In the many years I have been doing ‘Kudos & Wet Willies’ after New York Giants games, a column with all ‘Kudos’ and no ‘Wet Willies’ has been a rarity. Today, though, after a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, that is what we have.
Kudos to ...
Sterling Shepard — Sunday was a great way for the curtain to close on Shepard’s career as a Giant, and probably his NFL career. Three receptions to move into fifth place all-time in franchise history. A victory over the rival Philadelphia Eagles. Praise from his teammates.
Wan’Dale Robinson — Nick Falato described Robinson as “slippery,” and I think that’s appropriate. He isn’t a big guy. He isn’t the fastest guy. He just gets open, and as the season has gone on has shown more and more run after catch ability. Sunday, he had five catches for 85 yards, including catches of 33 and 25 yards.
“He’s finally getting healthy. I mean, really healthy,” said head coach Brian Daboll. “So, he’s got quickness, speed, good with the ball in his hands. I’ve said that plenty of times, I know earlier in the season, maybe not as productive, but I think that was a result of him fighting through and his knee and that’s a tough thing to do when you’re a skill player that relies on quickness and speed and explosiveness. I’m sure happy we have him. I think he’s going to be a good player for us. He’s a great teammate. Glad we got him.”
Darius Slayton — Slayton had four catches for 62 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown, giving him a career-high 770 receiving yards for the season. Slayton also had a good comeback for teammates looking for him to pick up a tab Sunday night after hitting $200K in incentives:
Teammates were busting Darius Slayton that he is picking up a tab tonight after making $200K in incentives.— Ryan Dunleavy (@rydunleavy) January 8, 2024
"Some of the people that were saying it, ain't the right people," Slayton quipped. "DeVito can say that, but Darren Waller and Tyrod have money I don't make." https://t.co/00aqzZRip5
Tyrod Taylor — The veteran quarterback had a second straight outstanding game, going 23 of 32 for 297 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He was a big-play machine, with nine completed passes ranging from 15 to 46 yards. He ran for 38 yards on eight carries. he also made himself some money, as teams in need of backup quarterbacks will notice what Taylor did the last two weeks and pay a nice sum for it.
Wink Martindale — The defensive coordinator might have coached his last game with the Giants on Sunday. If so, he didn’t leave anything in the holster. Martindale blitzed Jalen Hurts constantly and creatively in the first half on Sunday. He used linebacker Isaiah Simmons at slot cornerback. He brought everything he had as the Giants shut the Eagles out in the first half, created four turnovers and have five sacks.
Xavier McKinney and Bobby Okereke — I am lumping these two together because part of their ‘Kudos’ is the fact that both players finished the season playing every one of the Giants, 1,228 defensive snaps.
McKinney had two interceptions, including an outstanding toe-tapping one, and three passes defensed in another game that showed McKinney can indeed be a play-making safety.
Okereke had eight tackles, a sack, a quarterback hit and a pass defensed.
Azeez Ojulari — After a mostly wasted season in which he had just a half-sack in 10 games entering Sunday, Ojulari came up with two sacks, a quarterback hit and a fumble recovery. If he and Kayvon Thibodeaus could ever play like that at the same time that would be something.
Jamie Gillan — It went largely unnoticed, but Gillan had an excellent game. He punted five times, with four of those being downed inside the Eagles’ 20-yard line. Only one of his five punts was returned, for 8 yards. Gillan’s net average for the day was 44.6 yards per punt.
Saquon Barkley — Had only 46 rushing yards on 18 carries, but scored two touchdowns and had a 46-yard reception.
Micah McFadden — Eight tackles on defense and one on special teams, plus two passes defensed. If such an award existed, McFadden might win the Giants’ Most Improved Player award.
If I was going to give a ‘Wet Willie,’ I would give it to the Los Angeles Chargers for screwing up yet another winnable game, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs and jumping the Giants in the 2024 NFL Draft order, getting the fifth pick and knocking the Giants down to pick No. 6.