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Rookies of the Week – Week 1

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The return of the NFL season really had everything. Shock results, devastating injuries, struggling superstars, and outstanding rookies.

Let’s look at my standout seven from Week 1.

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Will Anderson Jr, Edge – Houston Texans

Emotions may have gotten the better of Anderson pre-game, but he was zoned in as soon as he stepped on the field to start his NFL career. The versatile rusher, who lined up predominantly on the left side, recorded four tackles, three hurries, two quarterback hits, and a sack against the normally elusive Lamar Jackson.

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Jalen Carter, Defensive Line – Philadelphia Eagles

Now that’s why he was touted as potentially going first overall! A 92.1 overall PFF grade puts Carter as the 2nd overall defensive tackle, and it’s not hard to see why. In a monstrous performance, Carter had eight pressures, one sack, and one assisted tackle. It’s no wonder that Mac Jones will be seeing him in his nightmares.

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Zay Flowers, Wide Receiver – Baltimore Ravens

Does Lamar Jackson have a new favourite weapon? Flowers continued his strong preseason with an outstanding showing against the Texans, and much like the later mentioned Bijan Robinson, he was making defenders miss all over the place. Nine catches on ten targets for 78 yards led the Ravens, while he also had two rushes for nine yards.

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Xavier Gipson, Wide Receiver – New York Jets

It’s the stuff that dreams are made of! No one saw the Jets game winner being an undrafted rookie free agent, but here we are. He forced his way into contention due to his electric preseason on special teams, which caught the eye of head coach Robert Salah. Now, thanks to his 65-yard walk-off punt return touchdown, he can now say he is the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

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Puka Nacua, Wide Receiver – Los Angeles Rams

If you were asked to predict the only rookie receiver to go over 100 yards this weekend, I can guarantee no one would have mentioned Puka Nacua. With Cooper Kupp now on IR, the Rams needed someone to step up, and their fifth-rounder did just that. 14 targets, 10 receptions, and 119 yards. Job done.

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Anthony Richardson, Quarterback – Indianapolis Colts

Richardson wasn’t perfect by any means, as he played conservatively and had an ugly interception, but he is now the proud owner of two NFL records. Against the Jaguars, Richardson not only became the youngest player ever with a passing and rushing touchdown in the same game, but he also became the first rookie in history to have at least 200 passing yards, 40 rushing yards, a passing touchdown, and a rushing touchdown.

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Bijan Robinson, Running Back – Atlanta Falcons

A shared snap count with Allgeier didn’t count against Bijan on Sunday, as he finished with 10 rushes for 56 yards while adding six receptions on six targets for 27 yards and a touchdown in the passing game. Add in five forced missed tackles, including that disgraceful stop-start on an attempted tackle from Frankie Luvu, and you’ve got yourself a debut.

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Five Things: Week 14 – Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

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If there is a way to forget this game and it’s subsequent 48-22 score, then I am more than happy to try it. It was brutal to watch, and I can’t imagine doing this is going to make me feel any better, but the “good, bad, and ugly” theme continues! Here are five things that stood out:

The Good

If I were being brutally honest, the answer would be that the game is over and the Eagles can’t humiliate us anymore. Yes, it’s a damning statement, but after watching almost all of the defeat (thanks Sky Sports for switching to the Dallas game), there really wasn’t a lot to write home about. However, if you look at the bigger picture, there are at least a couple of good trends we can focus on.

Isaiah Hodgins, who seems to have completely taken on the so-called “Kenny Golladay” role, had another solid game, snagging four of his six targets for 38 yards and a touchdown while also adding a two-point conversion in garbage time.

Kayvon Thibodeaux had a good but not spectacular showing (four pressures); however, his counterpart Azeez Ojulari continued his incredible return from injury as he recorded four tackles (two for a loss), two sacks, and two quarterback hits on 41 defensive snaps. There were also sacks from two of our UDFA class members, as Ryder Anderson recorded his first sack and cornerback Zyon Gilbert, who had a drastically reduced workload this week, was also able to get home.

The Bad

Other than some sparks on the pass rush, the defence was almost nonexistent during the game, and Jalen Hurts was able to go up and down the field using both his legs and arm with relative ease.

Hurts, who barely had to get out of first gear in the passing game, completed 21 of 31 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns. His first was a fourth-and-seven conversion, which was easily avoidable had Julian Love decided to force the incompletion; however, he went all in on the interception, missing the ball completely and allowing Devonta Smith an easy walk-in. His second came only five minutes later after a shocking punt from Gillan (more on that later) gave the Eagles great field position, and Hurts took full advantage with a one-play, 33-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Brown.

If the passing defence was bad, then the rush was worse. Hurts, Myles Sanders, and Boston Scott combined for four touchdowns and 253 yards on 31 carries. All three had a long of over ten yards, and they all averaged above five yards per carry; in fact, the Eagles averaged a disgusting 8.2 yards per carry. Inexcusable

The Ugly

In what seems to be a running theme for the Giants, our special teams unit outside of the stellar Graham Gano stinks. Admittedly, Elerson Smith did block a punt to set up our first touchdown, but that was the lone good moment.

In the Eagles’ return game, the aforementioned Scott, who seems to always have a career day against the Giants, had 117 total return yards, including a 66-yard return late in the second quarter. On the opposite side, the Giants’ return game was nowhere near as impressive, with the Eagles testing Gary Brightwell’s ability with short kickoffs that amounted to minimal gains, if any.

The punting game, though, is the real reason for this ugly entry. Though three of Gillan’s punts landed inside the 20-yard line, he will be remembered for one complete lapse of concentration in which he not only fumbled the ball as he went to drop it to punt but then followed through to kick the ball after it had bounced, drawing a flag and a 10-yard penalty for illegal kicking that paved the way for the A.J. Brown touchdown.

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Ward of Wisdom

With the stench of defeat fresh in the air, the beat writers started doing their rounds in the locker room, and after veteran defensive end Jihad Ward was asked about the Giants’ recent struggles, the air soon turned blue with his expletive-ridden speech, and for their own sake, the rest of the locker room better take notice:

“It’s December football, man. It’s about who the (expletive) wants it more. You know what I’m saying? There’s more to it than just doing your job. There’s more to it than just knowing the playbook. You have to do more. How bad do you want it?

“Ain’t nobody going to sit here and give it to us. How bad do you really, really want it? “Now is the time where the veterans put (the young players) on that and let them know this (expletive) ain’t no game out here. It’s a bunch of grown (expletive) men. We’re not treating these rookies like young bulls. They’re grown (expletive) men.

“I don’t see no rookie no more in my mother (expletive) eyes. You gotta come with it or you’re going to fold. What are you going to do? You want to sit back and wait until next year? I want it now. That’s the kind of mindset I have and one I expect every single person in this organization to have.”

On To Next Week

I think even the most optimistic Giants fans would have predicted anything other than a loss this week, and the way it went will obviously sting, but in the grand scheme of things, not a lot really changed in the playoff picture, except maybe momentum.

Seattle, who had an opportunity to knock the Giants out of the playoff spots, fell to a shock defeat to the Carolina Panthers, and Washington overtook the Giants into the seventh seed thanks to their superior divisional record.

All in all, it comes down to Sunday Night Football this coming week as the Giants travel to FedExField in what is essentially a make-or-break game for the G-Men. Win, and the playoffs are still a possibility. Lose, and it’s almost game over.