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4 Downs: Takeaways from Giants’ loss to Jets

NFL: AUG 28 Preseason - Giants at Jets Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New York Giants concluded their 2022 preseason with a 31-27 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday. The Jets led a 10 play, 76 yard drive that ended in a 4th & 5 touchdown pass from Chris Strevelar to wide receiver Calvin Jackson. The next time we’ll see the Giants take the field is week one in Tennessee against the reigning first seed in the AFC.

In just two days, every NFL team will release 27 players. The Giants will be active as teams make difficult decisions throughout the league. Every snap, every situation, is an opportunity to prove oneself to evaluators across the football world.

Most of the starters, including Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney, the starting offensive line (other than Feliciano), Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Darnay Holmes, Adoree’ Jackson, Julian Love, and Xavier McKinney did not play in the third preseason game.

Notable starters who played include Kenny Golladay, Wan’Dale Robinson, Blake Martinez, Tae Crowder, Aaron Robinson, and Jihad Ward (who did play).

First down - Tough breaks

Unfortunately, we continue to beat this deceased version of Mr. Ed. Injuries, injuries, injuries. The Giants suffered several notable injuries throughout training camp, presumably prompting several key starters to sit.

Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor took a big hit from rookie edge defender Michael Clemons as he rolled to his right in an attempt to extend a play. Taylor was brought into the blue medical tent and left the field on a cart. Davis Webb received every snap after Taylor’s injury.

After three catches for 37 yards, rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger left the game in the second quarter with a possible concussion. The Giants have a precarious tight end situation, and the rookie figures to be the primary option. Veteran defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes was also carted into the locker room.

Second down - Running back room

Running back coach DeAndre Smith has done an excellent job with this squad. We’ve covered and theorized the Giants’ running back competition since the start of training camp. Antonio Williams, Gary Brightwell, and Jashaun Crobin flashed through their duties when they played, and we now witnessed our first preseason sighting of Matt Brieda, who had three carries for one yard.

Breida’s snaps with the first squad were uninspiring but brief and suggested that he should be safe since he was quickly relieved by Gary Brightwell. The second -year running back missed the last preseason game, and he looked explosive.

Brightwell earning snaps over Williams and Corbin is not a definitive indication that he’s above them on the depth chart, but one can speculate. Williams also saw first half snaps but had a bad fumble on a massive hit from Jets’ linebacker Kwon Alexander.

Corbin did not receive any first half snaps but played the entire second half. Corbin was a crucial part of the Giants’ second touchdown drive to start the third quarter. He had a 20 yard catch on fourth-and-4, and he scored the touchdown after wide receiver Keelan Doss drew a defensive pass interference.

Corbin looked good against the second-team defense. His playing time suggests he’s destined for the practice squad, but he performed well in the action he saw.

Third down - Austin Calitro

A season-ending injury to Darrian Beavers opened a potential path to the roster for another second-level defender, and journeyman Austin Calitro is making the most of his opportunity. Through two preseason games, Calitro is the eighth highest graded linebacker, and rookie fifth- round selection Micah McFadden is the fourth highest.

Calitro had an interception against the Patriots, and he did an excellent job sinking underneath a running back to intercept Joe Flacco. Calitro also had a fumble recovery (on a forced fumble by McFadden), and he undercut a second-and-1 run for a 1-yard loss to force third down. Along with Yusuf Corker, he also stopped Jets’ RB Ty Johnson on fourth-and-1.

Calitro is 6’0, 240 pounds, on his 11th stop in four years. Calitro seized the day since signing with the Giants at the end of July. He’s competing for a roster spot over 2020 seventh round selection Carter Coughlin.

Fourth down - Cornerback tackling

Veteran starters Adoree’ Jackson and Darnay Holmes were not required to play in the third preseason game, but young cornerbacks - who figure to have important rolls this season - played. Both Aaron Robinson and rookie third-round pick Cor’Dale Flott missed tackles in important spots, Flott missed two.

Both Robinson and Flott have the temperament to be assets in run support, but their technique was sloppy. In a heavy pressure system, cornerbacks may be squared up in space against a running back; that position must succeed in coverage and be sound tacklers.

Robinson missed a tackle against Michael Carter on the edge before UDFA safety Trenton Thompson made an impressive open field tackle. Flott overplayed a quick pass to Braxton Berrios that led to a 21-yard touchdown - he was a bit too aggressive in that situation.

Flott also missed another tackle in space. The Giants' third string corners had some poor tackle attempts while the Jets were operating the two-minute drill at the end of the game. It’s not the end of the world, but one would like to see better tackling efficiency from players who will see the field this season.