Giants report

September 17, 2021

Giants report: A little perspective … Afternoon everyone! Anything new? Don’t know about anyone else, but I was still tossing and turning when the sun came up this morning. What a frustrating, heart-breaking loss. And it was so frustrating and heart-breaking because the game was won. So maybe a little perspective might be in order.

The Giants just went through one of the toughest things you have to do in the NFL. Go on the road on four days rest early in the season when you’re still not in great game shape. And played a tough divisionaI rival. They went down there and battled for 59 minutes and 55 seconds and had the game won. And then Dex went offside. I personally don’t buy any of the ‘we didn’t lose because Dex was offside!’ stuff. Because we DID LOSE because Dex was offside. The game was won; it was over! And all the ‘we should never been in that situation’ nonsense is all just conjecture. And if Dex hadn’t been called for the penalty and the Giants won we’d all be dancing around the old maypole tree singing kumbaya and asking where we get playoff tickets and people wouldn’t be filling up my email with posts like ‘we suck’, ‘0-17 here we come’, ‘fire – in no particular order – the GM, the coach, the QB, the owner, the offensive and defensive co-ordinators, even the guy who cleans the locker room’ Sigh!!

Certainly being 1-1 would feel a whole lot better than 0-2. But it is what it is and you try and build on the positives. And there were plenty of positives, especially on offense. The Giants had seven scoring drives, and while one too many resulted in a FG, the offense moved the ball almost at will. What I think you see emerging is the framework for a potentially dynamic vertical, big-play passing attack with three pretty good receivers who can get downfield in Golladay, Shepard and Slayton. And if the Giants can ever get the gadget guys – Saquon, Toney and Engram – up to speed, I really believe the unit has the potential to put 30 points a game on the board most nights.

I also want to reiterate to my Giants’ friends that Daniel Jones ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE ANYTIME SOON! Certainly, not for the next couple of years. One would really like to see him be a little more accurate. A lot of his passes just seem to be a split second late and one would hope that that as he moves forward that his route anticipation improves as I suspect that he may be doing a little double clutching just to make sure he’s not going to turn the ball over. But he can certainly sling the ball and whatever he lacks in accuracy these days he makes up for in athleticism. I mean NFL QBs not named Lamar Jackson aren’t supposed to run for 50-yard scores. In fact, if Jones reminds me of an NFL QB these days it may be Colin Kaepernick in his early days with the 49ers.

And just a word on Saquon. He’s clearly not 100%, but he can still be a major factor. Just having him line up in the backfield forces opponents to account for him. And that should open the door for the Giants to run play action after play action and get the ball down the field even if Saquon never actually carries the ball.

On the other hand, the existential problem for the Giants these days is they just can’t rush the passer. The fact is that while they are nominally a 3-4 D, in reality they play a 4-2-5 on most snaps. However, because they have no true DEs, they’ve been forced to have to move their 250-pound OLBs up to the line of scrimmage and play with their hand on the ground. But that’s awfully small to hold the point of attack against a 320-pound NFL OT in the run game. You could actually live with that if those guys were flashing and rushing the pocket, but so far Carter, Ximenes and Ojulari have barely gotten off the line of scrimmage. Indeed, one could make the case that Carter and Ximenes have been so unproductive to date that they should have been asked to buy tickets.

So we have the Giants defense, which for all intents and purposes appear to have most of the other pieces in place, in essence, playing a 4-2 defense (and almost exclusively rushing just the four) without any DEs that get any penetration at all when the whole predicate of a 4-man rush is that you have DEs that can get after the QB. And I use the example, of the 7/11 Super Bowl teams. Imagine those teams without Strahan, Tuck, Osi and JPP and you’re not imagining any rings!

And it shows. In the two games to date, two essentially journeyman passers, have pretty much played catch against the Giants, completing 76% of their pass attempts for what would be, prorated over the year, almost 5,000 yards and 32 TDs. Which for the record, would have been 32nd in the league last fall.

The Giants have a few days off in which Joe Judge and Patrick Graham have to find an answer. The problem is they really don’t have the talent to run a standard NFL defense. So they are going to have to come up with something a little different. Certainly, they have to consider playing their corners much more aggressively. Right now, they are paying Bradberry and Jackson, a pair of really good press corners, close to $30M a year to sit 6-7 yards off the long scrimmage and not give up the big play. That ain’t working. What I’m thinking, at least in passing situations, is that they put their best 5 cover guys in man and everybody else goes after the QB. Yeah, you’re going to give up a few big plays along the way, but almost anything has to be better than getting sliced and diced every week.

And the 2022 draft just has to be about the pass rush! More on that later.