All in all, this was just a ‘blah’ effort from the Giants.
Kudos to ...
Jamie Gillan — Gillan drilled a 40-yard field goal, the first regular-season made field goal of his career, after placekicker Randy Bullock left the game with a hamstring injury. Gillan was also apparently working through an injury, but punted and handled the kickoff duties throughout the game. A mini-kudos to Gunner Olszewski for smoothly handling the hold on Gillan’s well-struck field goal.
Tommy DeVito’s running — The Giants’ entire rushing attack was two zone read keepers by DeVito, both for 14 yards.
Darren Waller — Four catches for 40 yards in his return. Waller had a 29-yard catch-and-run on third-and-12 in the second quarter when the Giants trailed by only four points, 7-3. The play mattered. Unfortunately, the Giants couldn’t turn it into points.
Wet Willies to ...
I usually don’t single out entire units for ‘Kudos’ or ‘Wet Willies.’ Considering what we saw on Sunday, though, both the offense and the defense as whole units have to fall into this category. It is actually difficult for me to hand out many individual ‘WWs.’
The offense — The Giants scored six points. Three were a gift courtesy of an awful third-and-22 unnecessary roughness on Alontae Taylor of New Orleans, when he laid a perfectly executed tackle on Daniel Bellinger and still got penalized for it.
There were seven sacks, nine quarterback hits and a complete inability to handle stunts from the New Orleans defensive line. There were few open receivers. There were drops. There was no place for Saquon Barkley (nine carries, 14 yards) to run.
There were misses by DeVito on a couple of throws, and as he indicated after the game little to no “swagger” from an offense that had no answers.
The Giants averaged 3.2 yards per play and went 2 of 16 (12.5%) on third down. The Giants never really threatened offensively.
Justin Pugh (and the overall pass protection) — I really like Justin Pugh the person. I liked him years ago when he was in his first stint with the Giants. I like him now. His veteran presence and leadership have been a net positive for the Giants.
Beyond all of that, though, the truth is that the 33-year-old Pugh really hasn’t played that well. Before Sunday, he had a 47.9 overall Pro Football Focus grade with a 39.8 in pass blocking. And yes, it’s true that some of that came out of position at left tackle. In eight games overall, Pugh has graded in the 60s just once.
He likely won’t grade in the 60s for this game, either.
I don’t know how much the quad injury he showed up on Friday’s injury report with bothered him, but to the naked eye Pugh appeared to have an awful game on Sunday. He was involved in at least three failed stunt pickups that resulted in sacks of Tommy DeVito. He got pushed back into DeVito on another occasion.
When we think about the long-term future of the Giants’ offensive line, which has given up a league-worst 76 sacks and has to be better, I’m not sure I can advocate for Pugh to be part of it.
Beyond Pugh, it is embarrassing that in Week 15 the offensive line was consistently unable to pick up basic defensive line stunts.
The defense — The Saints were missing right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, who is probably their best offensive lineman. Despite that, the Giants front seven did virtually nothing. Defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson had a high volume of tackles (eight), but the line never laid a finger on Saints’ quarterback Derek Carr.
Kayvon Thibodeaux and Dexter Lawrence, the Giants’ best defensive players, were quiet. Thibodeaux had one tackle, and Lawrence two.
New Orleans was without its best wide receiver, Chris Olave, yet Saints’ wide receivers ran through the secondary unimpeded all afternoon. New Orleans scored on its first three possessions of the second half, including two long touchdown drives, to salt the game away.
Kwillies to ...
Jason Pinnock — The Giants’ talented third-year safety played a generally good game with the team’s only sack, one of the Giants’ two quarterback hits and nine tackles (one for loss). He also, though, had an end zone defensive pass interference penalty on a fourth quarter third-and-goal that led to a New Orleans touchdown.