This was, easily, the Giants’ most complete game of the year, as they dominated a lost Colts team on offense and defense. New York has also secured its first playoff berth since going 11-6 in 2016. There isn’t a lot of complexity or nuance to this game, at least not on first blush.
So, what can we take away from a game that was decided in the first 25 minutes?
First down: The Giants are going to the playoffs
This game was over before the first half was out. It was over after about 10 minutes into the second quarter.
This was, easily, the Giants’ best game of the season — granted, the Colts didn’t exactly make it hard on them (more on that in a bit). New York probably would have liked to clinch their playoff berth a couple weeks ago and not flirt with the novel possibility of being a .500 team in a 17-game season. But they couldn’t have asked for a better match-up and got the win they needed when they needed it.
This was, frankly, a slaughter as things quickly snowballed on the Colts after the Giants’ early second quarter touchdown.
Now the Giants will look ahead to a road trip to take on the Philadelphia Eagles and then likely to San Francisco to take on the 49ers. If the Giants beat the 49ers, they’ll get the Eagles again, for the third time in five weeks. Giants fans should absolutely savor this victory, but it’s back to work on Monday because things will get considerably harder over the next couple weeks.
Second down: The Colts are bad bad
As I said above, we knew Indianapolis was bad and that while the Giants are a flawed team, they just had to not beat themselves to have a good shot at the win.
But wow, this Colts team is legitimately atrocious and definitely took over for the Jaguars the NFL’s “train wreck”.
While Lovie Smith’s Texans are bereft of talent, they fight and try to elevate their level of play. The Colts actually have talent on their roster, but you wouldn’t know it from watching them play. Their offense is an albatross with offensive line that actually is as bad as Giants fans think New York’s has been, and terrible quarterback play that is the worst situation in the NFL.
The Colts’ defense is a bit better, but they were missing their leading pass rusher, second-best corner and two other top defensive backs by the second quarter. Gus Bradley’s scheme has been good in the past, but when you run a defined scheme with well-known vulnerabilities (ie: a base Cover-3 scheme), you need the players to compensate. The Colts don’t, and what’s worse, they appeared to give up after Landon Collins’ Pick 6.
This game puts a bright highlight on the work of Brian Daboll, Mike Kafka, and Wink Martindale have done in their first year in New York. The Colts were probably considered the more talented team coming into the season, but the difference in coaching was on stark display this week. As I’ve been saying since about Week 5, there’s a very good argument that the Giants have one of the (if not the) best coaching staffs in the NFL.
By contrast, Indianapolis has quickly gone from a flagship franchise to an absolute mess, and the rest of the AFC South probably hopes that Jeff Saturday sticks around as head coach.
Third down: “Landon Collins, you magnificent bastard”
It felt like I was saying that every week when Collins had his historic 2016 season. But then the Giants’ locker room fractured under Ben McAdoo and Collins was allowed to leave by Dave Gettleman. The veteran safety was solid for the Washington Commanders, but he struggled with injury and was never able to play as well as he had for Steve Spagnuolo.
Now back with the Giants, Collins is healthy and in a system that will allow him to be used aggressively at the second level — exactly how he succeeded in his first stint. We saw that as soon as the Giants started getting him on the field, and he’s only played better since joining the active roster. His pick six was a vintage “2016 Collins” play, and was an absolute backbreaker for the Colts.
Whether you call him a box safety or a linebacker, Collins is a player who should probably stick with the Giants after this season.
Fourth down: Daniel Jones’ efficient day
We got a report from Ian Rapoport earlier on Sunday that the Giants are at least interested in re-signing Jones and Saquon Barkley after the season. The cheers of Giants fans likely cemented that decision in the minds of the Giants’ brass.
Things started off a bit shaky as Colts defenders got their hands on two of Jones’ passes on the first drive but they failed to haul them in.
Jones, and the Giants, quickly settled down after that, leaning on their running game to move the ball the down the field. Once the Giants opened a seemingly-insurmountable 7-3 lead over the hapless Colts offense, they were able to do pretty much whatever they wanted. Perhaps Bradley’s tendencies are too strong, but it seemed as though Kafka (The Tendency Exploiter™) always knew what as coming, and always had the right coverage-beater called.
With the Giants’ receivers finding all the voids in the Colts’ zone-based defense, Jones proceeded to play a very efficient game that took advantage every weakness in Gus Bradley’s defense.
Extra point - Get well soon, Nick Foles
If there was one damper on this game, it was the injury to Nick Foles. Plays like that remind us that football is an inherently dangerous game where young men are putting their short and long-term health on the line for our entertainment.
Foles is a (two-time) former Eagle who has found himself in the “Mike Glennon” tier of quarterbacks, but that doesn’t mean he deserves to get hurt. Seeing him on the ground in obvious pain was scary and instantly brought images of Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion earlier this year to mind. Hopefully, Foles’ injury (which is being reported as a rib injury) isn’t serious and he’ll be able to get healthy soon.