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‘Kudos & Wet Willies’: Daniel Jones’ fire as noteworthy as his good play

Let’s see which Giants deserve praise and which do not after Sunday’s victory over the Jaguars

NFL: New York Giants at Jacksonville Jaguars
Daniel Jones
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are 6-1. Yes, 6-1. Sunday was yet another come-from-behind, nail-biting victory, this time over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Let’s get to our traditional ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ review.

Kudos to ...

Daniel Jones — It’s hard to argue with ESPN’s Mike Greenberg right now.

Jones went 19 of 30 passing for 202 yards and a touchdown. He would have completed several more passes with better work from his wide receivers. He ran for 107 yards. He led his fifth game-winning drive and fourth fourth-quarter comeback of the season. He played with fire. I’m not sure how much more anyone could want from a quarterback.

Tyre Phillips and Joshua Ezeudu — Phillips (58 snaps) replaced Evan Neal at right tackle and Ezeudu (61 snaps) took over for Ben Bredeson at left guard when those two starting offensive linemen went out with knee injuries. Neither player was perfect and we will see what Pro Football Focus has to say, but I thought both guys did their jobs. The Giants totaled a season-best 436 yards on offense, scored 10 fourth-quarter points, and chewed up more than three minutes while protecting a lead at the end of the game. They should have chewed up more with better clock management. Ezeudu was a third-round pick by GM Joe Schoen and Phillips a waiver claim from the Baltimore Ravens.

Fabian Moreau — The veteran cornerback began the year on the Giants’ practice squad, and has played well since injuries forced the Giants to turn to him. On Sunday, he had seven tackles, a pass defensed, an interception nullified by a penalty and was credited by Julian Love with being the defender who made the game-ending stop of Christian Kirk at the goal line possible. Moreau played every snap. At this point, it’s hard to imagine Aaron Robinson getting his job back if and when he returns this season.

Wan’Dale Robinson — The rookie second-round pick had his most productive day as a pro, catching six passes for 50 yards. All of that, interestingly, came in the first half. Robinson gained 18 yards on a jet sweep and showed some of the elusiveness the Giants were looking for when they drafted him.

Xavier McKinney and Julian Love — McKinney and Love were part of the Giants’ two biggest defensive plays of the game. In the first half, McKinney stripped Jacksonville running back Travis Etienne at the 5-yard line when it seemed the Jaguars were headed for a touchdown, and Love recovered. In the second half, they were part of the triumvirate (with Moreau) that kept Kirk out of the end zone on the game’s final play.

Giants’ fans in Jacksonville — Look at the photo of Giants’ fans celebrating at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville at the end of the game. Check out a cigar-smoking coach Brian Daboll greeting fans as the Giants headed to their bus after the game.

Giants’ fans have been starving for good football for most of the last decade. They are certainly enjoying this ride, and being part of it.

“It [fan support] was awesome. Even coming out before the game, to see all the blue, and it was almost like a home game at the end there. They were screaming and yelling, and they traveled well,” Daboll said. “I certainly think it was an advantage for us at the end there, and we appreciate their support big time.”

Wet Willies to ...

Marcus Johnson — Three passes thrown to him, no catches, two drops, one unusual emotional outburst from Daniel Jones launched in his direction. Johnson did a really nice job for a few weeks to earn his spot on the 53-man roster. He isn’t, though, going to keep it unless he does better than he did on Sunday.

Run defense — The Giants did what they had to do on defense Sunday. They got the game-deciding stop on the final play, and McKinney and Love combined on that huge first-half turnover. The run defense, though, again left a lot to be desired. The Giants entered the game last in the league in yards allowed per rushing attempt and Sunday won’t help.

Jacksonville ran 21 times for 142 yards (6.8 yards per attempt). Travis Etienne had 114 yards on 14 carries (8.1 yards per carry), including a 49-yard run.

The Giants are doing a lot of exotic and aggressive things on defense, playing far better in pass defense than most thought they would, and not giving up a ton of points. Eventually, though, the inconsistent run defense is going to hurt them.

Wink Martindale needs to get that figured out.

Kwillies to ...

Darius Slayton — The speedy wide receiver made a huge 32-yard touchdown catch on the Giants’ first drive. He had three receptions for 58 yards. Slayton’s day, though, should have been much better. He dropped a short pass from Jones on the first drive and couldn’t catch a beautifully thrown back shoulder deep ball in the second quarter that would have put the Giants in the red zone. You can argue about whether the second one was or was not a drop, but it was definitely a missed opportunity on a play that could have been made.

Saquon Barkley — Barkley’s running was huge in the fourth quarter and the Giants don’t win without it, but his clock management mistake at the end of the game almost ruined the effort.

Through three quarters, Barkley had 14 carries for just 38 yards. He finished with 24 carries for 110 yards.

Barkley said early in the game he “was running soft, thinking about the wrong things. (The) O-line was playing lights out. I’ve got to do a better job hitting the hole.”

He certainly didn’t run soft at the end of the game. His inability to stay inbounds and keep the clock running as the game wound down, though, made the finish more harrowing than it needed to be.