Injuries to star players. An ejection of another star player. An embarrassingly lopsided final score. Skulking back to New Jersey having done nothing to prove that Troy Aikman was wrong when he said the New York Giants weren’t in the Dallas Cowboys’ class. Sunday was an awful day for the Giants.
Yet, as we always do, we have to go through the ‘Kudos & Wet Willies.’ It wasn’t fun to write. It probably won’t be fun to read. Let’s get it over with.
Kudos to ...
Kadarius Toney — This is purely for his play. We will deal with the punch later.
All I can say about what Toney did Sunday, and really for the past two weeks, is that this is what the Giants drafted him for. Through all of the weirdness of the spring, through his bout with COVID-19, through his hamstring injury, the Giants kept telling us that Toney was special once you got the ball into his hands.
Umm, yeah. He is. There aren’t many players who leave NFL defenders trying to tackle air the way Toney does regularly. Toney had a phenomenal 38-yard catch on the sideline in the second quarter. He embarrassed Trevon Diggs with a tremendous pass route, leaving him going in the wrong direction for a 35-yard gain. He also had catches of 28 and 26 yards, finishing with 10 receptions in 13 targets for 189 receiving yards. He likely would have had a 200-yard receiving day had he played the final 6:24.
Backup quarterback Mike Glennon was awed by what Toney did:
“He’s special. I think he showed what he is capable of doing. That was fun to see. I think as a quarterback, when you get the ball in a guys hands and you throw it to him behind the line of scrimmage, and he ends up getting 12 yards – I don’t know how many he got – that was just one. There are plenty of examples,” Glennon said. “You throw him a short pass and he takes it, you just don’t see that at the NFL level very often, making guys miss like that. He’s got a unique skill set that we are all finally seeing. I’m glad he is on our team.”
Evan Engram — It barely registered because it ended up not mattering, but the beleaguered tight end had a nice game. He caught all four passes thrown to him for 55 yards. He made a beautiful twisting catch for an 18-yard gain in the second quarter that helped the Giants tie the game at 10-10. It was the kind of play that makes you wonder why Engram screws up so many simple ones.
Reggie Ragland — To be honest, I didn’t think Ragland had a great game. Still, he had a tackle for loss, a fumble recovery and a pass defensed. That’s more difference-making plays than anyone else made on defense. So, it’s something.
Wet Willies to ...
James Bradberry — A Pro Bowler last season, Bradberry has been a dud through five games so far in 2021. Sunday, plays Bradberry made or did not make were responsible for 18 Dallas points.
Bradberry was trailing in coverage on a 49-yard CeeDee Lamb touchdown catch in the second quarter. Yes, Julian Love was supposed to be there to help and was not. Still, the Giants pay Bradberry a lot of money to stop plays like that.
A third-quarter defensive pass interference on third-and-3 at the 5-yard line gave Dallas a first-and-goal. They scored a touchdown two plays later.
Right before the half, Bradberry dropped an interception at about the Giants’ 10-yard line. One play later, Amari Cooper beat a terribly overmatched Rodarius Williams for a 24-yard touchdown.
Bradberry has given up completions on 75 percent of his targets (21 of 28) this season. His 94.8 passer rating against isn’t horrid, but it is a career-worst.
This is a Giants team that needs its best players to make plays. Too often this season, that has not happened. Bradberry’s Sunday was yet another example.
Defense as a whole — I said this last night, and will say it again — Dallas has an outstanding, well-rounded offense. The Cowboys have amassed yards and points against everyone so far this season. Giving up 515 yards, though, is embarrassing.
This Giants defense, however, is also supposed to be good. It was a top 10 unit a season ago and, even without Blake Martinez, on paper the personnel is superior to 2020. Through five games, though, the Giants defense has been awful. The Giants are 26th in points and 29th in yards allowed. They don’t cover well. They don’t set the edge or stop the run consistently. They don’t tackle well. Once again Sunday they couldn’t get a stop before halftime, letting down the offense after the beaten-up Giants fought back from a 10-0 deficit to tie the game.
Name the player on defense who is having a really good season? Maybe Tae Crowder. Other than that, I really can’t.
Certainly looks like DAL identified a weaker side of the run defense pic.twitter.com/bn21cFzLKw— NYGfaninCLT (@clt_ny) October 11, 2021
Nate Solder — I almost feel bad about this one. Solder didn’t give up any sacks on Sunday, but Dallas defensive end Randy Gregory pretty much pushed him around all afternoon. Granted, Solder should not have been at left tackle. He probably shouldn’t be an NFL starter at this point in his career, and he’s doing the best he can. Still, you don’t get participation trophies in the NFL. Pro Football Focus had Solder giving up five of the 12 pressures the Giants allowed vs. the Cowboys. That’s not going to cut it. Personally, at 1-4 and with nothing to really gain from starting a 33-year-old tackle, I want to see Matt Peart playing full time once Andrew Thomas returns to the lineup.
The punch — Included in the video below (apologies for the F bombs should they offend you) is Joe Judge’s in-game reaction to Toney’s swing at Damontae Kazee of Dallas:
The Giants and Cowboys had a fight. Joe Judge got angry. Kadarius Toney threw a punch. Kyle Rudolph proved he was weak. Will Hernandez is an easy guy to root for. Here’s a breakdown of it all.— Justin Penik (@JustinPenik) October 11, 2021
Here is what Judge said after the game:
“There’s a pretty distinct line in terms of competing and doing the things we’re not going to condone as a team that put us behind. That’s not going to be accepted. It’s not going to be condoned. That’s as far as I’m going to go with that. Obviously, it resulted in him leaving the game and I’m just going to leave it at that right now.”
I know Toney was frustrated by the way the game went. Everyone was. I know he was unhappy with the way he was dumped to the ground. I know the basic instinct is to defend yourself against an injustice.
You can’t, though, do what Toney did. You can’t close your fist and take a swing at an opponent. You hurt your team. You get yourself tossed from the game. You get yourself fined, maybe suspended. You risk breaking your own hand. Seriously, punching a football helmet with a closed fist is a dumb thing to do. The only person who might get hurt is the one taking the swing.
It is obvious that Toney is an incredible talent. It’s also apparent that he has some growing up to do. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen again.
Kwillies to ...
Mike Glennon — The backup quarterback wasn’t horrible in relief of Daniel Jones. He threw two interceptions, including a Pick 6, but he made some plays and gave the Giants a chance in the second half. Glennon finished 16 of 25 for 196 yards, a touchdown, and the two interceptions.