All year long we’ve kept track of who has, and who hasn’t, played for the New York Giants. Most week’s they’ve been fairly predictable — the offensive line, Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., and Sterling Shepard would play every snap (or nearly every snap) on offense.
Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Landon Collins, and Janoris Jenkins would play nearly every snap for the defense, and they’d generally score well according to Pro Football Focus.
Sunday’s season-ending game against the Washington Redskins told a slightly different story.
The Giants’ coaches had a delicate line to walk, trying to win the game but also wanting to go into the playoffs as healthy as possible.
Pound The Ball
For the third time in three weeks the Giants managed to eclipse the 100-yard mark on the ground. They did it largely on the back of Paul Perkins (38 snaps, 51 percent), who got 102 yards on 21 carries (4.9 ypc). Both of those are career highs, good enough for a grade of 75.6 from PFF. Rashad Jennings ran hard as well, but only managed 52 yards on his 18 carries (28 snaps). That was, in part, due to a number of short runs at the end of the game, as well as his short touchdown run.
The Giants’ running game was at its best running to the left, particularly behind Justin Pugh, who earned a team-high 77.7 run blocking grade. The play of Weston Richburg (76.2 total grade), Ereck Flowers, and Pugh (76.2 total grade) in the run game was a big reason why Perkins averaged 2.1 yards before contact against Washington.
Thanks to a sack by former Giant Cullen Jenkins, who used a nice spin move to beat Pugh, John Jerry was the Giants’ highest-graded lineman with a 77.0 grade in 70 of 72 snaps.
Odell Gets A Break
We are used to seeing Odell Beckham Jr. on the field every single snap, but the superstar receiver had a light day in week 17. Beckham only played two thirds of the offensive snaps (48 of 72), snagging five balls on seven targets for 44 yards. That, however, was good enough for a 76.4 grade.
Dominant Defensive Line With A Heavy Rotation
Giants fans have gotten used to seeing the same four guys on the defensive line on just about every snap.
That didn’t happen Sunday. Instead, Steve Spagnuolo featured the most active rotation of any game this year.
Olivier Vernon got a slight break, playing 47 snaps, but he still managed six total pressures. Along with his two tackles, that was good for a grade of 79.4.
Romeo Okwara played 41 snaps (75 percent), while Owamagbe Odighizuwa got on the field for 31 snaps (56 percent). Kerry Wynn rounded out the defensive end rotation with 12 snaps (22 percent).
Johnathan Hankins and Damon Harrison only played 27 and 25 snaps respectively, but Harrison earned a 79.2 and Hankins earned a 78.6 grade. Per PFF, the line as a whole gave up just 1 yard per carry before contact (2.25 yards per carry total), and 12 of Washington’s 15 runs ended in a defensive stop.
For the record, a defensive stop is:
- 1st down: < 40 percent of required yardage
- 2nd down: < 60 percent of required yardage
- 3rd down: < 100 percent of required yardage
- 4th down: < 100 percent of required yardage
Landon Collins, #DPOY
Landon Collins was one of just two players to play every snap on the defensive side of the ball (Eli Apple was the other), but PFF did not see him as one of the Giants’ five best defensive players. However, he managed to notch eight total tackles and a sack.
And then there’s this:
Mentioning that one of his interceptions was the start of a thrilling touchdown return, and that he only missed five defensive snaps all season would probably just be bragging at this point.
DRC Is Red Hot
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie didn’t play every snap, playing 46 of 55 defensive snaps. That, however, didn’t stop him from being, by far, the Giants’ best player Sunday evening. DRC gave up just a single catch for five yards on four targets, and notched three total tackles, a sack, and a pair of interceptions. All that was good for a grade of 92.0 from PFF, who also mention that when targeting DRC, Kirk Cousins had a passer rating of 0.0.
Rodgers-Cromartie has three passes defensed and four interceptions over the last three weeks, and quarterback rating of 28.2 when targeting him. For reference, if they simply threw the ball away on those snaps, they would have a QB rating of 33.