Giants Glass More Than Half Full

There are four types of games you see from a team:

Good Win.

Bad Win.

Good Loss.

Bad Loss.

Before the Thursday Night Football game between the NY Giants and the New England Patriots was played, it had all the markings of a “bad loss.” Hell, if you didn’t watch the game and just looked at the final score (35-14), you’d be even more convinced that it was an ugly bad loss.

That would be mistaken.

This game was a Good Loss, if there ever was one. In fact, it was a Great Loss. How can losing ever be good, let alone great?? The answer is in how you compete.

Let’s roll back to the play of the game. There is 8:33 left on the clock in Q4. The Giants have the ball. They are down one score, 21-14. Of the 21 points the Patriots have scored, one TD was off of a punt block and another off of an INT from 20 yards out. The Defense, in short, was playing its a** off. This game was a far cry from the misery (bad losses) we witnessed at the beginning of the season.

So with 8:33 left the Giants hand the ball off to rookie UFA RB Jonathan Hilliman, and <poof> fumble. Van Noy scoops up the ball, scampers in the remaining 22 yds, game over. Hilliman graced the Gmen with 2 fumbles in 3 games as a backup signee when Barkley/Gallman went down. He was cut Friday. Hilliman was not part of the Giants 2019 rebuild.

Do not get distracted by Hilliman’s awful turnover or the result of the game. The Giants were without Evan Engram. The Giants were without Saquon Barkley. The Giants were without Sterling Shepard. Freak out all you want about Daniel Jones’ 3 INTs, but that’s a mistake. Jones had zero run game. He had Tate and the promising rookie Darius Slayton. That’s it. The Giants played toe to toe with the Super Bowl Champions and they competed. They fought. They forced two turnovers on downs. Even with 2 sloppy TDs allowed, they were within one score of the Pats. In all, 3 of 5 TDs allowed were not on the Defense. Since the Offense was decimated, it was all the more reason to see the effort differently, as each Unit was (theoretically) unable to help the other. Time of possession (39 min for NE) was one macro statistic which demonstrated how the loss of key Offensive personnel hurt not one but both Units. For the Giants to be in the game at the time of Hilliman’s fumble is impressive.

Rebuilding means getting rookies meaningful snaps. There was an interesting article in USA Today which runs through Football Moneyball. Great read. Shout out to Bruce R for the assist. I could spend many posts talking about the conclusions from a workup on VAMP. I will mention one here- the way the CBA works, you need to leverage your rookie contracts to gain a strategic edge in managing cap resources. Teaching, coaching, developing and playing younger players is the way to get better in a hurry. Daniel Jones (243 snaps), Dexter Lawrence (238 snaps), Deandre Baker (365 snaps), Oshane Ximines (227 snaps) and Darius Slayton (19 targets) are getting meaningful game time, which bodes well for their collective future as well as that of the Giants.

Miscellaneous random comments:

  • Dixon’s punting motion is too slow
  • Dexter Lawrence is on an incredible trajectory to become All-Pro quickly (Year 2 or Year 3)
  • The challenge for Pass Interference is a phantom reserved for Saints muggings only
  • (Barring major sustained injuries in his career) Daniel Jones is a franchise QB
  • I said it here last November, repeating, Shurmur is not the answer (give up playcalling and then we can potentially revisit that)
  • Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter were two keys to the season, and both made impact plays Thurs night (uncoincidentally, another key, Engram’s health, worked the opposite way)
  • When we pan the decision to take Barkley at 1.02 overall while he’s literally #1 on our draft board, understand Positional Value (see link above) and injuries. Love the player, love the man, but RB is not how you win titles.
  • Darius Slayton is going to be special. Despite missing a lot of camp, 3 preseason games + Weeks 1-2, he’s making a lot of plays. He got some schooling in NE, but that’s great.

Summary: Great effort, close game. The Giants fought hard w/o a lot of core personnel. The Final Score is misleading. The Giants are not going to make the playoffs this season, but they are competing. Rookie playing time augers for increased competitiveness in 2020 and 2021.

NYG 32 TB 31

Other than Solder’s sacks, there is no way we could have scripted Daniel Jones’s debut any better. He’s got poise, accuracy, solid mechanics, versatility, and he’s a fighter. It’s a rebuilding year because the Defense is awful. Nonetheless, the Giants have a QB. Enjoy the win. Don’t you dare complain about the turnovers. We saw nice rookie plays/contributions from Ximines, Lawrenceville, Slayton and Connelly. And a QB named Jones.

2019 NY Giants Season Preview and Forecast

The wait is over. 2019 Football is here!

Everyone wants to know what to expect this season from the NY Giants. We have quoted Steve Young, who said that “September is the new preseason.” The NFL in 2019 is a league where starters are rested through the preseason ever more frequently. Saquon Barkley did not play a single snap in 4 preseason games! While we understand the mission is to safeguard versus injury/extend the player’s shelf life, we also must admit that there are more unknowns. September is about shedding the rust and giving clarity on which teams are real for October through December.

Are the Giants a real team? No, they are not. If you think they are, run to the nearest Sports Book because they are giving money away with an Over of 6 wins. It is a sobering reminder of what is taking place to this franchise in 2019… they are rebuilding. The roster has 5 new starters on Offense and 6 new starters on Defense. Some of the transplants, like Zeitler and Peppers, will be fine. It is others (..rookies) that will get tested by fire. We were very high on Dexter Lawrence out of the Draft, but even we would expect the rookie Nose Tackle to get swallowed up on Sunday vs guys like Martin and Frederick. Please do not judge this kid harshly for at least the first 8 games, if not the whole year. That position is in the trenches and is a meat grinder.

So who are the players we will be watching to measure the team’s chances at success this season? There are 4 of them I will be watching closely:

  1. WLB Lorenzo Carter. The word is that Carter can really blossom in his second season. How about explode?! The Giants Defense is a project. The Secondary is going to have massive growing pains. The LBers are inconsistent at best. If Carter can notch 10+ sacks this year (he had 4 in limited snaps last year) he will do his part to keep the team competitive and allow other players to see easier matchups.
  2. SLB Markus Golden. Right now Golden is behind Martin on the depth chart. That is a negative. We need the old Golden pre ACL injury to come back and be a force in the pass rush. It is a lottery ticket, but then you can see why the Giants are at 6 Wins for the O/U.
  3. RT Mike Remmers. Remmers is another injury patch job from Minnesota. Shurmur knows him. The Giants need Remmers to be healthy and serviceable. Otherwise he will be the weakest link on the OL. His backup is Chad Slade. Good luck with that.
  4. TE Evan Engram. My confidence in Engram to stay healthy for 16 games is about as high as … that Over/Under line. So what’s it gonna be, Evan? As a first round draft pick, if you can’t play you can’t help this team. To date, Engram has had ability, but not consistent availability. The Giants had a mini-renaissance at the end of last season when Engram started. In the last 4 games of the season (post OBJ injury), Engram saw half of his season’s output in terms of completions and yardage. The Giants need him to line up wide and present opposing Defenses with a deep threat. They need him for all 16 games.

Can Carter explode? Can Golden return to form and rush the passer? Can Remmers stay healthy and remain serviceable? Can Engram contribute meaningfully for 16 games? I do not know the answers to these questions. If you do, please tell us! Maybe after the first 3 games we will get a better sense of these answers.

What is the bullish argument? If the answer to 3 or all 4 questions is yes, that will be indicative of a good year. The Over should coast. If we get a 0 or a 1, bet the Under.

It is important not to get too bearish on this season. The Giants play against Washington twice, Miami, Buffalo, NY Jets, Tampa Bay, Arizona and Detroit. All 8 of those games are up for grabs. Keep in mind that those teams are looking at playing against the Giants as a “Win” too. Ugliness is in the eye of the beholder.

Last season the O/U was 8 wins. I predicted 7-9. Wonder was at 6-10. They finished at 5-11. This year I predict 7-9 again and Wonder is at 6-10. Don’t get too bullish because they are rebuilding. Don’t get too bearish because the schedule is very weak. Go Giants. Rebuilding means getting a lot of young players to develop. 2020 looks pretty good. 2019 can look good as a stepping stone if the Defense gets its footing and the OL controls the line of scrimmage.

I will not be doing weekly recaps this season. Find me on Twitter.

Daniel Jones

Usually during preseason I watch a number of young players, because you get to see who flashes. This year, I frankly could care less about almost everyone on the field except Daniel Jones.

It is a QB-driven league. If you are set at QB, you can compete. If you don’t have a QB, the rest of the team simply does not matter. The days of a Trent Dilfer winning the Super Bowl are long gone. In today’s pass-happy NFL, if you do not have a QB, you are screwed.

Enter Daniel Jones. You will recall that in April we stated that the Giants “overdrafted” Jones. That was based on an evaluation of college film, and the risk vs reward at that time. Jones’s transformation from college to what we are seeing in the first two preseason games is noteworthy.

“Daniel Jones has improved dramatically since when I watched his Senior year college film,” says Wonder, this site’s Draft Analyst. “He is playing at a much higher level.”

In absolute terms:
Jones is showing understanding of the field, how to run an offense, great accuracy, and good touch.

In relative terms:
Even from Week 1 of preseason to Week 2 of preseason, there is more zip on the ball.

Wonder continues. “Jones’s footwork is much better than in college. As an example, he is pointing his foot to where he is throwing. He is using the lower half of his body, stepping into his throws and using his legs to throw the ball.

“He is not throwing off his back foot, which not only affects the strength of the throw but also its accuracy. His dropbacks are much smoother, much better than in college.

“It is pretty obvious to me that he has been working with someone to get better, and it shows. There is no comparison between his college tape and the pro tape.”

A comparison of the first TD vs the Jets and the touchdown to TJ Jones vs the Bears is night and day to Wonder. He did not like the first TD pass because it was a ball that could have been caught by both the receiver and the defender. Contrast that with the TJ Jones ball, which had perfect touch, where only the Giants receiver could have caught it. There was another pass to Cody Latimer which was also placed perfectly. Latimer used his 6′ 3″ height to get that. The defender had no chance.

“Right now, I give Jones a 9.5 out of 10. The only thing we haven’t seen is the deep ball, which I believe showed Jones to have less than capable NFL arm strength. At this point it really does not matter significantly because of everything else he has shown. He can work to improve his arm strength as well.

“Jones is showing so much poise. He found secondary receivers properly, the way you are supposed to do it, methodically, not rushed or harried. He was calm and not ruffled by the fumbles, which are a non-event. Completely correctable.

“My guy Darnold is set to explode this season if he can get an OL. He looks great but lacks help.  As good as Darnold is right now, Jones is ahead of where Darnold was last year in preseason. Darnold was not nearly as advanced, so Daniel Jones can be very very good.”

One last thing that sums up Wonder’s bullishness on Jones… “I was amazed at the amount of progress from the end of college to now. It shows how much he has worked and studied. This is indicative to me of his maturity, because the willingness to work to improve is key in being a successful professional athlete.”

When should we see Jones come in to help the Giants? Wonder is a believer that you do not throw a guy to the wolves. He prefers that the Giants ease him in sometime this season if their record falls behind, like vs the Jets Game 10 or Packers Game 12. As long as the Giants and Eli are doing fine, he’d prefer Jones keep learning from Eli this season and just ask Eli questions about what he saw on certain plays so that he can continue to learn from the veteran without getting throttled by blitzes.

The Giants may have a franchise QB. It is only 2 preseason games, but Daniel Jones has made significant progress.