Another week, another loss for the New York Giants.
“The Giants had a chance to win” is a phrase we’ve been saying a lot this year, but for the first time the Giants were likely in control of their destiny in the final minutes of the game. They couldn’t quite close out a game that truly did come down to the wire. There will be a lot to analyze going forward, from why the Giants’ run defense finally failed to how they dealt with Amari Cooper, to what went right — and wrong — on the Giants’ offense in their 37-34 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
For now, let’s take a look at some of the numbers and stats from the Giants’ latest loss and see what they can tell us.
The two biggest stories from the Giants’ snap counts are clearly safety Jabrill Peppers and edge defender Markus Golden.
Peppers returned to action for the Giants this past Sunday after missing the previous week due to an ankle injury suffered in week three. Peppers normally never comes off the field and generally plays every defensive snap. This week he only played 23 of 66 defensive snaps (35 percent) in his first game back from injury. It isn’t a surprise that the coaches limited him against Dallas, and we should expect his workload to increase over the coming weeks.
Markus Golden saw a massive increase in snaps this week, following the injuries to Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter. The Giants placed Ximines on the injured reserve this week with a shoulder injury and Carter was lost to an Achilles injury after just 10 snaps. Golden finished the game with 57 snaps, playing every snap following Carter’s injury. That’s a full 50 more snaps than he played a week ago.
There weren’t any shocking deviations in snap count on the offensive side of the ball, though Damion Ratley (34 snaps) did see the field a bit more than C.J. Board (28 snaps).
Interestingly, the Giants barely played Wayne Gallman Jr. (12 snaps). Gallman has been the Giants’ most efficient running back each of the last two weeks, picking up 45 yards on 6 carries (7.5 per carry) a week ago and 24 yards on 5 carries this week (4.8 ypc).
In three of the previous four weeks the Giants might have tried to claim some kind of moral victory, saying that they’re “close”. But in each week the win probability chart showed the opposing team solidly in control throughout the game.
This week produced one of the most wild charts I’ve ever seen.
Dallas was still in control for most of the game, but it seemed there was a game-changing play nearly every minute of the second half.
Win Probability: Giants @ Cowboys pic.twitter.com/60A0m9kw0r— Lee Sharpe, ⛓️ @ (@LeeSharpeNFL) October 11, 2020
QB Daniel Jones finished the game with a -0.9 EPA (-0.02 per play) on his drop backs. All told, he didn’t do much to help or hurt the Giants through the air (on the ground is another story, as his fumble resulted in a -1.25 EPA)
However, as Pro Football Focus remarks, Jones was under duress so often that it’s difficult for any quarterback to function efficiently. They chart Jones as being pressured on 19 of his 35 drop backs, nine of those pressures being given up by rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas. But while Thomas might have been the leakiest lineman, a look at the player charting data from NFL Next Gen Stats shows just how crowded the Giants’ backfield was getting.
And despite the Cowboys’ missing three starters on their offensive line by the end of the game, and the Giants matching Dallas’ sack total at two, the Giants just weren’t as successful at penetrating into the backfield.
On the flip side, the Giants did see a bit of a flash on the ground from their offensive line — and Will Hernandez in particular.
Both Devonta Freeman and Gallman saw their best runs behind the left guard position.