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What can we learn from the Giants’ PFF grades and snap counts against the Cowboys?

Anatomy of a massacre

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NFL: NOV 12 Giants at Cowboys Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Not much analysis is required of the New York Giants’ 49-17 thrashing by the Dallas Cowboys. I’d ask you to be charitable today, though. Consider that Pro Football Focus and the NFL actually forced some poor souls to watch every player on every snap of yesterday’s game. The NFL may need to adopt its own Geneva Convention outlawing this particular form of torture.

Until they do, though, what do PFF grades and snap counts tell us about why the Giants-Cowboys game played out the way it did?


PFF grades

Courtesy of Pro Football Focus
  • You will not be surprised that the only Giants’ offensive players who received above average grades played very little. That says it all.
  • But you want more, you say? Among the starting offensive linemen, Andrew Thomas (86.7) did his usual great job and Justin Pugh (60.5) was adequate in pass blocking. Tyre Phillips (50.6) and John Michael Schmitz (50.6) were below average, and Ben Bredeson (20.3) was awful. The OL gave up four sacks and 23 pressures total, not good but also not their worst game. Run blocking was more of an issue - not that it was terrible, it was just mediocre across the board (66.8-50.6) except for Justin Pugh, who was terrible (30.4). Those grades are surely inflated by garbage time runs, though. When the game was decided in the first half, the OL opened no holes at all.
  • Tommy DeVito tried his best but was what you’d expect a practice squad quarterback to be against a defense like that of the Cowboys (39.8). None of the receivers distinguished themselves.

Snap counts

  • We look at snap counts to get an idea of who is in the penthouse and who is in the outhouse in the eyes of the coaches. In a game like yesterday’s, the only thing we can really tell is that the subs play a lot in a blowout.
  • The starting OLs played all or almost all the snaps except for Andrew Thomas, who left with an injury and then later returned. With the line shuffling that resulted, Sean Harlow and Marcus McKethan saw more action than they usually do.
  • Saquon Barkley got more rest than usual, with Matt Breida and even Jashaun Corbin seeing a significant number of snaps. The Giants actually had three tight ends active yesterday, with all seeing some action. Likewise, wide receiver snaps were spread around, with forgotten players like Parris Campbell and Sterling Shepard getting a decent number of snaps.


PFF grades

Courtesy of Pro Football Focus
  • Birthday boy Dexter Lawrence (90.5) had his usual excellent game but registered only two pressures. A’Shawn Robinson (75.3 with two pressures) played well also after being elevated to starter with Leonard Williams’ departure. The other interior linemen, not so much: Rakeem Nunez-Roches (47.3) and D.J. Davidson (47.7). The edge defenders were average to below average: Boogie Basham (68.9), Azeez Ojulari (60.6), Kayvon Thibodeaux (58.4), and trailing as usual, Jihad Ward (42.3).
  • After living in the penthouse for a few weeks, the off-ball linebackers were closer to the outhouse yesterday: Bobby Okereke (57.7), Micah McFadden (59.8), and Isaiah Simmons, who played pretty good in limited action (69.0 in only 12 snaps).
  • I’ve been critical of Xavier McKinney this season, but he played pretty well yesterday (71.6). He played more at free safety than he had the past couple of weeks, but for the season, his grades don’t especially correlate with how his snaps are divided among free safety, the slot, the box, on the line, and at corner. Cor’Dale Flott (76.1) played well too before being injured and of course had an interception at a point in the game at which it could have meant something if the Giants had an offense. The other DBs had rough games, with Tae Banks (38.1, five receptions in six targets for 87 yards) and Jason Pinnock (45.0, four receptions in five targets for 59 yards) being the worst offenders.

Snap counts

  • Dexter Lawrence got a more modest number of snaps than usual, with Rakeem Nunez-Roches and D.J. Davidson seeing the field more extensively than in previous weeks. Kayvon Thibodeaux left early with a concussion, and Boogie Basham got the bulk of the snaps on the other side over just-returned Azeez Ojulari.
  • Bobby Okereke played every snap and Micah McFadden most snaps, while Isaiah Simmons only saw a limited amount of action.
  • Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock played the entire game or most of it, but Bobby McCain saw the field on defense for the first time since Week 2. Cornerback snaps were spread around liberally due to the injury to Tae Banks and the lopsided score. If you asked CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks they’d probably say that the Giants played without any cornerbacks.