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Giants-Cowboys rewatch: Leftover thoughts from Sunday

Sometimes, things look different the second time around

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Taking a second look at every New York Giants game and offering some second impressions or leftover thoughts is something I aim to do each week. Time doesn’t always permit. This week, though, I was able to rewatch Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys.

Here are some of the things I saw.

  • Giants’ safety Adrian Colbert was called for a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for helmet-to-helmet hits on Dallas wide receiver CeeDee Lamb. Both calls, by the letter of the rule book, were absolutely correct. Still, they bring up a pet peeve for when it comes to these defenseless receiver or helmet-to-helmet hits by defensive backs.

Thing is, I’m not sure what Colbert was supposed to do on either play. He wasn’t, in my view, aiming at Lamb’s head or intentionally leading with his helmet. Lamb happens to be a twisting, falling, moving target and the helmet-to-helmet was simply a consequence of two players coming together to make a play. I just don’t know what Colbert, or any defensive back, is supposed to do in that situation.

  • Andrew Thomas did not pass block well on Sunday, that’s clear. He earned a ‘Wet Willie’ for that, and the Pro Football Focus grades backed that up. Thomas gave up the sack to Demarcus Lawrence that resulted in a Daniel Jones fumble and a Cowboys’ touchdown.

I didn’t notice it at the time, but I’ve seen some mention of the idea that Jones’ drop may have been part of the issue. So, I checked. Jones appears to drop and begin to set at 7-8 yards. Then, for some reason, takes another hop backward that puts his drop at 9.5 to 10 yards.

Quarterback guru Mark Schofield confirmed for me that it isn’t normal for a quarterback to drop that deep behind the line. It doesn’t excuse Thomas for barely getting a glove on Lawrence, but I’m left to wonder if the rookie left tackle believed he had run Lawrence around the pocket and beyond the quarterback.

Look at the GIF below. Jones hits the 29 and appears to set, then he backs up 2 more yards. Maybe he saw the unblocked blitzer coming, but backing up and potentially being unaware of an oncoming edge rusher brings us back to the pocket awareness debate. It’s also a reminder that things may not always be as they seem at first blush.

  • This is not a Giants thing, but good Lord, Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith is a tremendous player. Smith had 14 tackles, 3 for loss, and a pair of quarterback hits on Sunday. Every time it looked like the Giants had set up a play that was going to break for big yardage, Smith came out of nowhere to destroy it. After the devastating injury he suffered before the 2017 draft it is amazing to see him playing at this level. He is turning out to be a pretty darn good second-round gamble by the Cowboys.
  • The love fest for Dallas center Tyler Biadasz and all of the vitriol aimed at GM Dave Gettleman for not drafting him are ridiculous. For what it’s worth, Dalvin Tomlinson overpowered the rookie center for a sack of Andy Dalton on Sunday. Biadasz had a 48.3 Pro Football Focus grade on Sunday, 38.7 as a pass blocker, and is at 51.3 for the season.

I understand the frustration with Nick Gates’ play thus far. But, Biadasz and Lloyd Cushenberry, the Denver Broncos rookie center, have not been better. Cushenberry is PFF’s lowest-graded center. There is zero evidence the Giants would be better off with one of those players. Besides, the Giants did get Darnay Holmes in the fourth round and that looks like a pretty good decision.

  • Cornerback Ryan Lewis did not grade well, per PFF (33.8 with a 116.7 passer rating against). Watching the game a second time, though, I think Lewis played better than he graded. I’m sure grade-wise he takes a hit for the 38-yard Andy Dalton to Michael Gallup completion that set up Dallas’ game-winning field goal. That was pretty good coverage from Lewis, though. Just a great throw by Dalton and outstanding work by Gallup. Sometimes, you have to give the other guy some credit.
  • With Lorenzo Carter out for the season, coach Joe Judge was asked Monday how the Giants would replace the third-year edge defender. He mentioned possible playing time for rookies Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin. That was a given, even though Coughlin has been working at inside linebacker in recent weeks.

I’m wondering about Jabrill Peppers, though. Before he was injured, Peppers was already spending most of his time playing in the box. I wonder if the Giants will use Peppers, Logan Ryan and Adrian Colbert together in a three-safety look with Peppers functioning as a pseudo-linebacker. Something to ask outside linebackers coach Bret Bielema and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham about this week.