The New York Giants are no longer undefeated, having fallen at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night, 23-16. Let’s get to the always sure to cause disagreement ‘Kudos & Wet Willies,’ our unique way of reviewing which Giants deserve praise, and which deserve criticism.
Kudos to ...
Daniel Jones — Some of you will look at a 20 of 37 for 196 yards and an interception night, at Jones’ 57.9 passer rating, at the fact that the Giants scored only one touchdown and 16 total points, and scoff at the notion that the quarterback deserves ‘Kudos’ for his performance on Monday night.
In my view, though, Jones absolutely deserves ‘Kudos’ after what he did against Dallas.
Forget the passing stats and the passer rating. Jones played with courage. He played with determination. For most of the night, he was the Giants’ offense.
Aside from Saquon Barkley’s 36-yard touchdown run, the Giants’ best offense all night came when Jones escaped a broken pocket on a number of occasions to make plays with his legs. Jones had runs of 17 and 14 yards. He ran nine times for 78 yards, 8.8 yards per carry. The Giants got 10 first downs running the ball, and Jones carried for six of those.
Jones was sacked five times in 42 drop backs. Official stats have him being hit 12 times, though it seemed like far more. NextGen Stats said Jones was pressured on 17 drop backs, or 40.5 percent. Again, seemed like far more. If you can find the 59.5 percent of drop backs on which he wasn’t pressured, please let me know. I think our friends at NextGen might be telling a fib, a little white lie on ‘White Out’ night.
Something REALLY interesting happened in the post-game locker room — something I don’t recall over the previous three seasons. Player after player was talking about how they had let their quarterback down.
“We’ve just got to come out and get in a better rhythm and have 8’s (Daniel Jones) back,” said starting center Jon Feliciano. “Everyone knows we got to help 8, especially when he’s out there doing what he’s doing: just never giving up on the play, taking big hits, making plays with his legs. I mean, he did everything he could out there. And this loss is on us up front, not on 8.”
David Sills, who slipped down and couldn’t complete his route, took the blame on the interception that ended the Giants’ hopes of a comeback.
“Can’t let the offense down like that, can’t let down eight like that. Just can’t happen,” Sills said. “We got a lot of fighters on this team. You know, and our leader number eight is the biggest fighter of all. I love watching that guy play. I love watching him compete. He knows we all have his back because he damn sure has our back.”
Left tackle Andrew Thomas said he “definitely” felt like the offensive line had let Jones down.
“As an offensive line we want to protect DJ. We know we’re going against good rushers but our job as an offensive line is protect the depth and the width of the pocket,” he said. “We do our job then DJ and our playmakers can make plays for us. If we’re not doing that it makes it tough for them.”
Saquon Barkley was another player who felt the offense did not do enough to support the quarterback.
“We’ve got to be better. We’ve got to make plays for him,” Barkley said. “Daniel, he’s a hell of a competitor, a heck of player. I know a lot of people say a lot of negative things about him, but like I say, he comes to work every single today and he made some great plays today —one of the best throws I’ve seen I think — that throw to (WR) Richie (James) on the sideline. It was a heck of a play, especially when we needed it most.”
Graham Gano — The veteran placekicker continued to be an incredible weapon for the Giants. Gano made a pair of 51-yard field goals, the fifth time in 35 games as a Giant he had made two 50+ yard field goals. The only other kicker in franchise history to do that was Raul Allegre, who made 52- and 53-yard kicks in a 1987 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Gano did have a 47-yard attempt blocked.
Saquon Barkley — His 36-yard run provided the Giants’ only touchdown. Barkley had 81 yards on 14 carries (5.8 yards per attempt) and caught four passes for 45 more yards.
Azeez Ojulari — In his first game of the season, Ojulari was credited with just one tackle. He drew a pair of holding penalties and a false start, though, as the Cowboys struggled to handle his pass rush.
Wet Willies to ...
Evan Neal — The rookie right tackle gave up three sacks to veteran defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. He committed a false start. This was a game most likely unlike any the seventh overall pick had ever experienced, and it left him struggling to come to grips with it.
Neal sat on a stool in front of his locker after the game looking at his feet while trying to explain what had happened to a throng of media members. He answered questions politely, but not once did he look up at the group surrounding him.
“I’ve just gotta toss it, man. Watch the film, allow myself to grieve about it tomorrow and get back to work on Wednesday. We’ve got Chicago on Sunday,” Neal said. “I hate being on the end of this, to be honest, but all I can do is come out on Wednesday with a good attitude, get better.”
Well, the Giants gave him a chance on Monday night. He played 24 snaps and failed miserably. He was targeted three times and did not catch a pass. Golladay dropped a fourth-quarter third-and-13 pass where he might have had an opportunity to turn upfield and challenge for the first down had he caught the pass. He said he was “beating myself up” over the drop.
“I was running before I really secured the ball. That’s pretty much all that that was. That’s stuff that can’t happen, especially when 8 (Daniel Jones) is pretty much doing everything to get us the ball and to get us in position to win the football game,” Golladay said. “I want to be a guy that can make that play, so I definitely put that on myself. It was third down and that can’t happen.”
Golladay also couldn’t haul in a fourth-and-2 pass in the second quarter that was behind him, but perhaps still catchable.
If you are going to complain, you have to produce when you get the opportunity you seek. Golladay did the first part last week. He couldn’t get the second part done against the Cowboys.
Golladay did have a 20-yard catch negated by a penalty, but his night was simply not productive.
Offensive line — Neal was hardly the only offensive lineman to struggle. Aside from Thomas, none of the linemen played well. Mark Glowinski, Jon Feliciano and Ben Bredeson — who played every snap at left guard — all had their difficulties.
Jones had no real chance to get the ball down the field. It was get rid of the ball quickly or start running away from onrushing Cowboys on most pass attempts. Only one of Jones’ 20 completions was on a pass more than 15 yards down the field.
The Giants did open some holes for Barkley to run in the second half, but most of their best running plays were Jones escaping a collapsing pocket and making something happen.
“I don’t think particularly we played very well up front and other places that are not my job,” Feliciano said. “And they know. Everyone knows we got to help 8, especially when he’s out there doing what he’s doing: just never giving up on the play, taking big hits, making plays with his legs. I mean, he did everything he could out there. And this loss is on us up front, not on 8.”
“We would like to keep him more upright in the pocket and let him be able to throw because when we gets time he can be accurate. He can make plays for us, but we’ve just gotta do a better job,” Thomas said. “As an offensive line we want to protect DJ. We know we’re going against good rushers but our job as an offensive lines is protect the depth and the width of the pocket. We do our job then DJ and our playmakers can make plays for us. If we’re not doing that it makes it tough for them.”
Run defense — The Giants gave up 176 yards rushing on 30 carries, 5.9 yards per rushing attempt. Tony Pollard averaged 8.1 yards per carry (13 carries, 105 yards) and had a 46-yard run. Ezekiel Elliott had a 27-yard run to highlight his 15-carry, 73-yard night.
Pass rush — While Jones was running for his life on nearly every pass attempt, Dallas quarterback Cooper Rush was sitting comfortably in the pocket surveying the field. Rush was never sacked while going 21 of 31 for 215 yards and a touchdown. He was hit only twice and was rarely bothered by Giants’ pass rushers.
The Giants didn’t want to use Leonard Williams’ absence as an excuse for their struggles up front, but just a reminder that Williams (sprained MCL) missed the first game of his eight-year career on Monday night.