About those fourth-down decisions
In my Sunday column, I mentioned that I thought the Giants should have gone for the first down in fourth-quarter situations Thursday against Washington where they opted for 52- and 55-yard field goals by Graham Gano, each of which gave the Giants six-point leads.
The analytics support that the Giants should have gone for it on both occasions.
Now, a 0.2 percent difference is miniscule. A difference of a full 3.0 percentage points is not. Especially on the second one going for it and failing wasn’t going to hurt the Giants that much. Going for it and succeeding would have given them a chance to take a two-score lead with less than five minutes to play, pretty much salting away a victory.
Just another interesting note: The Giants were among the least-aggressive teams on fourth down a year ago, which might be surprising with a young head coach who should — theoretically — be well-versed in fourth-down analytics.
The Giants are being more vertical
Throughout the offseason there was a constant call for offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to be more vertical in his passing attack, to get the ball deeper down the field in an effort to create more explosive plays.
Through two games, that is happening.
Daniel Jones is averaging 9.7 intended air yards per attempt. The only starting quarterbacks averaging more are Russell Wilson and Trevor Lawrence. Jones averaged just 7.1 intended air yards a season ago. Jones has six completions of 20 or more yards, an average of 3.0 per game. He had 31 last year in 14 games, an average of 2.2.
So, a positive sign from the passing attack.
About the offensive line
There have been some encouraging signs from the offensive line in pass protection. Here are a few notes.
- Andrew Thomas is off to an encouraging start. He has given up just four hurries in 88 pass-blocking snaps, a Pro Football Focus pass-blocking efficiency rating of 97.5. His pass-blocking efficiency score last season was a dismal 94.2.
- Right tackle Nate Solder has surrendered a sack and four total pressures, with a 96.2 pass-blocking efficiency score. That’s right on his career 96.3 mark. Solder gave up just one pressure vs. Washington. Significantly, he played every snap. Matt Peart never got off the bench.
- The Giants’ primary offensive line issue right now might be at center. Billy Price gave up a sack and five total pressures, with a miniscule 8.7 pass-blocking grade and a 92.1 pass-blocking efficiency score. Unless Price plays significantly better against the Atlanta Falcons, and perhaps even if he does, it won’t be any surprise to see Matt Skura begin to get some reps there.
Other notable numbers
- Cornerback James Bradberry is not off to a great start. He has given up 12 completions in 15 targets, a passer rating against of 110.4.
- Second-round pick Azeez Ojulari is the first Giants player to record sacks in his first two career games. The Giants’ only other sack is by safety Logan Ryan. Leonard Williams has six pressures, Dexter Lawrence five and Lorenzo Carter four, but none has gotten all the way home.
- The Giants are giving up 5.0 yards per rushing attempt, nearly a full yard more than the 4.1 they surrendered a season ago.