Saquon Barkley is currently the betting favorite to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year. He is, of course, having a fabulous year and will deserve whatever accolades come his way. For my money, though, a different member of the New York Giants is the one who should be talked about for the ‘Comeback’ award.
For me, if the Giants add offensive lineman Nick Gates to their 53-man roster this week, he becomes the Comeback Player of the Year. Period. It has been less than 14 months since Gates suffered that horrid left leg fracture in Week 2 last season against Washington. There was concern he would lose that leg. At the least, there were thoughts his career was over. There were seven surgeries to fix the damage. There is a metal rod holding that leg together. There has been incredible, long, painstaking rehab to get Gates to a point where he might now be a real NFL player again.
Gates is still on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, but has been practicing with the team for the past three weeks. The Giants have until Wednesday to decide whether to add Gates to the 53-man roster, or to leave him sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Coach Brian Daboll said “we’ll see” on Monday when asked about activating Gates, adding that he expected to have that discussion Monday night to determine what the organization would do.
Now, all Gates — and the rest of us — can do is wait to see what the decision is. With a need for depth at guard and center in the wake of Ben Bredeson’s injury, there is certainly a place for Gates if the Giants believe he is ready.
Gates’ recovery is already an incredible story. It might get even better over the next day or so.
Giants-Jaguars second look
In re-watching the condensed version of Giants-Jaguars (thanks to the glacial pace of NFL+ I haven’t yet had the chance to watch the All-22 version) I concluded that I need to issue a pair of belated ‘Kudos’ to deserving players.
Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson had two critical pass breakups in the fourth quarter on Sunday. He knocked away a third-and-5 pass from Evan Engram with the Giants leading 20-17, forcing a punt with 4:40 to play. Jackson then batted down a Trevor Lawrence pass for Zay Jones in the end zone with 16 seconds to play.
Nick McCloud made three huge plays on Sunday. A tremendous special teams player, McCloud blocked a Jacksonville extra point. Subbing at cornerback when Jackson was removed for a concussion check, McCloud made two big defensive plays.
On McCloud’s first defensive snap, the Jaguars challenged him with a deep ball to Marvin Jones. McCloud was perfectly positioned and the ball sailed harmlessly out of bounds.
Four plays later, on a second-and-5 from the Giants’ 25-yard line, McCloud knifed across from the opposite side of the field to cut down Christian Kirk a yard short of a first down. Two plays later, the Giants stuffed Lawrence on fourth-and-1. That game-changing play, obviously is not possible without McCloud’s effort.
Kayvon Thibodeaux is doing just fine
No. 5 overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux still has one only one sack, the game-deciding strip-sack of Lamar Jackson a week ago, but if you don’t realize that Thibodeaux is having a huge impact then I have to question if you understand what you’re watching.
Thibodeaux was credited with only three tackles and one pressure on Sunday, but that doesn’t reflect how much Thibodeaux impacted the pocket. Or, for that matter that he was egregiously held at least twice without flags being thrown.
Highest pass rush win rates at Edge in Week 7, through the late afternoon window.— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) October 24, 2022
Best PRWR games from Ebiketie, Thibodeaux and Hutchinson so far.
(ESPN Analytics / NGS) pic.twitter.com/4NdFqkU2Q1
I also hope that by now people have realized that questions about Thibodeaux’s motor coming out of Oregon appear to be nonsense. Look at this stuff from Thibodeaux on Sunday:
Giants 1st round pick @kayvont is so fun to watch on film.— Lᴀᴡʀᴇɴᴄᴇ Tʏɴᴇs (@lt4kicks) October 24, 2022
▪️Energy and effort jump off the tape ▪️Don’t get into stat lines, KT was a disruptive force blowing up blocks, chasing down backs, and pressuring the QB.
▪️Should have had a few more holding calls.
Daniel Jones and pocket presence
There was a time when it was legitimate to criticize Daniel Jones for not having enough awareness in the pocket. Not being aware of when the rush was coming, and where it was coming from, was a big part of his fumbling issues early in his career.
It’s impossible to watch Jones play the game now and say he doesn’t have pocket presence.
Watch him climb the pocket on his 14-yard first-quarter scramble, on Sunday then ultimately decide to run. Watch him step up in the pocket consistently to find a throwing lane. Watch him move away from pressure and throw the ball away.
I wondered early in Jones’ career if that pocket presence was something that could be learned/taught/developed. Apparently, it can. Because there was a time Jones did not seem to have it. Now, he does.