NYG 31 MIN 24

Giants fans put a run on the supply of blood pressure medications in area pharmacies. Is it safe yet to open my eyes?! I can only speak for myself, but it feels like I aged a few years from that game. But it was worth every second of it!!!! THE FREAKING NY GIANTS ARE HEADED TO THE DIVISIONAL ROUND!!

So let’s review Sunday morning’s blog post and see how we did in the game preview:
▪️variance in football
▪️Giants will win
▪️Run the B gap when Hunter goes wide on the speed rush to help out Evan Neal
▪️Dexter Lawrence all day long vs Bradbury to wear him down for the 4th Quarter
▪️worried about Hockenson
▪️not worried about the Giants Offense

So how did that look? Let’s review. (1) The variance in this game was nuts. Who was that **** ****** ref who called Stud Dexter Freaking Lawrence for ************** unnecessary roughness when he completely and cleanly tackled Cousins before and while he was throwing the ball??????!!!!!!! The potential implications of that call could have been huge. *15 yards *Fresh set of downs *Nervous breakdowns across the greater NY metropolitan area. (4) Note how Dexter Lawrence at the end of the game was taking Bradbury to school, pushing him into Cousins nearly every snap. In my opinion, it was Sexy Dexy who was the big difference maker on those last two Defensive possessions when the Giants needed it most. He wore down Bradbury and there was no answer. Frankly the Vikings needed to double Lawrence, they didn’t, and it cost them. (2) The Giants won. More on that later. (3) In the first half, it was all B gap. Hunter sells out on Neal wide. Jones has the B gap between Right Guard and Right Tackle. He either steps up and finds the open Receiver or he tucks the ball down and runs. He did both to perfection. The runs destroyed the Vikings until the second half when (they adjusted and moved) a LBer moved in to close the B gap and Hunter stopped going wide, which helped Neal on pass rush too and gave Jones more time. (5) Hockenson was again a menace. 10 receptions for 129 yards. Martindale picked his poison and said I gotta control that nightmare Jefferson (22 yards in the final 53 minutes) so I bend and don’t break. I wasn’t particularly pleased that Thibodeaux was held on one of those TD scores, which changes that to a FG from a TD. (6) “This NY Giants Offense is much better (than the previous matchup).” That might be the understatement of the year.

Let’s talk about the Giants Offense. They were spectacular. Daniel Jones was spectacular. Isaiah Hodgins was spectacular. Frankly every receiver was outstanding. Even Slayton, with that one drop, played well. Barkley and Breida were so clutch. The coaches used Barkley well and Barkley delivered huge catches, huge YAC, huge runs, huge TDs. Bellinger isn’t a rookie anymore (besides that huge penalty that cost the Gmen 4 points).

Daniel Jones looked like an elite QB today. If that’s the future then let’s go. If he gets better protection and better WRs it’s going to be incredible. He needs that, if only to stop running and putting himself in harm’s way. Was there any pass Jones didn’t make?! There was a key defensive batted (deflected) ball on 2nd & 7 and that (great play) is the only thing that stopped him. I don’t know how to offer any stronger superlatives for Jones. It was a completely masterful performance. Every pass, every run, every throwaway. Of course the coaches have catalyzed this transformation but Jones is the one who must do it all on the field, and boy did he do it all on the field. I haven’t seen that kind of QB play since Eli Manning in 2011, which coincidentally or not, was the last time the Gmen won a playoff game.

The Giants defense was run over at times today…. Ok, for a chunk of the game. But McKinney Thibodeaux and Lawrence made some great plays. I was pissed at Holmes for not finishing a gang tackle which created 4th and inches instead of 4th and 2. But on the next series he dropped Cook on a flare for a 4 yard loss. Nothing gets me more excited than watching Thibodeaux chase down a ball carrier after a reception in the flat. Love that effort.

And then there’s Lawrence. The big man has been elite all season, dollar for dollar the best player at his position on the entire Giants roster. He was a disruptive force again routinely. Lawrence’s season on the interior DL is without question the best I’ve witnessed in all my many decades as a Giants fan. And I don’t think it’s close. He saved the Giants. We might still be watching in OT if not for him.

Special shout out to a guy who wasn’t on the roster until November, and two months later he racks up 8 catches, 105 yds, and 1 TD. Isaiah Hodgins, take a bow. You are filling big shoes as an X WR, and you did it with an ankle injury. Not only is Hodgins making big grabs, he’s sure-handed, knows where the sticks are, gets separation, and gets his toes in bounds. He’s money. He’s going to get paid nice money. We already talked about what a great job Schoen and Daboll did to snag him off waivers. Now it’s time for Hodgins to get the kudos for killing it. It’s NFL prime time and Hodgins just keeps playing bigger and bigger.

The Giants are the only road team which came out of Sat/Sun Wild card with a win. The coaching was great. I have 2 friends who I watched the game with who are witnesses to my rants about passing on 1st down in this game. The passing game set up the run game. This is why the team is different now than it was through the first 14 games.

Cajones to go for it on 4th down on your 45 yd line. I wanted that. Olsen wanted it. Daboll wanted it. Jones got the sneak. The drive failed on Slayton’s drop 3 plays later but the Giants pinned them at the 12 yard line. Plus the Viking had to burn all 3 timeouts after the 4th down conversion, which effectively is like another possession. We’re seeing it more and more- the sneak, rb handoff, or the reception that needs the hard yard… AND THEN A PLAYER COMES FROM BEHIND AND PUSHES HIM FURTHER. Vannett and then Barkley pushed Jones an extra yard on that 4th & 1 to leave no doubt of a stupid (variance!) ref spot.

Next is Philly. Be careful what you wish for, Philly fans, you just might get your doormat Giants matchup next week that you wanted. If you are paying attention, the Giants aren’t the team you walloped a month ago.

Let’s enjoy this win. Onto the Linc.

Vikes Preview

There is always a lot of variance in football. We do not know how the ball will bounce. With that qualifier stated, I believe the Giants can and will win the game today.

The Giants made many mistakes in the first matchup. They turned the ball over. Jones threw a pick. Bellinger fumbled a converted reception for a turnover. And still, they lost on a last second 61 yard FG.

The Giants are a better team since that game. The Vikings are not. That’s why I think the edge is with the Giants.

In today’s NFL, improvements from week to week are more important than ever. Back in the day (before Free Agency), the continuity of a roster was much greater, so the incremental pieces from one year to the next weren’t as significant. Rookies didn’t play that much either compared to today. Preseason went from 6 games down to 4, then 4 with less starters playing, to now 3 with starters not seeing much ball at all. ITS VITAL TO IMPROVE EVERY WEEK. A team needs to be much better by the end of the season. The Giants are much better. Jones is much better. The players have made significant strides. Rookies, and other players who had limited experience, are no longer rookies. This NY Giants offense is much better.

… and it will need to be much better to win this game.

Before Super Bowl XLII, Osi Umenyiora came to Michael Strahan, looked him straight in the eyes, and with paramount seriousness said- you and I need to get to Brady or we are not winning this game. This is how I see this game as well. Yes, Martindale blitzes the most in the NFL (42% of plays). But with Lawrence, Williams, Thib and Ojulari all starting, these 4 guys need to get to Cousins WITHOUT as much blitzing. Of course I know Wink is going to dial up his blitzes as sure as the day is long. Yet, I’d prefer he not have to, in order to get to Cousins with more help against Hockenson and Osborn. Hockenson is a TE, and we have no LBers. Collins will probably get some assignments on him. Hockenson lit us up last game. His YAC isn’t great but he pulls the ball down, moves the sticks, and greases that offense. Osborn is the 3rd receiving option that needs to be managed.

Jefferson needs to be doubled, because no one on the planet can guard him single. (Maybe Sauce? Did you know Sauce Gardner gave up zero TDs this season?!) Adoree Jackson is back but it’s his first game so I’m not expecting him to be in peak form (or significant snaps). He’ll help, but he’ll need help too. The pass rush, whether with 4 players or with more, helps contain the big play. Martindale knows that his bend-don’t break philosophy means he can’t let Cousins sit back and find Jefferson or Thielen on deep pass plays.

The help in containing big plays has to come from the big guys up front. They need to get to Cousins on their own. If they do, I believe that will be enough to win the game.

Part of the reason why I believe the Giants win with a pass rush is that I’m oddly not that worried about the Offense. I believe in Jones and I believe in Kafka to put the Giants in a position to make plays. The Giants offense is arguably in the best place it’s been all season. Ironically, despite the loss of Shepard, Toney and Robinson, the offense has enough. I was admittedly disappointed to hear that Hodgins was moved to questionable with an ankle but he’ll play. Slayton, James, Hodgins, Bellinger and Barkley are enough to get it done.

In Philadelphia last week we saw Golladay snag his first TD vs first stringer Slay. His craft is the jump ball. I’m sure Daboll and Kafka are thinking they can help themselves in the red zone with this tool. It was cool to see Golladay’s teammates rally around him. He’s obviously well liked. Wouldn’t it be nice to have another tool develop just in time for some playoff fireworks?!

The Vikings have some issues on their Offensive line. Center Garrett Bradbury was one of the guys we liked out of the 2019 Draft. He’s been hurt (back injury) but he returns today. I put Lawrence over Center and make Bradbury deal with that menace. All. Day. Long. Yah, you can mix it up a little but I want to wear Bradbury down. We’re gonna win this game in Q4 because Lawrence beats Bradbury in Q4. The Vikes have no one behind Bradbury, as their second stringer is out for the rest of the season. Add that RT O’Neil is gone (biggest loss) and this Giants DL must make them pay.

Speaking about getting paid, Danielle Hunter had 2 sacks, beating Evan Neal regularly on the wide rush. Neal has improved since that game. He must do better than his first game vs the Vikes. If I’m Kafka, I slow Hunter down with design plays to punish Hunter for this wide sellout, running Jones through the B gap or releasing a RB/TE through there on a delay. This will help Neal, who has yet to show me the consistent footwork/technique in handling the wide speed rush. Frankly, other than handling (limiting) that nightmare Jefferson, Neal is really the only other significant game changing variable. If Kafka can help Neal and slow down Hunter with those design plays, maybe a chip or two etc, the Offense should be fine.

This postseason is gravy! Of course I want to win and I predict one as well, but I’m also thrilled to be here in a rebuilding year. Schoen and Daboll have been terrific. It’s a renaissance for this franchise. Let’s be greedy today, but part and parcel, I’m just as grateful about the future of this franchise.

A Comparison of 2016 and 2022

It was a tremendous achievement for this 2022 NY Giants team to make the playoffs in a rebuilding year. It still is a rebuilding year. That the Giants were somehow competitive despite so many obstacles in their way is a harbinger of the legacy that this franchise will inherit in coming years. You have heard it a number of times by now… “The Giants are making their first playoff appearance in 6 years.” The comparison to 2016 could not be any more stark. It really is no comparison at all. Let’s have a closer look.

2016 was Jerry Reese’s ultimatum year. Coughlin was gone. Reese had overseen the corrosion of the franchise (which we chronicled in many blog posts over that period). He had a directive to fix it fast- and the wallet opened up in a way Giants fans had never seen before. Olivier Vernon. Snacks Harrison. Janoris Jenkins. Unfortunately it ended with a one and done in not only an abbreviated playoff appearance but also a failed 2017 season.

2022 was a direct contrast to 2016, 2018 and 2021. Joe Schoen, the new GM, took the cap pain with discipline. If 2016 was profligate, 2022 was thrifty. The NY Giants have more flexibility in 2023 and 2024 while the 2017 and 2018 Giants were left hamstrung.

After 2017, the coach was gone. The GM was gone. Going into 2023, Daboll is Coach of the Year, if not in name. Schoen has done it right and is firmly in control of a budding franchise on the rise.

In 2016, the Offense finished the season running on fumes. In 2022, The Offense has found its franchise QB and has overachieved despite lacking any true starters at Wide Receiver (and multiple positions on the OL).

Dave Gettleman has left the NY Giants with at least a few key players. For the first time since 2012 (TEN YEARS!) the GMen finally have an Offensive Lineman going to the Pro Bowl. Andrew Thomas is the first OLman since Chris Snee to get that nod. For Thomas’s part, he is All Pro in our eyes, whether he gets that elite honor in name or not. This is significant. 2016’s Offensive Line was trouble; 2022 is headed in the right direction. If Evan Neal can continue to improve, the Giants could have bookend Tackles, which solidifies EDGE protection for Jones.

2016 vs 2022. McAdoo vs Daboll. No comparison. Some will point out that McAdoo was firmly in control in 2016, yet in 2017 McAdoo had already lost the respect of players and the locker room.

  • 2016 Built for Today 2022 Built for Tomorrow
  • 2016 Leveraged Cap 2022 Disciplined Cap
  • 2016 No Offensive Line 2022 All Pro Left Tackle
  • 2016 QB Sunset 2022 QB with a Future
  • 2016 Head Coach? 2022 Head Coach!
  • 2016 Free Agent Players 2022 Rookies and Youth
  • 2016 Desperate GM 2022 Patient GM
  • 2016 Import Players 2022 Develop Players

Player Development in 2022 is huge. Dan Schneier of the Big Blue Banter podcast is this blogger’s first source for film breakdown. I have a day job and frankly do not even have all the time to listen to 1.5 – 2 hour breakdowns of the offense AND defense (3-4 hours!) each week. Yet I listen to Dan and Nick Falato as much as I can. I am going repaste their Twitter thread of the breakdown of Daniel Jones’s player development this year:

Most of the Daboll COTY talk focuses on his roster maximization. Gettleman left him with more than 25% of his cap allocated to players off the roster or not playing. AND he burned multiple 1st-round picks (Baker, Toney). But I want to focus on his actual coaching. The key to Daboll’s success has been his (w/ help of Kafka/Tierney) development of DJ. We’ll get to that. But his decision in Week 1 to go for the win (2-pt conversion call) was momentous. The #Giants hadn’t had a winning record at any point since 2016 before that W.

Daboll’s development w/ DJ stands tallest. It starts w/ Daboll’s recognition of DJ’s biggest weakness on tape and his solution for it. What did he recognize? In the past systems, DJ had a tendency to sit in the pocket and lock into reads, often waiting for a WR to get open. This tendency led to sacks, forced fumbles, late throws that got tipped and at times intercepted and not a lot of successful plays. So the first thing Daboll did was hammer home: if you don’t like what you see, check the B gap and if it’s open take it (as a runner).

As @BenjaminSolak did a great job pointing out earlier, EPA on “scrambles (non-designed runs)” is higher than just about anything else. So Daboll took away the long waiting periods in the pocket that led to sacks & turnovers and morphed them into scramble runs. That’s not all. There was a focus in camp on drills that required DJ to move his feet, leave the pocket & keep his eyes down the field. The latter is key here. It’s impossible to watch DJ film this year and not notice a massive jump in his ability to create plays off platform with his ARM.

The biggest difference is that DJ is now keeping his eyes down field the entire time on the move + not moving at 100%. He patiently moves out of the pocket (mostly right, he’s righty), keeps his eyes downfield and allows things to develop. And it’s no coincidence that #Giants WRs have developed a plan now for when DJ is on the move. Darius Slayton talked about this w Art Stapleton. Each WR has his own plan for scramble plays and DJ and his WRs are perfectly in sync with this plan. That hasn’t been the case at any point from 2019-2021 under two diff coaches. It showed up almost immediately under Daboll. Those are the main areas Daboll has developed DJ but not the only ones so here are a few more…

– Less burping the baby (Andy here, patting the ball, inefficient waste of time in delivery) (specifically as of late)
– Better footwork (he used to have a drifting issue in the pocket under pressure, now he steps through and either runs or flows right)
– Faster eyes post snap (DJ confirming the safety & second level defenders)

Overall, the job Daboll and staff have done revamping a QB’s game in Year 4 is in a lot of ways unprecedented. The improvement he helped DJ make w/ pocket manipulation and off script play success are enough alone for me, but taking this #Giants roster to the playoffs is it.

If you enjoyed this thread, please consider checking out the Big Blue Banter #Giants podcast and YouTube show. You’ll find Xs and Os film based analysis from myself and

@nickfalato Link: https://open.spotify.com/show/38eY2hw59DX7j64a54elHe?si=a6c1ca9223e740c9


… Needed to promote Dan’s link to his podcast in return for quoting that fantastic thread on Jones’s development here in 2022. It is not just Jones, obviously. I just love what Andre Patterson has done with helping Dexter Lawrence get to the next level this season. Back in 2019, our Draft Analyst loved Dexter Lawrence out of the Draft:

Immovable object. Will be special in the NFL. The quintessential NT. Ran a 5.00 weighing 340 lbs. Unbelievably quick for someone of that size. Great footwork and agility. Despite size, can push pocket and rush the passer up the middle.  If you run a 3-4 and have trouble stopping the run, this is your guy. Will immediately change the feel of your whole defense. No telling his potential if he hits weight room, loses 20 lbs, and gets experience with his hands. If the Giants can trade for Rosen, take White at 1.06 and Lawrence at 1.17, it will instantly change their team. Comparison: Bigger, stronger and faster than Haloti Ngata.

Wonder 2019 NFL Draft Board

Note how Wonder wanted Lawrence under the Nose in the 1-technique. This is where Peterson is (pardon the pun) leveraging Lawrence. Dan Schneier talks incessantly about the hidden value of Lawrence in his SNAP COUNT NUMBERS. The quickness for his size is not supposed to come with that many snap counts, but this is what you get for this special player. Note also that Dan’s #1 need for the team is… LINEBACKER. And look what Wonder tagged for at 1.06- LB Devin White. As it turned out, the Bucs took White at 1.05. If the Giants can pick up a good LBer in the 2023 draft, there will be plenty of music being made between that player and the effects of Lawrence in the interior DL.

One other player I want to single out in player development in 2022 is Isaiah Hodgins. The Giants picked this guy up off of WAIVERS in November. While it certainly helps that Hodgins was from the same system in Buffalo, he plugged right in and delivered 350 yards in 8 games plus 4 TDs. All for the low price of $800K/yr. Golladay cost $18M/yr and somehow has managed to deliver 0 TDs. Buy or develop? Once again, Dan leaves us with little doubt-

The Giants were NEVER in a situation at the trade deadline to consider buying. Do you know who obtains value for buying? A team that thinks that extra piece (whether replacing an injured player or otherwise) will give them a difference-maker for WINNING a Super Bowl. This is not about becoming a viable playoff team, which by itself was no certainty for the Giants in October. This is a rebuilding year. The Giants still have holes in plenty of places, too many to name (see other posts this season). They are not one hole-filling away. Yet they are building for the future with a guy like Hodgins who can be a good WR on your roster. This is why 2022 is so different, and so special. It is a gateway to bigger things in 2023+. What a contrast from the 2016 spending spree. No comparison.