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Film breakdown: Tommy DeVito’s play against the Raiders

Are there any reasons to be optimistic about his first start?

New York Giants v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images

Brian Daboll announced Tommy DeVito as the starter of the New York Giants in their Week 10 game against the Dallas Cowboys. DeVito is a rookie undrafted free agent out of Illinois, and previously Syracuse, who saw action in the last two games against the Jets and Raiders.

The former Don Bosco Prep quarterback has completed 17 of 27 passes (63%) for 174 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. DeVito was sacked eight times in 41 dropbacks.

He finished his first action in the regular season with negative passing yards against the Jets. DeVito was more respectable against the Raiders when he replaced Daniel Jones after the starting quarterback tore his ACL.

This will be DeVito’s first-week receiving first-team reps in practice; Tyrod Taylor started against the Jets and Jones against the Raiders, so the young rookie from Livingston, N.J. will have a game plan specifically tailored to his skill set.

But what is that skill set?

DeVito threw for 6,516 yards on 594 attempts (63.1% completion rate) with 43 total touchdowns and just 16 interceptions as a college quarterback at Syracuse and Illinios. His average yards per attempt was 6.9. DeVito appeared to have a bright future at Syracuse after passing for 19 touchdowns and five interceptions in his 2019 RS-Sophmore season, but a leg injury ended his 2020 campaign. He was the backup for much of 2021 before transferring to the Fighting Illini in 2022.

Similar to Jones and Taylor, DeVito is capable and isn’t shy to use his legs, especially in the red zone. He had 253 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in college. However, he isn’t as quick or fast as either Jones and Taylor.

Let’s see how the undrafted rookie performed in Sunday’s 30-6 loss in Las Vegas.

Slingin’ Tommy

DeVito had some positive reads and throws on Sunday. Here’s his first career touchdown pass:

Wan’Dale Robinson was the recipient of the touchdown. The Giants ran a mirrored smash concept (smash to both sides) with an outside drag route from the boundary receiver; the running back released to the boundary side to hold the cornerback in place, so Daniel Bellinger (82) could work his way to the back pylon.

The Raiders played it adequately to the boundary, and DeVito did a good job extending the play. He worked to the field side smash concept; the boundary drag route held the safety in the place, as Marcus Peters (24) was high-lowed by the smash. No one covered Robinson, who waited quietly at the back pylon for the inevitable DeVito pass for six. I appreciate how DeVito kept his eyes downfield and found the open receiver for his first touchdown pass.

DeVito’s touchdown wasn’t his only good play. He read the Raiders’ Cover-2 defense and attacked the boundary deep half defender as the flat defender sat on Saquon Barkley’s route to that area. Darius Slayton released outward toward the flat defender and exploded vertically as Bellinger ran a bender directly at the safety. This three-man route concept against a Cover-2 defense - with two receivers releasing vertically - created a three-on-two advantage for the Giants. Slayton did a great job angling away from the safety, and DeVito recognized the coverage and attacked for a 34-yard gain.

DeVito found Bellinger on a corner route right into the soft spot of the defense. DeVito hit his back foot, waited for Bellinger to get into his break, and put a good football with solid velocity into the outside shoulder of Bellinger. Exceptional pass blocking from the Giants allowed DeVito to be patient with his throw.

Quick game

If the Giants want to succeed against the Dallas Cowboys, they’ll have to run an efficient, quick passing attack.

DeVito looked to the boundary slant-flat early in the game on first-and-ten. Amik Robertson (21) quickly came off the outside receiver to handle the flat route from Bellinger. Once DeVito hit his back foot, he noticed the leverage wasn’t desirable, and Bellinger was accounted for by the outside defender. A middle hook defender flowed outward to quickly close the initial throwing window to Slayton, so DeVito tucked the football and ran for 3 yards on first down; that’s not a terrible result.

However, one could argue that - if DeVito never tried to run and stayed in his passing stance - the secondary throwing window to Slayton would have come open before the MIKE worked outside the hash. The timing was tight, and DeVito has hardly worked with the number one receivers in practice, but the young quarterback executed with great timing on this same concept later in the game:

DeVito converted this third-and-4 to Jalin Hyatt (13) on the slant. The coaches ran the concept from a 3x1 set. DeVito was tasked to read Amari Burney (56); once Hyatt passed Burney, DeVito knew to hit him in stride as the Raiders' outside cornerback leverage was off. Lawrence Cager’s route held the MIKE in place, allowing Hyatt and DeVito to have more operating space. It was a good adjustment by New York. The throw was slightly behind Hyatt, but it was still a successful play.

Here’s an example of a quick stick completion out of empty to Wan’Dale Robinson, who does a great job to find the soft spot. Pres-nap leverage of the linebacker inside of Robinson as the No. 3 WR allowed DeVito to read the apex defender over Bellinger upon catching the snap. DeVito caught the football, hit his back foot, and knew Robinson would be open if Bellinger could occupy the apex defender with his outside release. Quick and efficient; the Giants will need easy completions like this to move the football against Dallas.

This isn’t a west coast quick passing concept, but it was successful in this fourth-and-5 situation. New York caught the Raiders in man coverage from a 3x1 set in 11-personnel. All three receivers to the field side release slightly to the inside and go vertical to act as a clearout for Barkley. The defender tasked to cover Barkley was about three yards outside of the running back, and had a lot of traffic to work through. Barkley darted for the numbers and had plenty of leverage/space to the outside to secure the first down.

Pocket movement

DeVito does well to reset the pocket and find a receiver on this fourth-and-four pass to Isaiah Hodgins (18). There was good coverage downfield, and DeVito thought about scrambling before he located Hodgins on a dig route. The boundary post out of the stack picked Hodgins’ defender, but Robertson’s excellent awareness allowed him to come off his assignment and assume Hodgins as his responsibility.

Still, DeVito saw the pick and found the open receiver. Was he a tad late with the football? Sure, but I do like how he reset his feet, got his eyes back downfield, and attempted to convert the fourth down, rather than scrambling for two yards and turning the football over on downs in that manner.

On a first-and-10 before the Giants’ lone touchdown, DeVito found Slayton for an eight yard gain along the sideline. The Raiders were in Cover-1 and DeVito did an excellent job stepping up and away from the pressure. Daniel Jones made several important plays like this last season to evade muddy pockets. Slayton did a great job working to the sideline, away from Robertson to give DeVito space, and the young quarterback found his receiver for a solid gain.

Areas of improvement

DeVito threw two interceptions on Sunday. His second interception bounced off Slayton’s hands and into the waiting arms of Nate Hobbs:

Was this pass precise? No, but should Slayton have secured it? Absolutely. The location is to the inside and high on this curl/flat concept. The Giants need better execution overall. His first interception may be more of a physical limitation than anything else:

These two interceptions were on back-to-back plays. The Giants ran a Yankee concept (deep cross with a deep post over the top). This concept is a great Cover-3 beater, and the Raiders are in Cover-3, with a nifty rotation. The Giants get the middle field safety to bite down on the cross, which meant the deep post to Hyatt should have leverage to the inside against a deep third defender with outside leverage.

Marcus Peters does an excellent job recognizing the concept to replace the middle field safety underneath Hyatt’s deep post from the opposite deep third position, but that didn’t entirely matter. This is not an easy throw, but the ball is underthrown, and it allowed Robertson (the outside leveraged defender) to undercut for the interception.

Hyatt had a step, but the ball needed to be more out in front and placed in the end zone. The throw needed a little bit more juice, and the young quarterback was able to hitch a few times into the throw to generate said juice; unfortunately, the Giants were left parched.

Final thoughts

The local kid is easy to root for. He wasn’t terrible against the Raiders. He settled in as the game progressed. He was decisive on certain plays and his ability to operate quick game was better later in the game. There were signs of solid pocket manipulation as well, although he was sacked six times. More reps with the first-team should help with rapport, albeit he is in a tough situation this week against Micah Parsons and the Cowboys.

DeVito finds himself in a momentous spot in his young career. He may not have delusions of grandeur about his long-term future as a starter. The current trajectory of the Giants earning a top pick that could result in a quarterback selection - and Jones’ presence on the books for $40-million a year - dampens those aspirations, but he can still prove his worth as a quality backup by displaying competency over the next half-season. Rookie undrafted free agents typically don’t get starts at quarterback, but DeVito will receive that chance against a team that absolutely embarrassed the Giants just a few months ago.