For the second time in two weeks, the Giants lost a game they absolutely should have won. And before we dig into the snap counts on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, we need to take a look at the game from a macro perspective to see just how bad this loss actually was.
The Giants controlled this game, pretty much from the Falcons’ opening possession.
- New York had more passing and rushing yardage (246 to 227 and 100 to 69)
- More first downs (21 to 18)
- Better 3rd down efficiency (50 percent to 38 percent)
- More sacks (3 to 2)
- Won time of possession (31:51 to 28:09)
The only three areas the Giants didn’t beat the Falcons? Completion percentage (75 percent to 68 percent), penalties (8 for 53 yards to 4 for 28 yards), and points scored.
Overall, this was the Giants’ game to win — or lose, as it happened. The win probability chart shows a stunning collapse in a game that the Giants had multiple opportunities to win on their own terms.
The Giants controlled this game from start to (almost) finish. After the two point conversion to top their 4th quarter touchdown drive, the Giants had an 83.6 percent chance of winning the game. That ticked up to 85.1 percent after the defense tackled Cordarrelle Patterson for a 1-yard loss to force a third-and-8 with 11:34 left to go in the game. Instead, the Falcons capped a 15-play, 72-yard touchdown drive that tied the game with 4:16 to go. The Giants still should have been able to close out the game, but a 9-yard strip sack by Dante Fowler Jr. derailed the Giants’ 4-minute drill and gave the Falcons the ball back with three timeouts inside of the 2-minute warning.
Okay, on to the individual snaps and stats.
Offense - 70 total snaps
The most interesting facet of the Giants’ snap counts on the offensive side of the ball is how they adapted to the injuries suffered by Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton.
Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney played 48 and 46 snaps, respectively. Reserve wide receiver Collin Johnson played 34 snaps, while C.J. Board played 22 snaps. The Giants also made use of all of their tight ends, with Evan Engram playing 39 snaps, Kyle Rudolph playing 29 snaps and Kaden Smith playing 28.
Overall, Golladay was the Giants’ leading receiver with four catches on five targets for 61 yards. The Giants appeared to move Golladay into the slot more than in previous weeks following the loss of Shepard, and it seemed to be a good move for him. While Golladay still didn’t produce up to expectations, he did manage to generate separation from Atlanta’s secondary (3.1 yards of separation on average).
Interestingly, running back Devontae Booker was a healthy scratch, listed as a “coaches decision”. Saquon Barkley took 60 offensive snaps, and tied Collin Johnson as Daniel Jones’ most targeted receiver, with 7 targets. Barkley also had his season-high in rushes with 16, bringing his total touches to 22 on the day. Unfortunately, he only averaged 3.2 yards per carry on the ground, despite seeing just one “stacked” box on Sunday.
This has become something of a frustrating problem over the first three weeks. Per NFL NextGenStats, Barkley has only run against 8+ man boxes three times this year. However, he is still only averaging 3.4 yards per carry and averages nearly half a yard (0.47) less per carry than GPS tracking suggests he should.
The problem is likely two fold. First, the Giants’ patchwork offensive line just isn’t consistently opening holes for the Giants’ running backs. But also, Barkley isn’t seeing — or hitting — the holes that are opened. He has always been a “boom or bust” runner who’s electric highlights make up for the yards missed when he can’t out-athlete an entire defense. But Barkley continues to work his way back from his torn ACL, and defense have learned to swarm him and not count on one or two guys to bring him down, those bursts of production just haven’t been there.
Defense - 62 total plays
The Giants suffered a huge loss early in the game. Starting middle linebacker and defensive captain Blake Martinez went down after just five snaps, suffering a torn ACL.
Second year linebacker Tae Crowder inherited the green dot, becoming the defense’s signal caller, and played all 61 of the defense’s 62 snaps.
The Giants leaned on their nickel and dime packages, starting safeties Logan Ryan (62 snaps), Xavier McKinney (60 snaps), and Jabrill Peppers (43 snaps). Additionally, DB Julian Love played 20 snaps, while rookie CB Rodarius Williams played 17 snaps.
Interestingly, the Giants seemingly sacrificed an edge defender to make room for additional defensive backs.
Defensive linemen Leonard Williams (49 snaps) and Dexter Lawrence (43 snaps) played most of the game, as did iLB Reggie Ragland (40 snaps). Meanwhile, edge defenders Azeez Ojulari and Lorenzo Carter played 32 and 31 snaps, respectively. Fellow edge Oshane Ximines saw just 17 snaps.
It will be interesting to see if the loss of Martinez results in a larger workload for Carter Coughlin. Coughlin has primarily been a special teams player for the Giants, logging 21 special teams snaps this week, while seeing just 5 defensive snaps. Coughlin turned heads with his play in space and as a blitzer in the preseason, though the Giants might want to keep the veteran Ragland on the field to help Tae Crowder.