There isn’t much to look forward to now for the 2018 Giants. We will be keeping track of their draft position, and we should be looking to see whether the coaching staff can keep the team together through a lost season and whether they will make any obvious changes to a scheme that obviously isn’t working.
But for now, there isn’t much to do but see if we can find out where it all went wrong. And as is our day-after tradition, we’ll take a closer look at the stats and snap counts from last night’s game and see what that can tell us.
After having two of his best performances in years in the last three weeks, Manning has followed each of them up with some of his worst. Part of it was the Giants’ offensive line, which has been hemorrhaging pressure, and big part of the problem was the scheme.
Once again, as they did against the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints, the Giants made little attempt to throw the ball downfield until they absolutely had to. This game, however, took the the problem to a new extreme.
Per Next Gen Stats, 14 of Manning’s 24 completions were at or behind the offensive line. Manning’s average intended air yards were a season-low 5.8 yards, likewise, his completed air yards was a season-low 2.4. Eli threw the ball an average (and astounding, but for all the wrong reasons) 3.4 yards short of the sticks.
There is plenty of criticism to be made of Eli’s play, with inaccuracy and poor decisions, as well as of the offensive line’s pass protection. However, we have seen Manning play well this year, at times against Jacksonville and then again against Houston and Carolina. However, those were game plans that worked around the offensive line’s deficiencies and catered to the strengths of Manning and his offensive weapons. The game plan we saw in weeks 2, 4, and 6 did not.
The fact remains that after two bad games in which this manner of offense simply did not work ... the Giants went back to it a third time. Whether that is the fault of the coaches, or Manning himself making bad decisions, we can’t know from the outside.
The Giants actually ran the ball well against the Eagles, particularly between the right A and B gaps. However, much of that is due to rookies Saquon Barkley and Will Hernandez.
The Giants found their most success on power runs, with Hernandez pulling around to the right side and blowing holes open and giving Barkley a chance to make defenders miss and accelerate in space. We got a look at just how good Barkley could be with a functional offensive line, and the results were impressive: 4 carries for 111 (27.75 per carry) yards and a touchdown.
The rest of the time, however, the line was a problem. Manning was sacked four times, bringing his season total up to 20, and putting the team on pace to give up 53 sacks on the season — far and away the highest total of the season. In addition to the four sacks, the Eagles also got 13 quarterback hits and a forced fumble. Per Next Gen Stats, each of the Eagles’ top four pass rushers got within league average distance from manning, averaging 3.83 yards per rush. That is a problem, however, the Houston Texans’ defensive front averaged 3.81 yards from the QB on their average rush, and that didn’t stop the Giants’ offense from performing in week 3.
Apart from Will Hernandez, the few bright spots for the Giants on offense were at the skill positions. First up is Saquon Barkley, who played 50 of the Giants 65 offensive snaps (77 percent). He carried the ball 13 times for 130 yards and a touchdown, as well as caught 9 passes for 99 yards. He came just one receiving yard shy of being the only player in Giants’ history to have 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving in the same game — an impressive feat considering the team once had Tiki Barber.
But what Barkley did in this game was simply amazing, breaking tackle after tackle. Of the Giants’ 401 yards of offense and 13 points, Barkley was responsible for 229 yards and 7 points. And perhaps nothing illustrates just how hard he worked for that production than this:
On Saquon Barkley’s 55-yard reception...— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) October 12, 2018
Barkley gained 61 yards after catch, +47 above expected according to our Expected YAC model (xYAC = 14). It is the most yards after catch above expectation by a running back this season. #NextGenStats #PHIatNYGhttps://t.co/c0pJnlqAz7 pic.twitter.com/4u8954HK6l
The other bright spot for the offense was wide receiver Cody Latimer. Latimer was the Giants’ second-leading receiver after Barkley, and played 32 of 65 snaps. He caught three passes on four targets for 52 yards.
Most of that came on one deep reception, but his ability to get behind a defense and make contested catches is a weapon which the Giants need to use more consistently.
It was reported before the game that Odell Beckham Jr. was fined for his comments about the Giants to ESPN. He played 63 of 65 snaps, missing two as he went in to the locker room for an IV.
The Giants did much of the Eagles’ job of containing Beckham for them, with only 3 of his 12 targets coming beyond 10 yards down the field.
With starting tight ends Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison injured, Scott Simonson played 63 snaps, as did Sterling Shepard.
Undrafted rookie receiver Jawill Davis played 18 snaps on offense, as well as return two kick-offs for an average of 29 yards (with a long of 32). Second-year running back Wayne Gallman got 17 snaps to spell Barkley, picking up 17 yards on 4 carries (4.3 yards per carry), as well as 25 yards on 2 receptions.
The Giants’ defense only played three more snaps than the offense, 71 to 65, and they were on the field for longer, 32:30 to 27:30 . The Giants’ struggled to get off the field on third down, with Philadelphia converting 9 of 16 third downs, and giving up 23 first downs overall.
Alec Ogletree once again lead the Giants’ defensive front in snaps, playing all 71 defensive snaps. He finished with 8 solo tackles.
Unsurprisingly, EDGE Olivier Vernon was second in snaps, despite it being his first game since week 3 of the pre-season. Vernon played 54 of 71 snaps (76 percent), which is a much lighter workload than he he received the previous two years, but probably about the right amount of usage for him. He had an immediate impact, with a sack, two quarterback hits, and a tackle for a loss.
Per Next Gen Stats, Vernon was the only Giants’ rusher to consistently come closer than league-average to Carson Wentz, though Dalvin Tomlinson was roughly league-average.
Kerry Wynn was next, playing 41 snaps at defensive end, and coming up with 6 total tackles and a tackle for a loss.
Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson lead the way for the interior with 40 snaps, while B.J. Hill and Damon Harrison collected 32 and 30 snaps, respectively. Hill’s role on the defense continues to grow.
It was a relatively busy day for inside linebacker B.J. Goodson. With Ray-Ray Armstrong going down with a concussion at the start of the second half, Goodson played 38 snaps, racking up six total tackles as well as a pair of quarterback hits.
Rounding out the snap totals for the front seven, Kareem Martin played 27 snaps, Josh Mauro played 23, Lorenzo Carter played 22, and Nate Stupar played 20.
Once again, Landon Collins played all 71 of the defense’s snaps. as did Eli Apple in his second game back. Apple struggled with balance through contact when asked to play press-man, but continues to play well in off-man coverage. He finished with 8 total tackles (several of which came in coverage on Zach Ertz), as well as all three of the Giants’ passes defensed.
Janoris Jenkins and Curtis Riley played 70 of the Giants’ 71 snaps, with Jenkins coming up with 2 total tackles and Riley with 6.
The Giants spent almost the entire game in the nickel package, with B.W. Webb playing 65 of 71 snaps as the slot corner, and picking up 2 tackles. The only other defensive back to get on the field on defense was safety Michael Thomas, who saw 13 snaps.