Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30, New York Giants 10. The fact that the Bucs defeated the Giants on Monday night was no surprise. We all saw that coming. The reality that the Giants weren’t competitive, that they really didn’t look like anything close to being a good, improving team, is the truly disheartening part.
Let’s go through some of the ‘things I think’ after Monday’s one-sided loss.
I think we can stop pretending
These Giants are not making a late-season run to the playoffs. They are 3-7, and the only team in the NFC with a worse record is the 0-9-1 Detroit Lions. The Giants are on a collision course with a fifth straight double-digit loss season, probably a new general manager and perhaps the start of yet another roster re-construction. Head coach Joe Judge is probably still safe unless the wheels come all the way off over the final seven games, but his coaching staff will certainly not come back intact.
Following an 0-3 start, the Giants teased by going 3-3 over a six-game stretch. Monday night was a reminder that there is a lot of mediocrity in the NFL and many times that mediocrity gives the Giants a chance, but the chasm between the Giants and the truly good NFL teams remains miles and miles wide.
I think Will Hernandez ... well, you saw it
I struggled ... and struggled ... and struggled some more with a subhead for the Will Hernandez section of this analysis. I think it’s better if I just leave it alone.
There are a lot of problems on the Giants’ offensive line. Matt Skura isn’t a starting guard in the NFL, but that’s what he has to be for the Giants. Nate Solder isn’t a starting NFL right tackle, but since this Giants coaching staff doesn’t seem to believe in Matt Peart that’s what he has to be. Billy Price is a backup center forced to start.
Hernandez, though. My goodness, it is hard for me to even know what to say. He should be a player the Giants can count on. For most of the season, he has been — barely — adequate. Monday, he was abominable. Two holding penalties, one that was declined. A red zone false start, his fourth false start in 10 games. Hernandez now has eight penalties on the season, and only four players have had more flags thrown in their direction.
It’s painful to watch defensive tackles, even backup ones, simply run through Hernandez like he isn’t even there. I think it is virtually impossible to think that Hernandez has a future with the Giants beyond the next seven games.
As often as I have been critical of Joe Judge for being too conservative on fourth downs, I absolutely think Judge did the right thing by going for it on fourth-and-1 at the Tampa Bay 26-yard line on the Giants’ first drive of the third quarter. The Giants trailed by a touchdown, and a field goal wasn’t going to be helpful with the Buccaneers’ offense going up and down the field at will.
The fourth-down analytics, for a change, agreed with Judge.
---> NYG (10) @ TB (17) <---— 4th down decision bot (@ben_bot_baldwin) November 23, 2021
NYG has 4th & 1 at the TB 25
Recommendation (STRONG): Go for it (+3.8 WP)
Actual play: M.Peart reported in as eligible. D.Jones pass incomplete short right to C.Johnson. pic.twitter.com/A1Gm6U3nvP
The decision to go for the first down was fine. Nothing else about the play, though, was fine.
I can’t blame Jason Garrett for choosing a pass, considering that we know the Giants have one of the league’s worst run-blocking offensive lines.
But, a play-action bootleg with Collin Johnson as the target? With, as Louis Riddick pointed out on the broadcast, heavy personnel in the game and Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney on the sideline? There was no blocking, no chance, and the Giants weren’t truly competitive the rest of the night.
Giants got lucky at the end of the first half
The Giants were in the game, at least on the scoreboard, until the Buccaneers capitalized on the failed fourth-and-1 by driving 74 yards in 10 plays to take a 24-10 lead with 7:31 left in the third quarter. The game was, basically, over at that point.
Truth is, I think the Giants were lucky it was close for that long.
The Giants’ lone touchdown was a gift from the Bucs, a pass that ricocheted off Bucs’ receiver Mike Evans and into the hands of Adoree’ Jackson, setting the Giants up at the Tampa Bay 5-yard line.
Right before the half, the Bucs had a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line nullified by a Tristan Wirfs holding penalty. They ended up punting. For some inexplicable reason, the Giants tried to play aggressively with :43 left in the half and the ball at their own 9-yard line. They avoided disaster, but that wasn’t the time to take a risk. There wasn’t enough to be gained.
No pass rush, no chance
The Giants couldn’t lay a glove on Tom Brady — even when the 44-year-old decided to run the ball up the middle. The Giants never sacked Brady, who threw 46 times, and hit him only three times.
With a non-existent pass rush it was inevitable that Brady was going to carve up whatever coverages schemes Patrick Graham tried to employ, which he did, completing 30 of 46 for 307 yards and 2 touchdowns. It didn’t help that neither James Bradberry (12 targets, seven catches allowed for 66 yards, six first downs and a touchdown) and Julian Love (eight targets, six catches allowed for 60 yards and a touchdown) covered or tackled very well.
Still, if the Giants weren’t going to find a way to make Brady uncomfortable they were never going to have a real chance to slow him down.
Everyone has played darts. When I was a college kid a loooooong time ago I lived for a while in a house with three other guys and we played darts almost every night. I was thinking about that while watching the Giants play offense because it too often feels like they are just throwing darts at a board and hoping they accidentally hit the bulls-eye once in a while.
The touchdown pass to left tackle Andrew Thomas was cool. ‘Kudos’ to Garrett for dialing up the play, and ‘Kudos’ to Thomas for an outstanding, athletic catch.
What’s not cool is that Thomas now has more touchdowns than Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney and just as many receiving touchdowns as Sterling Shepard, Kyle Rudolph, Evan Engram and Darius Slayton.
I also fully understand the fact that atrocious offensive line play is crippling, that it renders much of your playbook useless. Still, how the Giants can look so good offensively on their first drive — at least on the first 10 plays — and then follow that up by doing virtually nothing productive the rest of the game is a mystery.
Daniel Jones had one of those nights that just makes you shake your head. You want to believe in the guy, you want to point out the good things he does, then he has nights like Monday. Two awful decisions that turned into interceptions. Only 10 points generated, with the only touchdown having been gift-wrapped by Tampa Bay. Is this what Jones is? A guy who flashes every skill you want a quarterback to have, but can’t consistently play the position in a productive manner?
Why are the Giants throwing screen passes to Kyle Rudolph and Chris Myarick? Yes, Chris Myarick. Why are they taking Toney and Golladay off the field on a fourth down? Why can’t they convert on third down? They went 1 for 9 (11.1 percent) on Monday. Throw in 1 for 3 on fourth downs and that’s 3 of 12 on plays that determined possession. Even with a full complement of playmakers, aside from Sterling Shepard, available.
We are 10 games into the season and the Giants don’t have any real “go-tos” on offense. They just seem to try stuff — they just shoot darts.
I feel bad for Michael Strahan
The Giants are going to honor Strahan by retiring his number on Sunday. In a game against the Eagles where MetLife Stadium will more than likely be overrun by Eagles fans. If you care, the Eagles opened as 3-point favorites.
Not ready for prime time
The Giants’ prime time losing streak is now 10 games. During that time, they are 0-6 on Monday nights, 0-3 on Thursday nights and 0-1 on Sunday nights. The Giants are 0-7 under Judge and 0-8 when Jones starts in prime time. They last won a night game on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018 at San Francisco, 27-23.
I think maybe the networks should just stop putting the Giants in marquee time slots until they show they deserve it.