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

It was the Giants’ best performance of the season

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Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

It hurts not to get back to the playoffs after last year’s unexpected run to the Divisional Round, but the New York Giants ended the 2023 season on a high note by dominating the crumbling Philadelphia Eagles for the first time since...uhh...since a 42-7 victory in 2012 (I had to look it up).

As a team, the Giants had season highs in Pro Football Focus grades in overall performance (80.2), pass blocking (74.9), defense (83.4), and pass coverage (90.2). What else can we learn from individual performances and snap counts about why the game turned into a rout?

OFFENSE

PFF grades

Courtesy of Pro Football Focus
  • No Giant graded elite on offense, but four graded above average: Saquon Barkley (79.3), Andrew Thomas (78.3), Darren Waller (76.2), and Wan’Dale Robinson (75.9). A closer look shows that several of these players received elite grades in the passing game, but not in the running game.
  • Tyrod Taylor only graded 69.4 overall, but that was weighed down by a 44.8 run grade. His passing grade was 76.5. For the season, Taylor’s overall 71.4 grade and 73.4 passing grade were the best he has had since his 3-year tenure as Buffalo’s starting quarterback prior to the arrival of Josh Allen. Taylor had 3 more big-time throws (BTT) yesterday and no turnover-worthy plays (TWP); for the season, he had 17 BTTs and only 3 TWPs, by far the best ratio of his career. His NFL passer rating of 89.1 was comparable to those in his 3 seasons in Buffalo. Is it out of the question that he returns for the 2024 season? Maybe, but...
  • The other Giants’ offensive linemen had their best games of the season - not great in absolute terms, but at least several of them graded average, and no one was lower than the 50s. Ben Bredeson even graded above average in pass blocking (74.4), as did AT (82.2). Overall the OL allowed no sacks, no QB hits, and only 10 hurries, 6 of them by Mark Glowinski, who may have played his final game as a Giant.
  • Overall the Giants’ receivers had among their best games: Darren Waller (76.2), Wan’Dale Robinson (75.9), Darius Slayton (66.3), Sterling Shepard (64.9), and Isaiah Hodgins (62.0).

Snap counts

  • More notable than anything the Giants did on offense was that the Eagles liberally used their bench on defense in this game, with only S Kevin Byard and LB Nick Morrow playing anywhere near every snap after the Giants blew the game open in the first half.
  • Every Giants’ starting offensive lineman played every snap except Justin Pugh, who missed 2 snaps, while Marcus McKethan got 5, several of them in jumbo packages.
  • For probably the first time this season, Isaiah Hodgins saw the field more than any other wide receiver, with Darius Slayton and Wan’Dale Robinson not far behind. Sterling Shepard played more snaps than usual in what was likely his final game as a Giants player, and Jalin Hyatt was used sparingly.
  • Saquon Barkley got a little bit of rest after the game was decided, with Eric Gray getting the second most snaps he had on offense this season.
  • With Lawrence Cager out, Daniel Bellinger played most of the game and Darren Waller about half of it.

DEFENSE

PFF grades

Courtesy of Pro Football Focus
  • Maybe Wink Martindale wanted to make a statement. If so, it worked. No fewer than 5 players received elite grades on defense, with three of them grading outstanding (Xavier McKinney, 95.3; Micah McFadden, 90.5; and Nick McCloud, 90.5). Dexter Lawrence just missed, at 89.8, and Jihad Ward (85.8) graded 16 points higher than for any other game he has played in two years as a Giant. Lawrence (83.0) and Ward (90.9) were both outstanding in the pass rush, although they only accounted for 10 of the Giants’ 26 total pressures.
  • Most of the rest of the defense played at average levels or not far below. A few players had subpar games. Surprisingly, Azeez Ojulari graded only 42.3 despite 2 sacks and 2 hurries, suggesting that the rest of the time he was being neutralized. The same can be said for Cor’Dale Flott (48.8, despite only allowing 1 reception in 4 targets and getting 1 pressure); perhaps he was letting receivers get open but the ball didn’t come to them or was not thrown accurately when it did.
  • As a team the Giants finished with 31 takeaways, tied with Baltimore for the league lead.

Snap counts

  • Xavier McKinney and Bobby Okereke wound up playing every snap for the entire season. Amazing. Okereke is under contract for 2024, but McKInney is not. It will be interesting to see if a deal can be worked out. With Jason Pinnock injured, Dane Belton played very snap as well.
  • With Tae Banks out with a shoulder injury, Adoree’ Jackson, Cor’Dale Flott, and Nick McCloud saw most of the action, but Tre Hawkins played significant snaps on defense for the first time since Week 11 and Darnay Holmes appeared on defense a bit too.
  • Similar to last week, Isaiah Simmons approximately split time with Micah McFadden at the other off-ball linebacker position. About half of Simmons’ snaps came in the box.
  • The pecking order in playing time on the edge as the season ended was, in decreasing order, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Jihad Ward, Azeez Ojulari, and Boogie Basham. Once again, Dexter Lawrence was on a limited pitch count, with A’Shawn Robinson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches getting somewhat fewer snaps. Jordon Riley may have moved past D.J. Davidson in the depth chart, seeing twice as many snaps.