The New York Giants went to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday with their season hanging by a thread. Once again the offense sputtered in the first quarter and the defense failed them in the fourth quarter and the team has fallen to 0-4.
As difficult as the Giants have been to watch this year, even losses can be instructive. For instance, a couple players, like Wayne Gallman and D.J. Fluker saw their first action on the field, and we saw both the offense and defense shuffled by injury.
What can the stats and snap counts tell us?
The Giants offense finally won the time of possession battle, playing an impressive 80 snaps on offense, to just 64 on defense. Only four players were on the field for each of those 80 snaps — QB Eli Manning, LT Ereck Flowers, and guards John Jerry and D.J. Fluker
- We have to start with Manning. After a down 2016 season and a disappointing start to the 2017 season, the chorus of voices proclaiming the end of Eli’s time as a franchise quarterback was getting loud. Over the last two weeks, Manning has done everything he can to quiet them. Playing with four different offensive line configurations in two games, Manning hasn’t been sacked and has thrown five touchdowns, running for another one. Manning completed 74.5 percent of his passes last week, which dropped to 61.2 percent (30-of-49 attempts) this week. However, Giants receivers were charged with five drops (via Pro Football Focus), which would bring his completion percentage back up to over 71 percent.
PFF graded Manning with an 80.9, saying:
With his performance today, it appears that Eli Manning is putting together a bounce-back year for the Giants. Manning completed 30 of his 49 passes but his adjusted completion percentage was hindered by five drops from Giants’ receivers and backs. Manning was especially effective in the intermediate area of the field (10-19 yards). In that range he was 8-of-13 for 103 yards.
- Sunday was running back Wayne Gallman’s birthday and he finnally got his shot at game time. The rookie back only saw 31 snaps, most of them following an injury to Paul Perkins. He responded with 50 yards (42 rushing, 8 receiving) and a touchdown on 13 touches (11 carries, 2 receptions). Gallman’s decisive, straight ahead, down-hill rushing style, combined with good vision and patience seems to be what the Giants’ running game needs now.
- After a game in Philadelphia in which the Giants returned to using “11” personnel almost 90 percent of the time, they used multiple tight end sets much more this week. rookie tight end Evan Engram was on the field for 67 snaps (89 percent), while Rhett Ellison was on the field for 31 snaps. Engram caught 6 passes for 62 yards and was the Giants’ second leading receiver while Ellison caught both of his targets for 11 yards and a touchdown.
- Odell Beckham Jr. only played 68 of 80 offensive snaps, coming off the field to deal with an aggravated ankle injury and a dislocated finger. Despite playing through the injuries, Beckham was still the Giants’ leading receiver, catching 7 of 15 targets for 90 yards.
Odell Beckham Jr's route running is exceptional pic.twitter.com/Nei0dmc9Wq— Ryan Smith (@PFF_Smith) October 1, 2017
- Justin Pugh, who left the game for a pair of snaps, was the Giants’ highest graded offensive player by PFF, garnering an 85.3 grade in his second start at right tackle since 2014. About Pugh they said:
With the Giants’ offensive line coming under fire for their poor play, Justin Pugh was the one standout today for the Giants. On a day where the Giants threw 53 times, Pugh only allowed one hurry. That was good for a 85.2 pass blocking grade. Pugh also added a solid 81.5 run blocking grade, which was the highest run blocking grade on the Giants offensive line
The Giants’ defense just can’t do what it did so well a season ago and hold on to a lead to win in the fourth quarter. In previous weeks they may have had the excuse of playing too many snaps and being exhausted by the end of the game, they don’t have that this week.
The Giants’ offense held the ball for 34 minutes, 13 seconds, compared to just 25 minutes, 47 seconds for the Buccaneers. The Giants’ defense had an almost nine-minute advantage in time of possession and still couldn’t summon the poise and discipline to close out the game.
- Once again the defensive tackle duo of Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson were the Giants’ highest graded defenders. PFF gave them grades of 86.4 and 84.5, respectively. Harrison, the team’s highest graded player, was on the field for 40 of the defense’s 64 snaps (62 percent), despite playing through what was described as a “bruised knee” at the end of the game. Tomlinson was on the field for 36 of 64 snaps (56 percent).
- Third defensive tackle, Jay Bromley, saw his role in the defense increase this week, playing 33 snaps (52 percent). He was credited with a pass defensed, but it was very nearly — and probably should have been — an interception.
- Olivier Vernon tried to play through an ankle injury suffered against the Philadelphia Eagles, but left the game after the first half. Used to playing nearly every defensive snap, Vernon played just 22 before leaving the game. With Vernon injured, Kerry Wynn played 27 snaps while Romeo Okwara played 17. Cap Capi didn’t play any snaps on defense, but played 19 on special teams.
- Three defensive players never left the field, Landon Collins, Janoris Jenkins, and Jason Pierre-Paul.
Jackrabbit was graded with an 80.1 by PFF, who said:
A busy day for Jenkins as the former Ram was targeted seven times. The end result was just three completions for 27 yards, while he was able to break up two passes for good measurement (one of which he almost picked off). He did get called for a penalty and missed a tackle but Jenkins continues to play up to his big 2016 free agent deal, no matter who he is matched against.
- Free safety Darian Thompson played 35 snaps (55 percent) and missed another pair of tackles. 2016 starter Andrew Adams played 19 snaps, and added a missed tackle of his own.
- Cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple played 52 and 55 snaps, respectively. DRC had a solid game in coverage and shared a sack with Jason Pierre-Paul on a blitz. Apple gave up a touchdown to Mike Evans on a poor play but later redeemed himself with a pair of passes defensed to go with four tackles.