Going in to their week 8 bye week, New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo promised that the Giants would self-scout and make the necessary adjustments. They knew they needed to inject some life into the Giants’ sputtering offense that was averaging more than a touchdown per game less than 2015.
The Giants needed to shake things up on offense. They needed new concepts and wrinkles, more formations, different personnel groupings, and to rotate in more players.
So who got to play more, and who played less?
It wasn’t planned — injuries never are -- but former CFL star lineman Brett Jones got thrown into the fire and had to fill in for Justin Pugh. Despite lining up opposite one of the best defensive tackles in the league and playing guard, rather than his natural center position, Jones looked like a former “Most Outstanding Lineman” in his first real NFL action. He played a full 50 snaps (78 percent of the offensive snaps) and didn’t allow a single pressure in the passing game. In fact, Pro Football Focus gave him the highest grade of any Giants’ offensive player with an 82.2. Fellow lineman Weston Richburg came in third with an 80.1 while Eli Manning got a rare favorable review from PFF with an 80.5 grade.
One of the big changes for the Giants’ offense was giving the lion’s share of the offensive snaps to second year H-Back Will Tye. He responded with four catches for 33 yard, his longest a physical catch and run of 13 yards. Tye was targeted on Manning’s final pass of the game, getting open over the middle for a first down that would have iced the game ... Had Connor Barwin not made a great play to tip the ball at the line of scrimmage, giving Jordan Hicks the opportunity to make an impressively acrobatic interception. It shouldn’t be a reflection on ANY Giant (Manning, Tye, or McAdoo). Tye’s work as a receiver and a blocker earned him PFF’s fourth-highest offensive grade of 73.7.
Rookie tight end Jerell Adams got 14 snaps and came up with three catches of his own. He had a couple drops, but for a rookie tight end who was under-utilized in his college offense, he shows promise for the future.
Rounding out the PFF grades, wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard were graded 71.1 and 71.0 respectively. Beckham played 62 snaps while Shepard got 59 snaps. Even before he suffered a sprained ankle, Victor Cruz saw his role in the offense reduced as the coaches sought to keep him fresh for his first full season since 2013. In his place, Roger Lewis Jr. saw 37 snaps, snagging his second NFL touchdown (third catch) and Dwayne Harris got 16 snaps.
In the backfield, Rashad Jennings and Paul Perkins had a much more equitable share of the snaps than in any previous game. Jennings got 37 snaps, while Perkins was on the field for 22. Interestingly, it was the rookie to whom the Giants turned to close out the game in the 4-minute drill, and Jennings only came on the field for the Giants 3rd-and-4 attempt.
Even with the Giants putting up 28 points, it was the defense that was the story of the game.
As has been usual for the Giants, Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul played almost every defensive snap with 70 and 71 snaps respectively (out of 75). Both players had tremendous games. Vernon and JPP both recorded 5 quarterback pressures apiece, with Vernon getting to Wentz for a sack, two hits and a hurry. JPP recorded five hurries, two tipped passes, and managed to play both sides of a QB option run for a tackle for loss. However, neither D-end made it into PFF’s top five defensive grades.
It was a young safety who PFF says stole the show with an impressive 91.8 grade ... but it wasn’t Landon Collins. No, PFF says that in his 73 snaps it was an undrafted rookie who wasn’t just the Giants’ best player, but the best player on the field Sunday on any unit on either team. In fact, Adams was PFF’s third-highest rated player in the entire NFL Sunday. They said of the rookie safety:
An undrafted free agent, Andrew Adams made his fifth start for the Giants in their win over Philadelphia on Sunday, and this was by far the biggest impact he has made. He led the team in tackles by two from his safety position, and recorded an interception and pass breakup in coverage as a true standout for the Giants this week. His four games coming into Sunday were all various shades of average, but this was a true game-changing performance from the rookie.
Amazingly, Collins, who notched an interception of his own to go with 12 tackles and a sack while playing every defensive snap, joined JPP and Vernon outside of PFF’s top five. That being said, Collins is playing at an All-Pro level, leading the team in tackles, interceptions (3) and sacks (3), while playing every defensive snap (the only player in the NFL to be able to make that claim). We’ve been saying it for a few weeks now: Landon Collins is becoming one of the very best at his position in the whole league.
But second on PFF’s top five rank is linebacker (yes, LINEBACKER) Keenan Robinson. Robinson made a game-saving play to run down Darren Sproles’ punt return, and was everywhere on defense. The former Redskin seems to have solidified his role as the Giants’ primary middle linebacker, playing 63 snaps (84 percent), getting an 89.0 grade for his efforts. He was joined by fellow linebacker Jonathan Casillas with an 84.7 grade earned over 57 snaps. Rounding out the top five were cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (59 snaps) with an 88.0 grade and Janoris Jenkins (75 snaps, 100 percent) with an 82.2 grade.