The New York Giants had their best defensive effort of the season in their 24-3 Week 3 victory over the Washington Redskins. In that game, they held Washington to 176 yards and forced four turnovers, both season-bests for the Giants.
With Bill Callahan having replaced Jay Gruden as head coach and rookie Dwayne Haskins now Washington’s starting quarterback the Giants can’t count on the same level of ineptitude from Washington that helped the Giants that easy victory in September.
Let’s look at the matchup.
It starts with Haskins
The 15th overall pick will be making his seventh start on Sunday. The numbers haven’t been great.
Per Inside Edge:
- Haskins has averaged 160.7 passing yards per game since Week 8 of 2019 -- lowest of 31 qualified NFL QBs. League average is 211.5.
- Haskins has been sacked on 12.3 percent of pass attempts (24/195) since Week 8 -- highest of 27 qualified NFL QBs. League average is 7.0 percent. What we know about sacks from studying Daniel Jones is that quarterbacks themselves are often responsible for those negative plays.
- Haskins has been pressured on 29.0 percent of drop backs since Week 8 -- second-highest of 28 qualified NFL QBs; League average is 22.1 percent.
- Haskins has completed just 57.3 percent of passes (98 completions/171 net pass attempts) since week 8 of 2019 -- third-lowest of 27 qualified NFL QBs; League average is 63.2 percent.
Per Player Profiler, Haskins is 33rd among quarterbacks in True Passer Rating and a stat it calls Production Premium.
Yet, Haskins is a rookie coming off his best game. He was 19 of 28 for a career-best 261 yards last week vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. He threw two touchdown passes, and was not intercepted or sacked.
In a study of Haskins this week, Mark Schofield writes “when looking at some of the individual plays from Haskins on Sunday (vs. Philadelphia), you see even more evidence that the young quarterback is coming along.”
When Haskins took over for Case Keenum in that first Week 3 meeting with the Giants he was ill-prepared. He went 9 of 17 for 107 yards, but threw three interceptions. The Giants will be the first team Haskins plays against for a second time.
Here is Redskins interim coach Bill Callahan on Haskins’ development since that first game against the Giants:
“Since that time, his overall preparation, his mental aspects of the game have really, really improved. The physical traits have been there and they’re starting to come out, they’re being developed a little more fully than they were in the game against the Giants the first time,” Callahan said. “But he’s made a lot of progress, so I’m kind of proud of the kid. He’s a tough-minded kid, he’s competitive, he’s trying to get a system down that he hasn’t been familiar with, but he’s done a pretty good job with handling all the stress and all the pressure that comes with it.”
Somebody cover Terry McLaurin!
The rookie wide receiver and former Haskins teammate at Ohio State is pretty much the Washington receiving corps. He leads the team with 51 receptions, 833 receiving yards, 7 touchdowns and an average of 16.3 yards per catch.
Memo to James Bettcher: Let’s not have a Zach Ertz situation this week where nobody bothers to cover McLaurin in a key spot. The defensive game plan this week should lead with “SOMEBODY COVER NO. 17!!!!!!”
Youth on youth
We have been searching high and low for signs of progress from the Giants’ young defensive backs most of the season. Well, lo and behold as the year winds to a close you no longer seem to need a magnifying glass or a peek behind the scenes to find some.
Since the Giants bye week, DeAndre Baker has the 6th best coverage grade among all qualified CB’s over the last 4 games.— PFF NY Giants (@PFF_Giants) December 18, 2019
In this same time period, QB’s targeting Baker are completing just 26.3% of their passes, the lowest percentage targeting any CB
Yes, DeAndre Baker has begun to show signs of justifying the two mid-round picks the Giants surrendered to jump up to No. 30 and grab him. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s time to anoint him as a shut down corner or kneel at the altar of Dave Gettleman and praise him for the move. It does mean that if you have written him off as a terrible player and determined that trading up for him was a dumb idea, maybe you need to reel that in and exercise some patience.
Rookie safety Julian Love has done well since the Giants took him out of the deep freeze in Week 12 and began playing him. Second-year man Sam Beal, also really playing for he first time, is coming off his best game.
In addition to Haskins and McLaurin, Washington is also relying on rookie receivers Steven Sims and Kelvin Harmon.
So, this will be kids on kids. As Dick Vitale might say, we’ll find out which side has the ‘Diaper Dandies.’
10 is the magic number!
The Giants have not had a player reach double digits in quarterback sacks since Jason Pierre-Paul had 12.5 in 2014. That’s a loooong time ago.
With one more sack over the final two games, Markus Golden can change that.
Redskins quarterbacks have been sacked 44 times this season, or 3.1 times per game. That is 27th in the league.
The Giants have not been great in the pass rush department, but their 32 sacks are two more than they had a season ago. Using Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Sack Rate measure, the Giants are getting sacks on 6.6 percent of passing plays, up from 4.9 percent a season ago.
Perhaps the Giants can take advantage of a rookie quarterback and Washington’s make-shift offensive line to add to that total.