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New York Giants: Week One – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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I’d like to say the less said about that game, the better, but that wouldn’t really work when you’re writing an article about it. I guess we might as well get straight into it.

The Good

The game is over? It’s only week one? We can’t be worse this season?

All valid points, but to be fair to some of the players on the field, there are a few that do deserve slight praise.

Micah McFadden continued to tackle hard throughout the game when it looked like others were too shellshocked to get out of their own heads. According to PFF, the sophomore player finished with seven solo tackles, two assisted tackles, and four stops.

Dexter Lawrence had a quieter game than expected but did still finish the game with four pressures (two hurries and two quarterback hits), three solo tackles, one assisted tackle, and three stops. He was also the Giants highest-graded defender in both pass-rushing and run defence.

Rookie wise Tae Banks didn’t allow a reception the two times he was targeted and looked solid until his exit with cramps. Fellow rookie cornerback Tre Hawkins III also had an okay showing despite the contentious pass interference penalty that was called against him, and finally, defensive tackle Jordon Riley looked good in his limited snaps, showing off his power and speed to record a nice tackle for loss.

The Bad

Let’s start with the trio of plays that mentally stunned the Giants players into the catatonic black hole that they never seemed to be able to shake off. Firstly, it was a false start from the normally reliable Andrew Thomas that disrupted the run-heavy opening possession that saw the Giants make it to the red zone. Then rookie centre John Michael Schmitz’s snap shot out of his hand in the torrential rain, causing it to pass Daniel Jones, who recovered it for a nine-yard loss. The trio was then completed as Joshua Ezudu’s inability to choose one of two rushers on the field goal try saw Graham Gano’s kick blocked and returned for the first of many Dallas scores.

One player who definitely never recovered was Daniel Jones, who struggled for the remainder of the game, throwing two interceptions, one of which was a rebound out of Saquon Barkley’s hands into the arms of Dallas cornerback DaRon Bland, who ran it in for the pick six. There is the argument that Jones wasn’t helped by the offensive line, but even when he was finally afforded decent protection, he did nothing of note.

Defensively, it wasn’t much better either, as the Giants pass rush and run defence spluttered through the game. Wink Martindale is known for his affinity for exotic blitzes and schemes, but the Giants defence was unable to record a sack against the Cowboys for the third game in a row. This is despite the Giants attempts to get more depth at the defensive tackle position and having both Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari injury-free.

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The Ugly

Giants fans everywhere were fed positive noise prior to the offseason as Evan Neal was shown in private coaching sessions with former Bengal Willie Anderson; however, it doesn’t seem to have fixed anything as he and fellow right-sided offensive lineman Mark Glowinski, who got a 1.0 PFF pass blocking grade, were constantly guilty of poor footwork and blocking technique.

To put it simply, it was an all-you-can eat buffet for the Cowboys defensive front, as they generated four of the five sacks, two of the three quarterback hits, and 11 of the 19 hurries via that right side alone.

What’s Next

Up next for the Giants is a trip to the West Coast to face the Joshua Dobbs-led Arizona Cardinals, who lost a narrow game to the Giants divisional rivals, the Washington Commanders.

Dobbs, who struggled against the Commanders, threw for 132 yards, was sacked three times, and had a couple of fumbles.

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Rookies of the Preseason

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With the preseason now over, it’s time to introduce my new format for the rookie articles going forward. Rather than focusing in-depth on just three, I’m going to choose a top seven and post a shorter review, allowing for an easier-to-digest look at the rookies making their mark. So with that, let’s crown the seven rookies of the preseason!

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Aidan O’Connell, Quarterback – Las Vegas Raiders

A solid showing, playing in all three games and finishing with 43 completions on 62 attempts for 482 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. He was rewarded for his outstanding preseason with a spot on the 53 man roster.

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Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Quarterback – Cleveland Browns

An impressive 37 completions on 58 attempts, 440 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. Couple that with 96 yards and a rushing touchdown on five rushing attempts, and you see why DTR has jumped up from fourth on the depth chart to backup QB.

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Emanuel Wilson, Running Back – Green Bay Packers

An undrafted free agent topping the preseason rushing charts? Yep, that’s what happened with Wilson, who finished with 223 yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries. The 24-year-old made his case for a roster spot and got his wish on Tuesday.

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T.J. Bass, Offensive Guard – Dallas Cowboys

Another free agent who had a solid showing in his three games Bass played 130 snaps, allowing 0 pressures and 0 penalties across 80 pass-blocking snaps. That showing took him from buried on the depth chart to on the 53 man roster

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Nick Herbig, Outside Linebacker – Pittsburgh Steelers

Herbig had the NFL’s leading pass rush win rate in the preseason, as well as 3.5 sacks, eight stops, and one forced fumble. With T.J. Watt ahead on the depth chart, he’ll likely be a rotational option, but his speed and versatility will see him have opportunities this season.

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Steven Gilmore, Cornerback – Detroit Lions

You already have enough pressure when you are an undrafted rookie, but when your brother is Stephon Gilmore, you’ll get comparisons too. Luckily, Steven balled out! 131 snaps, two interceptions, four pass breakups, eight tackles, and a passer rating of 37.0 allowed. All stats that helped him get that roster spot

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Blake Grupe, Kicker – New Orleans Saints

Grupe, who has battled for the kicking job against Will Lutz, can hold his head high. One conversion from one attempt on extra points and five from six on field goals, with his only miss being a wide right on a 60-yarder He obviously impressed the Saints enough as Lutz was traded meaning Grupe is the new kicker.

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Week 7: Rookie Standouts

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With teams favoured in the offseason like the Packers, Bucs, and Broncos continuing to struggle, whilst the two written-off New York teams are shocking everyone, this NFL season seems to get stranger and stranger. In week 7, these were the rookies that stood out. 

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Kenneth Walker III, Running Back – Seattle Seahawks  

Running back seems to be a position I give a lot of love to, but the numbers some of these rookies are putting up are incredible. Unfortunately, Bryce Hall is now done for the season after his heartbreaking ACL injury, so the rookie rushing title seems to be between previous standout Dameon Pierce and this week’s standout Kenneth Walker III. 

Walker was thrust into the lineup after Rashaad Penny’s unfortunate season-ending injury, and the second rounder out of Michigan State has made the most of his opportunities. Against the Chargers, Walker was steadily working his way towards another 100-plus yard game before his blistering 74-yard touchdown run in the middle of the 4th quarter, which saw him hit 22.09 miles per hour, the fastest speed by a ball carrier this season. 

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Sam Williams, Edge – Dallas Cowboys 

In a defence that already has reigning defensive rookie of the year Micah Parsons, Dorance Armstrong and Demarcus Williams, the last thing the league wanted to see was another Dallas defender breakout, but that’s exactly what Sam Williams did despite playing less than a quarter of the defensive snaps against the Lions   

On a day where the Cowboys shared the wealth around with four different players recording a sack, Williams helped himself not only to his first ever career sack but followed it up with the smoothest strip sack and fumble recovery you will ever see, which effectively sealed the game for Dallas. After beating Penei Sewell around the edge, Williams seemed to literally take the ball out of Jared Goff’s hands before he even realised it was gone. 

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Jaquan Brisker, Safety – Chicago Bears  

Coming into Monday night’s game against the New England Patriots, few thought that the Chicago Bears’ defence would have much luck against the returning Mac Jones (and later Bailey Zappe), but that could not have been further from the truth, and two of the reasons why were Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon. 

The former Penn State man, Brisker, gets the nod here due in part to there being two parts to his incredible interception of Jones that had a slight air of revenge about it. Early in the second quarter, Jones took off on a run, and as he slid down, he curiously raised his foot, which connected with Brisker in a certain sensitive area. Brisker’s revenge was swift and sweet, however, as mere minutes later he recorded his first career interception with a stunning one-handed grab that showed both his athleticism and anticipation skills. 

Honorable Mentions

Sauce Gardner (New York Jets), Coby Bryant (Seattle Seahawks), Aiden Hutchinson (Detroit Lions), Chris Olave (New Orleans Saints), Dameon Pierce (Houston Texans)

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Five Things: Week 3 – Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

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After a surprising 2-0 start to the season, the New York Giants were brought back down to earth with an uninspiring defeat to NFC East rivals the Dallas Cowboys. Here are five talking points from the game: 

First Half Inadequacies 

For the third straight week, the Giants’ failed to get into the endzone in the first half. After last week’s inability to score a touchdown after two fumbles gave them great field position, this week saw one field goal blocked by the stout Dallas defence before Graham Gano converted from 42-yards in the 2nd quarter. 

The slow start has been addressed by the coaching staff in recent weeks, but they still can’t seem to get any kind of flow or momentum on their side until the second half. So far in this new season, the Giants have been outscored 25-9 in the first half, forcing the coaching staff to have to rally the troops at half time. 

Admittedly, in all three games, the Giants’ offence has been better after the half thanks to adjustments made by the coaching staff, but this week it wasn’t enough as the Cowboys sealed the win, 23-16. 

Daniel Jones Under Pressure 

In what is quite possibly the most important season in Daniel Jones’s relatively short career so far, he will have hoped that this season he would be able to operate under a more robust offensive line than he has had in recent years. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case so far and the Cowboys’ defence smelt blood and unsurprisingly targeted rookie Tackle Evan Neal, who gave up three sacks to Demarcus Lawrence. 

Incredibly, Jones was under pressure constantly on his 24 dropbacks last night. He was sacked five times, hit 12 times, and was never afforded a second to try and stay calm. That dropback rate ended up being 40.5% of the total offensive plays, which is the highest number a Quarterback has faced this season, the 2nd most in the last two seasons and the most of Jones’s career so far. 

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The End for Sterling Shepard? 

With 1:11 left in the game, Daniel Jones was intercepted after a David Sills slip that ended up sealing the game for the Cowboys, but instantly the Giants’ attention shifted to Stirling Shepard, who had suffered a non-contact injury and had stayed on the ground. The cart was called, and for the second straight season, he left a game on the cart. 

Shepard, who fought back from the Achilles tear he suffered last December, has battled with injuries his whole career, and it is likely that this will be the fourth straight season that Shepard misses at least four games after the Giants confirmed that they feared this was a serious knee injury. 

With Shepard leading the team in snaps, receptions, and yards, the Giants will almost certainly need to look for replacements for their underwhelming wide receiver group, which has been plagued by inconsistency and injuries since the start of the season. 

Unsteady D-Line 

There were mixed emotions regarding the defence in the lead up to the game. The excitement for the return of Azeez Ojulari and the debut of Kayvon Thibodeaux was quickly quelled when the news broke that standout Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams would miss his first ever game with a knee injury. 

Williams had appeared in 114 games since his debut in 2015 and was sorely missed as the Giants gave up 178 rushing yards at a rate of 6.4 yards per carry. Unfortunately, it looks unlikely that Williams will return until after the Giants’ trip to London, but you can’t rule it out as he battled through a triceps injury last year and has proven his ability to tough it out if needed. 

Ojulari and Thibodeaux both had quiet games as they combined for two tackles and a pass batted down, but ultimately, the Giants failed to register a single sack of Cowboys backup Quarterback Cooper Rush. 

Rushing Game Joy 

Finishing on a plus, there is one saving grace for the Giants, and it seems to be their ability to run the ball. They are averaging 169.3 yards per game and 5.6 yards per carry, both of which are in the top 5 in the league.

The rushing stats are predominantly due to the re-emergence of Saquon Barkley, who had another solid game, finishing with 81 yards on 14 carries, including a 36-yard touchdown in the 3rd quarter. Barkley currently has 53 carries for 317 yards, which is the 2nd most in the NFL (he is 24 yards behind leader Nick Chubb). 

Interestingly, the Giants’ 2nd leading rusher is Quarterback Daniel Jones, who has 25 carries for 125 yards (4 times the player in 3rd Matt Breida). Jones’s ability to scramble for yards seems to be a predominant offensive focus, and he gained an impressive 79 yards on nine carries in last night’s game.