The New York Giants enter their second season under the leadership of GM Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll. The roster has started to reform under their vision, yet depth remains an issue at critical spots. Those concerns were evident as it pertains to the offensive line in the Giants’ 21-16 loss on Friday night.
To be fair, neither starting tackle played nor did swing tackle Tyre Phillips. Korey Cunningham was forced to play 59 snaps, Matt Peart 32, and offensive guard Wyatt Davis played all 27 of his snaps at right tackle. Cunningham surrendered two sacks and eight pressures, and Davis a pair of sacks as well as six pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. Peart only allowed one pressure.
Rookie UDFA Tommy DeVito evoked memories of Rocky Balboa against Clubber Lang throughout parts of the game, but the resilience associated with Sylvester Stallone’s character induced confidence in the young Jersey kid.
Tommy DeVito connection with Tommy Sweeney pic.twitter.com/PKRO0KDMvz— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 12, 2023
DeVito’s touchdown pass after Dane Belton’s interception went to his Don Bosco teammate tight end Tommy Sweeney. Somewhere, Coach Toal is smiling. Mike Kafka brought the Giants’ red zone offense from the abyss - the team finished 32nd and 31st in red zone touchdown percentage under Jason Garrett - to a top-five ranking in this category.
The Giants took advantage of the sudden change in this shotgun 12 personnel, double-Y, set with both tight ends (to the boundary) releasing vertical. The Lions were more concerned with Bryce Ford Wheaton (6) as the number two receiver to the field, giving the Giants one-on-one matchups to the closed side (tight end side). DeVito layered a ball over the top of the coverage, and Sweeney secured it. The shower narrative lives on. Here’s the Belton interception that set up the touchdown.
Dane Belton with the interception to set up the Don Bosco connection TD pic.twitter.com/ozdc5LkLQq— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 12, 2023
The Giants had two interceptions against Nate Sudfeld; last season, New York only had six interceptions on the season, tying them for last with the Raiders. On the first play of the game, presumed starting safety Jason Pinnock came away with this interception, which was heavily assisted by Tomon Fox’s pass rusher:
Beautiful chop/rip combination by Tomon Fox on the #Giants first play to force Jason Pinnock's interception— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 12, 2023
Great work w/ the inside arm as well to pull OT's momentum downward to set up the chop/rip
It's Tomon Fox season pic.twitter.com/Td0TImi9Xh
The third pass-rushing EDGE spot is up for grabs for the #giants, and Tomon Fox made a solid case yesterday— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 12, 2023
A violent outside chop w/ solid bend into the pocket to force the interception.
Great job by the second-year UDFA out of UNC pic.twitter.com/kLbn0nEWpK
Pinnock only played five snaps on Friday. In those five snaps, he secured the interception from a middle-of-the-field closed look, had a tackle for a loss on a blitz, and punched the ball out of the grasp of tight end Sam LaPorta on fourth-and-1. Talk about making a statement.
Jason Pinnock's three impactful plays in the first few minutes of the game— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 12, 2023
The safety just turned 24 and is the leading candidate to start next to Xavier McKinney at safety pic.twitter.com/aBeu45seCT
Pinnock wasn’t the only young defensive back to impress on Friday. First-round rookie Deonte Banks was sticky in coverage with a tenacious attitude. Banks ran this route for the Lions’ receiver before tackling the tight end in space:
Deonte Banks ran this quick comeback route for the receiver before making the tackle in open space pic.twitter.com/BUSdw4nV9t— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 12, 2023
Here are all of Banks’ reps from Friday’s game:
All of Deonte Banks' snaps from Friday's game— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 13, 2023
A good debut for the rookie pic.twitter.com/2UhamcMcMI
I also uploaded all the plays from Tre Hawkins III and Micah McFadden; both players had very good outings. However, X (the website formally known as Twitter) is experiencing some difficulties with its videos. Those videos are on my profile, and maybe they’ll be fixed in due time. Still, here’s one play I uploaded earlier of McFadden. Excellent fill, pop, and execution to box the GF counter run inside. As I state in the X, the Giants could have used this last season:
The #Giants could have used this last season— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 12, 2023
Excellent execution and technique from Micah McFadden to stay low and meet the FB in the hole against GF counter
Violent pop-on contact helped close the gap
McFadden filled and caused a pile-up that forced the RB nowhere
If he… pic.twitter.com/boOCf9Gcmg
To circle back to young rookie defensive backs, seventh-round rookie Gervarrius Owens, out of Houston, was known for his instinctual plays. He possessed high football IQ in college, and here’s a great example of that trait from Friday:
Gervarrius Owens showed exceptional eyes and diagnosing ability at Houston— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 12, 2023
Here, he noticed the backside cross would come open underneath the clearout, so he drove down on it and nearly came away with an interception...good redirection/angle as well
Savvy play for the… pic.twitter.com/EATp0H7WPd
It’s so easy for young safeties to fall for the eye candy of the clear-out route. Not Owens, though. He saw the dig working underneath and reacted to drive through the outside shoulder of the receiver while almost causing the turnover. Another late-round rookie who impressed was interior defensive linemen Jordon Riley, formerly of Oregon, Nebraska, Garden City Community College, and North Carolina (he is well-traveled).
Jordan Riley tossed this guard out of the club on 1st & Goal— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 12, 2023
The Lions would not score on this drive pic.twitter.com/leh4TG3Prj
This is elite strength and exceptional anticipatory skills to know the guard was blocking down on the GH counter run. Riley fought through the hold, shed the block, and presented his chest to the running back, who had nowhere to go. Tashawn Bower (94) did well to olé the backside guard and assist Riley in the tackle.
Bower isn’t well known, but he had a good game. He’s a 6-foot-5, 250-pound journeyman edge defender who the Giants signed just before training camp. The 28-year-old played 46 snaps; here are a few:
Tashawn Bower says hello to Lions player pic.twitter.com/Ot2Rg76WXM— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 12, 2023
There are possible EDGE snaps available due to a lack of depth; Fox had a good game, Baldonado flashed, and EDGE Tashawn Bower did himself favors as well.— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 13, 2023
Here are some quality Bower reps out of his 46 snaps pic.twitter.com/bVpuE9gPKH
The edge depth is a concern, but performances by Fox, Bower, and Habakkuk Baldonado were encouraging. Baldonado was flagged for roughing the passer on the play below; he had two pressures, a sack, and then this play that was called back:
Pitt UDFA Habakkuk Baldonado with the preseason sack that was flagged for 'roughing the passer'— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 12, 2023
He's had a good game from the broadcast angle so far...does well to turn through the OT's inside shoulder and hit the QB...just a bit too hard though pic.twitter.com/xL68VSJ057
Rookie center Jon Michael Schmitz had a solid first outing. Here are all of his plays, followed by impressive reps:
All of John Michael Schmitz's snaps from preseason Week 1 pic.twitter.com/0XsgP5Wj2b— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 12, 2023
John Michael Schmitz with quick eyes to recognize looping LB Jack Campbell— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 12, 2023
Great pick up that helped spring an 11-yard rush by DeVito pic.twitter.com/6hkYWgdP1G