My “Non-Emotional” thoughts from yesterday’s game. As always feel free to post questions, comments or argue mine…
19-16 Giants. The team is now 2-0 for the first time since 2016 when the team was led by another promising young offensive minded coach. That season was seen as a success as they finished 11-5 and made the playoffs. Unfortunately for that team a picture of the WR core on a boat in Miami surfaced the week before our playoff game. Turns out they had been partying rather than practicing… Some were taken aback by this, some argued players have a right to spend off days how they want, but no one can argue that it was all down hill for Ben McAdoo after that. After going 11-5 and making the playoffs in year one, he was fired before the end of season 2, bounced around the league for a few years and resurfaced yesterday as the Panthers OC.
I wrote the above paragraph as a subtle reminder why I write these threads. We’ve been excited before and not levelheaded when evaluating our team/coaching staff. A lot of us, including myself, have a “don’t want to get hurt again” attitude towards to organization. I understand it completely and don’t blame any skeptics, but 2 games in and things are starting to “feel” different. I’m hopeful but guarded.
19 total points coming from 1 TD and 4 FGs, 162 NET passing yards and 103 rushing yards. Its very hard to watch yesterday’s game and say “the offense was good” because they weren’t. Two times to start the game they were given a short field and couldn’t get in the end zone. Some of the things that looked like they needed to be patched up in the Tennessee game still need patching and Carolina worked hard to exploit that. In the end we still scored more points than they did and that’s what really matters, right?
Jones – No matter what I write about him its going to cause debate, I get it. I’m still holding pat that my evaluations on him need to be based on whether he’s a true franchise QB. 2 games in and I still haven’t seen it. During each of the 2 games Jones has had good moments and bad moments. At one point in the 3rd quarter the game flow felt like the Giants were dead but suddenly Jones wakes up and drives the team down the field for a TD. On the flipside, we had 2 trips inside the 20 in which Jones red zone issues popped back up. He also threw a couple “should be” interceptions and missed a wide-open Shepard on a throw that should have been made. I don’t have access to all 22 but to my eye I feel like I did see a few WRs running free down the field that he didn’t see, he did this against TEN as well. The good news is that Daboll/Kafka seem to understand where he is and isn’t strong and are putting together a playbook that works to his strengths.
RBs – Not much of anyone besides Barkley with other backs only getting 2 carries. Barkley statistically didn’t have a good game, but I thought he did a better job than in past years of taking what the defense was giving him and not dancing which causes negative plays. At the end of the game, he consistently got positive yards and allowed us to run out the clock (as did Jones with his legs) which was crucial. I don’t know if Barkley did all this on his own or if DeAndre Smith is an influence, but he’s completely overhauled his running style for the better.
WRs – Who are our WR’s??? It came out after the game finished that Golladay had been benched in favor of David Sills. Kadarius Toney (while he did have 1 long gain nullified) seems to be targeted more of a gadget player. So our starting 3 is Richie James, Shep and Sills??? Not an inspiring group but they seemed to do “just enough” yesterday to help us win the game. Still, average play isn’t going to beat good teams. At some point in this season, we’re going to need Golladay and Toney to step up and play to their contract/draft status, if not, average is going to be the theme of this group and that’s being polite. Clearly though, Daboll and Kafka value reliability over big play ability at WR.
OL – Again, not a good showing in pass protection and the run blocking also took a step back. While Carolina has a good group up front with 2 good edge rushers and some strong DTs, they made us look worse than we are at times. Feliciano had a stretch towards the end of the game where he killed a drive on his own, Neal got beat for a sack early and there were even some sloppy plays from Andrew Thomas. I still expect this group to improve as the season progresses but if things don’t tighten up Micah Parson’s is going to have a field day against us, specifically moving around the formations and hitting the A gaps where we got torched yesterday.
Only 16 pts given up and Mayfield was held under 50% passing. The game plan very clearly seemed to be “we’re fine with McCaffery running, we just don’t want him breaking things open in the passing game” and they went with it. McCaffery ran for over 100 yards on a good statistical average, but a huge chunk of that came from 1 49 yard run, other than that he only caught 4 balls. Game plan executed and we won.
DL – Starting with the fact that its going to hurt if Williams isn’t healthy to play against the Cowboys. Being thin at the OLB position due to injuries the coaching staff moved Williams outside where his versatility was on display. I maintain he’s a good player on a bad contract that’s an important part of this team, he played well yesterday. Lawrence seems to be settling in on what his role should be, a run stuffing DT who can get some pressure collapsing the pocket from the middle. He isn’t an end like Graham was playing him. I wanted to call out DJ Davidson as well, I don’t see him in the game a lot, but he seems to make a play whenever I see him in.
LBs – The story of this group seems to be the step Oshane Ximenes has taken forward. Whenever you have a new coaching staff there always seems to be 1 player step up, this season it seems like its Oshane, he played well yesterday. While I was concerned about the LBs in coverage it seems as if Martindale was as well, he opted for a lot of 3 safety looks to contain McCaffery which I’ll talk about later, but the coverage responsibilities were removed from this group yesterday, probably a good call. Play was mixed from the interior LBs, I did notice Crowder took the wrong gap on McCaffery’s long run, but other than that there were no major mistakes. This group will hopefully get Azeez and Thibs back for Dallas.
CBs – I’m splitting CBs and Safety today where I’d usually put them in the same group. As we expected, Adoree Jackson is our best CB with a drop off to the next guy. Adoree played another solid game, he looks fast to react to the ball, smooth in coverage and has raised his physicality. Kudos to Henderson for getting the most out of him. The rest of the CBs were a mixed bag. Flott was starting to get exploited in coverage (and gave up a TD) when he was pulled in favor of the vet Moreau. Holmes got burnt badly on a play in the red zone which was dropped but may have been a touchdown if not, however this group still managed to do enough to make it a bad day for Baker.
Safety – For a while in the offseason this group was viewed as a concern, 2 games in and the reality may be that it’s the strength of this defense. Wink has clearly identified Xavier McKinney as a weapon that he can use, McKinney lined up all over the field and excelled wherever he was put. Not only did he hold McCaffery in check as a WR (he was shadowing him) but McKinney also added 2 batted balls and a couple pressures as a blitzer. Wink seems to be using him as the same Swiss Army Knife that Pittsburg uses Minkah Fitzpatrick as. Love, who I’d like to see extended, plays almost like a McKinney light. Again, he’s moved all over into different roles and seems to play well in all of them. Love will never be a star but is a good football player and plays a winning game. Belton had a great “welcome to the NFL moment” in his first play recovering a fumble. I saw him in and make a few tackles and didn’t hear him making any negative plays, all you can ask for from a guy that didn’t really have a camp. Good showing from this group, they were the heart of the defense yesterday.
I started the day with the tale of Ben McAdoo and a team starting 2-0, making it to the playoff and all the sudden going into a total collapse. As Giants fans we’ve been hurt, we’ve thought we had the guy more than once only to find out he’s a fraud. Truth be told, this is one of the reasons I write these threads, to level set and take things game by game. 2 games in and I can say this, the feeling around the team is that they expect to and believe they can win. This is a big difference from the last few seasons around here. I can honestly look back at the first two weeks and say I don’t think we would have won either game with McAdoo, Shurmur, or Judge coaching.
In each of the 2 games this team has managed to outscore the opponents in the 2nd half (after adjustments are made), overcome areas where the opponent is clearly dominating them, make plays in crucial situations (see the Gary Brightwell 4th and short) and either hold the opposing team in the final 2 minutes or run the ball to burn the clock down. It sounds pedantic but this is what winning football is, not a fancy offense scoring 40 a game, though it’d be nice…, it’s executing in high pressure situations. When it comes to crunch time you saw both Kafka and Wink have a play set up the other team wasn’t ready for. Love’s blitz to kill Carolina’s final drive and the sprint bootleg Kafka called to ice the game were both good play calls. No “curls and hope”, no “prevent defense and hope” like last season.
It’s a win but it left a lot to be desired. While I can look at our defense and say they played well, I can’t with the offense. Possibly we’ll have a week where the offense carries us, but right now this is a defensive team. That’s fine, defensive teams win ball games too. We’re coming into a game against a Dallas team that doesn’t have its starting QB, but also just beat the Bengals. If we win this game, it would be a huge early season win for the franchise, but some guys are going to have to step up for us to do so. The interior line is going to have to raise their games, someone at the WR core is going to have to establish themselves as “the guy” and getting Azeez/Thibs back can be huge. There’s a path to winning this game via blocking a bit better, holding the Dallas running game at bay and minimizing turnovers. Its Monday night and one of our few primetime games, I’d love to hammer Dallas and put them to bed early.