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Giants-Commanders ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’: Can the Giants play Washington every week?

Let’s review who deserves praise, and who does not

NFL: Washington Commanders at New York Giants
Tyrod Taylor
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

It is a Victory Monday for the New York Giants. They victimized their perennial patsy, the Washington Commanders, Sunday by a 14-7 score. The Giants are 9-4-1 in their last 14 games against Washington. Let’s review in our unique ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ style.

Kudos to ...

Deonte Banks — The team’s first-round pick had an interception, a couple of key tackles and a pass defensed. He was a presence, often covering Washington’s No. 1 receiver, Terry McLaurin, on Sunday. Banks is continuing to get better, and continuing to show why the Giants moved up to draft him No. 24 overall.

Leonard Williams — Williams’ fourth-quarter blocked field goal was the signature play in his best performance of the season. He added a sack, two quarterback hits and a tackle for loss.

Williams’ field goal block was the Giants’ first block since Oct. 15, 2017, when Kerry Wynn blocked Brandon McManus’ 53-yard try in Denver. Williams ended the NFL’s longest active streak of opposing field goal attempts without a block. It was the first block of his nine-year career.

Tyrod Taylor — I will believe the Giants have a quarterback controversy when coach Brian Daboll clearly says he hasn’t decided who the team’s starter should be — which he has not done. Daboll, though, did not completely dismiss the idea on Sunday night of Taylor starting instead of Daniel Jones.

Taylor gave Daboll food for thought with a clean 18-of-29, 279-yard, two-touchdown performance. That’s the best full game played by a Giants’ quarterback this season.

For what it’s worth, in my view Jones remains the best option for the Giants at quarterback for many reasons I am not going to get into now. Still, Taylor deserves props for delivering on Sunday.

Darren Waller — This was Waller’s best game as a Giants. The big tight end caught seven passes in eight targets for 98 yards. Waller was the recipient of a third-and-goal 15-yard touchdown pass from Taylor. Waller also had catches of 27, 16 and 13 yards. That is the kind of impact the Giants envisioned when they traded for him.

Jalin Hyatt — The speedy rookie had two huge catches of 42 and 33 yards, the two longest plays of the game for the Giants on Sunday. Both were impressive catches, with the second being a toe-dragging 42-yarder.

Dexter Lawrence — Big Dex had his best game of the season. He finished with two sacks, four quarterback hits and a tackle for loss. The Giants had six sacks of Washington quarterback Sam Howell, and without watching the film I would venture a guess that Lawrence had a hand in all of them.

Offensive line — Give this much-maligned group some credit. The Commanders had four sacks of Taylor, two by Chase Young, but the Justin Pugh (LT), Marcus McKethan (LG), Ben Bredeson (C), Mark Glowinski (RG), Tyre Phillips (RT) group was functional.

Taylor, for the most part, had time to throw — which led to an ability to get the ball down the field and create six explosive passing plays of at least 20 yards. Saquon Barkley carried 21 times for 77 yards, a not great 3.7 yards per carry, but enough rushing success to balance the offense.

Third-down defense — Washington went a stunningly-futile 1-of-15 (6.7%) on third down. Just incredible work on third down taking advantage of a young quarterback and a terrible offensive line.

Jamie Gillan — The punter continued his excellent season with eight punts for an average 49.4 yards, with an impressive — and important — net average of 45.4. He had two punts downed inside 20-yard line.

Wet Willies to ...

Punt returner decisions — This is really the only ‘WW’ I have. I wrote about it Sunday evening, but the Giants have made a mess out of their return situation. They had quality return men Jamison Crowder and Jaydon Mickens in training camp, yet gave the job to untested Eric Gray without really having a good backup option on the roster.

Gray has not been up to the job, muffing his third punt on Sunday and struggling in the kickoff return department, as well. Gray’s injury Sunday left the Giants with Sterling Shepard trying to return punts for the first time in his career, and we saw how that worked out.

It’s a situation the Giants need to fix.

Kwillies to ...

Kayvon Thibodeaux — The second-year edge rusher had a nice game with 1.5 sacks to bring his season total to 5.5 and two quarterback hits. The interception he dropped in the third quarter, though, should have been a pick-six that would have erased a whole lot of fourth-quarter agita.

Saquon Barkley — Barkley had a hard-fought 77 yards on 21 carries and a 32-yard touchdown catch, but his fourth-quarter fumble inside the Washington 10-yard line with 7:46 to play erased an opportunity for the Giants to salt the game away. It allowed the Commanders to end up driving within 7 yards of tying the game or potentially taking the lead on a 2-point conversion.