After Monday night, who really wants to read an article about the New York Giants’ individual performances in their desultory, maladroit, ignominious 24-3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks? (OK, I’ve run out of $10 adjectives to use.) Well, if you’ve clicked on this article and gotten this far, maybe you’re just a glutton for punishment. If so, this one’s for you.
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.
At least let’s have a little fun. Here’s a quiz: Did any player on the Giants’ offense score 70 (above average) in PFF’s eyes last night? Did anyone score even above 60 (PFF’s threshold for average, non-replacement-level play)? I’m writing this paragraph before even looking at the grades myself, so I will guess that Wan’Dale Robinson scored in the high 60s and was by far the Giants’ best player on offense. I won’t be surprised if no one else even cracked 60. Maybe Matt Breida. And the answer is ...
Well, I was close. I forgot about Daniel Bellinger and John Michael Schmitz, both of whom were gone with injuries after the Giants’ first drive. They weren’t on the field long enough for me to get an impression of their play. Robinson did indeed play well, with 5 receptions in 6 targets for 40 yards and a 73.0 grade. Breida did lead the Giants in receiving, with 5 receptions in 5 targets for 48 yards and did indeed score 69.2 in pass grade, but PFF was not impressed at all with his pass blocking, giving him an overall 55.8 score.
PFF has a very interesting story to tell, though, about the futility of the Giants’ passing game. You may agree with it, you may disagree with it. The bottom line is this: PFF saw the Giants’ pass blocking as being below average last night almost across the board: Marcus McKethan (46.4), Joshua Ezeudu (54.6), Evan Neal (53.9 - a good night by his standards), Ben Bredeson (42.4). But they didn’t think everyone was bad: Shane Lemieux (79.8, imagine that!), Matt Glowinski, who played after Lemieux was injured (77.6, and again, imagine that!), and Matt Peart (70.2 in his only pass snap).
PFF instead believes that the Giants’ embarrassing passing “attack” last night falls squarely on the shoulders of Daniel Jones, who received an awful 31.3 passing grade. Jones had 27 completions in 34 attempts for 203 yards last night. If you didn’t watch the game you might think he played pretty well. But his ADOT was 3.4 yards, he had two interceptions, and PFF says that he had five turnover-worthy plays with zero big-time throws.
Jones was pressured on 46% of his dropbacks last night. His passing grade on those pressured dropbacks was an abysmal 22.6, and his NFL passer rating on those dropbacks was 17.4. The really bad news is that even when he wasn’t pressured his PFF passing grade was only 57.9.
Jones might want to commiserate with Sam Darnold, because the MetLife ghosts seemed to be out in full force last night, and Jones was seeing them. He did not attempt a single pass more than 20 yards downfield, and only two more than 10 yards downfield. He is passing up deeper reads and going to his first read too often (see e.g. Darren Waller running uncovered at the back of the end zone as Jones forced a bad pass to Parris Campbell near the goal line that was intercepted for a 97-yard pick-six by Devon Witherspoon). How much of it is his fear of the pass rush and how much is an inability to go through progressions is difficult to say. Last season, when his pass protection was better (hard to imagine, right?), he at least took some deep shots. No more.
I want to give Jones some help, so I found some motivational quotes for him:
“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford
“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” – Molière
“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.” – Roger Crawford
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy
It sounds like Henry Ford knew those ghosts too. I don’t know if being defeated is optional at this point for the Giants, but I offer these to Daniel to use in his preparation for Miami and Buffalo. Fail greatly next week, Daniel, (translation - try a few deep shots) and maybe you’ll eventually achieve greatly.
A couple of amazing things about this game stand out:
- The Giants ran 75 offensive plays, to Seattle’s 55. The Seahawks’ defense should have been gassed by the fourth quarter - Julian Love and Devon Witherspoon played all 75 snaps, and Tariq Woolen played 73 - but it mattered little since Jones could not get the ball downfield to his receivers.
- Wan’Dale Robinson played 48 snaps, so he seems to have fully recovered from his ACL. Also, Jalin Hyatt played 45 snaps, by far the most he has seen the field in any game (not that it mattered).
- Sterling Shepard saw the field for only 5 offensive snaps. In a game like this, with Jones struggling to get the ball to anyone, you’d think that Shepard might be a valuable security blanket to help Jones defeat the pass rush. But no. The writing is indeed on the wall.
The Giants played pretty well on defense last night overall, and it shows in some of their PFF scores:
- Isaiah Simmons arrived as a Giant last night, with an outstanding 90.5 defense grade, though still only in 18 snaps. He was good in coverage, run defense, and tackling (not that Geno Smith would agree with that last one).
- The Giants had 17 pressures of Geno Smith overall, but only two sacks. Dexter Lawrence played his usual excellent game (81.4), with four pressures and a QB hit. Kayvon Thibodeaux (71.2) was more of a force than we’ve seen in the previous games, with two sacks, two hurries, and a batted pass that could have been a game-changing interception and pick-six if he’d caught it. Azeez Ojulari (66.2) provided five pressures from the opposite side. Jihad Ward (29.3) continues to give the Giants nothing as an edge defender (he graded 41.1, 39.4, and 47.3 in the first three games). I know he is a Wink favorite, but his NFL career seems to be (or should be) over.
- Bobby Okereke had a very good overall game (81.0), with high marks for run defense, pass rush (2 pressures), and pass coverage...but his tackling continues to be atrocious (50.3 with 2 missed tackles, one of them on the embarrassing Noah Fant jaunt down the sideline). The Giants again had double digit missed tackles (10), with Adoree’ Jackson getting two of them in an overall awful game all-around for him.
- Xavier McKinney (71.1) played a pretty clean game with three tackles and no misses this week, but he is still not making impact plays and gave up two receptions in three targets. Deonte Banks (61.0) is sort of just there as a cornerback, not playing terribly but not making any impact plays either (four receptions in five targets).
There is really only one thing of note to report on about defensive snap counts. Wink Martindale benched cornerbacks Tre Hawkins III and Darnay Holmes, opting instead for Cor’Dale Flott on downs when the Giants played nickel (30 snaps). Flott had a nondescript game across the board, with two receptions allowed on three targets for 53 yards surrendered.