past an Andrew Luck-less Indianapolis Colts. The Steelers are 6-5 and are tied for 1st in their division, alongside the Baltimore Ravens. While the Steelers have won back to back games, they were against the Browns and, as previously mentioned, a Luck-less Colts, and they lost the four games prior to the Dolphins, Patriots, Ravens, and Cowboys. Their only particularly good win was a week 4 thrashing of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Steelers’ offense is explosive, ranking 7th in pass yards, but their defense is mediocre, and I expect the Giants’ 3rd ranked defense (based on total yards) to lead the Giants to yet another victory.

Prediction – Giants wins 21-17

 

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: New York Giants, Week 11

By Aaron Weiss

The New York Giants escaped a trap game against the Chicago Bears, clawing their way to a 22-16 victory. Let’s break down the game and look towards Week 12!

The Good:

Ben McAdoo – This was Coach McAdoo’s best game to date, making several key decisions to get the Giants the win. Larry Donnell was again a healthy scratch, moving him out of the rotation in favor of Will Tye and Jerrell Adams. Also, Leon Hall was a healthy scratch, allowing a fully healthy secondary of DRC, Eli Apple, and Janoris Jenkins to hold down the CB positions. Furthermore, out of the gate, McAdoo was incredibly aggressive, going for two fourth down conversions and nailing both. It looked like something I would do in Madden. His play calling was impeccable, his sense of when to kick a field goal or punt or go for it, and his adjustments in the 2nd half turned around the game on defense. He was fantastic, and flashed his amazing potential as a head coach.

Eli Manning – Eli both avoided being sacked, and he didn’t throw a pick. He notched a respectable 227 yards and two touchdowns while completing 58% of his passes. He did a quality job of picking apart a defense that loaded up on stopping Odell Beckham, dishing to 8 different receivers. He was consistent and played safely and securely. He should flourish next week against the Browns.

Rashad Jennings – Last week we praised the run game for breaking 100 yards, but this week they did the same, and were incredibly more impactful, all due to Rashad Jennings. Jennings rushed 21 times for 85 yards, averaging 4 yards a rush. He also notched a touchdown, plus 5 catches on 6 targets for another 44 yards. The Giants ran an incredible amount of plays from the shotgun, giving Eli the option to run draw plays or pass, and it was Rashad’s ability early to both establish the run and his ability to be a check down option that opened up the defense for Eli and the passing offense. After back to back quality showings perhaps the run game is coming into its’ own.

The 2nd Half – The Giants shutout the Bears in the 2nd half, turning the momentum of the game with back to back touchdowns to start the half. Granted, as per usual, the Giants had difficulty closing out the game. 5 of the Bears 7 drives in the 2nd half were three and outs, with one missed FG and one interception to seal the game. All four of the Giants’ sacks came in the 2nd half. The defense was night and day between the two halves, and it was the beautiful shutdown D in the 2nd that won the Giants the game.

The Bad:

The 1st Half – While the Giants did score 9 points in the first half, they got beat in all three facets of the game. Zach Miller dominated the Giants up until he hurt himself. Jay Cutler was impressive. Olivier Vernon had a bad roughing the passer penalty, and the Giants had 12 men on the field on the goal line for the Bears’ second touchdown. The defense had immense difficulty stopping the Bears’ offense, and it wasn’t until the 2nd half that the Giants really turned it around.

Odell Beckham Jr. – Bad is a strong term to apply here, especially considering how he was double covered all day, which in turn led to Eli getting open looks elsewhere, but 5 for 46 on 7 targets was out of the norm. More importantly he made two key mental errors, losing the opportunity to gain a 1st down on a 3rd & 4 early in the 4th quarter by attempting to make a bigger play, and coughing up the ball on the next drive later in the quarter. Fortunately for him, the Bears failed to capitalize on his lack of situational awareness, and the fumble he coughed up flew harmlessly out of bounds. Nonetheless, look for him to rebound against the Browns.

The Ugly:

Robbie Gould – The NFL suffered more missed XPs this week than they did the entirety of last year, and Gould contributed to this, missing two of his three XPs. It was a particularly windy day, and there was clearly a kicking bug this week around the league, including on the other side of the ball, with Connor Barth missing one FG and one XP. But the two missed XPs meant that had Chicago scored a touchdown on their final drive they would’ve had the opportunity to hit the XP for the victory, instead of being forced to go for two just to tie. It was ugly, and Gould should be put on notice going forward.

Injuries – This week the injury report definitely falls under the ugly category. Rookie Roger Lewis was lost early in the game with a concussion. Marshall Newhouse, the right tackle who was stepping in at left guard with both Justin Pugh and Brett Jones out, was temporarily replaced by Adam Gettis after Newhouse sprained his knee. Finally, for the Giants, WR/KR Dwayne Harris hurt his wrist, but he too returned to the game. The returns of Harris and Newhouse are comforting and implicate their statuses for next week; Lewis is a different story, and we’ll have to see if he clears concussion protocol.

However, the ugly part is all on the Bears side. The Bears lost star TE Zach Miller, who was giving the Giants fits early on, to a leg injury, and OL ex-Pro Bowler Josh Sitton to a similar injury. Most disturbingly, rookie linebacker Leonard Floyd, who has put together a DROY résumé, hurt his neck, and had to be carted away from the field on a stretcher. He is apparently stable, able to move his extremities, and Coach Fox says his status is encouraging, but still, it was an ugly highlight to an ugly game as it pertains to injuries. We wish Floyd and everyone else a speedy recovery.

 

NFC East Standings – Dallas squeezed by the Ravens, Philly lost to Seattle, and Washington plays tonight. Dallas is first in the division and the league with their 9th straight win (9-1). The Giants remain in 2nd place, improving to 7-3. The Giants are a game and a game and a half ahead of the next best wildcard contender in the NFC, so things are looking up.

Next Week – The Giants travel to Cleveland to play the Browns, who have yet to win a game. The Browns lost to the Steelers 24-9 this week. Their starting QB Cody Kessler left the game with a concussion, and it remains to be seen if he’ll be healthy for Week 12. Obviously any winless team is a major trap game, but after a great job against the Bears, and considering the lack of weapons for the Browns on offense and defense, I can’t see the Giants screwing this up. That being said, the Giants have yet to win a game by more than seven points, so I wouldn’t predict a blowout.

Prediction – Giants wins 21-10

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: New York Giants, Week 10

By Aaron Weiss

The shorthanded New York Giants eked out their fourth straight win on Monday Night Football, beating the Bengals 21-20! Let’s break down the game and look towards week 11!

To celebrate the Giants 4 game winning streak, we’re scratching the ugly section entirely! The Giants played well enough to make that section moot, and instead we’ll highlight even more good things from the game!

The Good:

The…Running Game? – 19 teams in the league average over 100 rushing yards a game. The Giants, last in the league in rushing are not one of them. Yet, for the first time since losing Shane Vereen for the season, the Giants ran for over 100 yards. They rushed for a season high 124 yards on 25 attempts (excluding two -1 yard kneels at the end of the game), averaging a sweet 5.2 yards per rush. Granted, 38 of those yards came on the last drive, as the game was basically over, and granted, 49 of those yards came on just two plays, and granted, Cincinnati has the 16th ranked run defense, but considering how putrid this run game has been, and considering the Giants were without star lineman Justin Pugh (plus his backup, Brett Jones, was out for the game after the first drive with a calf injury), we will reward this run game for a respectable showing.

The Defense – This unit somehow keeps getting better week by week. Janoris Jenkins and the secondary held AJ Green to one of his weaker games of the season (and by weak I mean 7 for 68 yards and a touchdown, but considering this is AJ Green that’s pretty great). The Giants collected 3 sacks, 6 tackles for loss, 7 passes defended and 6 QB hits. Andy Dalton was pressured all night, and never got the run support or pass protection to get comfortable (the run game only generated 78 yards). PFF estimates Dalton was pressured on a third of all dropbacks. Landon Collins collected yet another interception, and Olivier Vernon collected a whopping 10 tackles. Barring one blown coverage on Tyler Eifert due to some clever trickery on the Bengals’ part, this defense was incredible all night.

Eli Manning – Without Victor Cruz, Justin Pugh, and Pugh’s replacement Brett Jones, Eli barely missed a step, leading a mostly one dimensional offense to success. He completed 64% of his passes, and threw for three touchdowns. Despite several key drops from the likes of Sterling Shepherd and Will Tye, Eli and the Giants managed to convert 6 of 14 third downs, much better than their efforts in previous weeks. He did throw two picks, one which was an exceptional play by Dre Kirkpatrick, and the other a truly painful pass by Eli, but all in all it was another great showing by Manning, in part due to the man below.

Odell Beckham Jr. – Odell collected ten catches for the first time since his rookie year. He passed 3,500 career yards, becoming the fastest player to reach that mark, beating Lance Alworth by a single game (this was Odell’s 36th game). He also scored his 31st career touchdown, breaking his tie with Antonio Brown for the most touchdowns over that span. It would appear that either the Josh Norman poison pill only lasts 3 to 4 weeks, or Odell has evolved and rounded the corner on his early season woes. It would appear he, the Giants’ and us Giant fans are having fun again.

The Ring of Honor – At halftime the Giants inducted former Head Coach Tom Coughlin, former defensive end Justin Tuck, and former GM Ernie Accorsi, much to everyone’s delight. Here’s a quick recap on the trio, in case anyone forgot:

Accorsi will forever be known for the 2004 Eli Manning Trade, and his sneaking out of a 2007 game where Eli threw four interceptions, but he also hired Coughlin and drafted Tuck. He also drafted Osi Umenyiora, Chris Snee, Brandon Jacobs, Mathias Kiwanuka, and many more, along with signing Antonio Pierce and Plaxico Burress. He brought in almost all of the key pieces for the 2007 championship team and a lot of the pieces of the 2011 squad.

Coughlin has only been removed from coaching one season, having just been replaced by Coach McAdoo, and he may one day get back into coaching. But he’ll be one of the great Giant coaches of all time, leading the team to their two most recent rings, leading the Giants to 5 playoff seasons in twelve total, and a 102-90 record. He’ll be most known for his development as a coach, adapting to his players and transforming from a coach hated by many (a la Michael Strahan and Tiki Barber) to a coach loved by all (a la Michael Strahan and Antrel Rolle). He’ll also be known as the predominant coach for Eli Manning, raising Eli from a rookie to an elite veteran.

Tuck was one of 17 players to be on both of the Giant’s Super Bowl teams. A growing star in 2007 and a premier veteran in 2011, Tuck was a 2-time All-Pro and a 2-time Pro Bowler. He played 127 games as a Giant, 90 as a starter, recording 318 solo tackles, 453 combined tackles, 60.5 sacks, 18 forced fumbles, 6 fumble recoveries, 26 passes deflected, two interceptions, and a touchdown. Tuck was a mentor to several current Giant players, including protege Jason Pierre-Paul.

All in all these three hold varying levels of responsibility for the Giants’ 21st century success, and all three deserve this honor.

The Bad:

Alex Erickson – The Bengals opened up the second half on a way too easy 84 yard kickoff return that led to one of the Bengals’ two touchdowns. Erickson also had two returns of 23 yards apiece. Minus the one big return it wasn’t atrocious, but the special teams was a little porous, and the obvious weak point in an otherwise positive showing.

And that’s it! Considering the Giants outplayed the Bengals as it pertains to time of possession battle, total first downs, red zone efficiency, yards per rush, penalties, third down conversions and total yards, there isn’t much to criticize for a team that seems to be improving weekly.

 

Injury Report – The Giants lost backup G Brett Jones to a calf injury on the first drive, and WR-KR Dwayne Harris to a toe injury in the 2nd half. It’s unclear the severity of either injury, but losing Jones is most significant, as he was slated to substitute for the injured Justin Pugh, and the Giants are scraping the bottom of the barrel on the offensive line.

NFC East Standings – The entire NFC East won their games this week, meaning that the Giants remain in 2nd place at 6-3. Washington is in 3rd at 5-3-1, Philly is last at 5-4, and the Cowboys won their 8th straight and own the best record in the league, 8-1.

Next Week – The Giants have a short week, but get a favorable home game against the Chicago Bears. While the Bears have the 10th ranked defense, their offense is putrid, and they’re prepared to lose several key players for the immediate future. Alshon Jeffrey has been suspended 4 games for a PED violation, to a 4-game PED suspension.  Lineman Bobby Massie and Kyle Long are both injured, Long for the year, And star rookie running back Jordan Howard seems to have injured his Achilles, although the severity is unclear. Additionally, NT Eddie Goldman and DL Will Sutton also are plagued with ankle injuries. This has a not insignificant chance of being a trap game, but I don’t buy it. I think the Giants roll to victory

Prediction – Giants wins 24-10

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: New York Giants, Week 9

By Aaron Weiss

The New York Giants played their most complete game of the season, working surprisingly well on all facets of the game to beat the Eagles 28-23! Let’s break down the game and look towards  week 10!

The Good:

Eli Manning – Manning did throw two picks in the game, but in both circumstances it was due to lucky chance, and not poor judgement on Manning’s part (one was a tipped pass, and the other was a weird drop/fumble that turned into a pick via Odell Beckham). Eli completed 61% of his passes, only got sacked once, and threw for four touchdowns. Especially early in the game, with the help of some defensive turnovers, Manning seemed to be on fire, spreading the ball to 8 different players using what appeared to be far more creative play calls on the part of Ben McAdoo. Manning scored a touchdown on the Giants only red zone appearance, and had a 96.6 rating on the day. Had he maintained the momentum of the first half he could’ve had a truly great day, but all in all it was still refreshing to see an offensive unit look good.

The Defense – Somewhere Jerry Reese is patting himself on the back. Yet again the defense triumphed, recording two sacks, four tackles for loss, seven passes defended, six QB hits and two picks. The Eagles never got anything going on the ground game, gaining 96 yards on 25 attempts, and Carson Wentz only completed 57% of his passes. The Eagles only scored touchdowns twice on six red zone appearances, and they only went 3-15 on third down. Perhaps most notably for this game, the Giants held the Eagles to 1-4 on fourth down, as Eagles’ Coach Doug Pederson was incredibly aggressive throughout the day. The Giants also only recorded 5 penalties, another good showing for a mistake prone team. The only “mistakes” made by the defense were a few mistakes on some long throws, giving up passes of 58 yards, 33 yards, 32 yards, and 30 yards. Still, with the secondary not entirely healthy, and with the Giants impeccable in short yardage situations, this is mostly forgivable. The Giants are currently the 12th ranked defense in the league, up from last place just last year, so credit Steve Spagnuolo, Jerry Reese, and this new and improved defense.

The Bad:

The Rushing Game – When praising the Giants Defense I lauded them for holding the Eagles to 96 yards on 25 attempts. The Giants ran for 54 yards on 24 attempts. Another week, and another dismal showing, although there were a few bright spots as rookie Paul Perkins flashed potential. The Giants rank dead last in the league in total rushing yards, last in yards per game, 29th in yards per rush, 29th in longest rush, and T-23rd for rushing touchdowns. The only consolation is that the Giants are also one of the best teams as it relates to ball security, with only 1 rushing fumble. Nonetheless, the New York Giants are entirely one dimensional on offense, and that isn’t likely to change going forward.

3rd Down Efficiency – Compared to previous games there wasn’t that much to criticize, but the Giants once again were ineffective on third down, going 4-13 on the day. They also went 0-1 on fourth down, with Eli throwing one of his two picks. This is primarily due to the fact that the Giants cannot run the ball, as mentioned earlier, allowing teams to only put three or four players in the box. This is another facet of the Giants’ stat sheet that isn’t likely to change, but eventually the Giants will need to improve their third down offense if they want to contend.

The Ugly:

Dwayne Harris – There wasn’t much that was ugly in this game. The most obvious was Dwayne Harris, who went a measly 30 yards on two kick returns and 10 yards on one punt return. The Giants special teams gave him no room the run on returns, and it led to some less than ideal field positioning. Brad Wing also shanked a punt late in the game that set up a potential game winning drive for the Eagles, but the excellent blocked FG gets the special teams unit off the hook for the week.

End of Game – To the surprise of no one, the Giants had to stress everyone out by giving the Eagles hope near the end of the game. After being up 14-0 to start the game, and 28-17 late in the third quarter, the Giants either threw picks or punted on their last four drives (excluding the victory formation at the end of the game), with a 4 play, 1:28 minute drive that ended in a punt, a 5 play 1:53 minute that ended in a pick, a 3 play, 1:31 minute drive that ended in a punt, and a 5 play, 2:03 minute drive that ended in a pick. Fortunately for the Giants the Eagles failed to score on either pick, and only notched field goals after each of the punts, but the Giants offense seems incapable of managing the clock when they need to.

 

Injury Report – The Giants were hit with a few key injuries, losing WR Victor Cruz to a sprained ankle and LG Justin Pugh to a sprained knee. Considering Cruz’s injury history and the way Pugh was hurt the Giants are incredibly fortunate that these injuries aren’t incredibly worse. Still, these two will be monitored closely and will most likely be day to day over the upcoming week. If Cruz isn’t healthy for next week he can be replaced by Sterling Shepard or the unexpectedly pleasant Roger Lewis. Pugh is one of the best guards in the league, and it’d be hard to find an adequate replacement if he misses time, but most likely he’d be replaced by Brett Jones. Additionally, rookie safety Darian Thompson will continue to be monitored after having missed the past 6 games.

NFC East Standings – Dallas thrashed the Cleveland Browns this week, and Washington was on their bye week, meaning that the Giants have slid into 2nd place with a 5-3 record. Dallas is at the top with a 7-1 record, Washington is in 3rd at 4-3-1, and Philly is in last at 4-4. The NFC East is still the only division without a team with a losing record. The Giants also current project to own the 1st wildcard spot in the NFC.

Next Week – The Giants have a long week ahead, playing on Monday night at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals, currently 3-4-1, will be coming off of their bye week, having most recently tied with the Washington Redskins 27-27. While the Bengals have talented players in their backfield, I don’t expect this relentless Giants run defense to allow the Bengals much leeway. This will lead to the inevitable battle between the Giants pass defense and the inhuman AJ Green. If the Giants can win that battle they can win the game, but I’m not too confident.

Prediction – Cincinnati wins 31-27

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: New York Giants, Week 7

By Aaron Weiss

The New York Giants defense carried them to victory against the Los Angeles Rams in London, 17-10, bringing them above .500 as they head into their bye week. Let’s break down the game, and look towards week 9!

The Good:

Landon Collins – The clear player of the day was Landon Collins, who collected 8 solo tackles, 2 passes deflected, and 2 picks, one of which he stylishly took to the house. He was on fire all day, forcing pressure on Case Keenum when he blitzed, and consistently getting tackles all over the field. It’s been clear going back to last year that the player the Giants traded up to draft was going to be a premier strong safety, and it seems over the past few weeks he is really beginning to bloom.

The Giants’ Defense – I praised them last week and I’m going to do the same this week. This group recorded three sacks and four picks (the other two corralled by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) and a game changing touchdown. Despite being on the field for 10 more minutes than the offense and facing 76 total plays to the Giants’ 57, this defense kept the total yards per play down (4.5), kept Todd Gurley and the run game in check with a total of 74 yards, made two stops in the red zone (only blowing an early setup from a Larry Donnell fumble, more on Donnell later), keeping the Rams 3rd down conversion rate under 50%, and, perhaps most importantly, they only gave up one 1st Down from penalties. While the entire Giants team was incredibly disciplined with only 3 penalties, one of which was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, it is particularly pertinent to laud this defense for it’s successes today, as yet again they were the driving force of this team.

The Bad:

The Rushing Game – Last week the Giants totaled 38 yards on the ground on 17 plays, and this week they tallied 36 yards on 20 plays. This running attack is stale, largely due to an inability to consistently move people up front. Rashad Jennings looked a little better this week, removed from his troublesome thumb injury, scoring a goal line touchdown and catching a pair of passes, but he still averaged 1.9 yards a carry. While there are issues all across this offense, the running game has put up less than 50 yards 4 times, and only over 100 yards once, and it makes game planning for this team simplistic for opposing defenses. Hopefully the running attack is more robust after the upcoming bye week.

The Passing Game (including ODB) – While the passing game wasn’t atrocious, it was definitely out of sync in too many familiar ways. With under 200 yards, 9 missed targets amongst the big three (Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, and Sterling Shepard), and no touchdown, this passing game really never showed up to bail out the paltry running game, like Odell alone did last week. The Giants’ running backs put up 10 less yards receiving than they did rushing on 16 less touches, again showing the one dimensionality of this team. Perhaps most egregiously this offense only converted on 31% of 3rd downs. All in all this offense was bailed out by the defense this week. At least Eli Manning wasn’t sacked, the only consolation from a mediocre showing.

The Ugly:

Larry Donnell – Donnell caught one pass for 8 yards on three targets, and a fumble on the 2nd play of the game to setup a Rams touchdown. It is incredibly unclear why Donnell is out on the field with the regularity that he is, given that he isn’t the pass catcher Will Tye is, and he doesn’t have close to the upside Jerell Adams has. It isn’t like he’s a tremendous blocking TE either. While perhaps the Giants’ have an affinity for Donnell due to his good run with the team back in 2014, his yards per game is at an all time low by over 11 ypg (excluding his 3 catch 2013 season. He’s also getting 20 less ypg compared to his 2014 year), reaching the halfway point of the season he has 1 touchdown compared to the six he had in 2014, and now he has a fumble to his name, on top of the 4 he recorded in 2014. He should not be resigned when his contract expires at the end of the year.

Josh Brown – Robbie Gould flew out to London on short notice and drained two extra points and a field goal at a 100% clip, proving that it is possible to accurately kick a ball and not have an innate need to abuse women.

Injury Report – The Giants were remarkably injury free, barring a scary looking back injury to Dwayne Harris at the end of the 1st half. However, he returned to the game. With the Giants looking at a bye week they should be healthy and well rested for their week 9 matchup against the Eagles.

NFC East Standings – Despite their win, the Giants currently remain 4th in the division at 4-3. The Cowboys are on bye, and will remain in 1st place at 5-1. The Eagles are second at 4-2 after an impressive in over the previously undefeated Vikings and the Redskins are third at 4-3 after losing to the Lions (they hold a one game tiebreaker over the Giants). For another week, the NFC East remains the only division with no team below .500.

Next Week – The Giants are on bye next week, and look to facing the Eagles at home in Week 9. A pivotal divisional matchup, the Giants will look to capitalize on the bye to beat an Eagles team with a stellar defense but average offense quarterbacked by a rookie. Look to Ben McAdoo as the X-factor, as he will dictate the mindset of the Giants over the break, and if they come out flat that’s on him as the coach. However, I expect the Giants to play with fire, and come out with a surprisingly easy win.

Prediction – New York wins 30-20

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: New York Giants, Week 6

By Aaron Weiss

The New York Giants squeaked out a victory against the Baltimore Ravens 27-23, snapping a 3 game losing streak. Let’s break down the game, and look towards week 7!

The Good:

Odell Beckham Jr. – After weeks of frustration and failing expectations, Odell dragged the Giants to victory with a monster game of 8 receptions on 10 targets, 222 yards, 2 TD’s. Odell had 75 and 66 yard touchdown receptions, showing off his speed and ability to shed tackles, despite playing hurt most of the game with an injury his hip in the 2nd Quarter. Going forward he will continue to be a top 3 wideout in the league, especially as this offense stabilizes.

The Giants’ Defense – This defense continues to be one of the most underrated and most sturdy units in the league, despite being overshadowed by losses the past few weeks. The Ravens’ two touchdowns were setup by a short field situation after Odell fumbled the ball, and on a ridiculous defensive pass interference call on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The red zone defense remains impeccable, holding the Ravens to a 40% red zone touchdown efficiency, and stopping Terrance West on a critical 4th & Goal. They held Baltimore’s yards per catch down to 6.4, and kept their 3rd down efficiency to 27%. The only truly bad moments for this defense were a blown coverage on Mike Wallace that led to a 70 yard catch, and a bad roughing the passer penalty on Owa Odighizuwa on a successful 4th down stop that would’ve ended the game (more on that later).

The Bad:

The Rushing Game – The Giants totaled 38 yards on the ground on 17 plays, with the longest run going for 6 yards. Nothing was working on the ground, which would be understandable if it was just Rashad Jennings who was struggling, as he was a game time decision while still battling a thumb injury, but both Bobby Rainey and Paul Perkins struggled, after playing decently in the past few games. While this showing is most likely an aberration, it’s no stretch to say that this unit has been mediocre all season, and needs to step it up.

The Passing Game (minus ODB) – If we remove the two touchdowns by Odell, which were short throws that most receivers couldn’t turn into big plays, this passing game would’ve thrown a mere 262 yards on 44 attempts. The Giants only completed 28% of their 3rd downs, failed to score a touchdown in the red zone, and only made it to the red zone twice. While this team is blessed with a talent like Odell, this team has other pieces that are better than the non-Odell stat line suggests. Victor Cruz made a few key receptions, including one on 4th down, Sterling Shepard made a key 4th down reception, rookie Roger Lewis got a nice touchdown catch, this offensive line only surrendered one sack, and Eli Manning looked as good as he has all season. But there is no doubt that the Giants’ lose this week without Odell to bail them out.

The Ugly:

The Refereeing – The Giants were plagued with a couple of terrible pass interference calls and non-calls, such as the pass interference call on DRC that led to a 30 yard gain. This led to a bad penalty line of 7-119, which would fit with the Giants’ recent run of undisciplined play, but in reality the Giants’ did not commit too many legitimate egregious penalties, a good sign for the future.

Owa Odighizuwa – As mentioned earlier, Dig gave up a roughing the passer call on 4th down the last drive of the game. His err will be forgotten in time due to the fact that it didn’t cost the Giants’ a win, but there is no doubt that had the Giants lost he would face the same ridicule that Andrew Adams did in week 3 after his unforgiving penalty on a blocked punt against Washington. Owa also failed to record a single stat, but that isn’t necessarily a reflection of his play. Considering how talented he is, this game and this mental mistake should not be a reflection of his play going forward.

Injury Report – There were only four players injured in the game, a low number for a Giants fan, and remarkably all four returned to action. LS Zak DeOssie hurt his ankle, WR Odell Beckham Jr. had a hip pointer, CB Trevin Wade hurt his ankle, and LB Keenan Robinson hurt his knee.

NFC East Standings – Despite their win, the Giants remain 4th in the division at 3-3. The Eagles are 3-2 after losing to Washington, who is now 4-2, and the Cowboys are first at 5-1. The only division with no team below .500, the race for the NFC East is heating up, especially with the possibility of Tony Romo returning in the near future.

Next Week – The Giants are “at” Los Angeles next week at 9:30 AM EST, as the game is taking place in Twickenham Stadium, London. The Rams are coming off of a loss to Detroit, 31-28. Look for the Giants to exploit the 16th ranked passing defense and see if (or more likely when) Odell beats Trumaine Johnson. Note that the last time these two teams played the Rams took out their frustrations at being unable to cover Odell by attempting to turn his skeleton into dust, leading to a brawl on the sidelines. While it’s not likely things will get that out of hand, especially with the ex-Ram Janoris Jenkins wearing a Giants uniform, it will be interesting to see if the Rams play dirty like they did back then.