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

The Giants almost won a game they had no right to be in

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NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants, now playing out the string in a lost season, did their best yesterday to be the Grinches that stole Christmas from the City of Brotherly Shove. They came without ribbons. They came without tags. They came without packages, boxes, or bags. Unfortunately they came without a passing offense as well. By the end of the first half fans couldn’t be blamed for saying, “The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote: Stink, stank, stunk!” Although the Giants fought back valiantly from a 20-3 halftime deficit, in the end Philadelphians could sing, “Be it ever so heinous, there’s no place like home.” (Quote credits: Dr. Seuss)

Let’s see what Pro Football Focus grades and snap counts can tell us about why the Giants’ 33-25 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles played out the way it did.

OFFENSE

PFF grades

Courtesy of Pro Football Focus
  • Tyrod Taylor (72.9) is the NFL version of the little girl who had a little curl. When he was good, he was very good indeed. But when he was bad he was horrid. Good Tyrod got the ball downfield, connecting on three “big-time throws,” as PFF calls them: 20-yard pass completions to Daniel Bellinger and Darren Waller, and then a beautiful 69-yard TD pass play to Darius Slayton. he Slayton play was notable not only because the pass was completed, but because Taylor hit him in stride, allowing him to pull away to score the TD. So many times we have seen both Daniel Jones and Tommy DeVito underthrow the deep ball so that even if it is completed, there is little YAC. Tyrod does that well. Bad Tyrod terribly underthrew (at the ankles and behind) Saquon Barkley and Darren Waller on crucial thrid down plays that could have changed the course of the game. This inconsistency is why he’s had a long NFL career but rarely has held onto a starting job.
  • Tommy DeVito (65.6) didn’t play terribly, but his inability to read defenses and get the ball out has been exposed the past two weeks. His average time to throw yesterday was 3.34 seconds, the fourth time in six starts his average has been longer than three seconds. He’s not turning the ball over, but this was his second straight game without a big time throw and his ADOT was a miniscule 1.5 yards. He’s put 3 field goals on the board his last 6 quarters of play. Aaron Judge may be calling to ask for his money back on the dinner tab he paid for.
  • Darius Slayton (75.6 RECV grade) gets no respect, but he is on track to be the Giants’ leading receiver in yards (601 so far) for the fourth time in his five NFL seasons. He is due $7.7M in 2024 but the Giants could cut him with only $1.5M in dead money. Tempting, but it would be a mistake to let him go. If you think the Giants’ passing game is anemic, it would be almost non-existent without him. The other Giants’ WRs were quiet, most notably Jalin Hyatt (35 snaps, 0 targets), who has disappeared the past couple of weeks. Hyatt’s RECV grade (which evaluates how well a receiver is getting open) has been 48.2, 45.5, 51.6 the last three games, which implies that his route running is not getting him open on a consistent basis.
  • You may be surprised that the Giants’ second leading receiver in 2023 is Darren Waller (62.5 RECV grade) with 456 yards. Waller made a couple of plays yesterday, but what will be etched in the memory of Giants fans is his drop when he had gotten behind James Bradberry and might have had a clear path to the end zone. Daniel Bellinger finally resurfaced as a receiving threat (77.0 RECV grade, 4 receptions in 5 targets for 43 yards). Bellinger has been a blocking TE most of the season, but he is miscast in that role: His 44.4 pass block grade this season is even worse than his subpar 53.0 as a rookie. His run blocking (63.3, 57.3) isn’t anything to swoon over either. Joe Schoen needs to put a real blocking TE on this roster in 2024.
  • Never is the Giants’ blocking situation more obvious than when they play the Eagles. It has now become tradition that the offense’s lowest PFF grades will always be on the offensive line, and this week was no exception: Justin Pugh (35.9), Ben Bredeson (39.5), John Michael Schmitz (44.4), Mark Glowinski (50.3 but only 2 snaps), and Tyree Phillips (53.5). Even Andrew Thomas only graded 59.1 yesterday. They’ve been worse - overall they only yielded 13 pressures yesterday, 6 by Bredeson. The Eagles’ dominant defensive line provides an excuse, but the story is the same even when the Giants do not face a good DL. Compare to the Eagles, whose Jason Kelce (an uncharacteristic 59.4) had the lowest blocking grade of the entire OL yesterday. Seventh-rounder Jordan Mailata graded 75.2 yesterday (90.5 in pass blocking) while undrafted free agent starter at left guard Sua Opeta (who?) graded 81.5.

Snap counts

  • The OL had the same five starters play just about the whole game again, except for the two snaps Justin Pugh missed at the end of the game, so instability of the line can no longer be blamed for its performance.
  • Waller and Bellinger both played a lot of snaps (40) yesterday, but they were only together in 2-TE sets 27% of the time (16 plays), per Joseph Jefe. The Giants were in 11 personnel 70% of the time, with Slayton, Robinson, and Hyatt, and to a lesser extent Isaiah Hodgins, seeing the bulk of the action.
  • DeVito and Taylor played almost an identical number of snaps, but Taylor threw for 133 yards to DeVito’s 55. Of course without Slayton’s 69-yard TD, Taylor had 64 passing yards the rest of the half.

DEFENSE

PFF grades

Courtesy of Pro Football Focus
  • The Giants’ boundary corners, Adoree’ Jackson (72.2) and Tae Banks (66.9), had pretty good days considering the elite receivers they were lined up against, and naturally Jackson also had the almost-game-changing interception. Philadelphia really picked on Jackson (12 targets) but completed only 6 for 66 yards and a 31.6 passer rating - a pretty good day at the office. The other defensive backs played adequately except for Cor’Dale Flott (33.1), who was absolutely roasted by Devonta Smith for a TD and had an overall 149.3 passer rating against.
  • Isaiah Simmons had one of his best games as a Giant (68.4, but 83.2 in coverage), although his most notable contribution was on special teams when he pushed a blocker back into returner Boston Scott, causing a fumble. The Giants finally broke the Boston Scott curse yesterday, which in itself is notable. Bobby Okereke had a fairly quiet game (56.6), with 8 tackles but only 3 of them stops. The bloom is off the rose a bit for Micah McFadden (47.1), with 3 more missed tackles - his mid-season breakout seems like more of a distant memory right now. It will be interesting to see if Simmons eats into his snaps going forward.
  • The defensive line registered only 8 pressures against the Eagles’ formidable OL. Dexter Lawrence (68.4) played all right but he is a shell of his early season self as he nurses his hamstring injury. The rest of the DL left a lot to be desired, every one of them grading below average (< 60). This was one of those disappearing act games for the edge defenders (Kayvon Thibodeaux 46.4, 1 QB hit, 2 hurries; Azeez Ojulari 51.5, 3 hurries) that adds to the urgency for the Giants to draft one by Day 2 next April.

Snap counts

  • As always, Xavier McKinney and Bobby Okereke played every snap, and Jason Pinnock missed only one.
  • Adoree’ Jackson was on the field most of the time, while Tae Banks played a little more than half the snaps before leaving with an injury. Nick McCloud took most of the rest. Cor’Dale Flott had a tough day and eventually sat in favor of Darnay Holmes and Dane Belton.
  • Micah McFadden and Isaiah Simmons split time as usual on early vs. late downs, but Simmons saw the field more than he had the past couple of weeks.
  • Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari played most of the snaps on the edge with Jihad Ward and Tomon Fox seeing a decent amount of action, too.
  • Dexter Lawrence was once again on a pitch count. A’Shawn Robinson played the most snaps of any IDL, with rookie Jordon Riley getting twice as many snaps as he has in any previous game in the absence of Rakeem Nunez-Roches.

Overall in this game, the Giants did not have a single player on either side of the ball who graded even as high as 73. The Eagles on the other hand had three offensive players and four defensive players who graded higher than 80. This game should not have been close. Give the Giants credit for coming out to play in the second half when they could have mailed it in...but close only counts in horseshoes.