The New York Giants broke their four-game losing streak on Sunday in front of their home crowd against the Washington Commanders. The game featured a great defensive effort that had the Commanders’ Sam Howell under pressure all day plus signs of life in the Giants’ passing game, with Tyrod Taylor connecting on several deep shots to exciting rookie Jalin Hyatt, the first two touchdowns by the home team at MetLife this season, and good enough pass blocking to allow it to happen.
What do Pro Football Focus grades and snap counts tell us about why this game played out the way it did? Let’s take a look.
- Tyrod Taylor graded not quite above average overall (67.9), but that is misleading because it is affected by a 49.0 run grade that presumably reflects yards lost on sacks plus small gains on scrambles. Taylor’s 73.2 passing grade is more indicative of how he played yesterday.
- The Giants’ passing game got untracked with Taylor’s passes to Darren Waller (seven receptions in eight targets and his first TD as a Giant for a 80.7 receiving grade) and Jalin Hyatt, only two receptions in five targets but big ones for 75 yards (73.1 receiving grade). It’s nice to see Giants receivers grading above average.
- Even nicer is to see two Giants starting offensive linemen grading above average! Yes, you read it here first! Much-maligned Mark Glowinski, almost run out of town after his matador pass blocking against Dallas, has rebounded nicely, with a 73.6 grade yesterday, including 83.3 in pass blocking. Glowinski has quietly graded above 70 in pass blocking in four of his six games (the other bad game being in Miami). In those other four games he has permitted no sacks, no QB hits, and only two pressures.
- But wait, there’s more! Ben Bredeson, out of position at center, also graded above average overall (72.0), with an elite 83.9 pass blocking grade. No sacks, hits, or hurries allowed. Tyre Phillips, straight out of Stoutland University, graded 59.0 overall and 69.3 in pass blocking. Justin Pugh (49.4) and Marcus McKethan (47.6) had rough days, with Pugh having an especially bad time pass blocking (16.9), but that is what the re-emergent Chase Young will do to you. I’m sure he longs for Andrew Thomas to return so he can go back to guard.
- The five starting linemen played every snap - no injuries! Also, there were no jumbo packages yesterday, just a considerable number of two tight end sets, with Daniel Bellinger having become almost purely a blocking TE.
- The wide receiver rotation now seems to be set: Darius Slayton, Jalin Hyatt, and Wan’Dale Robinson getting the bulk of work in 11 personnel, Slayton and Isaiah Hodgins in 12 personnel. Sterling Shepard saw the field as a receiver a few more times this week, and there was also the occasional Parris Campbell sighting on offense, but these two are clearly the odd men out.
- Again, Giants’ starting linebackers Micah McFadden (89.8) and Bobby Okereke (75.1) excelled, with solid grades across the board in run support, tackling, pass rush, and coverage. The Giants are really thin at linebacker, with only three on the 53, but Okereke and McFadden are starting to become a strength of what is becoming an overall strong defense.
- The Giants’ pass rush was by far their best of the season, with 28 total pressures including 8 sacks and 4 QB hits. Dexter Lawrence (77.3 overall, 87.7 pass rush) abused Nick Gates all day with eight total pressures and two sacks. Kayvon Thibodeaux (69.5) had an overall solid day aside from his dropped pick-6, with five pressures and 1.5 sacks. The other defensive linemen had solid if unspectacular performances; I thought Leonard Williams deserved better than his 56.5 overall grade, weighed down by a 46.3 run defense grade. (He did get a 93.8 special teams grade for his blocked PAT, which is not included in his overall defense grade.)
- Tre Hawkins III was pressed into duty with Adoree’ Jackson out, and though he gave up three short completions in four targets, he graded 72.7 overall. Nick McCloud (70.7) played well too, with no receptions allowed in two targets. Cor’Dale Flott graded just below average (59.1), with five receptions in seven targets. Tae Banks (58.2) had an up-and-down day defending mostly Terry McLaurin, one of the NFL’s best. PFF had Banks giving up seven receptions in 11 targets for 96 yards, but he battled McLaurin all day, as he does every week, and had his first INT.
- As has become the norm, Jason Pinnock, Xavier McKinney, and Bobby Okereke played every down on defense.
- Kayvon Thibodeaux has emerged as a real workhorse on the edge, having played almost every down yesterday, which is unusual at that position and was exceeded only in the 49ers game. Jihad Ward played the majority of edge snaps on the other side, but Boogie Basham got more work than he has since Game 3.
- In the interior, the biggest change was that A’Shawn Robinson, who had only gotten three and six snaps the previous two games, was back as a bigger part of the rotation as he was earlier in the season.
- At WILL linebacker, Micah McFadden once again got most of the snaps and Isaiah Simmons saw the field about one third of the time in his place.
- With Adoree’ Jackson out, it was mostly the Tae and Tre show once again at boundary corner as it was in the first three games. When either was off the field, McCloud saw his first significant action since Game 1, whileFlott saw the bulk of the work in the slot when the Giants were not in base defense. That’s a 2021 draft pick (by Buffalo), a 2022 draft pick, and two 2023 draft picks doing all the heavy lifting in coverage.