The New York Giants‘ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles has to sting. They went in to Philly with something to accomplish, and all they left with was a bad taste in their mouth. Rather than punching their ticket to the post-season and establishing some momentum for a late-season run, the Giants simply could not get it done when it mattered most.
The onus of the loss should fall squarely on the offense, but what can we learn about the Giants by looking at some of the numbers from Thursday night’s game?
Probably the most impressive number with regards to the Giants’ offense Thursday night is 89. That’s how many snaps the Giant’s offense played, holding the ball for nearly 10 minutes more than Philadelphia, and it’s been a long time since they controlled the ball like that.
Of course, the Giants were playing out of a deep, and self-inflicted, hole to start the game. Forced to play catch-up all game, the offense looked more like we envisioned at the start of the year.
The play up front was uneven at best. Bobby Hart and John Jerry appeared to struggle against Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox. Weston Richburg and Ereck Flowers, however, held up well. According to pro football focus, they were the Giants’ two best offensive players Thursday night, grading an 84.2 and a 74.6 respectively. Justin Pugh played well as well, though a penalty likely kept him out of the top five. His return seems to have a stabilizing influence on Flowers, and his chemistry with the player on each side of him is noticeable.
Wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard only missed one snap apiece, playing 88 snaps each, and Beckham (unsurprisingly) graded out as the Giants’ second best player behind Richburg with a 76.9. The superstar wide receiver was targeted 20 times, catching 11 for 150 yards. Shepard was targeted 11 times, catching 7 for 61 yards and a touchdown. Victor Cruz played 53 snaps in his emotional return to Philly, coming up with 8 receptions on 13 targets for 84 yards.
Interestingly the Giants used a much more equitable snap split for their tight ends than in previous games. Will Tye played 60 snaps (67 percent), notching 5 receptions on 8 targets for 23 yards. Rookie Jerell Adams was on the field for 40 snaps (45 percent), catching the only pass thrown his way for 9 yards.
The real story of the game for the offense (besides its inefficiency) was in the backfield. Rashad Jennings still had the majority of the snaps for the running backs with 41 total. In his customary 40 percent of the offensive load (34 snaps, 38 percent), it was rookie Paul Perkins, who was the Giants’ leading rusher. Perkins carried the ball 15 times for 68 yards, good for 4.5 yards per carry. Jennings was more efficient, picking up 44 yards on just 9 carries, but Perkins was obviously the better back, and PFF agreed, grading him a 75.6, good for third-highest on the offense.
Things were, as we have come to expect, much better on the defensive side of the ball.
For the second week in a row, defensive end Olivier Vernon played every single defensive snap (56). The offense dominating the time of possession gave him more of a rest than he has been accustomed to this season. After a dip in snaps against the Detroit Lions, Romeo Okwara once again played nearly every snap as well, and was on the field for 50 snaps. Backups Kerry Wynn and Owamagbe Odighizuwa played a total of 7 snaps, 5 for Wynn and 2 for Owa.
Inside Johnathan Hankins played the lion’s share of the snaps, on the field for 45 defensive snaps (80 percent). Beside him, Damon Harrison played 40 snaps, leaving the field with a knee injury. Big Snacks was once again one of the Giants’ best players, garnering an 81.7 grade from PFF.
For possibly the first time all season, Kelvin Sheppard lead the linebackers in snaps played with 44, while Devon Kennard (35), Jonathan Casillas (34), and Keenan Robinson (29) all played nearly the same amount. It was Kennard, however, who cracked PFF’s top five with a 78.2 grade.
The real stars of the defense were on the back end, and according to PFF, the one you might have noticed least was by far the Giants’ best player.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played 55 out of 56 snaps, and he proved that he can still be a lock-down corner with two passes defensed and an interception. His work earned him the rare 90+ grade from PFF, with a 91.4. Landon Collins, who once again played every single snap, was a force all over the field, including on the Giants’ fourth-down goal-line stop with Harrison out. PFF graded him an 88.5 on the game, though it felt like that could be higher. Rounding out the back end was Trevin Wade, who only played 25 snaps but was graded an 85.9. He made his presence felt and showed that his uncommon hustle can make a difference. The Giants’ secondary held Carson Wentz to just 13 completions on 24 passes (just over 54 percent).
The Giants will look to get Janoris Jenkins — and possibly Nat Berhe -- back for the regular season finale, but they should be thrilled with how their secondary played in his absence.