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.

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