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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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Five Things: The New York Giants Offseason 2023

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The 2023 season is now a month old, and, in that time, there have been plenty of comings, re-signings and goings. Now with the NFL draft quickly approaching us, it’s time to look at the five things that have stood out.

Danny Dollar Dollar

3:56 pm EST on the 4th of March.

With four minutes to go until the franchise tag deadline and after three and a half weeks of painstaking negotiations, the Giants finally ended up agreeing with Daniel Jones’s new agents on a new $160 million, four-year contract based on a picky swear and a hug.

The initial reaction to the contract itself was intriguing, as it was easy to argue that both sides (Athletes First and the Giants) had come away with big wins. Athletes First were able to secure a guaranteed $84 million in the first two years, getting Jones his $40 million plus AAV, but the contract shifts in year three as it dips to an AAV of $37.5 million with none of it guaranteed unless Jones is on the roster on the fifth day of the 2025 league year.

Looking forward, getting the deal over the line prior to the deadline allowed the Giants to not only bring back Saquon Barkley, as he was given the franchise tag at a more palatable number of $10.09 million than Jones’s franchise tag hit of $32 million, but overall, it gave the Giants front office much more flexibility in the free agency market without having to panic negotiate to free up cap space.

Big Splashes

Speaking of free agency, it didn’t take long for Joe Schoen to start looking at upgrading some of the Giants’ Achilles heels from last year, and without the shackles of last year’s Gettleman-caused cap restrictions, he was able to cast his net wider.

His first big splash was to sign ex-Indianapolis Colt linebacker Bobby Okereke to a four-year, $40 million deal, with $22 million of that guaranteed. The 27-year-old Okereke had 16 starts in 2022, recording a career-high 151 total tackles, two forced fumbles, and a 79.3 PFF rating as a run defender.

The second big free agent signing came two days later as another ex-Colt made the switch to East Rutherford in wide receiver Parris Campbell, who has just come off his best season as a pro. Campbell, who had struggled with injuries in his first few years in the league, played 17 games last year, recording 623 yards on 63 receptions. His contract with the Giants is a 1-year, $3-million deal with up to $1.7 million in per-game roster bonuses.

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Shock Trade

Sandwiched between the two deals above was arguably the most shocking and potentially best value move the Giants have made so far this offseason.

With most of the insiders suggesting that a standout wide receiver should be the Giants’ number one priority, they ended up trading for Darren Waller from the Las Vegas Raiders, who arguably on his day can give you that number one target in the same way the Kansas City Chiefs use Travis Kelce. Ironically, the cost to acquire Waller was the third-round pick (number 100 overall) that the Giants received as part of the Kadarius Toney trade to the Chiefs.

The 6-foot, 6-inch, 255-pound veteran has 298 receptions for 3,572 yards and 19 touchdowns in his career so far, and despite only appearing in nine games last season, he still managed nine 20-plus yard catches, which was only bested by Darius Slayton on the Giants roster.

The contract the Giants inherited had no dead money hits after 2023; however, after restructuring his deal to free up cap room, there are now hits if he were to be released after either of the 2023 or 2024 seasons.

Focusing on Depth and Familiarity

After a season spent either signing the best players they could to vet-minimum deals or having to resort to either practise squad poaching or street signings, Schoen and his team were able to focus on finding better depth pieces as well as keeping the better performers from last year.

There was a spate of re-signings prior to the start of free agency, with exclusive rights free agents Lawrence Cager (TE), Wyatt Davis (G), Jack Anderson (G), and surprise 2022 standout Isaiah Hodgins (WR) all signing new deals. They were then rejoined by Casey Kreiter (LS), Jamie Gillan (PT), Sterling Shepard (WR), Matt Brieda (RB), Jihad Ward (DE), and Darius Slayton (WR).

On the new signing front, the Giants have added Jeff Smith (WR), Rakeem Nunes-Roches (DT), Leonard Johnson (CB), Bobby McCain (S), Jamison Crowder (WR), Amani Oruwariye (CB), Tommy Sweeney (TE), and J.C. Hassenauer (C).


As is the norm with free agency, there are inevitably going to be players who move on, either by signing with another team or being released/cut.

The one that will likely affect the Giants the most will be losing one of last season’s defensive captains and the man who led all Giants players in tackles, Julian Love. Love, who will be suiting up for the Seattle Seahawks next season was drafted by the Giants back in 2019, became a bit of a Swiss army knife during his time in blue and even took up calling the defensive plays when fellow safety Xavier McKinney was injured last year.

Other than Love, the G-Men have seen former center/guard Nick Gates, who recovered from his horrific leg injury to play last season, sign a contract with divisional rivals the Washington Commanders; Jon Feliciano, who is the Giants only other recognised centre left for the San Francisco 49ers after most expected his re-signing to be a matter of time; and wide receiver/special teamer Richie James Jr. move on to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs.

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Five Things: Super Wildcard Weekend – New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings

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You like that!? The New York Giants showed they aren’t in the postseason just to make up the numbers with an exhilarating 31-24 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis. Here are five things that stood out:

Danny Dollars

Daniel Jones was predicted to fail by analysts from the moment he was drafted in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. To be fair, his first few years would be difficult as a revolving door of head coaches and offensive coordinators struggled to utilize Jones and the inevitable questions arose. Would Jones ever be good enough to be a franchise quarterback? Can he stay healthy? When will he learn to protect the football?

Not only did he answer those questions emphatically this season by playing accurate, turnover-free football, but he’s also shown his leadership and reliability as he’s become more comfortable with the coaching staff. This was clear on Sunday as Jones put the Giants’ offence on his back, displaying a methodical passing and rushing attack as he orchestrated five scoring drives, all of which were over 75 yards.

Oh, and who is the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 70 yards in the playoffs? You guessed it, Daniel Jones.

The Secondary vs Jefferson

After decimating the Adoree Jackson and Xavier McKinney-less Giants secondary in Week 16, many expected Justin Jefferson to be the potential deciding factor once again. However, the Wink Martindale-led defence had constructed a game plan to stifle the superstar receiver, and outside of the first drive, they executed it to almost perfection.

With the Giants adapting their usual blitz-heavy attack for a more conservative one featuring more zone coverage, Jefferson was able to gain 30 yards on four catches on the opening possession, but he would only catch three more passes for a further 17 yards, with his longest catch of the night being only 10 yards. Obviously, focusing so intently on one player runs the risk of opening up opportunities for other players, and as is par for the course with this Giants team, this meant tight end TJ Hockenson was able to bring in 10 catches for 129 yards, but in the end, the defence stood strong and was able to close the game out.

Outstanding Offense

As alluded to in the previous section, the Giants’ offence possessed the ball seven times (nine if you count the kneel-downs at the end of each half) and was able to score five times. Though Jones was the main driving force, he still needed his supporting cast to match his hunger, which they did.

Outside of the seven pressures that rookie Evan Neal allowed, the offensive line mostly stood strong, allowing Jones ample time to pick his passes while also opening running lanes for both the quarterback and running backs.

Barkley scored two touchdowns and rushed for 53 yards despite only carrying the ball a season-low tying nine times while adding 56 receiving yards on five receptions. Isaiah Hodgins had a team season-high 105 receiving yards and a touchdown on 8 targets, Daniel Bellinger caught both of the passes thrown his way, finishing with 17 yards and a touchdown, and Darius Slayton, despite his almost costly drop on the Giants’ last meaningful offensive possession, still had four catches for 88 yards.

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Vikings Final Drive

Slayton’s ill-timed drop forced the Giants to punt back to the Vikings, and it almost felt inevitable that Kirk Cousins would drive up the field to tie the game 31-31 and force the game into overtime, but this isn’t the same Giants team of the past few seasons.

After an awful roughing the passer call on the outstanding Dexter Lawrence saved the Vikings from a likely intentional grounding call. The clearly frustrated Giants’ defence was caught out for a 13-yard Hockenson catch that saw the Vikings near midfield, but after an incomplete pass and a minimal gain run, the Vikings had two key downs to save their season, but ultimately it was the Giants’ defence that stepped up.

Firstly, the third down saw an outstanding bit of pass defence from rookie Cordale Flott, who prevented K.J. Osbourne from completing a catch. Then, on fourth down, the coverage from the Giants and pressure from Dexter Lawrence forced Cousins to throw to Hockenson, who was wrapped up by McKinney way short of the first down to extend the Giants’ postseason.

Destination: Philadelphia

Next up for the Giants is a trip back to Philadelphia for their third meeting of the season with their hated divisional rivals, the Eagles.

After being blown away in the first matchup between the two sides in Week 14, the second meeting just over a week ago was a much tighter affair despite the Giants resting all their key starters. With the Eagles coming off a bye week courtesy of their number one seeding in the playoffs, they will have had the added benefit of a week’s rest, but if quarterback Jalen Hurts is still not 100%, the game could swing either way.

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Five Things: Week 17 – Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants

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The New York Football Giants are in the playoffs! The G-Men dominated the Colts from the get-go and punched their ticket to the playoffs with a convincing 38-10 victory. Here are five things that stood out:

The Curse Has Been Broken

Prior to the Giants’ last playoff game in January 2017 against the Green Bay Packers, the now-infamous boat picture featuring the teams’ wide receivers was released. Since then, it’s felt like a curse has followed this team, but after five straight losing seasons, three head coaches, and some of the most downright uninspiring football many Giants fans have seen, the curse is over.

This wasn’t the only hoodoo to be broken on Sunday, however, as the Giants also put the nail in the coffin on two other scoring stats: the first is that the Giants finally scored over 30 points after failing to do so since an October 2020 loss against Dallas (that’s 43 games ago), and the second is that this is the first time we’ve scored more than 30 points at home since a 36-20 win over the Miami Dolphins in 2019.

So, with a raucous crowd behind them, the Brian Daboll-led Giants broke the curse and secured the sixth seed in the playoffs. They now have the option of resting their starters in the game next week against the current number-one seed Philadelphia Eagles, who ironically do not have the luxury as their defeat to the New Orleans Saints has opened the door for both San Francisco and Dallas to beat them to the punch.

Franchise Quarterback

At the beginning of the season, when it was revealed that the Giants wouldn’t be taking up the fifth-year option in Daniel Jones’s contract, many thought the writing was on the wall for the Duke product, and most of the chatter in the offseason focused on how many weeks Jones would get before Tyrod Taylor would lead the team for the rest of the year. How wrong we all were, and for that, Daniel, we are sorry.

Jones was already posting career numbers prior to the game against the Colts, but his performance in this game was a defining moment for him, with chants of “MVP” ringing around the stadium after he ran in for his second rushing touchdown and a fourth total touchdown. Finishing the game with 177 passing yards, two touchdowns (one to Richie James Jr. and one to Isaiah Hodgins), 91 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, and a passer rating of 125.2 Jones received a standing ovation from all four corners of the stadium when he was removed from the game on the Giants’ final drive.

The Defensive Front

Although the defence only had two sacks against the Colts, it was yet another stellar performance from the Giants’ defensive line as they finished the game with four quarterback hits, three tackles for loss, and one pass defended. This is despite the fact that for a majority of the game they only had two of their fearsome starting front four as Leonard Williams was limited to 29 of the snaps due to a stinger and Azeez Ojulari, who is recovering from last week’s ankle injury, only had six.

Both of the sacks were phenomenal plays, but they will be remembered for very different reasons. Kayvon Thibodeaux was unblocked as he ploughed through Nick Foles, unfortunately injuring the quarterback. A lot of ire has been cast at the young pass rusher as he started to do snow angels next to the injured Foles. It’s my belief that Kayvon had no idea that Foles was badly hurt, and this was backed up by his post-match comments. Dexter Lawrence’s sack, however, will be remembered for how he abused Quenton Nelson, the highest-paid guard in the league, and used him as a weapon to sack Sam Ehlinger in the third quarter.

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Landon Turns Back Time

It’s been a tough few years for Landon Collins. After being drafted by the Giants in 2015, Collins would be named to the all-rookie team, a first-team all-pro in 2016, and a pro bowler for three straight years between 2016 and 2018. The Giants, however, would let him go as an unrestricted free agent after 2018, and after three injury-ridden years in Washington derailed his promising start, he started this season without a team. Collins rejoined the Giants in October, albeit on the practise squad, and was promoted to the active roster on December 22nd.

On Sunday, with the Giants up 14-3 late in the 2nd quarter and the Colts driving near midfield, Collins cut in front of a Nick Foles pass intended for Parris Campbell and returned it to the house for the Giants’ first pick-six of the season. Collins, whose last pick-six was back in 2016 against the then-St. Louis Rams in London, is still only 28 and could be a valuable veteran presence for the Giants for both the rest of the season and beyond.

Coaching Excellence

As mentioned earlier in this article, the Giants have fired three head coaches since their last appearance in the postseason, and during that time, we’ve also gone through four offensive coordinators, three defensive coordinators, and two general managers. The difference now, though, is that we finally have a complete coaching and back-office setup that seems set up for the future, and once we shake off the cap shackles brought on by the Dave Gettleman era, this Giants team could return to the days of competing for the NFC East division every year.

As far as the present goes, we can look forward to a playoff berth that we can be proud of regardless of the outcome, and despite us having a young roster, many of whom have never experienced the playoffs before, we have a coaching staff that has been moulded by them. Brian Daboll was the Patriots’ offensive coordinator for much of their AFC dominance, as well as the Bills’ offensive coordinator in recent years. Wink Martindale coached in four playoff games while in Baltimore, allowing only 20 points per game, and Mike Kafka was the QB coach at Kansas for the past few years, including their Super Bowl victory in 2020.

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Five Things: Week 15 – New York Giants at Washington Commanders

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It’s back to winning ways for the first time in five weeks for the Giants as they defeat the Washington Commanders 20-12, helped by a monster performance from Kayvon Thibodeaux. Here are five things that stood out. 

Primetime Likes Me  

In the lead-up to Sunday’s critical game, Kayvon Thibodeaux was asked about his first game under the spotlight of Sunday Night Football, and his reply? “Prime time likes me. Y’all can use that one.” By the time the game had finished, it was fair to say that Kayvon had proven exactly what he meant. 

The newly crowned NFC Defensive Player of the Week dominated the game from the get-go with three huge tackles on the Commanders first drive, but the defining moment for the young rookie came during Washington’s third drive in a play scarily similar to one from overtime two weeks ago. 

With Washington backed up on their own 10-yard line thanks to a penalty, Heinicke took the snap, and before he had a chance to set himself, Thibodeaux blew past offensive lineman Charles Leno Jr., swiped the ball out of Heinicke’s hands, followed the fumble across the goal line, scooped it up, and took it in for not only the Giants’ first defensive score this season but Thibodeaux’s first since he had one as a tight end in high school. 

His final stat line for the day? 12 tackles (9 solo), 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 touchdown.  

The 97-Yard Drive  

With the momentum changing after Thibodeaux’s touchdown, there was hope that it would invigorate the offense; however, after the Washington punt was downed on the 3-yard line, most would have expected a quick three and out. That’s not what happened, as Daniel Jones led potentially the best drive of the season so far and the Giants’ longest in eight seasons. 

This was not a high-octane sprint down the field; it was more like a methodical march, with the Giants carving out an 18-play drive that took over eight and a half minutes off the clock with a short pass-heavy attack that included a clutch 4th down conversion to Richie James and culminated in a 3-yard touchdown run with Saquon Barkley lined up in the wildcat. 

It is only fair that Mike Kafka should get some credit for this drive. Kafka, who has made questionable decisions at times, has overall had a successful first season as a play-caller. This is evidenced by the improvement in red-zone touchdown conversion as the Giants have moved from 32nd last year (44.74 percent) to an impressive 8th this year (63.5 percent). 

Spin Move Barkley  

It’s no secret that since his 152-yard showing against the Houston Texans, Barkley just hasn’t been able to get a lot going on the ground, and his stellar rushing season has stuttered. From the season opener to week 10, his average rushing yards per game was 103.4, which has dropped to a measly 38 in the last four weeks, and as such, questions about his durability have begun to be raised again. 

Barkley did little to dispel those rumours in the first three quarters of Sunday’s game, as he was unable to show off his previous explosiveness, rushing 12 times for 39 yards and showing no sign of the shifty cuts he has become known for, aside from one instance during the Giants touchdown drive. In the fourth quarter, though, something switched, and Barkley started not only breaking off some chunk runs but pulling out a trio of Madden-esque spin moves that the Commanders defence could not seem to handle. This invigorated Barkley is what we need as we enter crunch time, and the fire seems to have been lit. 

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The Ending  

It would not be a Giants game without a bit of drama, though, would it? As has been customary for the Giants faithful, we found ourselves in yet another tight game entering the final two minutes and with the score at 20-12 as Washington started what would be their final drive. 

Frustratingly, the Giants seemed to crumble at the worst time, as within three plays (including the kick-off return), Washington was already in the red zone after two plays. As nightmares of another 20-20 game going into overtime started to creep into existence, cornerback Nick McCloud had an excellent opportunity to ice the game but dropped the interception, giving Washington another chance. 

With the hearts of Giants fans firmly in their mouths, Heinicke almost turned into the heartbreaker with a run towards the end zone that looked destined to be converted before the monstrous Thibodeaux crushed him at the 1-yard line. A one-yard touchdown by Brian Robinson was then negated by an illegal formation penalty on Terry McLaurin. Another incomplete pass followed before a controversial non-call on the game-sealing pass breakup by Darnay Holmes that, on reflection, the Giants were lucky to get away with. 

The Unsung Heroes 

With so many big talking points in the game, it’s tough to highlight some of the players that shone in this game, so here are a handful of my unsung heroes: 

  • Landon Collins: Called up from the practise squad for what was billed as a revenge game, made a number of key third-down stops. 
  • Jason Pinnock: In his best game of the season, had a quarterback hit, five total tackles, and forced a fumble. 
  • Richie James: Came up big with a couple of key catches on the 97-yard touchdown drive, including two key first-down catches. 
  • Ben Bredeson: Playing in his first game since October, instantly made the offensive line better while also making a key block on the Barkley touchdown run. 
  • Dexter Lawrence, Azzez Ojulari, and Ryder Anderson: All three got themselves a sack of Heinicke during the game, while Lawrence also forced a fumble that was recovered by Leonard Williams. 
  • Graham Gano: Two 50-yard field goals in the second half, both of which kept us ahead by eight points. 
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Five Things: Week 12 – Thanksgiving: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys

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In a game that most expected the Giants to be blown away, it wasn’t as one-sided as first feared but due to a 2nd half collapse, the Giants still lost 20-28 against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Here are five things we learned:

The Good

Let’s be honest, this was a game of two halves, and the first half was mostly very positive from the Giants’ perspective. Sure, it wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but on the whole, the Giants frustrated the Cowboys on both sides of the ball.

After the defense forced a turnover on downs on the Cowboys’ first drive, the unit seemed to galvanize itself and mostly kept the Cowboys’ offence at bay. On five drives, the Cowboys did score a touchdown; however, the Giants forced the aforementioned turnover on downs, two three-and-outs that were punted away, and two interceptions of Dak Prescott on the Giants’ side of the field (one by Rodarius Williams and one by Julian Love), which doubled their season tally.

The offence was a mixed bag, but it was able to put up 13 points on six drives, thanks to two Graham Gano field goals, one of which was a franchise record-tying 57 yards and a touchdown drive to counter Dallas’, which was highlighted by a phenomenal 44-yard catch by the rejuvenated Darius Slayton, who led the team in receiving yards once again.

The Bad

You would have thought that coming out of the locker room for the second half up 13-7 would spur the Giants to carry on their impressive first-half showing, but in reality, what happened was a complete capitulation on both sides of the ball, which Dallas took full advantage of.

The Cowboys again had five drives in a half, but unlike their poor first-half result, this time their drives went like this: touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, missed field goal, kneel down to end the game. Once again, the Giants seemed unable to contain the opposition’s tight end corps, which accounted for their three touchdowns. For the Giants, however, there will be one player under the spotlight this week, and that’s Darnay Holmes. Holmes lined up continuously against Cowboy receiver CeeDee Lamb, and Lamb, who finished the game with six catches for 109 yards, always seemed to have the advantage in the matchup. He was able to draw two DPI penalties against Holmes, one of which was potentially the most questionable call we’ve seen by the officials this season.

The Ugly

It’s fair to say that the defense struggled in the second half, but the offence was just downright uninspiring. The running game, which had struggled from the start, was unable to get going as the Giants’ makeshift offensive line yet again was ineffective in being able to open up running lanes, and the passing attack wasn’t much better due to a mixture of pressure and off-target throws.

The Giants’ success is almost entirely tied to the fortunes of Jones and Barkley, and when neither plays well, the offence comes apart at the seams, which makes for unpleasant viewing. This was highlighted by a brutally failed fourth down attempt, in which part of the blame could have been placed on either party. Interestingly, there are whispers amongst the fanbase that Barkley is suffering from a minor injury, as he was nearly rushed by third-stringer Gary Brightwell despite having double the touches behind the same offensive line.

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Thibodeaux’s Breakout is Coming

It’ll be tough for the Giants fanbase to find a plus coming out of this game, but there was one, and that’s the continued development of their fifth overall pick, Kayvon Thibodeaux.

So far this season, Thibodeaux has been a victim of box-score watchers who will look at his stats prior to the Cowboys game, see eight games played, nineteen pressures, three QB hits, and one sack, and label him a bust. However, to really appreciate what Thibodeaux brings to the table for the Giants, you need to look beyond that.

His impact on the Cowboys game was obvious, as he generated pressure on 38.1% of his 21 pass rush snaps (nine pressures, five QB hits), ranking third among all players this season. He now has a 14.0% win rate, which leads all rookies, and this is despite his season only starting in week 3 due to injury. He’s also not been able to line up with fellow edge rusher Azeez Ojulari yet this season, but with Ojulari returning from IR this coming week, some of the attention could be drawn away, which could lead to those near sacks showing up on that pedestalized stat sheet.

It’s In Our Hands

December is always regarded as a crucial month for teams because playoff-clinching scenarios typically begin around this time, but with the exception of practise squad member Landon Collins and current IR delegate Sterling Shepard, who were both part of the last team to do so in 2016, meaningful games for the Giants players as Christmas approaches are relatively unknown. However, on Monday morning, head coach Brian Daboll addressed the players with a simple message: “The season starts now.”

Following an extended Thanksgiving break, the Giants will prepare for four inter-divisional games against playoff rivals the Washington Commanders and NFC East leaders the Philadelphia Eagles, as well as games against the Minnesota Vikings and the Indianapolis Colts.

The key will be how they can get their stuttering roster back into the form that saw them pull off multiple upset wins. Whether this means solving the Barkley/offensive line issue, finding new reliable weapons for Daniel Jones (hello Odell Beckham Jr….), or relying on the imminently returning injured players such as Azeez Ojulari, Ben Brederson, and Daniel Bellinger, something needs to change, and time is of the essence.

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Five Things: Week 10 – Houston Texans at New York Giants

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The New York Giants returned from their bye week with a 24-16 victory over the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium. Let’s look at five things that stood out:

Win the Turnover Battle

As the old adage goes, “The key to winning the game is to win the turnover battle,” and the stats back that up. Teams that have more takeaways than giveaways win 73% of the time, and the Giants have a plus-four turnover differential despite only having two interceptions this season. In reality, it’s down to two things: a league-leading 10 fumble recoveries and Daniel Jones, who has become much more proficient in protecting the ball.

In the win against the Texans, not only did Jones protect the ball exquisitely, but the defence stepped up with two critical turnovers, one in the redzone and one in the endzone. The first, a fumble by standout rookie running back Dameon Pierce, was caused by a great punchout by Leonard Williams, and the second, an interception of Davis Mills, could have been caught by either Adoree Jackson or Dane Belton, but it was the rookie Belton that secured the grab at the front of the endzone.

Bulldozing Barkley

Over the weekend, it was revealed that the Giants had engaged in talks with the representatives of Saquon Barkley regarding a well-deserved contract extension. As of right now, that hasn’t materialized, but if the Giants want to keep arguably their best player on the team, they’re likely going to have to pay him top-tier money.

Barkley had a heavy workload in the win over the Texans, carrying the ball an astonishing 35 times (a season high) for 152 yards and a touchdown, while also catching the ball once for a further 8 yards. His 152 yards were his highest total in a game since his 164 yards in the season opener versus the Tennessee Titans and took his season total to a league-leading 931 yards. He also has the second most scrimmage yards with 1,128 and only needs 45 yards this week to overtake the Miami Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill, who is on a bye week.

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Sexy Dexy

Five weeks ago, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers had just found out firsthand what a dominant force Dexter Lawrence had become, and it obviously resonated with the veteran as he paid tribute to him on his weekly segment on the Pat McAfee show. “Number 97 is a premier player, and needs to probably get some more recognition for the ability that he has.” Since then, Lawrence has not let up in the slightest and appears to be a lock for the Pro Bowl and could even be an All-Pro candidate.

Sexy Dexy, as he’s been known since middle school, was a game wrecker on Sunday, terrorising the Texans offensive linemen and finishing the game with five total tackles, five QB hits, a sack (two half sacks), and a batted down pass. He also totaled eight pressures, one of which forced Houston quarterback Davis Mills into his ill-advised lob into the end zone that was intercepted.

Big Play Slay

It’s safe to say that up until a few weeks ago, this season likely had not been Darius Slayton’s favorite. Before it even started, he had to contend with trade rumours and then the very real threat of potentially being cut. Slayton survived both but ultimately was cast aside for the first four weeks of the season, suiting up for three games and only being targeted twice, but as the injuries mounted, the Giants’ hand was forced and he was given a larger role.

Since then, Slayton has flashed in a few games, but he was back in his rookie season groove against the Texans, as he played a massive part in securing the victory. Finishing the game with three receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown in which he took full advantage of a missed tackle by Texans safety Jalen Pitre to sprint 54 yards to the house. Slayton now has a team-leading 327 yards, and with there being no standout number two thanks to Kenny Golladay’s ongoing struggles, he could well lead the team for the rest of the season.

Schoen’s Additions

If there is one thing about the Giants’ season that cannot be understated, it’s the work of general manager Joe Schoen and assistant general manager Brandon Brown, who have been able to add players throughout the season, some of whom made sizable contributions in Sunday’s game:

  • Fabian Moreau, who was signed ironically after being released by the Houston Texans, has been a solid cornerback opposite Adoree Jackson. He recorded six tackles and one pass deflection.
  • Jaylon Smith resigned with the Giants near the end of September and has now become a starting linebacker. He made five tackles, had a quarterback hit, and recovered a fumble.
  • Jason Pinnock was claimed off waivers at the end of August and had a great day against the Texans with 1.5 sacks and a tackle for loss.
  • Lawrence Cager was claimed after being released by the neighbouring Jets and caught his first career touchdown against the Texans.
  • Isaiah Hodgins, signed less than two weeks ago after being waived by the Bills, caught two passes in Sunday’s game for 41 yards.
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Five Things: Week 7 – New York Giants at Jacksonville Jaguars

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For the third week in a row, the Giants overturned a 4th quarter deficit to find a way to win and improve their record to 6-1. Let’s take a look at five things that stood out this week:

Coming of Age

Although Saquon Barkley finished yesterday’s game with 110 yards rushing, he made 40 of those yards in the clock-churning final offensive drive that ended in a field goal. For the rest of the game, the Giants’ offensive fortunes rested on one man’s shoulders: Daniel Jones. 

Multiple times this season, Jones has shown the grit, determination, decision-making, and game management that many Giants fans have been waiting to see since he stepped into Eli Manning’s shoes, and it’s not too farfetched to say that this season Jones looks very much like Manning in his breakout season. 

Yesterday, Jones looked the part in both the passing game and the rushing game. Despite six drops from his wide receivers, he completed 19 passes from 30 passing attempts for 202 yards and a touchdown and repeatedly took advantage of open space as he ran for a career high of 107 yards and a touchdown, becoming the first Giants quarterback to rush for over 100 yards in 76 years  

Close Out the Game! 

One concerning part of the game that hopefully isn’t the start of a trend was the inability to close out the game due to lapses in concentration. On both offence and defense, we made avoidable mistakes that would have either settled the game or at least made it much more comfortable than it was. 

The first one was a bizarre play call from our offence on 3rd down that saw Barkley run out towards the side-line. In what should have been an opportunity to run the clock down to 25 seconds before making a field goal attempt, Barkley was pushed out of bounds, which stopped the clock at 1:07, plenty of time for the Jaguars to attempt a comeback  

The refs (more on them later), intent on driving the heart rate of Giants fans through the roof, found two questionable calls that negated two huge plays from the defence and that led to the Jags being able to extend their drive toward the crazy final play of the game. 

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The Final Play(s) 

In what felt like the longest minute and four seconds ever, it all came down to one last set of downs. 

After a long completion on 4th down, coupled with a roughing the passer call, the Jags quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, took his position on the Giants’ 17-yard line and, with sixteen seconds on the clock, had ample time to break Giants fans’ hearts. His first throw thrown towards Zay Jones was broken up by Adoree Jackson, and his second sailed over Marvin Jones’ head. 

With seven seconds left, it all came down to one play, and it almost paid dividends. Lawrence, with an empty backfield, took the ball and almost immediately threw a dart to Christian Kirk. Kirk secured the ball in the air and seemed destined to fall into the endzone before Fabian Moreau, who was having another outstanding game, stopped him dead on the one-yard line. Xavier McKinney and Julian Love both smothered Kirk to keep him out of the endzone as time expired. 

Come On Ref! 

In what seems to be a weekly occurrence in the NFL, the referees decided that they wanted to be a bigger part of the action, and it was the Giants’ turn to see some questionable calls and no calls both for and against them. 

Mistakes were rife throughout the game, but nothing highlighted how inconsistent the officiating crew were more than a pair of hits on the quarterbacks that ended up yielding differing results. In one drive, Daniel Jones, albeit awkwardly slid down and was clearly hit late by the Jags’ Cisco; no flag. Yet earlier in the half, Dexter Lawrence slightly pulled on Trevor Lawrence’s jersey, causing him to stumble to his hands and knees; flag thrown. 

As previously mentioned, there were also questionable calls in the Jags’ final drive, but the worst of the day was the horrendous face mask and eye poke on Daniel Bellinger that was not deemed worthy of a flag despite Bellinger having to leave the game on the cart  

Beyond a Joke 

I feel like this point has been copied and pasted from week to week, but yet again, in what seems to be the norm for the Giants, the injuries are piling up again. 

In the first half alone, we had offensive linemen Evan Neal and Ben Bredeson and tight end Daniel Bellinger leave the game and not return, whilst in the second half, Adoree Jackson briefly left the game for a concussion check that came back negative. 

As mentioned in my previous point, Bellinger had his eye poked, which ended with the rookie heading to the nearest medical facility. After the game, it was revealed that he would have to visit an ophthalmologist and would likely need surgery. Luckily, both Neal and Bredeson seem to have avoided season-ending injuries, but both are being evaluated for MCL sprains that will keep them out for a few weeks at the very least. 

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Five Things: Week 6 – Baltimore Ravens at New York Giants

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The Giants’ confidence was sky high after coming off the massive high that was the shock win against the Green Bay Packers in London. Unfortunately, they once again started slowly and, although they walked away with the win here to take their record to 5-1 it wasn’t without drama. Let’s take a look at five things that stood out this week:

Convincing? No. Deserved? Yes.

Offensively, in the first half, the Giants looked largely off the pace as Balitmore constantly kept us from sustaining a drive. Aside from the touchdown drive, which was sparked by Gary Brightwell’s 47-yard kick-off return, the Giants had 14 plays across four drives, including two 3 and outs and one drive at the end of the half that ended with a fumble and recovery, albeit on a meaningless hail-mary attempt.

Continuing the recent trend, we were much better in the 2nd half of the game on both fronts, with the offence converting in the redzone when needed, but again it was the Wink Martindale-led defence that stepped up to the plate late in the 4th quarter. Time was running out after trailing for most of the second half. The breakthrough was made after the Giants secured their first interception of the season and a forced fumble plus recovery on the following Ravens drive, which ultimately stopped their potent attack from scoring again.

The Achilles Heel

As great as it was to get the win, we can’t ignore that for the majority of the game, the Ravens’ rushing attack and their tight ends were having a field day against our linebackers as they gave up chunk play after chunk play.

The Lamar to Mark Andrew connection was in full flow throughout the game, topped off as Andrews hauled in a touchdown early in the 4th quarter. He finished with 106 yards on 7 passes, for a ridiculous 15.1 yards per reception.

On the ground, both Lamar and Kenyan Drake had our number. The journeyman running back, Drake, sliced through our defensive front time and time again, finishing with 119 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. Jackson had 77 yards himself on 7 carries, meaning they combined for almost 200 yards at a rate of 11.5 yards a carry.

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Rookies Show Up

It’s been a slow start for some of our rookies thanks to niggling injuries. First rounder Kayvon Thibodeaux only made his debut in week three, and second rounder Wan’Dale Robinson was returning to the line-up after suffering an MCL injury in week one.

Robinson was the first of the rookies to make an impact as he caught a dart from Daniel Jones to tie the game up at 7-7.

Next up was Bellinger, who ended the game as the Giants’ leading receiver with 38 yards on five receptions. He also added a touchdown in the middle of the fourth quarter, which took his touchdown streak up to two games in a row.

Lastly, Thibodeaux was a menace all game and consistently got within grasping distance of Lamar Jackson but couldn’t get that elusive first career sack. Just when it looked like it wasn’t going to be his day, he got himself a nice double towards the end of the game as he recorded not only a sack but his first forced fumble too. The icing on the cake for him will have been that it was essentially a game-sealing play.

Barkley and Jones Tough It Out

Both Barkley and Jones came into today’s game nursing slight ailments, with Barkley still feeling the effects of the shoulder injury he sustained in last week’s London game and Jones dealing with both a niggling ankle injury and a scabby turf injury on his hand. On the surface, it looked like Jones’s injury barely bothered him, though it was clear he didn’t have that burst of speed he’d shown in the weeks prior, as he failed to take advantage of some of the holes the Ravens’ defence afforded him.

Barkley, on the other hand, was clearly feeling the effects of his shoulder injury as he had a quiet day compared to the lofty standards he has set for himself so far this season. His longest rush of the game was only 8 yards, as although he carried the ball 22 times, he finished with 83 yards and a touchdown against what had previously this season been a porous Ravens run defence.

Love’ly Jubbly

As mentioned before, the Giants didn’t have a single interception coming into today’s game, and when Fabian Moreau dropped what looked like an easy interception after Mark Andrews’ drop/deflection of a Lamar Jackson pass, it looked like it would never come. Enter Julian Love.

The fourth-year safety from Notre Dame, who leads the Giants in tackles this season alongside cornerback Adoree Jackson, had already made an important play in the 1st quarter, denying what looked like a sure-fire touchdown to Demarcus Robinson by launching himself in front of the receiver. The most important play, though, came late in the fourth quarter, with the Giants still down by three points. Lamar Jackson fumbled a snap and after recovering it, he threw an ill-advised pass up into the air, which Love gratefully accepted and returned 27 yards to the Balitmore 13-yard line. Four plays later, the Giants took the lead, and after Saquon Barkley’s smart football play to slide down before the endzone, the Ravens never saw the ball again.

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Five Things: Week 5 – New York Giants at Green Bay Packers

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The Giants returned to our shores this week and shocked everyone with a 27-22 come-from-behind victory over the Green Bay Packers. Let’s take a look at five things that stood out from London:

London Calling

The Giants must really love coming to London. Not only is the team now 3-0 in the city, but they’re also the only team to win three games in three different London stadiums (Wembley in 2007, Twickenham in 2016 and Tottenham this past weekend).

Despite being 3-1, the Giants opened as 7.5-point underdogs against Aaron Rogers and his Green Bay Packers team, and looking at the rosters, it was totally understandable. The Giants were without multiple starters, including starting defensive player Leonard Williams, and after the first half of the game went the way of the cheeseheads (and their huge following), the Giants rallied at half time. After shutting out Green Bay in the second half despite more injury woes, Big Blue scored two unanswered touchdowns via running backs Gary Brightwell and Saquon Barkley before Oshane Ximines sacked Rogers on the final play of the game.

Box of Tricks

The Wildcat formation was obviously something that the Giants had in their back pocket after successfully running it a few times last week. Due to injuries to both quarterbacks, that was a necessity last week; this week, it was more of an option to unsettle the Packers, and it worked.

Barkley lined up on his own 22-yard line, took the snap and darted through for 40 yards. Suddenly, the tails were up, and Big Blue had started to string something together. A few plays later, they found themselves on the cusp of the endzone. In what looked like a failed Philly special, Daniel Jones tossed it to Barkley, who then did the same to tight end Daniel Bellinger. Bellinger looked like he was going to throw the ball but decided to just barrel into the endzone for the Giants’ first touchdown of the game.

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2nd Half Shutout

Wink Martindale seems to use the first half as a learning session before executing his masterplan in the second half, and this time it was Rogers who was in the crosshairs. After Adoree Jackson was ruled out at the half with a knee injury, he was down to Fabian Moreau, Nick McCloud, and Justin Layne, three players who weren’t even on the Giants roster until after the preseason, but all three excelled in their next man up roles.

After completing 18 of 24 for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, he was held to a paltry 7 of 15 for 76 yards and no touchdowns. The amazing thing at the end of all of this is that the only points scored by the Packers in the second half were done so by the Giants, as punter Jamie Gillian got to play a little bit of chase in the endzone before stepping out for a safety.

Slayton Shows Up

The Giants’ receivers had been the most underwhelming unit this season, and after the majority of the so-called big names had been ruled out by injuries, the Giants turned to fourth-year outcast Darius Slayton.

Slayton has found himself on the outside looking in since Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen took over and was touted as being an almost certain cut or trade candidate before the season.

Though he saw a return to the line-up last week, again he didn’t start as practice squad elevation Marcus Johnson started the game, but by the end, Slayton showed why it should be him next week. He led the team in both targets and receptions and comfortably had double the receiving yards of any other Giant receiver. With Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney and Wan’Dale Robinson unlikely to take the field together for at least a few more weeks, the Giants won’t think twice next time about relying on Slayton.

Coach(es) of the Year Incoming?

In their first year leading the team, general manager Joe Schoen, head coach Brian Daboll, offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, and defensive coordinator Wink Martingdale have had quite an eventful start to the season as the team has exceeded expectations to earn their 4-1 start.

Daboll and Schoen have overhauled the culture at the Giants, building a team that not only does the dirty, gritty work but genuinely looks like they are playing for each other. The old cliché is “next man up,” but this is a mantra they are playing by and, to a man, it is working.

The coordinators, as mentioned before, both got the absolute best out of the personnel at their disposal, whether it was Kafka getting creative with his play calling to bamboozle the Green Bay defense or Wink, despite missing key pieces, stifling Rogers’ air attack and holding the Packers’ dangerous rushing tandem of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon to a combined 97 yards.