For the third time this year, the New York Giants on Sunday lost a game they had a chance to win. This time the Giants fell 17-9 to the Los Angeles Rams, which was a much closer game than it appeared it would be based on the Giants’ and Rams’ first two possessions.
But it was still a loss, and the Giants’ season-opening losing streak has extended to four games.
We’re starting to get an idea of who the 2020 Giants are and what their tendencies are on the field and in their game plans. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the snap counts and stats from Sunday’s game to see what they can tell us.
The Giants won the time of possession battle this week after getting demolished a week ago by the San Francisco 49ers. New York held the ball for 33:17 of game time, while running 68 offensive plays.
For the most part, the Giants share of the snap counts were as we’ve come to expect on offense and defense. With two notable totals that stand out.
The first is that right tackle Cam Fleming only played 56 offensive snaps — because at one point in the game he was replaced by rookie right tackle Matt Peart for 12 snaps. Making that even odder, Fleming was (by far) the Giants’ highest-graded offensive player per Pro Football Focus at 74.8.
The other note is that Corey Ballentine once again didn’t receive any defensive snaps, playing 16 special teams snaps on the game. James Bradberry played all 57 defensive snaps, while the other cornerback position was manned by Ryan Lewis (42 snaps) and Isaac Yiadom (15 snaps). We should also probably take note of the fact that Markus Golden only played 7 defensive snaps, and then only when Oshane Ximines and Kyler Fackrell left the field with injuries.
I don’t want to turn this into a deep dive, for a couple reasons. But that being said, we have to start with QB Daniel Jones. Jones’ traditional box score is uninspiring, completing 23 of 36 passes (63.9 percent) for 190 yards (5.3 per attempt), 1 interception and 1 fumble.
However his advanced metrics were worrisome.
Jones finished Sunday’s game with -0.2 expected points per play, -9.2 EPA, 9.3 percent completion below expected, and a success rate of 46 percent. He did pick up 0.2 EPA as a runner, but that did little to offset his passing numbers.
* Success rate is generally defined as picking up 40, 60, and 100 percent of the yards needed to convert a first, second, or third down, respectively
Likewise, it didn’t help that Jones’ average completion traveled just 3 yards in the air and his average pass was thrown 3.3 yards short of the 1st down marker.
Put visually, and compared with the other quarterbacks in the NFL this week (save Monday night’s games), the picture those numbers paint is striking.
It’s also worth noting that the rest of the Giants’ offense struggled as well.
Running back Wayne Gallman Jr. was the Giants’ most productive skill position position player. He picked up 45 yards on 6 carriers (long of 26), which was good for
Devante Freeman carried the ball the most, rushing 11 times for 33 yards. That’s disappointing as he didn’t face a single heavy box, per NFL NextGenStats.
Overall, NextGenStats suggests that the Giants’ receivers still largely struggled to separate, though Evan Engram and Golden Tate were able to find open windows.
While Fleming recorded the Giants’ best offensive line performance of the season (per PFF), the rest of the line wasn’t so stout. Will Hernandez was up next with a 66.0 overall grade, while Andrew Thomas had a 52.9 grade, Nick Gates had a 50.0 grade, and Kevin Zeitler had a 49.4 grade.
With that in mind, it shouldn’t be too surprising that the Rams’ main pass rushers were generally successful.
Meanwhile only one Giants’ pass rusher (Leonard Williams) got closer to Jared Goff than the league-average 4.51 yards, with an average separation of 4.2 yards from the passer.
Football Outsiders cumulative draft tracker still projects the Giants to have the second best (“best”) odds to have the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Giants only barely trail the New York Jets in the race to the first overall pick, and in the odds to be picking in the top 5.