As you can probably guess, there's going to be many more offensive "heroes" than "zeroes" in this week's Pro Football Focus edition. Lots of contributors in a resounding 30-17 win by the New York Giants over the Houston Texans. The score doesn't do it justice, as a dominant performance by both the offensive and defensive lines took control of the game. The forthcoming scores will reflect just that:
Will Beatty (+3.1) - Another dominant performance, especially in pass protection. Beatty allowed no QB pressures in this game. Through the past three games, he's allowed only four pressures (no sacks) in 109 pass-blocking snaps. So far this season, he's been a tremendous presence and probably one of the biggest reasons for Eli's resurgence. He wasn't half bad in the run game, either.
Key Offensive Contributors
J.D. Walton (+2.5) - Walton had his best game as a Giant by far this past week. He didn't allow any QB pressures, either, but it was his run blocking that really flashed. He graded out a superb +1.7 in that department as he drove Houston NT Jerrell Powe off the ball with consistency.
Weston Richburg (+2.4) - In my write up after the game, I stated that Richburg had his finest game of his young career. PFF agrees. Once again, he allowed nothing in the way of QB pressure (in fact, the only offensive lineman who allowed pressure this game was Justin Pugh, who gave up a sack and two hurries, all through the doing of J.J. Watt). He was an efficient run blocker as well, as he showed what made him a coveted player in the draft, namely getting down the field quickly and blocking for Rashad Jennings.
John Jerry (+1.9) - We've got our fourth offensive lineman in the "Kudos" section and it's hard to disagree. Jerry mixed it up and helped Pugh take on Watt as well as anybody else that came in his way. The large man did what large men should be able to do and was an effective run blocker for Jennings as well.
Victor Cruz (+1.3) - Redemption for Cruz, as he dropped exactly zero balls and went off with ridiculous amounts of YAC. This is the expectation we should have for the salsa dancer going forward and why people were excited about his fit in the Ben McAdoo offense.
Larry Donnell (+1.3) - He was dinged heavily for his fumble in the first quarter but PFF was enamored by his run blocking this week. Off the top of my head, I couldn't tell you if they were correct, but it's hard not to believe them when you've got a guy busting out 176 yards on the ground.
Henry Hynoski (-1.5) - Wow, I'm not sure I get this at all. Hynoski played only 19 snaps and received his entire negative grade from run blocking. As far as I can remember, Hynoski had gotten a key block on a few Rashad Jennings runs, but I don't really remember him whiffing on anything. It would be something to look for going forward.
Key Offensive Villains
Andre Williams (-1.1) - Only one "villain" today and that's Williams. He couldn't really muster anything behind a line that was popping off huge holes for Rashad Jennings to run through. His negative grade came all throughout his rushing attempts, though this grade does seem a bit more harsh than it needed to be.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (+2.8) - "DRC" is quietly putting together one hell of a season for any cornerback as he bounces back from the rough outing versus the Detroit Lions to put together a masterclass against both the Arizona Cardinals and now the Houston Texans. He virtually shutdown Andre Johnson and did exactly what he was paid lots of money to do, and that is to make plays. He added an interception and a pass defensed en route to becoming PFF's third-rated CB on the season thus far.
Key Defensive Contributors
Mathias Kiwanuka (+2.7) - While I heavily disagreed with Kiwi's high grade last week (which subsequently was corrected), I think it's more deserved here. He added two QB pressures and solid run defense all game in a complete effort. Now, let's hope that he stays more consistent with it in the upcoming weeks, or he could be hearing footsteps from some of his fellow DEs behind him.
Robert Ayers (+2.6) - One of those DEs is Robert Ayers. He's probably the best pass rusher the Giants have on the team right now. In only 29 pass rush snaps, he busted out five QB hurries and is second in pass rush productivity in the entire league. As PFF's 4th rated 4-3 DE, a serious argument is being made every week for Ayers to get more snaps.
Prince Amukamara (+2.6) - While DRC is PFF's third-rated CB thus far in the early going, it's Prince who is right behind him in 4th. So, I guess that boasting by the secondary does indeed have some merit. He had a tough assignment as he took on Deandre Hopkins, but played well, nabbing an interception and a pass defensed. He's only going to get better.
Cullen Jenkins (+2.0) - Jenkins is the least talked about starter on the defense and perhaps that's a good thing. He has quietly been a solid (if not spectacular) pass rusher for the team. That's honestly what the Giants need in the middle of that defense, a 3 technique that isn't just selling out versus the pass, but someone that hustles and can play against the run as well. Jenkins is the league's 11th highest ranked DT, and he's achieved near top 10 status with little to no fanfare.
Johnathan Hankins (+1.9) - Like always, Hankins takes his weekly spot in the "Kudos" section. Much like Will Hill of last year, no one outside of the Giants and their fans really recognizes how good Hankins is on a week to week basis but he's quickly becoming a monstrous two-way force in the middle. He added two more hurries and remains a top five pass rusher through PFF's pass rush productivity metric from the defensive tackle position.
Antrel Rolle (+1.5) - The third member of the Giants secondary makes it in this section. The elder statesman of the group had a key interception and was rarely targeted in the secondary as he continues his solid play. He's a top 10 graded safety by PFF and there's really no denying he's one in real life as well.
Mark Herzlich (+1.3) - What? Is this a typo? Apparently not. Herzlich didn't play all that badly this past week and I think it was very smart of the Giants to play him at SAM. He got almost all of his grade for his work in run defense, so without the responsibility of moving too laterally to cover a bigger area as the MIKE, crashing down into the LOS as a SAM might be Herz's calling from now on.
Trumaine McBride (+1.1) - My hands are beginning to cramp up from writing so much in this section. McBride was forced into a pseudo-starting role again this year as Walter Thurmond went down but he's done well. He allowed a solid amount of catches but didn't allow much YAC. He was covering Damaris Johnson on the touchdown but PFF rightly attributed that to the safety.
Stevie Brown (-1.2) - Brown graded positively in run defense for the third straight week, but he was an adventure in coverage once again. He had another miscommunication as he was tricked by Ryan Fitzpatrick into sliding up and allowing Damaris Johnson behind him for the Texans' sole receiving touchdown on the day. He was benched in favor of Nat Berhe on the very next series.
Key Defensive Villains
None - That's right, Stevie Brown was the only member of the defense to score below a -1.0. A great team effort from the Giants.
Through three weeks, the general consensus was that the Dallas Cowboys had a much better offensive line than the New York Giants. I thought it would be fun to compare PFF grades. Of course, here's a gentle reminder that PFF is not the end all, be all and some things don't really translate with this small a sample size, but it's a fun and fair way to compare between two teams.
Left Tackle: Tyron Smith is one of the best left tackles in the game. Has he graded better than Beatty? Smith currently possesses a +5.1 grade. Beatty? +5.8.
Left Guard: Left guard has been a weak spot for both teams, as we pit Ronald Leary versus Weston Richburg. Richburg has been trending up lately, but still has a grade of -3.7. Leary, however, has done worse, and has received a grade of -5.0.
Center: J.D. Walton has been one of the worst centers in football through the first two weeks, but definitely picked it up in this last game. Still, he "boasts" a grade of -1.3. He's going up against former first-round pick Travis Frederick, who was excellent last year. A clean wipeout, right? Surprisingly, no. Frederick has a grade of -4.2, an almost three point difference from Walton.
Right Guard: John Jerry has been known as a soft run blocker, even though he's been solid in pass protection. How does that rank him among PFF grades? A decent enough +0.2. The right guard for the Cowboys is this year's first-round pick Zack Martin. How well is he doing? -2.0.
Right Tackle: Given the surprising nature of the first four grades, is there a chance that Doug Free can unseat probable favorite Justin Pugh? Nope. Pugh has a solid +2.8 while Free has a pretty good +1.1