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After further review: Tales from the Giants-Vikings Week 16 timeline

A look back at the first time New York and Minnesota met

NFL: DEC 24 Giants at Vikings

We at Big Blue View have decided to post a deeper dive into interesting tweets from the previous week’s game. We started doing this after the New York Giants 38-10 Week 17 win over Indianapolis.

Since we did not post this article in Week 16 after the Giants lost 27-24 on a last-second 61-yard field goal by Minnesota’s Greg Joseph, we felt it was necessary to dive into tales from the timeline from that game.

Let’s start with an impressive double-move from Isaiah Hodgins:

The Giants took advantage of a weak Minnesota pass defense. Quarterback Daniel Jones completed 30 of 42 passes for 335 yards, and wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins was the focal point of the passing attack. The 24-year-old caught eight of 10 targets for 89 yards and a touchdown.

The Vikings brought a five-man pressure on second-and-four just before the two-minute warning in the first half. Hodgins ran an excellent double move by faking the slant, which got Patrick Peterson (7) to bite; this created ample separation for Hodgins, who made a diving catch for a 29-yard gain.

The Vikings ran man to the field-side; the safety in the pre-snap two-high, middle-of-the-field (MOFO), look assumed man coverage responsibilities on Richie James (80), with linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) taking Saquon Barkley (26) to the flat.

I mention this because the Giants frequently used switch releases throughout the game. To the field (or wide) side, the No. 2 WR (James) and the No. 1 (outside most WR, Darius Slayton 86) switch their release once the routes are distributed, with James becoming the No. 1 receiver off the post-wheel - a common concept used by the Giants all season.

On many plays similar to this one, the Giants look to hit the backside drag or in route, whose path enters the Post-Wheel side, which acts as a clear out. However, Jones does well to hold the safety between the numbers and hash, while Hodgins does a great job selling the inside break to create enough separation for Jones to deliver the football. Hodgins is deceptively excellent at running double moves, and it’s one of the many reasons why he’s excelled this season.

Speaking of double-moves, Darius Slayton turned Peterson around on this sluggo-flat combination where Slayton sold the slant very well. A sluggo route is a Slant-Go double move where the WR fakes the slant (hard inside step, head fake, shoulder turned) in order to get the cornerback’s momentum biting inside on a slant. Once the CB bites, the WR presses vertically and either separates entirely like Dennis Reynolds or runs through the defensive hold that many CBs opt to execute.

On this specific play, Peterson opens his hips and is undercut by Slayton, so the veteran cornerback does a speed turn. Slayton does a great job performing his double move in Peterson’s blind spot. Jones doesn’t throw the ball, and picks up the first down with his legs.

Jones hasn’t attacked the post-wheel often, but he did in the third quarter with 7:21 left on a second-and-eight. Minnesota transitioned their defense from a pre-snap two-high MOFO defense to a Cover-1 look, and the Giants used the switch release again. James worked outside the numbers, and Kenny Golladay (19) created the pick to disallow the apex defender from working through the traffic.

Daniel Jones is on the far-hash - a throw he doesn’t attempt too often - but he diagnosed the coverage, saw the field safety stay between the 40-50 yard line, and knew he had James outside the numbers on the wheel route. Jones fired the ball from the far hash into James, who was unoccupied due to Golladay’s (would-be) post occupying two defenders. Four plays later, the Giants kick a field goal after Jones was sacked by D.J. Wonnum.

Here’s another impressive catch by Hodgins on a third-and-4 conversion against a defender aligned in press. Hodgins is aligned to the field side, outside the numbers; he forced the CB to hesitate at the top of his break. Hodgins opened the cornerback’s hips with a hard sell before exploding well out of his break. Jones delivered the football tightly to Hodgins, who absorbed the contact and moved the sticks with a 6-yard pickup. Unfortunately, Daniel Bellinger fumbled the football three plays later, and the Giants had 14 and 10-yard gains on two consecutive plays.

Jones has found a rhythm in the red zone on plays similar to the one above. Hodgins, James, Bellinger, and Slayton have all done well to extemporize and find space away from defenders to open a throwing window for Jones. The quarterback’s ability to use his legs also draws defenders out of coverage and up toward the line of scrimmage, allowing Jones to throw behind them.

Ahhh, so this is where Davis Webb learned how to master the truck stick, eh? But seriously, no one wants their starting quarterback potentially getting hurt by lowering his shoulder against a linebacker. However, when it does happen in a high-leverage spot like this third-and-ten situation, one can’t help but admire Jones’ resolve.

The zone-read element of the play holds the unblocked defender in place, allowing Barkley to approach the line of scrimmage. The double team by Jon Feliciano (76) and Mark Glowinski (64) absorbs the 2-technique and easily climbs to Kendricks, who couldn’t see Barkley’s location. The play is a fourth-and-two, so the Vikings anticipated pass with the Giants 11 personnel package - there were no defensive linemen in a three or four-point stance to the left of the center.

Nick Gates had an important block on Za’Darius Smith (55), who aligned in the B-Gap. Gates did a great job engaging Smith and allowing Barkley to hit the 1-Hole in the A-Gap. That isolated the alley defender - the last line of defense - against Barkley. Saquon Barkley’s ability to erase angles and explode like he was coming out of a Howitzer led to a touchdown rush for 26.

Here are some excellent Andrew Thomas clips from the game:


I swear Azeez Ojulari’s bend and burst have improved from his impressive rookie season. Ojulari earned a third-and-three sack by defeating Christian Darrisaw (71) with a Ghost technique. The Ghost technique - one of Von Miller’s favorites - is a pass-rushing move where the defender wins high side by faking a long-arm attempt (not necessary) to prompt the offensive linemen to punch before dipping his inside shoulder and beating the tackle, forcing a misjudged/timed punch like a matador. Ojulari timed his dip excellently before turning the corner and lunging into the pocket for the sack.

Landon Collins did a great job diagnosing T.J. Hockenson’s corner route out of EMPTY tight splits between the hash and the numbers. Hockenson started as the No. 3 (inner-most) option and switch released to the No. 2 spot. Collins calmly flowed over the top of the traffic and waited for Hockenson’s break. He made a good play through the catch point to force the incompletion, albeit a better throw more than likely would have resulted in a completed pass.

One underrated trait about Wink Martindale is how he optimizes matchups along the defensive front. Yes, he brings pressure; yes, he schemes number advantages; yes, he schemes free rushers, but he also aligns his players in a manner to force one-on-one matchups that exploit the critical vulnerabilities of the opposition.

On this third-and-one, a play where the Giants surely thought there could be a run against 12 personnel. Martindale aligned Lawrence as a 1-shade, with Ryder Anderson as the 2i-shade and Jihad Ward as the 4i-shade. Both Anderson and Ward were tasked to engage each guard, which would isolate the center against Lawrence. Dexter Lawrence used his length, power, and a swim move to separate and pressure Kirk Cousins, resulting in an incomplete pass.

Here are some quality Micah McFadden reps. He’s not perfect, but his ability to come downhill and fill with physicality is a solid building block for his potential moving forward:

Other tweets