The New York Giants fell to 2-10 Sunday with a 24-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders, but the winners outnumbered the losers this week.
Despite the difficult week, lowlighted by the benching of Eli Manning, this didn’t feel like the depressing loss like others this season.
Perhaps because the offense proved that Eli Manning wasn’t the reason for the Giants’ record, or perhaps because the Giants had some bright spots.
Winner - Evan Engram
The rookie tight end needed a big game after a pair of stinkers over the last two weeks, and he got that Sunday in Oakland. Engram finished the game with 7 catches for 99 yards and a touchdown, leading both teams in receiving.
In a change from previous weeks, the Giants used Engram as a movable piece to create and exploit match-ups, and he responded with a trio of spectacular catches.
Evan Engram: the only bright spot still on the roster. pic.twitter.com/rxfWWB1dDt— RockBottomSZN Ethan (@EthanGSN) December 3, 2017
Route running on pic.twitter.com/Z9mOx6aYF6— RockBottomSZN Ethan (@EthanGSN) December 4, 2017
Josh McDaniels is going to have a lot of fun with Evan Engram next year. pic.twitter.com/vkzqjdbVyL— RockBottomSZN Ethan (@EthanGSN) December 4, 2017
Though he went through a slump over the past couple weeks, Engram has been a bright spot in a depressing season. He has justified his selection in the first round and set the Giants’ record for touchdowns by a rookie tight end at 6 (so far).
Loser - the Giants’ offensive line
As we have seen so many times over the last couple seasons, the Giants did their offensive line absolutely no favors.
They routinely lined Ereck Flowers, Chad Wheeler (and eventually Bobby Hart) up on islands against Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack, and the outcome was predictable. Though Geno Smith held the ball a bit too long at times, the Giants put their offensive tackles in difficult positions all game long.
They also struggled to run block, totaling just 69 yards on the ground for the game. The Giants’ run game seems to have gone back into hibernation after the loss of D.J. Fluker.
Winner - Dalvin Tomlinson
This could probably go to all the defensive tackles, but I wanted to recognize the rookie. He was considered a bit of a reach on draft day, but Tomlinson has very quickly established himself as a good player on the inside of the Giants’ defensive line.
He is already stout against the run, while also developing into a disruptive presence who can impact plays behind the line of scrimmage. His game is definitely built on his power and use of leverage, but Tomlinson is surprisingly quick. He’s fun to watch grow next to Damon Harrison.
Loser - the Giants’ pass rush
Though the interior of the Giants’ defense was largely impressive, the pass rushers struggled to get pressure on Derek Carr. Granted, the Raiders’ scheme takes advantage of Carr’s quick release and strong arm to get the ball out quickly, but when he held on to the ball, the Giants weren’t able to generate much pressure.
Winner - the Giants’ draft position
With Jimmy Garrappolo leading the San Francisco 49ers to a win over the Chicago Bears, the Giants loss moves them up to second overall. There will still be plenty of debate over what the Giants should do with that pick, and plenty of time to have that debate.
Whether they draft a quarterback (or which one), an offensive lineman, or a skill position player remains to be seen. will largely depend on what happens with the coaching staff, front office, and Eli Manning over the next five months.
But as of now they have (almost) their pick of the top prospects.