The stat line wasn’t pretty, with the Giants having a season-worst 211 yards and 10 points on offense, while giving up 28 points which could easily have been more. But that doesn’t mean everything is grim and there is nothing to be learned. There were some bright spots and as the venerable master in every martial arts movie will tell you, failure is the best teacher.
So let’s see what we can learn from this loss.
This isn’t something we can learn about the Giants so much as the state of football in the NFL.
For the second week in a row it felt as though we saw more of the officials than the football teams. For the most part the flags have been thrown against the visiting teams — the Giants have done well to be flagged just 14 times in the last three games — but this really has more to do with the sheer number of flags being thrown.
Some (even many of them) are obviously earned by the play on the field, but along with the constant confusion about exactly what some of the rules are, games can get tedious to watch. If I’m being perfectly honest, I might have turned the game off if I didn’t have to watch.
I don’t know what the solution is, and I think we all know that the NFL wouldn’t listen even if I did, but the competition committee has to figure something out.
The QB sneak is effective
This is something we have known for ... Forever that the QB sneak is an effective play in short yardage situations. We have seen the statue that is Tom Brady use the play effectively to convert 3rd and 4th and 1 plays for pretty much his whole career. Kudos to the Giants for letting Daniel Jones keep the ball and pick up some short first downs on his own. The speed of the play, with the ball carrier being able to move forward almost immediately from just behind the line of scrimmage, makes it particularly difficult for the defense to counter.
It would have been nice to see it be part of the Giants’ offense a long time ago, but better late than never, I suppose.
The Giants’ offensive tackles struggle against good pass rushers
This isn’t something we have really learned so much as have had confirmed.
It’s understandable to get burned by Shaquil Barrett. He is having a DPOY season, with 9 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 passes defensed, and an interception.
But the Giants have been struggling against just about every defense they have gone up against to keep pressure off the edges from affecting their offense. We expected Mike Remmers to be a stopgap who would hopefully play well enough on most plays to stabilize the right side along with Kevin Zeitler. But the Giants were counting on Nate Solder to play up to his reputation — and contract — and not only be good enough against average pass rushers, but to be able to hold up against the better pass rushers in the NFL.
So far Daniel Jones has been sacked 9 times (with several more negated by penalty or missed by defenders) and hit another 24 times in his first three games. This isn’t a good trend, and something the Giants are going to have to address sooner rather than later. While their schedule might not be daunting in terms of winning percentage, they face a good pass rush nearly every week.
That just is not going to get it done, and offensive tackle is once again going to have to be a priority in the coming offseason.
The Giants should study Anthony Barr
The Giants are getting good pressure off the edge from Markus Golden and Oshane Ximines with Lorenzo Carter on the sideline. Ordinarily, that might spell trouble for a former third-round pick still looking to “get it” at a position he never really played before being drafted.
But while the Vikings handed the Giants’ a bad loss, they might have also given them a way forward and an answer to their linebacker woes. There was talk of moving Anthony Barr from an off-ball linebacker to EDGE when he was drafted back in 2014. After all, 6-foot 5 inch, 255-pound defenders play on the line of scrimmage and generally rush the passer, right? Well, Barr was an athletic, off-ball space player for UCLA and the Vikings elected to keep him in that role, and he has become a key player in a consistently great defense.
Despite how similar the Georgia defense is to the one run by the Giants, Carter didn’t play an EDGE role in college. Instead he was something of an industrial-sized Swiss Army Knife who did a little bit of everything for the Bulldogs’ defense. The Giants should look long and hard about using him in a similar role, perhaps supplanting Tae Davis in the base defense. While Barr is very long for an off-ball linebacker and very athletic for his size, Carter is longer and MUCH more athletic than even Barr.
Perhaps moving Carter to an off-ball position and making Jabrill Peppers the $backer — he has consistently played better as a pseudo-linebacker than as a safety these past two years — could be the best way forward for the Giants’ defense this year.
The Giants aren’t there yet
We saw some good things from the Giants this week. The score was lopsided and could have been much, much worse, as the Vikings had plenty of miscues and missed opportunities between untimely penalties and dropped interceptions, but we still saw some good things from the Giants.
The rookie class made contributions all game long, from the play of Darius Slayton and Jon Hilliman on offense to the work of Dexter Lawrence and Oshane Ximines in the pass rush, to DeAndre Baker keeping a touchdown off the board.
But the Giants just aren’t there yet. They are obviously struggling with injuries to Lorenzo Carter, Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Alec Ogletree, Tae Davis, and Ryan Connelly, but the issues we saw with those players healthy have persisted. The good news is that the Giants are a young team, relying on rookies and second-year players at nearly every position. There is room for growth, but they aren’t there yet.