My non-emotional review from yesterday’s game. As always feel free to add your own thoughts, argue with mine etc… just be civil.
Disclaimer - I mentioned last week I’m going to be experimenting with different formats as I felt this thread has begun to resemble what both Sy’ and Eric already do a fantastic job of. I’m open to comments and suggestions of formatting for future threads. Today rather than go position group through position group I will be making more broad comments on offense, defense and coaching. Enjoy!
Giants 31 Cardinals 28, we improve to 1-1 going into an extremely tough matchup against a loaded 49ers team that seems to excel at a lot of the things we have a hard time defending. Bottom line, we needed to win this game.
The easy observation would be to view this game as a tale of two halves due to the dichotomy between what we saw in the first vs the second. I’d challenge that its even more than that, not only did we see two completely different games from half to half, we saw two completely different teams. The Giants in the first half were well on their way to picking Caleb Williams, resetting their rebuild and re-entering the cycle of hope and optimism turning into disappointment for the fans. As a poor Cardinal team marched down the field drive after drive, social media steamed, comparisons to Ben McAdoo started flying around and Josh Dobbs was getting ready for his gold jacket fitting after the game. Things were that bad.
Half two couldn’t have been more different and started right from the first play when rookie third rounder Jaylin Hyatt reportedly told Jones to “throw it up for me” and responded with a 58 yard catch that set the Giants up for not only a much-needed score, but a fast one. While the Cardinals responded with a TD drive of their own, The Giants never wavered and continued to march the ball down the field drive after drive to slowly cut the lead. Flash forward to the 4th quarter, not only did they wind up making up a 20pt deficit, but they were able to do it quickly enough where overtime was taken out of the question. I would have really liked to see this team from the 2nd half play Dallas the week before…
Overall, you can view this game in a lot of different ways. After an embarrassing drubbing by the Dallas Cowboys the week prior, we were reminded exactly how bad this team can be in the worst case scenario, then shown how good they can be when things get going the right way.
I can say this. Ben McAdoo, Pat Shurmur and Joe Judge would not have been able to keep the team together, modify their game plan and win this game. The poor start deserves to be put on Daboll, but he also needs just as much, if not more credit for bringing his team back for the win.
To be straight forward, after 6 quarters of football Daniel Jones’s extension was looking to rival Nate Solder and Kenny Golladay’s contracts as worst ever in Giants history. While he got little to no help from his team against Dallas, he was still paid the type of money you give a QB that elevates his teammates, which he didn’t do. In quarters 1 and 2 it was more of the same with the major exception that he wasn’t running for his life like he was against Dallas. Yes, there were some bad drops and poor plays by WRs (Saquon Barkley has caused 2 INTs already this season) but he had some bad throws on his own, poorly timed plays and I saw some receivers running free that he missed.
In Q3 we saw an entirely different person. Jones not only looked like a 40million dollar QB, he looked like a top 5 player at the position. He moved in the pocket well, had zip on his throws, put balls in tight windows but most importantly, never waivered in the face of diversity. Please give me this guy the rest of the season.
Moving on from Jones the obvious next step would be the offensive line. Marcus McKethan got the start which was oddly only reported by a Philly reporter, and played well enough. Josh Ezeudu didn’t embarrass himself at LT and clearly has a place as a swing tackle and Evan Neal wasn’t a liability. Interestingly we had discussions on the board this week involving Joe Schoen’s 2022 draft calling him out for “whiffing” on quite a few players. The counterpoint to that is that we won a game with (3) 2022 Joe Schoen draft picks on the OL, 1 from 2023 and one of his free agent signings filling in for Ben Bredeson. We saw and won with an offensive line that was 100% Joe Schoen built. Worth thinking about.
While I won’t do a full walk through of the skill positions, I will say that we’re beginning to see what the plan was for two of our biggest offseason acquisitions on the offensive side of the ball. Darren Waller provided a consistent safety net for Daniel Jones in clutch situations. Need a first down, need someone to rely on to be open? Waller is your guy. I expect to see a lot of him doing this as the season goes on.
When Jaylin Hyatt was drafted there was hope he could be a number 1, I don’t think this is what the Giants were looking for. Hyatt was drafted to do exactly what he did yesterday, take the top off the defense, create big plays and open up the underneath for Waller, Barkley, Campbell, Robinson etc… You’ll notice how the defense softened once he caught that bomb. This is what we need from him, be Desean Jackson and create big plays.
Despite giving up only 8 second half points and tightening up as the game went, I still walked away from this game feeling less optimistic about our defense than I did our offense. It’s one thing when a high-powered Dallas offense finds a way to march up and down the field with little resistance, it’s a completely different thing when a Josh Dobbs lead Cardinal team does it. Even in the second half when they began to make stops and look like an NFL defense, there were still a few things that should be cause for concern going forward. I wasn’t happy with the defense, and we have players who outright just need to play better.
Two statistic that should scare you whether this was a win or not:
31 passing attempts by Arizona, 0 sacks, 0 turnovers
29 rushes for 151 yards
These two statistics scream “we’re losing in the trenches”. The game film from the past two games only reinforces this. There was a lot of talk about Kayvon Thibodeaux disappearing during the Dallas game, he was also invisible yesterday. While it’s easy to blame him, it isn’t just him. Leonard Williams, who is being paid a fortune, has yet to flash yet this season and Azeez Ojulari was back on the sideline with another injury. This group needs to step their game up, period. We won’t be able to be competitive with a defensive front 7 that is simply “just there”.
In the second half of the game the secondary outplayed the defensive front. McKinney and Pinnock were both active and rebounded after being run over more than once by James Conner in the first half. The two rookies at CB are not playing like two rookie CBs, and certainly not a 6th round rookie. An unheralded play in the game was Trey Hawkins deep coverage late in the 4th quarter on a ball he almost intercepted. This was almost an identical situation to what he got called for PI on the week before against Brandin Cooks, however this time he played it differently, he cut the receiver off, got his head around and ran the route for him. The play itself is encouraging, what’s more encouraging is the adjustment from week to week.
Daboll had both his best and worst game as a Giant when viewing this by half. While the first half looked identical to the first game against Dallas, there is a major difference between looking that bad against Dallas and looking that bad against Arizona, these two things aren’t the same. I’d like to know what was said at halftime, because this was the fastest turnaround I’ve ever seen from a team. We’ve seen very few Giants teams that have even had the ability to make this type of a comeback, and less who can fulfill that potential and execute it. Specifically, with it following up the Dallas game, it was an amazing job for Daboll to keep this team together after the first half.
One thing I’d like to touch on, there seems to be some discussion as to whether Daboll took over play calling or not. He’s saying he didn’t yet the cameras seemed to have caught him calling plays more than once. For the record I don’t care whether he did or didn’t, Kafka called them last year and did a good job, if Daboll did jump in it just shows the value of having two good play callers on staff.
For Wink on defense, you need to figure out what is going on with this front. The defensive line can’t be Dexter Lawrence and 3 other guys, someone else needs to come on and identify themselves as a player. While I gave Thibs a pass last week after that disaster, there was no excuse for him being shut out yesterday. He was picked 5th in the draft, time to live up to his status.
I mentioned last week that losing 40 to nothing is the same as losing 40-39, it’s one loss on the schedule. While this was a great, emotional come from behind win, its just a 1 added in the win column at the end of the week. Bottom line is we played an opponent we should beat, and we beat them, it wasn’t smooth, some of it was outright ugly, but we won. There’s a lot to learn from in this game, but there’s also a lot to build on. Please let the second half Giants be the ones that show up from here on out.
Short turn around and a tough opponent Thursday. I mentioned that Arizona was a team we should beat, the 49er’s are one we shouldn’t. They’re extremely strong in the trenches, press the edges in the run game and feature a ton of dynamic playmakers. I’m not asking for the Giants to come in and pull off an upset, I’m just asking that they don’t come in and lay an egg like they did against Dallas. Show us the fans that Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll are building a team that is better than it was the year before and put up a fight against San Fransico.