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‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ review of Giants-Rams: Defense up, offense down

Who deserves praise? Who deserves criticism? Let’s look

New York Giants v Los Angeles Rams
Wayne Gallman carries the ball.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

As we always do after a New York Giants game, let assess the performance, this one a 17-9 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, in ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ style.

Kudos to

Overall defensive effort — This was an inspired effort from the defense as a whole that has to breed optimism that things are moving in the right direction for the Giants on at least one side of the ball. The Giants gave up a touchdown on the Rams opening drive and had a costly late-game breakdown on the Cooper Kupp 55-yard touchdown reception.

The Giants, though, held a team averaging 29.7 points and 449.6 yards per game over the first three weeks to 17 points and 240 yards. The Rams were only 5 of 13 (38 percent) on third down, an area where the Giants’ defense had struggled previously.

This was clear progress.

Kyler Fackrell — A sack, three tackles for loss and a quarterback hit. Fackrell was excellent on the edge Sunday and has played well so far this season.

Austin Johnson — the backup defensive tackle made two impact plays. He forced an early fumble that led to a Giants’ field goal. He also had a sack when the Rams had a first-and-goal at the Giants’ 4-yard line, helping force Los Angeles to settle for a field goal.

Blake Martinez — Thirteen more tackles for the former Green Bay Packers inside linebacker. He is a ball-finding machine, and he is doing a whole lot more than cleaning up messes for the Giants.

Graham Gano — The veteran placekicker has been the Giants’ offense for the past two weeks. He made kicks on Sunday of 35, 37 and 27 yards. Gano is now 9 of 10 on the season.

Wayne Gallman — The backup running back gave the offense a little spark with a career-long 26-yard run in the fourth quarter. He finished with six carries for 45 yards, 7.5 yards per carry.

Devonta Freeman — Only 30 yards on 10 carries. He had a 10-yard run in the second half, though, and caught three second-half passes for 37 yards, finishing with 4 receptions for 35 yards. Freeman played 37 snaps (54 percent) as his role increased in his second week with the Giants.

Wet Willies to ...

Golden Tate (Jalen Ramsey, too) — I wrote this last night, but I’m going to write it again. Tate embarrassed himself, the Giants organization, the NFL and his own family by taking his family squabble with Ramsey to midfield post game. That’s what you do — and a lot of us have done — when you’re immature middle school kid and you throw down on the playground. It’s not what you do when you are a 32-year-old 11-year NFL veteran who happens to be on national TV. Ridiculous.

The offensive performance — Blame Jason Garrett for calling the wrong plays. Blame Dave Gettleman for drafting and signing the wrong players. Blame Joe Judge for not going for it on fourth down twice in Rams’ territory in the second half. Blame Daniel Jones. Blame the injuries to Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard. Blame the lack of a proper offseason. Blame whoever or whatever your narrative says is to blame.

Reality is, you can’t win in the NFL if you can’t score touchdowns, and the Giants haven’t scored one since Week 2.

The offensive line was awful at the beginning of the game. The Giants gained 20 yards on their first 12 plays and Jones was sacked four times in the first half. I thought the line got better as the game went along, but that early performance just wasn’t good enough.

Kwillies to ...

Daniel Jones — Statistically, the Giants’ quarterback was fine. He went 23 of 36 for 190 yards and ran six times for 45 yards (7.5 yards per carry). As he usually does, Jones displayed toughness. Jones, though, continued to make crucial mistakes and came up short when it mattered most.

Jones threw the game-ending interception, both staring down Damion Ratley and throwing the fateful pass too far inside. On the previous drive, he overthrew Tate on fourth-and-11 when an on-target throw would have given Tate a chance at a drive-saving first down. Jones also had yet another fumble, though he recovered this one.

Jones hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in three weeks and has only two on the season. He has five interceptions and has fumbled three times, losing two. The more you see, the more you have to wonder if this is just what we’re going to get from the second-year quarterback.