There are only so many ways to say that the Giants are bad, that their offense looks lost in the woods and the players they’re counting on to step up just aren’t. In the wake of yet another blowout loss, it feels as though the Giants are a team on the brink and are rapidly approaching some kind of reckoning.
The numbers from the Giants’ Week 14 loss bear that out, and it’s starting to become pretty clear that there isn’t one problem with the Giants, nor an easy answer.
The most interesting aspect of the Giants snap counts is that Nate Solder and Matt Peart effectively split the game at right tackle. Fans have been calling for an opportunity to see what the second year tackle has at right tackle, and it seems the Giants gave in. In fact, while Solder got the start, Peart played the majority of the snaps.
It’s possible that we see a rotation between the two at right tackle, similar to what the Giants used in the second half of 2020.
It’s also interesting that Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker split the work load as equally as they did. While it’s likely that Barkley’s ankle just isn’t healthy enough to be a “bellcow,” that could force the Giants’ hand to an equitable split. There doesn’t seem to be much difference between the two as things stand now.
I know Patrick Graham loves sub packages, but it remains downright weird to me that young, athletic EDGE players like Azeez Ojulari and Quincy Roche are playing fewer snaps than defensive tackles like Dexter Lawrence and Austin Johnson.
The big guys need rest, while EDGE defenders are routinely relied upon to play upwards of 70 percent of snaps. Likewise, it’s weird that Roche, who has flashed whenever he’s been on the field, played basically the same number of snaps as downhill linebackers Benardrick McKinney and Reggie Ragland.
The Giants have remained vulnerable to outside runs, and their willingness to not play their EDGE defenders might be a reason for that.
Stats of interest
There really isn’t a whole lot to say here. Most of the Giants’ production came at the very end of the game when the game and didn’t actually matter.
The Winning Percentage chart illustrates just how long the game was out of hand for the Giants.
The Chargers had (roughly) a 95 percent chance of winning starting around halfway through the second quarter, when they scored their second touchdown. The game was effectively over when Herbert launched his 59-yard touchdown bomb with 17 seconds left in the first half.
The lone truly bright spot for the Giants was the play of Dexter Lawrence on the defensive line. He was a menace and often simply too much for the Chargers’ lineman assigned to block him. In fact, he was the most effective lineman in the game, for either team.
The second graph from NextGenStats also illustrates that while the Giants’ offensive line wasn’t particularly good, it also wasn’t the problem with the offense — or at least not the main problem. (Outside of Bosa’s sack-fumble, given up by Nate Solder. That was just bad.)
The Giants’ running game was existent, even before the Chargers started inviting runs with six-man boxes, which is more than could be said for much of the season. And Mike Glennon was only really under duress when it was his own fault.
Of bigger concern is that the Giants receivers were utterly unable to separate. It would take a second look at the All-22 tape to see whether it was their own route running or the design of the offense that kept running the receivers into coverage. Given how little separation players like Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram — who normally separate well — were able to get, I’m inclined to say that play call played a significant role.
But regardless, open targets were few and far between.
Only one receiver — Kenny Golladay — saw enough targets to qualify for NFL NextGenStats “Receiving Leaders” board. He finished with the fourth-lowest average separation of any receiver on Sunday with 1.5 yards of separation. What’s worse, is that the 7.7 yards of cushion afforded Golladay was the eighth-most among qualifying receivers. It’s no wonder that Golladay was only able to catch two of his eight targets.
But none of the Giants’ receivers separated well.
Had Slayton and Engram been targeted enough to qualify for the leaderboard, the Giants would have had three of the six players with the lowest average separation in the NFL.
The only consolation (and it isn’t much) is that Chargers’ TE Jared Cook would have slotted between Engram and Slayton.