The fifth Sunday of the 2017 NFL season was, quite simply, a nightmare for the New York Giants. Not only did they fall to 0-5, effectively ending their season, but in doing so they suffered an almost unprecedented rash of injuries and quite simply could not hold on to a lead with the game on the line.
Because of that, we won’t be doing our usual post-game look at snap counts and stats. Instead, we want to focus on a story line that went (somewhat rightfully) unnoticed with the potential season-ending injury to Odell Beckham Jr.
That is the benching of Eli Apple to start the game Sunday.
Apple was not on the field for the defense’s first three series, “It felt like 10 to me,” he said. Apple was replaced as a starter on the outside by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. But Apple didn’t even have a role with the defense as a nickel defender in those series, with Ross Cockrell coming off the bench when the defense needed three corners on the field. Perhaps understandably, Apple was not happy.
"That's what happens,” he said. “You lose games and it's got to be someone else's problem, so they look around and think, 'OK, this is the problem.' But it's not just one guy, it's the whole culture, it's everything. We've got to fix it.''
Apple still got on the field plenty after that, playing 63 of 76 snaps (81 percent) for the defense. Meanwhile DRC played 40 total snaps (51 percent) while Cockrell played 35 (45 percent).
"You've just got to roll with the punches," Apple said. "When you get your number called, you get your number called and try to make a play."
Multiple Tight End Sets
After signing Rhett Ellison and drafting Evan Engram, the Giants finally began to rely on multiple tight end sets a majority of the game.
Giants personnel breakdown in Week 5:— PFF NY Giants (@PFF_NYGiants) October 9, 2017
11 personnel - 43% of snaps
12 personnel – 39%
13 personnel – 17%
This, of course, was likely heavily influenced by the fact that by the end of the game, the Giants only had one wide receiver able to play.
Evan Engram played 57 of 70 snaps, but was only targeted four times (catching none) — despite San Diego’s struggles defending tight ends. Ellison played 50 snaps, catching a single pass for 9 yards. Jerell Adams played 14 snaps, catching one pass for 11 yards.
The Giants Ran The Ball
Orleans Darkwa got the start for the Giants, but exited after playing just 20 snaps. He ran eight times for a total of 69 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown run. He split time with rookie Wayne Gallman, who carried the ball 11 times for 57 yards in 27 snaps. All told, the Giants managed to rush for 152 yards.
That was helped, in part, by inserting D.J. Fluker in at right guard for John Jerry. Fluker came in after 12 snaps and played the remaining 58, and announced his presence by laying key blocks on a pair of big runs soon after entering the game.