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

Not much good news from a disappointing performance

NFL: New York Giants at New Orleans Saints Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

In a game as miserable on both sides of the ball as the New York Giants’ 24-6 loss to the New Orleans Saints was, you would expect that there wouldn’t be many bouquets thrown the Giants’ way by game evaluators. You would be correct. Exactly one player total from the offense and defense was considered to have performed above average. Nonetheless, it’s still useful to look at the details to point out some notable (and mostly not in a good way) things.

OFFENSE

PFF grades

Courtesy of Pro Football Focus
  • Darren Waller (66.1) had a solid game, with 40 yards on four catches in five targets including 28 YAC. Darius Slayton (62.2) also played adequately, with four receptions in eight targets for 63 yards including 29 YAC. That’s it for the Giants’ skill players - none of the others scored at even an average level.
  • The offensive line performance was a bit more nuanced than the knee jerk reaction most of us had watching the game - not that it was good, but rather in what way it was bad. Obviously the “star” of the show was Justin Pugh (29.5), whose pass blocking was awful, both on missed stunts and just plain being overpowered. The final tally was four hurries and two sacks. John Michael Schmitz (58.3) also gave up a sack. Tyre Phillips (58.0) and Ben Bredeson (57.4) were slightly below average, while Andrew Thomas (62.2) was barely average.
  • Digging deeper, there are two things to note about the OL’s performance. Thomas (81.5), Bredeson (71.8), and Phillips (64.5) all performed well or at least adequately in pass blocking, and Schmitz wasn’t too far behind (55.1), so Pugh’s problems overshadowed otherwise acceptable pass protection. It was in run blocking that the OL was really terrible: Thomas (36.5), Pugh (41.8), Phillips (46.9), Bredeson (47.3), and Schmitz (58.4). This has been a season-long issue for the Giants. If Saquon Barkley (59.7) doesn’t put up the stats that other elite running backs do, it’s largely because this line rarely opens holes for him.
  • The two sacks attributed to Pugh and one to Schmitz leaves four other sacks that PFF assigned responsibility to Tommy DeVito (overall 58.1 grade) for. DeVito was only pressured 39.5% of dropbacks, with 4 of his 7 sacks occurring when he was not blitzed. His time to throw under pressure was a gigantic 3.59 seconds, i.e., DeVito was holding the ball a lot, whether it was because the Saints’ defense confused him, because his receivers just couldn’t get open, or some of both.

Snap counts

  • Once again, the starting offensive line played every snap.
  • More than usual, Saquon Barkley was given a light workload, with Matt Breida and even Eric Gray getting significant playing time.
  • Darius Slayton, Wan’Dale Robinson, and Jalin Hyatt are now clearly WR1, WR2, and WR3, with Isaiah Hodgins seeing the field as much as he has in most games this year, and Sterling Shepard (and even Gunner Olszewski!) getting a few snaps.
  • Darren Waller was on a limited pitch count, with Daniel Bellinger getting the most snaps and Lawrence Cager getting a cup of coffee. The Giants ran 11 personnel 89% of the time yesterday.

DEFENSE

PFF grades

Courtesy of Pro Football Focus
  • The good news is that A’Shawn Robinson (76.0) had his best game of the season, recording eight tackles, seven of which were judged by PFF to be stops, i.e., unsuccessful rushes by the offense. Robinson came to the Giants having torn his meniscus last November, and it has probably taken him some time to get back to full health. He doesn’t provide much pass rush (9 pressures on the season), but he’s a good player to have clogging the middle as part of an IDL rotation.
  • The bad news is that Robinson was the only Giant to have an above-average game. Staying on the defensive line, Dexter Lawrence (67.5) had his worst game of the season, with no pressures and only one tackle and two assists. Kayvon Thibodeaux (62.5) had no pressures also and only one assist, Azeez Ojulari (62.1) had one pressure and one assist, Jihad Ward Ward (50.1) had a perfect zero across the stat line, and Rakeem Nunez-Roches (45.9) managed two tackles and two assists. Playing against a quarterback who collapses under pressure, and with the Saints’ best OL, Ryan Ramczyk, on the sidelines, this failure of the Giants’ DL gets a lot of the blame for the loss.
  • The linebackers didn’t help a lot either. This was one of Bobby Okereke’s quietest games (64.7), with one QB hit, two tackles, one assist, and two stops. Micah McFadden’s score (45.9) was low because despite five tackles, one assist, and three stops, he had two missed tackles and gave up five receptions in five targets including a TD. Isaiah Simmons had a non-eventful game with two assists and no pass targets.
  • In the secondary, Jason Pinnock (68.7) led the way with a sack, seven tackles, and four run stops, but he also gave up three receptions in five targets including a TD and had the egregious pass interference penalty when he ran into the receiver in the end zone. Cor’Dale Flott (64.5) was adequate but gave up three completions in three targets. Xavier McKinney (56.1) gave up three completions in four targets and Tae Banks (51.1) gave up two receptions in three targets. So overall an OK but not shutdown performance by most of the secondary. The big problem was Adoree’ Jackson (39.7), who was toasted four times in four targets for 74 yards and a TD.

Snap counts

  • Once again, Xavier McKinney and Bobby Okereke played every snap, and Tae Banks and Jason PInnock almost did as well. Nick McCloud spelled Adoree’ Jackson part of the time.
  • Kayvon Thibodeaux played 81% of snaps and Azeez Ojulari 69%, with Jihad Ward getting most of the rest.
  • As usual, Micah McFadden played the majority of snaps at the other linebacker position with Isaiah Simmons spelling him on passing downs and Benton Whitley seeing a few snaps.
  • Dexter Lawrence played less than half the game as he nurses that hamstring injury. A’Shawn Robinson saw the most snaps among the interior defensive linemen, with Rakeem Nunez-Roches next, and Jordon Riley and D.J. Davidson seeing limited action.