The New York Giants dropped their third game in a row Sunday, losing to the Arizona Cardinals 27-21. It was a game they had opportunities to win, but in which they could never quite get out of their own way.
They also saw a Cardinals team that played above expectations on the offensive line and on defense.
The mood around the fan base has been somber since last night — which is both expected and normal, all things considered — with questions beginning to be asked about the players, the coaching staff, and the direction of the team.
Were the Giants as bad as they seemed against Arizona? Was there any good news lost in the rain and miscues on Sunday? Let’s take a look at the stats and see what they have to say.
From the play of Daniel Jones, to the offensive line, to the skill position players, there is a lot to cover with the Giants’ offense against the Cardinals.
The Giants were expected to have a good day against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. And Jones didn’t have a poor performance performance against the Cardinals. Instead it’s probably better to say that Jones’ game against the Cardinals was “complicated.”
His raw stat line, 22 of 35 for 223 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception would be a disappointing but acceptable line considering the wet, rainy conditions. The good news is that the Giants did a good job of scheming open passing windows and Jones had his best day finding them. His 11.4 percent aggressiveness was the fifth lowest of any quarterback so far this week. Jones has still thrown into tight coverage more than any other quarterback on the season, but this is a positive development as long as it continues. That being said, Jones still needs to work on seeing the defense and not forcing the ball to pre-determined reads.
On the other hand, this was a bad day for Jones for actually completing passes. His 62.9 completion percentage is acceptable considering the conditions, but it loses what luster it has when compared to the 67.7 percent completion expected by NFL NextGenStats. Obviously (as I’ve mentioned a few times already) the weather was an obstacle on both sides of the equation, with the rain making the ball harder to throw accurately and receivers dropping catchable passes.
The Giants’ offensive line has been under fire the past few weeks, but it was hoped that they would redeem themselves against the Cardinals. Unfortunately that did not happen and they had one of their worst performances of the season. There is plenty of blame to go around between the offensive line, quarterback, and running backs for the pass protection, but the bottom line is that the Cardinals finished the day with 8 sacks, 12 quarterback hits, 7 tackles for a loss, and 3 forced fumbles. There were entirely too many red helmets in the Giants’ backfield all game long. And once again the Giants’ quarterback was forced to work from a constricted pocket.
Finally we come to the skill positions. The Giants played Golden Tate (70 snaps), Darius Slayton (69 snaps), Saquon Barkley (61 snaps) and and Evan Engram (59 snaps) nearly the entire game. From there they switched somewhat evenly between 11 and 12 personnel with TE Rhett Ellison and WR Bennie Fowler each playing 28 snaps.
Cody Latimer was last among the regular contributors with 23 snaps on the evening.
Once again the Giants’ receivers and tight ends struggled to find consistent separation, which makes Jones’ low aggressiveness percentage even better.
The Giants obviously spent most of their day in a nickel package, with Antoine Bethea, Jabrill Peppers, Janoris Jenkins, DeAndre Baker, and Grant Haley each playing more than 95 percent of the 65 defensive snaps.
Given Arizona’s love of light personnel packages and the speed of their offense, playing in a nickel package as the base defense makes sense. The Giants also played quite a bit of dime (6 defensive back) packages as well, with Michael Thomas playing 34 (52 percent) defensive snaps as well.
Despite the circumstances, Julian Love still couldn’t get on the field, getting no defensive snaps.
Interestingly, Kyler Murray finished with the third-highest aggressiveness percentage on Sunday with 23.8 percent of his passes going into tight coverage. And while he completed 66.7 percent of his passes, he too was well below his expected completion percentage (75.2 percent). Despite Murray throwing into coverage at twice the rate of Jones, the Giants gave up more separation to the Cardinals’ receivers.
The Giants did seem to be playing more soft coverage against the Cardinals than they had been in previous weeks. That plays against their strengths on defense, but it’s also an understandable decision given the dynamic nature of the Cardinals’ quarterback and offense.
Alec Ogletree led the way for the players in the Giants’ defensive front, playing all 65 of their defensive snaps.
Following close behind were EDGE players Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter who had 56 and 54 snaps, respectively.
Dexter Lawrence got the heaviest workload of the defensive tackles with 42 snaps, while Dalvin Tomlinson had 31 snaps. It was a quiet day for B.J. Hill, with just 20 snaps.
Chase Edmonds was the story of the game for the Cardinals with 27 carries for 126 yards and 3 touchdowns. Per NextGenStats, Edmonds didn’t have a single carry against an 8 (or more) man box.
Granted, Kyler Murray is an incredible athlete and remarkably elusive, but the Giants’ pass rush was also largely non-existent.
New York only had two sacks, one quarterback hit, and five tackles for a loss on the day.