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Giants-Cardinals ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ review: Hamstrung edition

Daniel Jones wasn’t close to being his usual self, and his lack of mobility Sunday was devastating to the Giants

Arizona Cardinals v New York Giants Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The New York Giants crashed back to reality on Sunday. A four-game winning streak and first place in the NFC East based on a tiebreaker advantage over the Washington Football Team had Giants fans feeling had giddy fans thinking maybe their team had morphed into something it really isn’t. At least not yet.

The Giants showed Sunday they are still a developing team that is far from a finished product. They couldn’t use Daniel Jones in the run game. Jones didn’t seem comfortable, or committed, from the beginning of the game.

Kudos to ...

Jabrill Peppers — Peppers was everywhere. He made a team-high 13 tackles, two for loss, and forced a fumble. Peppers has been playing incredible football in recent weeks.

Red-zone defense — The Cardinals scored just one touchdown in four trips inside the Giants’ red zone. Arizona started six drives at midfield or inside Giants’ territory and the Cardinals’ average starting field position was their ow.n 47-yard line. The Giants’ average starting field position was their own 18-yard line. It’s amazing that Arizona didn’t beat the Giants by more than three touchdowns.

Wet Willies to ...

Punt team — I have no idea what has happened to this group. They gave up 77 yards on six Christian Kirk punt returns. Kirk had 27 and 17-yard returns. Missed tackles. Lanes to run through. Riley Dixon not placing the ball as consistently as he had the first 10 games of the season. This is becoming a massive problem.

One thing I know is that the Giants have veteran Joe Webb, signed last week, on their practice squad. Webb has played quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and both run both and covered kicks. I’m predicting right now that Webb will be part of the Giants’ game day roster next Sunday night against the Cleveland Browns.

Pass protection — This is a tough one. I don’t think there were one or two specific players who played poorly. I think Sunday’s porous pass protection was a combination of things. As both Wayne Gallman and Daniel Jones indicated, Arizona did some things the Giants had not seen — and did not react well to. Jones was a statue in the pocket, the Cardinals knew exactly where he was going to be on every drop back. There were a few free runners, like on the first drive when Markus Golden separated Jones from the ball — and nearly broke him in half. There were a few times when the protection was fine, but because of either coverage or indecision Jones did not get the ball out in a timely manner.

No matter how you look at it, 8 sacks, three that resulted in fumbles, and 11 hits on Jones is simply not acceptable.

Daniel Jones — I almost feel bad putting Jones here. I think he was put in a difficult position, playing when it was obvious his hamstring wasn’t nearly 100 percent. Jones’ legs, either via the zone read or simply making plays with his legs when the coverage is too good or the pressure too great, are a huge part of the Giants’ offense. They weren’t available Sunday, and Jones was really able to do little to avoid becoming a pinata for Haason Reddick, Golden and the rest of the Arizona rushers.

Still, the performance is the performance. As they say, the show must go on. The show Jones put on was anything but pretty. He want 11 of 21 for 127 yards. He was sacked six times, fumbling three and losing one. This was the first time in his NFL career that Jones did not have a single rushing attempt.

Dion Lewis — I know it was because he was kicked and that should have been called, but Lewis can’t fumble kickoffs. He’s not back there because he’s a dynamic returner, because he is anything but that. He is back there because Joe Judge and Thomas McGaughey trust his decision-making and ball security. He displayed neither on his fumble, running back a kickoff that should have been a touchback, then fumbling it.

Plain and simple, the Giants need to find a kickoff returner with a better chance to make a field-position changing play.