Some games really benefit from detailed analysis by people who are paid to watch every player on every play and assess their performance. That’s why Pro Football Focus grades can be useful even if they are subjective - none of us watches a game closely enough to monitor all 11 players on the field at once and we’re likely to miss things that a trained eye dedicated to a single game will notice.
Sunday night’s New York Giants’ massacre at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys was not one of those games that required detailed analysis. You can probably assign your own set of grades and come pretty close to what PFF says. Even the snap counts, which are usually indicative of the pecking order and how the coordinators see the usefulness and roles of individual players, don’t mean as much in a game like this that was effectively over by early in the third quarter.
Let’s look at them anyway, though, just for fun (?)
- Exactly one player on offense for the Giants was deemed by PFF to have played above average - Josh Ezeudu, who only played 14 snaps on offense after the game was already decided, and whom former Giant Lawrence Tynes accused of missing a block that caused the blocked field goal that was the beginning of the end for the Giants’ chances.
- The left side of the offensive line - Andrew Thomas before his hamstring injury; Matt Peart, who lasted all of four snaps replacing him before he was injured too; and left guard Ben Bredeson - were not great but were at least acceptable.
- It was the right side of the line that was truly offensive. Most of the vitriol was directed at Evan Neal, whose 25.7 pass block grade was in line with his worst 2022 performances, including the DeMarcus Lawrence three-sack game. However, linemate Mark Glowinski recorded a Lemieux-esque 1.0 pass block grade, quite the accomplishment. John Michael Schmitz, in his first NFL action, was poor in both run and pass blocking. Overall the Giants’ blockers gave up 27 pressures, compared with the six yielded by Dallas’ line.
- The skill players ran the gamut from average (Gary Brightwell, Saquon Barkley, Darren Waller) to poor, the latter led by Daniel Jones’ 41.6 grade. Jones was under intense pressure all night, but he did himself no favors either.
- All the starters on the offensive line played the entire game (you may have noticed them laying down the welcome mat to the Cowboys’ pass rushers) except at left tackle, where Thomas gave way to Peart, who gave way to Ezeudu. Marcus McKethan was active for the first time but only saw the field for two snaps on special teams. He couldn’t have been any worse than Glowinski.
- Daniel Jones inexplicably played all but the final Giants’ offensive series. Brian Daboll said that he was just trying to get one successful drive to score points, but this seems like a terrible decision for a quarterback who was getting pummeled all night. Maybe his new contract says that he gets paid by the play.
- Saquon Barkley was replaced after the game got out of hand (literally considering the Daron Bland pick-six) by Matt Breida, and third man up was Gary Brightwell. Rookie Eric Gray played only on special teams.
- As expected, Darius Slayton, Parris Campbell, and Isaiah Hodgins were WR1, WR2, and WR3, though I could have been out there for all it mattered. Rookie Jalin Hyatt saw the field for 25 snaps but was only targeted once. It will be interesting to see how that changes once Wan’Dale Robinson returns to game action. Per PFF, Campbell ran primarily out of the slot (34 of 47 snaps) but was also split wide 9 times and even played a few snaps inline and in the backfield. Slayton lined up wide 28 times but had 17 slot and two inline snaps, while Hodgins was out wide for 38 of his 42 snaps. Hyatt, who was mostly a slot receiver at Tennessee, played 20 of his 25 snaps last night lined up as a wideout.
- Dexter Lawrence actually played very well by PFF standards (82.1), with four pressures (two hurries and two QB hits), but I’ll have to take PFF’s word for it. I got no sense of him affecting the game at all. Only two other Giants even managed one pressure, neither of them from the starters on the edge or interior.
- A few other Giants played above average, including Micah McFadden, Xavier McKinney, rookie Jordon Riley (who at least had one nice tackle for loss), and Bobby Okereke, who was by my reckoning invisible.
- Tae Banks played reasonably well in his first NFL game before leaving with cramps, with at least average grades in every category. Fellow rookie Tre Hawkins III was less fortunate, with a 44.7 coverage grade, and Adoree’ Jackson was the Giants’ lowest-rated player on defense with a terrible 32.9 coverage grade.
- Interior defensive line duties were spread fairly widely among all five linemen, although it’s not clear what that would have looked like in a competitive game. They should be well rested for the Arizona game considering they basically all took last night off even though they were on the field.
- The same was true for the edge defenders. Of note is that new acquisition Boogie Basham saw the field for 15 snaps in his first game as a Giant. You are forgiven if you didn’t notice that the Giants even had edge defenders on the field last night. The NFL insists they were there.
- Bobby Okereke played every down on defense (not that you’d know it from his lack of impact plays). Micah McFadden saw the bulk of the action at the other linebacker spot, but new Giant Isaiah Simmons (listed as a free safety) replaced him for 15 plays - he lined up on the edge eight times, in the slot four times, and inline three times.
- Adoree’ Jackson and Tre Hawkins III played most of the game at cornerback, while Deonte Banks left the game late in the first half with cramps. Jackson split time almost evenly between the slot and outside with a few snaps in the box sprinkled in. Banks and Hawkins only got three snaps each in the slot. Of note is that Nick McCloud got the bulk of the snaps (almost all outside) after Banks left, while Darnay Holmes appears now to be low man on the totem pole with only four defensive snaps (in 2022 he had at least 20 snaps in every game but one).
- Xavier McKinney and Jason Pinnock played every down on defense, with Dane Belton seeing the field on defense for only six plays. Free agent signing Bobby McCain played only on special teams. About two-thirds of McKinney’s and Belton’s snaps were actually at free safety, most of the rest in the box. Belton’s were exclusively in the box or on the line.