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5 plays that doomed the Giants in loss to Miami Dolphins

Many of these have a familiar, frustrating, look to them

New York Giants v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

For a third straight game, the New York Giants offense failed to score more than 13 points as Big Blue fell to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, 20-9. The Giants were without quarterback Daniel Jones. Mike Glennon received the start, and the offense still struggled with the veteran under center.

Glennon finished the game 23 of 44 for 187 yards passing with an interception. He missed several throws throughout the game. New York’s pass protection struggled with Brian Flores’ blitz; the offense was inefficient, going 6-16 on third down, and the offensive output amounted to four field-goal attempts.

The offense is almost unwatchable. Missed opportunities, dropped passes, poor blitz pickups, and a frustratingly ultra-conservative approach result in despair as the recent pitfalls of being a Giants’ fan unwelcomely linger around 1925 Giants Drive in East Rutherford, N.J.

Questions surrounding Joe Judge’s longevity with the franchise are warranted, as the in-game coaching deserves to be questioned. Judge has faced criticism all season on his unnecessary usage of timeouts - there were two more instances of that in Sunday’s loss, not to mention punting the football in the third quarter past midfield on a fourth-and-2.

Frustrating is one word to summarize the 2021 Giants; abysmal is another. Here are the five plays, or play sequences, that resulted in this 20-9 Giants loss in Miami.

Play (s) 1: Miami scoring touchdowns

The Dolphins scored two touchdowns against the Giants, enough to earn this victory. New York scored two touchdowns in the last three games. One was a quick play-action shot to tight end Chris Myarick and the other to an illegible tackle, Andrew Thomas. New York rarely scores long touchdowns, and, just like last season, they struggle to create explosive plays, which is why these two Miami touchdowns were valuable for the Dolphins in this game.

The Dolphins use motion to assemble a tight BUNCH on second-and-goal and then use a sprint out High-Low, triangular, route concept to find an open Mack Hollins (86) for the touchdown. The inside breaking route of DeVante Parker (11) held Xavier McKinney (29) just long enough, as the underneath route occupied James Bradberry (24) to create the void for Hollins. This touchdown was right before the end of the first half.

The score was 10-6 in the fourth quarter before this second touchdown. This game was close because of the Giants’ defense, which generally played well. However, on this play, Miami runs a boundary play-action rollout to the field side with three receivers moving laterally against the grain of the defense. Xavier McKinney had to respect quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s ability to pick up 2 yards with his legs for a touchdown; he was held in place, which allowed Isaiah Ford (87) to separate to the pylon for an easy touchdown. Bradberry thought McKinney had Ford underneath and sank underneath Parker’s route, providing Ford the space he needed to score.

Play(s) 2: Sack, timeout, sack, delay of game

In a four-point game in the third quarter, the Giants had a first-and-10. New York attempted a play-action rollout pass with Glennon, but Will Hernandez (71) allows rookie Jaelen Phillips (15) to undercut his block, giving the former Miami Hurricane easy access into the pocket. Glennon gets sacked and loses 13 yards.

New York decides to burn a second-half timeout after there seemed to be some confusion on a second-and-23, backed up near their own end zone. In a close game of field position, why would Judge call a timeout in this situation? It’s another wasted timeout by this coaching staff and another situation where the team seemed unprepared.

After the timeout, Glennon gets sacked again by Phillips. This sack is a bit more of a coverage sack. The Giants went from a first-and-10, to burning a timeout, to taking another sack and setting up a third-and-30 before taking a delay of game penalty that resulted in a third-and-33 rush from Devontae Booker. None of this screams well-coached, well prepared, or good football. It could be excused if this was a one-off situation, but these issues have arisen in multiple games.

Play 3: Punt on fourth-and-2

New York nearly missed a big vertical shot to Evan Engram (88) on this third-and-2. Judge is often criticized for his conservative nature. New York was down by four points, with the ball passed midfield and 5:03 left in the third quarter, and he punted the football after this play.

The punt sailed into the end zone for a touchback. The Giants were 4-7 on the road, and they were in desperate need of a spark. Judge punts pretty consistently in these situations and plays the field position battle. IThat has burned the Giants in the past, and it’s not a sustainable way to win football games in the modern NFL. Of course, on the flip side, the Giants’ offense is so putrid, who would trust them? There are times to roll the dice and gamble, especially when you’re across midfield (Judge punted twice in Miami’s territory), and this appeared to be one of those times.

Play 4: Glennon interception

The Giants were driving down the field against Miami in the first quarter. Glennon found Engram for 18yards, and then Golladay for 20 yards, setting up this first-and-10 shown above. The Giants dial up a stacked-out route from Kenny Golladay (19), with Darius Slayton (86) running a vertical route. Glennon anticipated CB Xavian Howard (25) to sit on Golladay’s out route - he did not. Howard read Glennon’s eyes and sank underneath Slayton’s matchup with safety Jevon Holland (8). Glennon launches the ball into the double coverage, a bit underthrown, and Howard intercepts it. Turning the football over is never conducive to success, but doing it in the opponent’s territory on first down is even worse. Glennon was 8 of 8 for 59 yards up till the interception, and it was downhill from here.

Play 5: Giants defense finally cracked

The Giants defense forced several gigantic stops on the Dolphins throughout the game. They were the furthest thing from a problem for the Giants in this game. Late in the fourth quarter, the Giants were still in this game because of the defense. They were faced this third-and-4 where Tagovailoa found DeVante Parker (11) on an excellent back-shoulder throw to move the chains. Bradberry is in solid coverage on the play, but the timing between Tagovailoa and Parker was precise. If the defense forced a stop here, it would have provided the inept Giants’ offense another opportunity to tie the game with a two-point conversion.

Later in the drive, tight end Mike Gesicki (88) leaped over Julian Love (20) to keep the Dolphins’ drive alive. Gesicki is one of the better athletes at the tight end position, and he boxes Love out on this play. Miami may have punted the ball back to New York if the Giants forced an incompletion on this play. Again, Patrick Graham’s defense isn’t the reason the Giants lost against Miami; the inept offense and questionable head coaching decisions were a much bigger issue than the Giants’ defense.