As we do every week, it’s time to take a look at the snap counts to see who played, how much, and who didn’t play. We’ll also be taking a look at some of the advanced stats to try and gain some understanding of why the game turned out as it did and what we can learn going forward.
The Giants played 77 offensive snaps, but in a departure from convention, only three players played every snap: guard Kevin Zeitler, center Nick Gates, and quarterback Daniel Jones.
In one of the more intriguing stories of the game, OT Matt Peart continued to get offensive reps. He played 24 snaps (31 percent), 9 of which came at left tackle and 13 of which came at right tackle. Reserve guard Chad Slade also got on the field, playing 3 snaps for left guard Shane Lemieux.
The Giants’ base personnel of Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, and tight end Evan Engram, was pretty consistent as they played 65, 60, and 58 snaps respectively. Around them, the Giants played WR Austin Mack for 38 snaps, and tight endsKaden Smith (41 snaps) and Levine Toilolo (25 snaps). Mack showed up well in the offense and might have earned the chance to supplant Golden Tate going forward.
RB Wayne Gallman Jr. is clearly the Giants’ lead back right now, playing 44 snaps and getting 14 carries. Dion Lewis and Alfred Morris split time evenly with 17 and 16 snaps, respectively.
There are always a couple players who play every snap. Sunday the Giants had five different players — James Bradberry, Isaac Yiadom, Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers, and Blake Martinez — play every defensive snap against Washington. Granted, that was only 57 snaps thanks to Washington’s offense hamstringing itself with errors and turnovers, but that is still significant.
Cornerback Darnay Holmes and linebacker Kyler Fackrell each played 47 snaps.
The rest of the defense is about as we’ve come to expect. Leonard Williams led defensive linemen with 38 snaps, while Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence II, and B.J. Hill had 29, 25, and 22 snaps, respectively.
There weren’t many surprises in the defensive snap counts, though EDGE Jabaal Sheard is working his way into the rotation with 24 defensive snaps.
We, of course, have to start with the quarterback position.
After a week of criticism for his mistakes against the Buccaneers, writers were quick to praise Jones for a clean game without turnovers (or at least loose balls that didn’t hurt the Giants). But was it a good game? Looking beyond the box score, it might be better to say it was a weird game.
Jones finished with the fourth-lowest intended air yards of any QB in Week 9 with 4.9 intended air yards per attempt. However, Jones also finished with 5.1 converted air yards per attempt, per NFL NextGenStats. It’s very unusual for a quarterback to have more converted air yards than intended air yards — no quarterback is averaging a positive differential on the season. This was likely due to Jones hitting Austin Mack on the deep shot and Evan Engram’s fantastic touchdown grab.
Because almost all of Jones’ pass attempts were roughly 5 yards downfield, he had a very quick time to throw at 2.4 seconds, which is a good step forward for him. However, he was still throwing into coverage often, with 20 percent of his passes going to receivers with a defender within a yard of them.
The flip side of that being that those passes held little value for the Giants’ offense. Jones finished with -0.1 EPA and 0.0 EPA per play. Jones’ 67 percent completion was also about 3 percent below the 70 percent predicted by the NFL’s player tracking data.
All told, Jones finished with an estimated QBR of 31.3.
Clear tendencies in the running game
The Giants had the best day they have had running the ball. The Giants finished with 0.3 EPA per play on the ground, which is a very strong performance considering the relative lack of value of the running game in general.
Gallman and Morris finished with 2.1 and 2.2 total EPA and a success rate of 60 and 56 percent, respectively.
It might be difficult to spin this success forward, as the Giants’ usage of both players showed very clear tendencies that defenses will easily recognize in the coming weeks. Rather than explain, I’ll let NextGenStats’ charting show how the Giants tipped their hand.
The Giants ran Gallman exclusively between the tackles, where he consistently found success. Morris, on the other hand, ran almost exclusively on outside zone to the right. It was effective against Washington, but those very clear tendencies could allow future defenses to predict the play based on who is on the field. The flip side of that is if the Giants identify a weakness in the opposing run defense, they could emphasize one player over the other to attack it.
Still no pressure
For the second week in a row, Leonard Williams was the Giants’ best pass rusher. And while that might lead to an argument for a big pay day, his inability to win quickly is a definite issue for the Giants’ defense.
Last week Williams had the Giants’ fastest sack at 4.9 seconds, and this week he repeated the feat, recording the team’s fastest sack at 4.7 seconds. For comparison, Washington’s fastest was Kamren Curl at 3.2 seconds and no team (except for one extreme outlier in Carolina) had a slower fastest sack than the Giants.
NextGenStats player tracking data shows a relatively clean pocket for Washington’s quarterbacks, as only Dalvin Tomlinson routinely got close to their passers.
That is both frustrating and concerning considering Washington came into the week with a middling pass block win rate (55 percent, 19th in the NFL, per ESPN) and the 31st adjusted sack rate (8.8 percent per Football Outsiders). The Giants simply struggle to get pressure quickly and that puts a definite strain on their secondary.
Their coverage has managed to hold up so far, but the Giants need to make upgrading their pass rush a priority for the 2021 season.