Pro Football Focus publishes grades for individual NFL players for their entire careers, for each season, for preseason, regular season, and playoffs separately, and for each individual game. Usually that’s sufficient.
For Sunday’s Jekyll-and-Hyde Giants-Cardinals game, though, they should really make an exception and publish first and second half grades. Since they don’t, we might expect to see many players grading around 60, PFF’s threshold for “average” play. For many Giants players, though, that would be the result of something like a 40 in the first half and 80 in the second half - and that includes the coaches, who aren’t graded by PFF but who finally opened up the offense after six quarters of conservative, ineffective play. Let’s see what PFF has to say about this strange game, and what the snap counts can tell us about who is rising and who is falling in the eyes of the Giants coaches.
If you were to imagine what an ideal yet realistic table of PFF grades would look like for the Giants’ offense, you might come up with something that looks like the table above. No offense ever plays perfectly across the board, but five skill players with above average scores and four offensive linemen grading at least average ain’t bad by recent Giants standards.
- Daniel Jones finished with an outstanding overall 92.5 grade. Overall PFF grades are not just averages over all categories, or all games. They consider a player’s overall impact on a game or on a season, acknowledging that no one is at their best all the time. This game was a tale of two halves, for Jones as well as the rest of the team. I would have given Jones something like a 50-60 grade for the first half, when he was tentative, inaccurate with some of his passes, and overall not very effective. But oh, that second half:
In the second half today, the @Giants' Daniel Jones:— OptaSTATS (@OptaSTATS) September 18, 2023
- threw for 250+ yards
- rushed for 50+ yards
- threw multiple TD passes
- rushed for a TD
- had no turnovers
No other QB in NFL history has done all of that in the second half of a game. pic.twitter.com/CjP4Lovwkm
All that plus 31 points in a single half, much of it his doing...and a win after being down 20-0 and 28-7.
- Jalin Hyatt (89.9) only had two receptions in two targets. One was the 58-yard play that turned the game on a dime. The other was a high-point contested catch for 31 yards that showed that he’s not just about speed. Be afraid, NFL defenses. Be very afraid.
- Darius Slayton (70.9) low-key had a fine game. Had he not been underthrown by Jones on one deep ball and been given a more favorable call on a catch near the goal line that was ruled out of bounds, it would have been a spectacular game. Hyatt and Slayton aren’t the second coming of Hill and Waddle, but they have the potential to be one of the more dangerous receiving duos in the league.
- Darren Waller (75.9) hasn’t made any spectacular plays yet, but it’s already clear that he is Jones’ go-to guy to move the chains. Isaiah Hodgins (66.9) has been a bit forgotten but reminded us yesterday that he’s still a good target to have in the red zone. Saquon Barkley (70.7) was having an overall fine game before his injury except for his bobble that became an interception for the second game in a row. Maybe don’t pass the ball to him?
- How comforting to see John Michael Schmitz grading almost above average in his second game after his rough first outing; Marcus McKethan run blocking well and only being slightly below average in pass blocking in his first NFL game action ever; and Mark Glowinski and Josh Ezeudu both bouncing back with good pass blocking at an unfamiliar position after being emergency replacements. The Giants’ OL as a whole only allowed 8 pressures yesterday, with 3 sacks and 1 quarterback hit. Evan Neal was somewhat below average in both pass and run blocking and had two penalties but at least was not a disaster as in the Dallas game.
- Four Joe Schoen draft picks played the entire game on the offensive line. Glowinski and Bredeson split time only because of the latter’s concussion, and Matt Peart had a few snaps in jumbo packages.
- Saquon Barkley played almost every down, perhaps since the Giants were in a hole early and were in desperation mode a lot of the game. With his injury that won’t continue, but looking longer term, Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell, and Eric Gray (who had no snaps on offense) will have to share the load more.
- Waller was on the field most of the time. TE2 Daniel Bellinger played about half the snaps when the Giants were running 12 personnel, but the hoped-for (by me, anyway) continuing use of Bellinger as a receiver is on the shelf right now.
- Slayton, Hodgins, and Parris Campbell are the clear WR1, WR2, and WR3...at the moment. Jones has yet to develop a chemistry with Campbell, who has been used mostly on plays near the line of scrimmage (9 of 10 targets less than 10 yards). Meanwhile, Hyatt only had 14 snaps, but what an impact. It will be interesting to see how Campbell’s and Hyatt’s snaps evolve over time - it will be a shock if Hyatt doesn’t begin to see the field more considering not only what he can do directly but also how his presence will open up the intermediate parts of the field for the other receivers. Plus we’ve yet to see how Wan’Dale Robinson will be worked into the rotation.
- Dexter Lawrence (86.5) had another very good game - still no sacks, but his disruption of the offense was more noticeable than it was last week. Leonard Williams was graded well on pass rush (74.3) and A’Shawn Robinson was graded well against the run (75.9), but I have to admit that my eyes did not see the same things.
- The Giants’ edge defenders had a very ordinary day, with only Oshane Ximines (71.0) playing above average. Kayvon Thibodeaux was mostly invisible in pass rush once again.
- Bobby Okereke graded average overall (62.6) and in all phases of the game, but to my eyes he had a poor first half and a more impactful second half when the Giants finally shut down some Arizona drives. Isaiah Simmons also received an excellent grade (86.4) in only 13 snaps. Most of them (9) were in coverage and only three were pass rushes. Micah McFadden graded very poorly across the board except for pass rush.
- Tre Hawkins III graded well in pass coverage (78.4) but was only targeted twice. Fellow rookie Tae Banks had a rougher game (44.5), giving up four receptions in six targets. Xavier McKinney (50.9) had another subpar game; we are still waiting for the people who kidnapped 2021 McKinney to present their ransom demands.
- McKinney, Okereke, Banks, and Adoree’ Jackson were on the field for every snap, and Jason Pinnock almost every snap. Jackson moved between outside and the slot and Hawkins played about two-thirds of the snaps, rotating off when the Giants were in base defense rather than nickel.
- Thibodeaux played 94% of the defensive snaps, making it all the more alarming that he was totally missing from the stat sheet except for one hit and one hurry of Josh Dobbs. In defense of Thibodeaux, Wink Martindale uses him in a variety of ways: he rushed the passer 25 times, defended the run 26 times, and dropped back in pass coverage nine times. Compare that to fellow 2022 draftee Aidan Hutchinson, who rushed 46 times (with six pressures), played the run 20 times, and covered only once yesterday. Add to that the fact that with Azeez Ojulari out, Arizona was free to concentrate on him, sometimes putting a tight end on his side to help block him. Still, considering that Martindale hasn’t manged to coax a sack out of his defense in two games, he might need to look for ways to scheme Thibodeaux free more often to impact the game. Ximines, Ward, and Boogie Basham were almost completely absent on the stat sheet despite the 69 snaps they shared.
- Lawrence played about two-thirds of the snaps at IDL, Williams somewhat less, with Robinson, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, and D.J. Davidson subbing in for them. The rotation was very strange, with the starters off the field in crucial moments such as when Arizona was in scoring position. To my eye Arizona running back James Conner had his way with the second stringers whenever they were in the game. Why Jordon Riley, who looked good last week, was inactive, I do not know:
Wink used 12 different DL combinations.— NYGfaninCLT (@clt_ny) September 18, 2023
The most head-scratching usage was 10 snaps for Nacho & DJ Davidson together. On those 10 snaps:
-6 rushes, 47 yds, 2 TD
-2 passes, 13 yds, 1 TD
-1 2 Pt Conversion
-1 defensive penalty
- McFadden got most of the work at ILB2, with Simmons taking the remainder, only 13 snaps. Martindale seems to to be easing Simmons in and not putting too much on his plate right away, but I’d like to see the scales tip more toward Simmons as the season progresses.