It was with mixed emotions that I watched the Giants win, in a convincing fashion against a heavily favored Broncos team that had dominated some other teams. Surprisingly the Giants’ offense displayed strong running game against a team that has not allowed much to running backs all year.
There are a number of reasons for this. One was clearly the addition of D.J. Fluker (ultimately instead of Hart) on the offensive line. The second was the reconfiguration that put Pugh back at tackle where his athletic abilities are probably best suited. We have been positive on Darkwa for a while and he was great. It should be clear that Perkins will not get his starting job back when healthy.
They didn’t post overall gaudy numbers and passing to wide receivers was virtually non-existent, but they did what they needed to do and controlled the game.
JPP had a big game for the first time all year. With Vernon injured, that was desperately needed. The Giants improved against the run led by the typical all-world Snacks Harrison. Thankfully a mediocre quarterback like Simeon could not expose the fact that DRC was benched via suspension. Interceptions tend to be random and come in bunches. The Giants got 3 after doing very little for the first 5 games. Simple mean reversion.
As a realist I know there is no chance for the Giants to make the playoffs. In that regard they would be better off planning for the future as discussed in last week’s blog. The fact that there are articles about the path to the playoffs is absurd but also an indication that they won’t give up in time for the trading deadline. It would be a wasted opportunity to not set themselves up well for next year.
The Seahawks are not the team they once were. They never were as good on the road as in Seattle but none of their victories have been that impressive. While the Giants played above their heads last week and materially benefited from the one-time surprise that comes with Mike Sullivan being newly responsible for play calling, the Giants have a few things working for them this week. For one, it appears likely that Sterling Shepard will return from his ankle injury. It’s a really big deal specifically because of how many good receivers have been lost and the fact that they are down to guys who were mostly unemployed a few weeks ago. Given the comparison it’s a meaningful upgrade. Having some receivers to go along with a newly found running game could provide reasonable offense.
On defense DRC returns from his one game suspension and that will materially help the secondary. On the D line, Olivier Vernon could come back. Given the very weak Seahawks tackles, he and JPP could wreak havoc. The Giants are 6.5 point underdogs at home. I think they keep the game close and it would not surprise me if they came away with a win.
Time to Suck for Sam?
The rallying cry of Jets fans coming into the season was to be bad enough that they would get the first pick in the draft and be able to take the # 1 player in the coming draft which was expected to be USC quarterback Sam Darnold. The Giants season is over.
It was really over prior to this past weekend’s loss to the previously winless Chargers, but now is officially over. Not only did the Giants lose yet another game they were leading the 4th quarter, this one had them suffer significant injuries at wide receiver, most importantly the gruesome injury suffered by Odell Beckham.
He is out for the year with a broken ankle and it was so bad that you need to wonder if he will ever be the same player he was. The Giants will sign Travis Rudolph from the practice squad and former Giant, Tavarres King. Rudolph looked great in the pre-season and I think will surprise people. He doesn’t have the measurable (40-yard dash time, height), but will be productive if given the chance.
More importantly, 0-5 has an advantage. The early trade deadline in the NFL of October 31, usually leaves team within shooting distance of a playoff game and afraid to dump assets. To be sure, there are other reasons trades don’t happen too much in the NFL. Integrating into a new system is tough, and salary cap ramifications, specifically the requirement to accelerate un-accrued bonuses, prevent a lot of trades from happening.
Between the 0-5 record and the injuries to star players the Giants will have 100% support from their fans to give up on any premise of being competitive this year and can start planning for the future. This of course could have major ramifications if the Giants start their own Suck for Sam campaign. It would be giving up on the last couple of productive years from Eli Manning (arguable but consider the line in front of him and his lack of running game support prior to deciding he is finished) and also giving up on the prospects of Davis Webb. Of course if they do get the top pick they could also do what’s been done recently, which is trade top picks for a ton of picks and players that can build a team for years to come.
The Giants can start trading away any parts they have that can be plugged in elsewhere. Serviceable parts that could help other teams if the other teams were to have injuries could include a John Jerry or D.J. Fluker, or a Shane Vereen. None are great but each could have value to other teams with injuries and none have un-accrued bonuses that are too large to eat. The likeliest piece of trade bait is DRC. He plays at very high level, can impact a team materially and is on the last year of a contract so wouldn’t have much left in un-accrued bonus and not be that expensive for a half a season rental for a good team who needs improvement in the secondary. While I’m sure the Giants would love to have him back, he is on his last year of his contract so any signing would be a full market price next year anyway. He could theoretically still sign with the Giants next year if each were so inclined. For a team on the cusp of competing in this year’s playoffs, I could see him potentially generating as high as a second round pick in return (as opposed to the others which would garner no better than a 5th round pick at best).
On another note, the Giant’s ran the best they have all season. Gallman looked good and aggressive again and Darkwa looked very good before he got hurt again. I don’t see Perkins getting his starting job back any time soon. It should be noted that the Chargers are notoriously weak against the run so a week’s stats should be taken with a grain of salt, but they still looked a lot better. Part of me wonders if Brent Jones at his natural center position can make enough of an impact that you could add Weston Richburg to the list of trade-able parts with value before the traded deadline.
Perkins didn’t look like the same running back even before he got hurt. It wasn’t just the line. He seemed lack both vision and burst. Part of it seemed to be a confidence thing.
McAdoo continues to make bad decisions in play calling and clock management. Going for 2 on their last score was a bad idea when they were at the 2-yard line. It was colossally stupid when they were moved back to the 7. He is almost lucky Odell got hurt and the game is irrelevant. Otherwise it would be the big story of the week.
Olivier Vernon’s absence certainly hurts the Giants. They cannot generate an organic pass rush without him in there. Without him JPP can be doubled. It’s important to have two guys who are plus rushers as only one can be double teamed leaving the other to have a better chance at getting to the quarterback. He was ineffective playing injured, so hopefully some real recovery time can get him healthy and back.
I’m a loyal fan so I will still watch the rest of the games, but it will be a painful season to watch. I hope they at least develop all the youngsters and even potentially let Davis Webb play some ball. What do they have to lose?
On a side note, I think the Knicks may have an even lower winning percentage this year than the Giants. That is another story for another time on another blog.
Yesterday’s 27-24 loss to the Eagles was as gut wrenching and painful as any in memory.
Minutes earlier, after the great comeback that seemingly had culminated with the Sterling Shepard 77-yard touchdown catch, I had visions of 2007 when the Giants went 0-2 and were looking awful against the Redskins until a goal line stand turned their entire season around. I thought that is what this blog would be about. I was wrong.
The ESPN app has a chart showing percentage chances of winning. After having little chance while falling behind early and looking bad, the Giants rallied and were showing an 83% chance of winning. A confluence of unlikely events transpired to lead to a loss. It was horrible and as a result the Giants have virtually no chance of making the playoffs. We are still in September and the season is nearly over.
I’m going to try to spin some optimism here. Here it goes. The Giants were underdogs for two of the three games and were expected to be underdogs for these games when the seasons started. Even if you projected them for 10-6, you likely had them losing road games in Dallas and Philly. They are a game behind what they should have been.
More importantly, the change in the game plan sort of worked. Planning to throw the ball quickly to eliminate the liability that is Flowers and the offensive line was working. Manning had good stats and was relatively clean for most of the game. I saw a statistic where his average length of holding the ball prior to passing yesterday was 25% shorter than the second quickest team. It’s not a long term plan that should work but it helped. They seemed to get some real momentum later in the game as they learn what their personnel can and cannot do. I assume defenses will respond to it but it was helpful.
Other observations: the Giants run defense which was excellent last year no longer is. It’s not clear if this is because of the loss of Hankins or something else. It could be that you can attribute Dallas to being a great O Line and the last two games to the absence of BJ Goodson. It’s not clear when he will be returning but having an undrafted free agent in the middle is not ideal. Their pass defense does seem to still be keeping opponents in check, although the last two completed passes on the game ending drive should not have been so easily given up. At the very least they should have tackled Jeffrey in bounds on that last pass. The coaching also leaves something to be desired. Playing from the shot gun on that third down play from the 6-inch line was a bad idea. Not coaching Shane Vereen to stay in bounds on the Giants last drive was bad. Darian Thompson is an awful tackler and a liability against the run. I’m not sure Adams shouldn’t be reinserted into the lineup ahead of him at safety. Olivier Vernon not being able to play at the end of the game hurt tremendously. It gave Wentz too much time. The rushing game is abysmal. When Hart returns from injury, Pugh should be put at left tackle and they should send Flowers to the bench. He is done. This can’t be undone by more work. He just lacks the talent for the job. Suggestions that DJ Fluker should see the lineup are clearly being made by people who didn’t a watch the preseason and still grade him from his draft spot. He was horrible. Much worse than Flowers. Perkins has no confidence left. Even when there are some holes he doesn’t see them Whatever he had last year he has lost.
The Giants certainly were more competitive and seemed to have turned some corner offensively (at least in the passing game) and their defense despite messing up at the end was still overall solid. As a fan I’m committed to watching each game, but it was a sad day. End note: OBJ celebration not worth discussing. It’s all been said. As for the national anthem, I’ll leave that to others.
We don't usually post videos and certainly not one of practices, but WOW -you need to see this one!
The wait is over. After a long off season, the Giants kick off their pre-season this Friday night. I have some initial thoughts on the upcoming season, which are admittedly going to be refined significantly prior to the regular season.
I can’t recall the last time that there was a wider gap between the upside and downside possibilities for this team.
The negative case is that the Giants had a ton of close games last year and mean reversion usually means that they should only win about half of them. That alone would cost them two wins.
Additionally, the Giants have one of the toughest schedules in the league. That too could be good for an expectancy of a couple of more losses. All else being equal, last year’s team playing this year’s schedule, would average about 7 wins. Their biggest liability last year, the offensive line, went basically unaddressed in the off season. Also, their most expensive player, QB Eli Manning clearly started the back 9 of his career. It is highly unusual for this to get better. The more likely path is for it to get worse. All these facts don’t bode well for the Giant’s.
Here is the upside. They were an 11 win playoff team. Their defense was not only good last year, but gradually improved over the course of the year, amazingly even after JPP went down with an injury. With the possible exception of Dominique Cromartie, not one significant player on the defense is at an age where he should be getting worse. The one loss on the defense in Hankins was adequately replaced. The free safety situation should be reasonably improved with the return of Darian Thompson from injury. I expect B.J. Goodson to be an improvement from last year’s Kelvin Sheppard (who still remains unsigned if you needed to be sure of that). Eli Apple looks improved from last year and he continued to improve throughout the year last year. The secondary could be the best in the NFL. Most importantly, it seems the defense improvement over the course of the year last year was not a coincidence. The last time the Giants won the Superbowl, defensive coordinators Steve Spagnuolos defense started out by giving up 80 points in their first 2 games before learning the system and improving. This team seems to have learned the system and should be able to utilize this knowledge and improve their game.
On the offensive side, even though the line remains the same, there is an argument that it does not. Pugh missed some time last year and is now healthy. Westburg apparently played with an injured hand which is now better. Disappointments Flowers and Hart stayed in Jersey all winter to work on their bodies and their games. Even a minor improvement should help. They also had no tight end last year who could block and they do now with Rhett Ellison, who was one of the best blocking tight ends in the game. In terms of passing targets for Manning, Marshall is a huge improvement over a post-surgical and ineffective Victor Cruz, and rookie tight end Evan Engram has been flashing in practices and looks like a size/speed mismatch that Ben McAdoo will utilize well. In addition to the obvious expected greatness from OBJ, Shepard is coming into year 2 where may receivers make a jump. He has one of the better statistical years of any first year receiver last year. The Giant’s stuck with Jennings at running back for too long last year and he was awful. Perkins when given a chance did much better than Jennings and will be the main ball carrier. Also Shane Vereen coming back as a receiving back will be helpful. More so the diverse talent they have should allow them more formations and make them less predictable. The Giant’s are only 2 years removed from having a good offense and it was with a substantially similar line. The subtle improvement the offense has made since last year, via additions and health could have a significant impact. If their defense is as good as I think it can be and the offense even gets back to middle of the pack, even with a tough schedule the Giants could be as good as any team.
After round 1 we gave our thoughts on Engram. I would have still gone with Reuben Foster. I think adding an elite MLB to that defensive line and backfield would have made for a truly dominant defense.
The Giant’s tight end situation is poor enough that very solid solutions could have been had through round 4 or 5 that would have represented an upgrade on their current team. I would have liked to see Jake Butt taken in the 4th round. Maybe Engram will be a nightmare matchup problem and prove me wrong but it didn’t seem like the pick to make. In the second round, as we predicted they would, they took a DT to replace Hankins. They selected Dalvin Thompson. He should reasonably be a swap for Hankins who, while loved by the Giants, was not worth the $10m he got from a defensively desperately bad Colt team. The PFF guys happened not to have rated Hankins very highly last year and there is reasonable thought he was better situated to the NT position occupied by Harrison. The replacement cost here is materially less. Now if the Giants knew they would have been replacing him they potentially could have allotted that salary cap piece elsewhere, either to a Martellus Bennett at TE or to a quality offensive lineman.
Round 3 pick David Webb could ultimately make or break the draft. Unless they had him ranked significantly higher, I’m against the pick. The Giants have current holes that needed filling, and realistically speaking, this is a pick who likely won’t play for 3 years. This is a problem for 2 reasons. One is that the Giants have a very good team right now and every chance to take advantage of the “Manning Window” should be taken. Two, with very few exceptions, good teams don’t just go from one franchise QB to another without a big drop. At some point post-Manning, it’s likely that they will need to rebuild. At that point they can get a high draft pick and get their man then. If they had Webb rated much higher than he was taken, then it’s reasonable to take a crack at him in round 2. Reports are that he is not very accurate and that is something that doesn’t generally improve sufficiently over a career.
I am not enamored with 4th round pick Wayne Gillman. The Giants have their good, but great lead back in Perkins, who is young and flashed reasonable potential last year, running for a much higher average than Jennings behind the same exact line. For the most part this very mediocre line should only get better as except for John Jerry they are all young guys still on the ascent their career. They won’t be good but should be improved. Gillman who ran a slow 4.6 40-yard dash time is supposed to be the stronger in between the tackles compliment to Perkins. I like Darkwa in that role. His numbers decreased last year but that was primarily because most of his runs came against the Packers and Vikings, two excellent run defense teams and were while Justin Pugh was injured. He is a solid runner and as good as Gillman making this a wasted pick.
In round 5 they took Avery Moss, a DE who could add to the pass rush. Once you are down to round 5 it’s not crazy to take guys that could come in as specialist and its possible Moss can fill that role. He has the right body type. They traded up in round 6 when they realized they didn’t take any OL. They took Bisnowaty. It’s doubtful he becomes more than serviceable but he performed well in a good conference. It’s possible he can add muscle and get better.
He won’t be a year 1 starter, if ever. Some of the URFA looked good. USC OT Chad Wheeler could make the team. Same for Notre Dame DT Jarron Jones. I look forward to seeing these guys in the upcoming rookie minicamp.
The Giants selected Evan Engram from Ole Miss with their first-round pick. While we expected that the tight end position was a likely choice, we thought it would be Miami’s David Njoku. Shockingly, the early round run on quarterbacks created a dynamic where OJ Howard slipped to 19. It raised hope but the Bucs grabbed him and it was not meant to be. The problem I have with the Engram pick is that he is only a tight end in name only. At 235 pounds, he is similar in size to Brandon Marshall. He is a wide receiver who is called a tight end. It’s not that he isn’t a good player who can create major mismatches. I think he could be. He is surprisingly fast (4.42 40) for a man of his size. It’s just that we didn’t need a wide receiver. We are good there. Perhaps the Giants will come up with creative game plans to use his unique skills. The Giants are stacked at wide receiver and didn’t need this pick with all the needs they have.
OT Bolles did get picked a few picks beforehand as well. As we predicted in the preview, I didn’t think the Giants loved the other tackles as first rounder’s, so it’s not shocking that they passed on them. I did think they could take Alabama middle linebacker Reuben Foster with the pick - that is who I would have taken. Given the question about his character and the Giants focus on high character players it’s not shocking that they passed.
Perhaps Engram can add 20 pounds and become something else, but I am not convinced. He is exceptionally fast and big enough to cause matchup problems but it’s not a pick I would have made. Perhaps they are more bullish on last year’s 4th round pick B.J. Goodson than we realize and that was a reason to pass on Foster.
They also could feel there is decent quality tackles to be taken in later rounds and didn’t want to reach for one they didn’t love in round 1 once Bolles was gone.
I’m looking forward to the upcoming rounds over the next couple of days. I think they will take a DT in round 2 or 3 and an OT but it really depends on how the draft shakes out.
This is my favorite time of the year.
- Ari Glass
The Giants 23rd Draft tonight. Their needs are plentiful. the offensive line needs significant help at the tackles. The defensive line is now lacking a DT since Jon Hankins signed with the Colts (I happen not to disagree with the Giants not matching a $10m a year offer.) The linebackers on the Giants have been mediocre for years. Something the Giants needs is a running back too, but unless they can get someone exceptional (Fournette will be gone so possibly McCaffrey), I don’t think anyone else really adds to the Perkins-Dwarka mix. Tight end is also a big need. They singed Rhett Ellison from the Vikings and he can block but they don’t have a good receiving tight end or all around tight end.
So what does this all mean? Who will the Giants pick in the first round?
When drafting this low its always hard to predict because the uncertainty of who will still be available is that much higher. I do believe the speculation that the Giants could take a QB with the first pick if certain options are still available is absurd. They know their window with Eli Manning is closing and they need all the resources they can muster while he is still around.
So who will they take?
I’m not sure they are sold on any of the solid, but not great offensive tackles. It comes down to Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk, Utah’s Garret Bolles or Alabama’s Cam Robinson.
I think Bolles would be the first choice as he has the most LT potential, and they know Flowers will eventually have to move to the right side. I’m not sure they would take one of the other two if Bolles is gone. It may make more sense to get a tackle in later rounds than to reach for one here.
They really do need a DT unless they sign one in free agency but nobody in this draft seems to fit this spot in round 1.
If OJ Howard the 'Bama Tight End was available, they would jump at that but he is not expected to be. David Njoku from Miami could fall to them and is a real possibility. If it’s not one of them, linebacker Jarrad Davis from Florida would make sense. Some are pushing for Zach Cunningham but I think that is a bit of a reach.
They almost never trade up or down in the first round and there is not an obvious need, so I don’t see it happening tonight either. Of course as we saw last year with Tunsil, there are always unexpected things that happen. Looking forward to seeing!!
The Giants will play the Packers in the first round in Lambaue. It’s the worst draw they could have gotten. The Lions in Detroit would have been ideal and even the Seahawks in Seattle would have been ok as they have not been that good since losing Earl Thomas.
The Packers are the league’s hottest team and dominated the Giants in their earlier season match up. However the Giants are a different team now than they were then. Also, if you look at who the Packers have beat on this 6 game winning streak its not a very impressive list. The one quality win was against a not as good as advertised Seahawk team. Rodgers is a great player and is playing lights out, but they haven’t played a defense this good during the streak the likelihood of continuing to have no interceptions for 7 straight weeks is low. The rest of the team is ok but nothing special. The one thing that scares me is what Rodgers can do with his legs. He can escape pressure and make things happen. Barring such heroics that Giants could hold their own in Green Bay. It would be an upset but not a shocker for the Giants to come out of there with a win and head to Dallas to play the Cowboys for a third time this year.
The game plan will have to involve even a bigger move towards Perkins and away from Jennings. Its not a coincidence that Perkins finished the season with a very respectable 4.1 yards per carry versus the anemic 3.3 yards per carry that Jennings provided. Manning will also have to get enough time to throw some deep balls. His game has clearly slipped, likely the result of age, but he can certainly still get hot and do enough to score the points needed to win with a very good Giant defense. Lastly, now that we are in the playoffs the Giants should use Beckham more as a punt returner. He had at least 3 excellent run backs that were called back due to penalties. He showed his potential as a returner. In the regular season sits likely not worth risking the injury but its lose and go home so now is the time to take the risk. I think the Giants will go in and surprise some people and pull off a 20-19 victory to advance to the second round (but if Jenkins is still injured, I don’t think the Giants can win).
The Giants finished the regular season with strong win over a good Redskin team in a game meaningless to the Giants but it bounced the Redskins out of the playoffs. The Giant defense continues its excellent play that has been in place over the second half of the season.
The Giant offense once again didn’t score much, but this game seemed a bit different than the others as of late. Firstly, the Giants’ offense moved the ball well in the first half when they were fully staffed. The offense stalled in the second half largely as a result of OBJ being benched for smart and precautionary reasons. For the first time all season Paul Perkins was inserted into the starting lineup and he was given the most carries. He responded well by running for over 100 yards (first such game recorded by a Giant this year) and subjectively looking good both by finding holes and physically moving piles. He brings a skill set that Jennings likely never had and certainly doesn’t have any more. With a line that can best be described as mediocre you can’t also have a running back like Jennings who is not dynamic. Optimists will point to the 2007 season when rookie Ahmad Bradshaw got few carries until the end of the season and then led them in the post-season. The second difference in the game was the Manning pass to King for 44 yards setting up the game winning field goal. It was the first completed deep pass by Manning in recent memory. I’m hopeful that gives manning the confidence to start hitting receivers downfield. Most of the long plays OBJ has scored on in the second half of the season were short passes that he used his skills to turn into long plays. The Giant defense was dominant in the first half when Janoris Jenkins played and good enough in the second half when he didn’t. It’s not that the drop off to game MVP DRC is a big one. It’s not. DRC still is a top-flight corner, even if not the Pro Bowler that Jenkins was this year. It’s that on passing plays teams are going with at least 3 receivers and therefore going against your third cornerback. Downgrading from DRC to someone like Wade as a third corner hurts the defense tremendously. As the saying goes, you are only as good as your weakest link. Jenkins didn’t play in the second half due to soreness. The Giants must hope that was a precaution and not indicative of a real recurrence of his recent back injury. While there were some rumors of JPP being ahead of schedule those were mostly shot down. JPP probably played the best game of any defender the last time the packers and Giants played and his presence will be missed. Of course it was early in the year when Vernon was playing through a hand injury. Once that healed, Vernon became the player the Giants hoped they would get when they gave him his huge contract.
Speaking of which, I’ve never seen a slew of free agent signings as successful as the ones the Giants have had this year. In addition to Vernon becoming one of the game’s best 2-way defensive ends, Snacks Harrison completely transformed the Giants rush defense. The pass defense looks much better against a 3rd and 7 versus a 3rd and 2. He could be the best run-stuffer in the league and is under appreciated. It’s no coincidence that the Jets defense fell apart this year in his absence while the Giants went from easy to run on to very hard to run on. He is that dominant. And Jenkins at the corner we already discussed. It’s a shame JPP is not back because this defense would be ready to dominate. Free agency isn’t the only place Reese did a good job. The draft class is looking good as well. Apple took over a starting corner job and has recovered from a mid-season slump to be very reliable. Shepard had put up good stats for a rookie receiver. Thompson looked very promising at free safety before an early injury cost him the year. Perkins could be their running back of the future and even Adams has contributed at tight end.
The Giants finished with 11 wins one above our 10 win preseason prediction. Given that Vegas on average predicted an 8-win season, we will put our prediction in the win bucket.
Ari has been an avid Giants fan since 1979. He attends many home games and has attended the Giants last 2 Superbowl victories. This blog will talk about anything related to the New York Giants. Ari also blogs about the New York Knicks, at http://www.ariglassknicksblog.com