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New York Giants Quarter-Pole “Kudos & Wet Willies”

Yes, there are some Giants worthy of praise despite the team’s 0-4 start

NFL: Detroit Lions at New York Giants
Evan Engram
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There has been far too much bad as the New York Giants have fallen to 0-4 at the quarter-pole of the NFL season, barely having a pulse when it comes to playoff consideration. There has, however, also been some good.

With that in mind, let’s do a quarter-pole “Kudos & Wet Willies” review.

Incidentally, this is a players only critique. We have talked about Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese in other forums.

Kudos To ...

Eli Manning — The Giants aren’t winning, and they aren’t scoring enough points. It is, however, difficult to pin that on Manning. The veteran quarterback is doing everything he can. He is completing 69.9 percent of his passes, even with the Giants second in the league in drops with seven. He is on pace for a career-high in passing attempts of 664 (his previous high was 618 in 2015). He has a running touchdown. He has been getting the ball out quickly to help the offensive line. He missed a couple of throws in the first week or two, but it’s really difficult to complain about his body of work thus far. The mess the Giants are in is not Manning’s fault.

Evan Engram — The rookie tight end has been as advertised. He has 19 catches, on pace for 76 receptions and 800 yards receiving. He has shown he can be a threat down the field.

Justin Pugh — Deserves credit for moving out to right tackle Week 2 when Bobby Hart was injured and doing a representative job. Pro Football focus had Pugh as the Giants’ highest-rated offensive lineman vs. Tampa Bay.

Sterling Shepard — We wondered at the beginning of the season if Shepard would get overlooked with the other receivers the Giants have. That hasn’t been the case. He has 21 catches, on pace for 84. He had 65 as a rookie. His 254 receiving yards put him on pace for a 1,000-yard season. His yards per catch average is up from 10.5 to 12.1 and his yards per game average is up from 42.7 to 63.5. He has caught 77.8 percent of the passes Manning has sent his way.

Landon Collins — Hasn’t played up to last year’s All-Pro standards, but Collins has been good. He leads the Giants tackles with 28, and the struggles of the defense really haven’t been his doing.

Odell Beckham Jr. — Purely for his toughness. His production is down. Beckham is averaging a career-worst 10.3 yards per catch, more than 3 yards off last year’s previous career-worst of 13.5. He is second in the league in dropped passes with four. His 68.3 yards receiving per game is roughly 26 yards below his career average. He had the ill-advised celebration penalty in Philly. In Ben McAdoo’s words, however, he is “fighting through a bunch of things.” Those would include an ankle that still isn’t 100 percent, the finger he grossly dislocated against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and who knows what else. He deserves credit for dealing with all of that.

NOTE: There are other guys I considered — Janoris Jenkins, Damon Harrison and rookie defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson among them. Hard for me, though, to give “Kudos” to a long list of defensive players when the group as a whole has regressed so drastically from a year ago. Maybe these players will be on a subsequent list.

Wet Willies To ...

Brad Wing — After costly, 28- and 15-yard punts in back-to-back weeks, how can Wing not be here?

Brandon Marshall — Just hasn’t produced the way the Giants had envisioned. That’s not to say he won’t, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Darian Thompson — Soooo many missed tackles.

Eli Apple — This tweet says it all:

Apple has talent. He is in position to make plays quite often, he just hasn’t made them. He has an annoying, and costly, tendency not to locate the football fast enough. Could be a really good player if he ever fixes that.

Defense overall — What is there to say? The Giants are giving up more yards, more points, not tackling, not defending the run, they’ve failed to protect fourth-quarter leads in two games. This is not what the Giants expected.

Jason Pierre-Paul -- What, exactly, has Jason Pierre-Paul done to earn that $62 million contract? He’s got one strip sack in four games. And he had a nice preseason. Other than that, nothing. For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus has him rated in the “poor” category among edge defenders after four games.

Run game — The Giants showed some signs of life in the running game last week, getting 91 yards with running back Wayne Gallman and offensive guard D.J. Fluker seeing their first action. Still, the Giants are 31st in the league averaging 3.2 yards per rushing attempt, 31st in yards per game (59.2) and tied for last in rushing attempts per game (18.8).