Going through the ABCs of each week’s New York Giants matchup is becoming a weekly tradition at Big Blue View. So, let’s get to the ABCs of Giants at Los Angeles Rams.
A is for ... Aaron: As in Aaron Donald, the 280-pound human wrecking ball who is the best interior defensive lineman in football. As poorly as the middle of the Giants’ offensive line has played in the season’s first three games, Daniel Jones might be well advised to stay in shotgun and be prepared at all times to run for his life.
B is for ... Bradberry: James Bradberry may not be an elite, shut down cornerback. He is, though, pretty darn good. So far, he certainly looks worth the money the Giants paid him (three years, $43.5 million, $29.8 million guaranteed) in free agency.
C is for ... Clayton: The Giants swapped practice squad quarterbacks this week, bringing in Clayton Thorson and sending out Cooper Rush. Truth is, if that ends up making any difference for the Giants on the field, that’s a problem. Just ask the Denver Broncos, who are down to starting Brett Rypien at quarterback.
D is for ... Deayon: Former Giant cornerback Donte Deayon is still scratching to maintain an NFL career, currently as a member of the Rams’ practice squad. I still root for Deayon, perhaps the smallest NFL cornerback I’ve ever seen at a listed 5-foot-9, 159 pounds.
E is for ... Elijhaa: As poorly as the Giants have run the ball, I’d like to see them use fullback Elijhaa Penny more often. He has played only nine offensive snaps in three games. Evan Engram has a Pro Football Focus run-blocking grade of 38.0 thru three games. Levine Toilolo, who is on the roster only for his blocking, has a pedestrian 57.7 grade in 23 snaps. Why not vary the personnel, get Engram or Toilolo off the field occasionally and Penny in the backfield? It can’t hurt. Besides, Penny is probably a better pass receiver than Toilolo, anyway.
F is for ... Freeman: It’s pretty apparent that running back Devonta Freeman is going to see his role expand for the Giants as he gains better understanding of the offense.
G is for ... Goff: Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff is — statistically, at least — playing the best football of his five-year career through three games. His completion percentage (70.0), yards per attempt (9.6), yards per completion (13.7), passer rating (109.6) and QBR (77.3) are all career-bests. You wonder if that’s because the Rams aren’t asking him to do as much. He is on pace to throw 480 passes, after 626 last year and 561 in 2018.
H is for ... Hekker: Rams’ four-time All-Pro punter Johnny Hekker, is “a quarterback who can punt,” per Giants coach Joe Judge. In his ninth NFL season, Hekker has thrown 22 passes with 13 completions. He has thrown at least one in each of his first eight NFL seasons, but has yet to try one in 2020. Just sayin’.
I is for ... Irrelevant: The final pick in the draft each year becomes known as ‘Mr. Irrelevant.’ This year, that is Giants’ linebacker Tae Crowder. He may, though, be gaining relevancy for the Giants. Inside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer said this week that “We’re trying to get him on the field. We think he’s got the ability to help us in some roles.”
J is for ... Jalen: With apologies to James Bradberry, Jalen Ramsey of the Rams is going to be the best cornerback on the field Sunday. It’s not really even all that close.
K is for ... Kupp: Cooper Kupp caught 94 passes for 1,161 yards a year ago. He has caught 18 of 21 targets so far this season, an insane 85.7 percent.
L is for ... Least: As in NFC Least. If the Cowboys (facing the Browns), Football Team (facing the Ravens) and Eagles (facing the 49ers) all lose this weekend, a distinct possibility, the Giants will still have a legitimate chance at winning the NFC East even if they fall to 0-4 on Sunday.
M is for ... Madre: Welcome to the Giants, Madre Harper! You’re next up on the Giants’ ever-spinning cornerback carousel.
N is for ... Nick: Many Giants fans were all in on the idea of moving Nick Gates to center this season. Many have now jumped ship since Gates, predictably to be honest, has struggled to this point. His 49.7 PFF grade is 27th out of 30 qualifying centers and the communication along the offensive line has not always appeared smooth. In reality, though, this is roughly the kind of play the Giants got from Jon Halapio the past two seasons. That’s not great, of course, but the good news is there remains upside with Gates and the possibility that performance is going to improve throughout the season.
O is for ... Ogbonnia Okoronkwo: Because, well, he plays for the Rams. It’s a OO. Works for me.
P is for ... Play-action: Understanding that when you are way behind play-action passing is useless and silly I would still like to see the Giants use more of it on offense. Daniel Jones is 22nd in the league in play-action passing attempts, with 20.
Q is for ... Quicksand: Because that’s what it looks like the Giants’ league-worst running game has been stuck in, with and without Saquon Barkley.
R is for ... Running game: The Giants haven’t had one. The Rams are built with a run-first mentality. They lead the league with 111 rushing attempts and are third in the league in rushing yards.
S is for ... SoFi: The Rams (and Chargers) have a beautiful new home in SoFi Stadium.
T is for ... Thomas: There are some folks who have their panties in a bunch over the play of rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas after three games. Thomas is ranked No. 57 of 58 qualifying tackles by Pro Football Focus in pass-blocking efficiency. Mekhi Beckton, Tristan Wirfs and Jedrick Wills, all tackles drafted after Thomas, have been at least somewhat better thus far. The view here is that Thomas is not the second coming of Ereck Flowers, that he will be a quality NFL left tackle for years to come. He is, though, going to have to prove that to jittery Giants fans.
U is for ... Underdog: As it is weekly with the 2020 Giants. As of this writing, the Giants are massive 13-point underdogs. If I was a betting man, I would not take the points.
V is for ... Victory: Obviously, odds are not good the Giants will get one this week. Joe Judge’s 39th birthday is New Year’s Eve. Let’s hope he doesn’t wait that long for victory No. 1
W is for ... Whitworth: Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth is still playing at an insanely high level four years after the Giants chose not to pursue him in free agency because he was too old. Whitworth will be 39 before the season is over. Right now, though, the second-high graded offensive tackle in football with an 89.2 Pro Football Grade. His pass-blocking grades of 87.7 is No. 2, and his 87.5 run-blocking score is also second. Thinking Whitworth was too old at 36 back in 2017 made sense, to be honest. This guy, though, is defying Father Time.
X is for X-Man: Oshane Ximines played what might have been the best game of his 19-game Giants career on Sunday vs. the 49ers. He had four tackles, all four stops, and a quarterback pressure. He also drew praise from inside linebackers coach Bret Bielema, who only a week ago had seemed uncertain about what Ximines offered the Giants’ defense.
Y is for ... Why did the Rams choose to destroy a beautiful, classic NFL uniform? Yes, I know I’m cheating here. But, I can’t stand the Rams’ new uniforms and I had to ask the question. I find their new helmets especially awful, to be honest.
Z is for ... ‘Zo: Giants’ edge defender Lorenzo Carter has been more potential than production his first two NFL seasons. That might be changing. After three games, Carter is on pace to make 69 tackles, which would blow away his 2019 career-best of 45. He is on pace for 48 stops, or failed offensive plays, which would double his 2019 career-best. His Pro Football Focus grade of 74.3 would be a career-best if he maintains it throughout the season. He is also on pace for 5 sacks and 16 quarterback hits, which aren’t elite numbers but would be high-water marks for his career.