Soooo much to talk about from the New York Giants’ 23-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night. We have already given you “plays that changed the game,” some player reaction, coach Pat Shurmur’s explanation for some of his decisions and a look at why going for the two-point conversion late in the game was the right move. Now, let’s get to your traditional “Kudos & Wet Willies” review.
Kudos to ...
Giants’ pass rush — The Giants got three sacks on Matt Ryan and hit him five other times. Rookie Lorenzo Carter got a sack. The preseason version of Kerry Wynn showed up as he got a sack, a quarterback hit, and batted down a pass. B.W. Webb got a sack with a well-timed blitz off a creative design from defensive coordinator James Bettcher. For a change, pressuring the opposing quarterback was not an issue for the Giants.
Odell Beckham Jr. — Eight catches in 11 targets, including a 51-yarder, a touchdown, an average of 17.9 yards per catch. These are the types of performances the Giants expect, and need, from Beckham. Yes, he failed to catch the ball on the two-point conversion attempt. Yes, we can argue all day about whether he ran a poor pass route or Eli Manning made a poor throw when they misfired inside the Atlanta 10-yard line late in the half.
Sterling Shepard — Had catches of 58 and 53 yards and averaged a ridiculous 33.4 yards on 5 catches. His 167 receiving yards were a career high.
Quadree Henderson — The Giants added the rookie undrafted free agent to the roster hoping he would give the Giants’ kick return game a spark, and he did that. Henderson had a 21-yard punt return, the Giants best of the season in the second quarter, and averaged 14.5 yards on two returns. He made one mistake on a kickoff bringing the ball out from 4 yards deep, but still reached the 20-yard line only to have a penalty push the Giants back. He averaged 20.5 yards on four kickoff returns. All in all, he showed that perhaps the Giants have found a solution to their kick return issues.
Going for 2 — I will admit, at first I didn’t like Pat Shurmur’s decision to try for a 2-point conversion with the score 20-12 and 4:52 remaining. Now that I have seen the math and heard Shurmur’s explanation I’m fine with it. It’s forward thinking, where the game is heading in terms of the use of analytics, and Eagles coach Doug Pederson is lauded for this sort of thing all the time. I will applaud Shurmur for trying to be bold there.
Also, Shurmur should be praised for his third quarter challenge that turned an Atlanta incompletion into a catch-fumble-recovery by the Giants that ended a Falcon drive at the Giants’ 20-yard line.
I'm sure Dave Gettleman is going to be furious at Pat Shurmur for using analytics. pic.twitter.com/X5WPpplBQl— RegularSZN Ethan (@EthanGSN) October 23, 2018
Wet Willies to ...
Giants’ offensive line — This is really simple. Say what you want about the quarterback, but the biggest problem the Giants have is that their rebuilt, and now re-configured twice since the season started, offensive line is awful.
Manning was sacked four times. He was hit nine other times. That means he was hit on 30.9 percent of his 42 drop backs. That doesn’t even count the times he had to move or the 7-yard scramble that nearly got the Giants a touchdown. He was under siege, especially in the first half when the Giants scored only 3 points.
Left tackle Nate Solder, the centerpiece of the offensive line rebuild, was largely responsible for two of the sacks. Will Hernandez got schooled for one by Atlanta’s Grady Jarrett. Saquon Barkley had 43 yards on 14 carries (3.1 yards per attempt) and had exactly no where to run all night. On a third-and-2 swing pass to Barkley designed to get him 1-on-1 the Giants missed two blocks that turned it into a one-on-three that even Barkley couldn’t win.
I’m honestly not sure a single member of the line played well.
zero communication or chemistry. it's week 7. #NYG pic.twitter.com/cn8GBYckXK— RegularSZN Ethan (@EthanGSN) October 23, 2018
Oh. My. God.— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) October 23, 2018
Grady Jarrett takes Will Hernandez’s lunch on this one. pic.twitter.com/aTHhj7jKCh
QB sneaks with the game slipping away — You’re kidding me with this, right? We didn’t actually see the Giants, needing two scores and at the Atlanta 1-yard line with 45 seconds to play and no timeouts run sneaks with Manning TWICE, burning the clock down to :05 before scoring, and giving themselves no chance at the second score. Did we?
Oh, that’s right. We did.
Bad teams do dumb, inexplicable things that help them lose games. This was one of them. Shurmur can insist all he wants that you “should be able to convert on the sneak.” He’s right, but ...
With Saquon Barkley in the backfield, and Beckham, Evan Engram and Shepard as receiving options you use the 37-year-old quarterback on back-to-sneaks with 45 seconds left and no timeouts? With a crummy offensive line? Effectively ending your slim chance to win the game by failing both times and not scoring — on a pass — until there were only :05 seconds left?
No timeouts? Let’s run back-to-back QB sneaks with the least athletic QB in the league! Over 40 seconds gone after Eli Manning’s failed sneaks. This is beyond baffling. #giants pic.twitter.com/RxO7LxgsFu— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) October 23, 2018
Janoris Jenkins — Made a nice play to strip the ball from Julio Jones on the aforementioned Jones’ catch-fumble replay reversal. Still, Shurmur and Jenkins both indicated the 47-yard touchdown pass that put the Giants in a 7-0 hole was on him. It’s been a long time now since Jackrabbit has played up to the level of that five-year, $62.5 million contract.
The curse of the improbable field goal — A 61-yarder to beat them by an unknown rookie in 2017. A 63-yarder by Graham Gano of the Carolinas Panthers to beat them on the final play of a game this year. Now, a 56-yarder with 1:55 remaining by replacement kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, playing his first game as a sub for injured Matt Bryant, to provide Atlanta’s winning margin.
This is yet another one of those inexplicable things that happen to bad teams.
The Falcons signed Giorgio Tavecchio this week to replace an injured Matt Bryant:— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) October 23, 2018
His 56-yard FG put the game out of reach in the 4th quarter
It was also the longest FG by a player in his first game with a new team in the last 40 seasons#Falcons @Falcons
Let’s talk about Eli Manning
His final numbers, 27-of-38 for 399 yards with a touchdown, no interceptions and a passer rating of 113.8 and his gutsy 7-yard scramble and dive for the end zone pylon would indicate the quarterback should be in line for a “Kudos.” The Giants, though, scored only 6 points in the first 55 minutes against a defense giving up 32.0 points per game, and there were opportunities to do better.
Manning and Beckham misfired on a first half play that should have been a touchdown, costing the Giants 4 points. I don’t know who was at fault. I do know that who you blame is going to depend entirely on how you feel about the players.
Manning clearly messed up the third quarter fourth-and-1 with the Giants trailing 10-3.
The 4th and goal try from the #Giants via #NextGenStats. Had Odell for TD if he threw it quick. Had Saquon for TD if he went back to him. Had Rhett Ellison WIDE OPEN in same line of sight. Instead he tried to squeeze a pass to Scott Simonson?!? ELI WYD??!? #MNF #NYGvATL pic.twitter.com/UsHs5sg7pl— James Koh (@JamesDKoh) October 23, 2018
GIANT 4TH DOWN STOP pic.twitter.com/13GZeaaf9l— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 23, 2018
This, of course, is the “why didn’t he throw it to Odell?” play. He probably should have done so early in the play. Failing that, the throw he chose to Scott Simonson was his worst option. Manning can choose Beckham, Evan Engram, a wide-open Rhett Ellison, or, if he turns back to his left (which you can’t blame him for not doing under duress), Barkley. He chooses to try and squeeze a pass into Simonson, the third-string tight end.
Bad choice, obviously. No one, though, should be surprised. Manning outside the pocket and on the run, with rushers barreling at him, has never been a good decision-maker.
Like the rest of his team, Manning did a lot of good things in this game. Just not enough to win. If I’m going to grade him, it’s probably a “Kwillie.”