Few people expected the New York Giants to defeat the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Miami’s high-powered offense has steamrolled most defenses so far, and the Giants’ offensive line has done little beyond getting their quarterback steamrolled. Unfortunately this game went more or less as expected. The defense did not play that badly considering the opponent, but the offense once again looked like it did not belong on an NFL field.
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.
- Overall, Daniel Jones had a pretty good game according to PFF (87.1 overall, 78.6 passing) despite his really bad throw behind Wan’Dale Robinson on third down. Other than that one he only had five incomplete passes, and he did throw downfield several times, most notably a catchable throw that Darren Waller couldn’t hold on to. Jones did have two explosive plays, a 21-yarder that Waller did catch and a 20-yarder to Slayton.
- Waller himself had his first productive day besides that crucial drop, grading 75.8 in receiving, with 8 receptions in 11 targets for 86 yards. The other receivers had unremarkable games.
- The big story of the game of course is the offensive line. I guess you could say that there’s good news and bad news. One thing I noticed watching the game was that I wasn’t noticing Mark Glowinski. Sure enough, PFF graded him only a little below average (53.1). But that’s a little like saying, “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the show?” Since Giants fans are masochists, I was sure you’d like to see the details:
That’s four sacks, three QB hits, and 21 hurries for a total of 28 pressures surrendered by the OL, plus the cherry on top of seven penalties. People marveled when Shane Lemiuex got a zero pass block grade one game in his rookie year. Sunday the offensive line had two donuts, Marcus McKethan and Jalen Mayfield. The other offensive linemen scored from 25.4-40.0. It’s not as if they were great run blockers either, with grades from 31.6-61.4. This is next level incompetence.
- Once again the Giants dominated possession, running 72 plays to the Dolphins’ 54. That of course is because Miami gets yardage in big chunks, scores, and gets off the field. Evan Neal and Mark Glowinski played every offensive down. The other linemen played to the extent they were left standing, with even practice squad elevations Jalen Mayfield (45) and Jaylon Thomas (3) getting snaps. If one of them went down, Bobby Johnson might have had to put on the pads himself (which many fans might have seen as justice).
- Darren Waller played all but six downs, as has been customary this season to date. Daniel Bellinger was healthy enough after being injured on last week’s unsuccessful tush push to see 27 snaps. Unfortunately, rather than being a valuable receiving complement to Waller, Bellinger is now almost purely a blocking tight end due to the state of the OL, seeing only one target per game.
- The wide receiver pecking order is evolving. Darius Slayton and Wan’Dale Robinson are now the clear WR1 and WR2, with Wan’Dale having ramped up quickly after his return to the lineup this season. Undoubtedly this is due to his value in the short game, which the Giants are forced to lean on given the state of the offensive line, but partly it is his reliability. Robinson caught five of six passes that came his way yesterday, though only for 18 yards. Jalin Hyatt is the clear WR3 with 33 snaps yesterday, though you would never know it since they never have time to target him. Isaiah Hodgins has been de-emphasized in this offense, and Parris Campbell remains underutilized, but Sterling Shepard finally saw some significant action.
- Eric Gray was RB1 yesterday in carries, but Matt Breida played more snaps, and Gary Brightwell saw the field only on special teams.
Against that Miami offense, all defensive performances should be graded on a curve or at least have asterisks next to the scores. That said:
- Dexter Lawrence had another good game. He didn’t do much in pass rush but was stout against the run (80.2), the only Giant we can say that about. Leonard Williams (45.3), A’Shawn Robinson (60.0), D.J. Davidson (57.0), and Rakeem Nunez-Roches (55.9) were mostly spectators at the De’Von Achane-Raheem Mostert show. The Giants’ defensive line was supposed to be bolstered this year - it hasn’t happened so far. LW had a good pass rush grade but he seems to be sealing his fate as a Giant.
- Kayvon Thibodeaux had another sack but was generally pretty bad overall. Speaking of sacks, the Giants only had five pressures all day on Tua Tagovailoa (one sack, one hit, three hurries). Compare to the 38 (you read that right) pressures on Giants quarterbacks by Miami, including seven sacks. On the other end of the line, Azeez Ojulari (41.2) and Boogie Basham (30.8) were terrible in their cameo appearances, while Jihad Ward was average (63.8).
- Bobby Okereke had good games in tackling and pass coverage (including an interception plus a tipped pass that caused Jason Pinnock’s interception), but was poor vs. the run. Isaiah Simmons was underwhelming across the board. Did the Giants actually miss Micah McFadden?
- Cor’Dale Flott played the slot on Sunday and actually had a great game (90.3). He was targeted 3 times and gave up two receptions, but for only 6 yards. Jason Pinnock (77.5) and Xavier McKinney (74.0) had good games. They were not blamed by PFF for any of the long Miami pass plays. Those honors went to Tre Hawkins III (28.9), who was obviously determined to be at fault on the Tyreek Hill 69-yard touchdown. It seemed that one of the safeties should have been giving him deep help, if for no other reason than that I can’t beleive Wink Martindale is brash enough to purposely put a rookie on an island in press man on Hill. Deonte Banks (73.2) quietly had a good game, with three receptions in five targets for 15 yards. Adoree’ Jackson (32.0) and Dane Belton (31.8) each gave up four receptions in four targets.
- Jason Pinnock, Xavier McKinney, and Bobby Okereke continue to be the iron men of the defense, playing every snap yesterday. Of note is that with McFadden being sidelined, Simmons also played every defensive snap for the first time, a big ramp up from previous games; about a quarter of his snaps were in the slot.
- IDL usage was similar to past games, with Lawrence and Williams getting the lion’s share of the work, with one big exception: A’Shawn Robinson only played 3 snaps, for whatever reason.
- Kayvon Thibodeaux was active Sunday, seeing the field for all but four snaps. On the other side, it was mix-and-match again, as it has been so many times the past couple of years. Azeez Ojulari got only 23 snaps before suffering yet another injury, Jihad Ward replaced him for 22 snaps, and Boogie Basham again had a cup of coffee with only 9 snaps.
- With McFadden inactive due to an injury, Simmons and Okereke played every defensive snap; that was by far the most action Simmons has seen.
- Pinnock and McKinney played the entire game, and Banks and Jackson most it. Belton got quite a few snaps as well, and Flott a decent amount. Hawkins, after sitting vs. Seattle, saw the field 14 times but gave up receptions on all three targets.