Tag Archives: Dexter Lawrence

Giants vs. Steelers: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Before we begin this version of the Sergio Leone classic, allow me to say how great it was to enjoy NFL football this weekend.  In light of the year we are all experiencing, NFL football is a much welcomed diversion from Covid- related news updates.  Amazingly enough, it appears that the NFL has found a way to provide us with a revised version of entertainment, albeit with few-to-no fans in the stadium and sideline personnel wearing masks.  (One recommendation I do have to make; lay off the closeups of Chiefs coach Andy Reid if he continues to wear the plastic mask shield.  His shield was covered in an unappealing moisture fog cloud).  And let’s all keep our fingers crossed that there are no health repercussions as a result of the games being played this past weekend.

Now for the much anticipated season opener between the Giants and the Steelers, whose outcome came at no surprise.  The Steelers won the game, 26-16, but for Giants fans, it could have been worse.  The truth of the matter is that the GMEN were in the game much of the first half and were actually leading the Steelers 10-3 after their third drive of the game.   Then reality set in. There was a tougher, more polished team in this game that was not from New York with a Superbowl-winning quarterback leading them named Ben Roethlisberger. Truth be told, the Steelers were manhandling the Giants on several fronts.  After the Giants held a brief 10-3 lead, an impressive New York drive was stalled when the Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt intercepted a Daniel Jones pass.  Ben’s pass to Ju-Ju Smith Shuster over new Giants cornerback James Bradberry made the score 10-9. The tide had indeed turned.

The Giants were unable to get Saquon Barkley going pretty much the entire game.  Run blocking was  non-existent.  The Steelers stated after the game that their primary mission was to render Saquon Barkley ineffective during the game.  They succeeded in achieving this goal. This is how the Giants linemen fared against the Steelers:

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Linemen Rankings From Pro Football Focus:

LT-Andrew Thomas:  60.8

LG-Will Hernandez:  46.3

C- Nick Gates:  54.4

RG- Kevin Zeitler:  49.6

RT- Cameron Fleming:  51.6

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The Giants proceeded to go nowhere on their next possession.  Saquon continued to get stuffed on or near the line of scrimmage. At this point in the game, he had 7 rushes for -6 yards.  This is not a recipe for winning the game.  And when James Connor went down with an injury for the Steelers, his replacement, Benny Snell ran hard on the Giants to the tune of 19 carries for 113 yards.

The Giants and the Steelers exchanged possessions leaving the ball in the hands of the Steelers. Big Ben looked to be in form as he continued to find Ju-Ju Shuster Smith open.  Rookie Darnay Holmes was unable to stay with him. A 13-yard pass from Ben to James Washington made it 16-10 at the half. Ben was 5-7 for 67 yards and a touchdown on this last drive.

With the Giants trailing 16-10 in the third quarter, Daniel Jones ended a heroic 19-play drive that could have put them ahead with an awful interception just outside of the end zone.  This blunder was a key point in the game for the Giants, who never recovered. Pittsburgh took control of the remainder of the game.

The Steelers went on a 9-play 62 yard drive that made the score 19-10, Steelers. The inability of Barkley to gain positive yards on offense combined with the inability to stop linebacker Bud Dupree from getting to Daniel Jones was a theme that remained constant throughout the second half of the game.

The Giants did score again on Darius Slayton’s second touchdown reception of the day. The Steelers added one more score. The final score was 26-16 Steelers.   Now for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly !

(cue music)

The Good

  • The Giants were in this game, for the most part
  • Rookie LT Andrew Thomas was not abused by TJ Watt and Bud Dupree. The remainder of the Giants O-line were.
  • Darius Slayton is a star. He picked up where he left off last season with 2 TD receptions and over 100 receiving yards
  • Both Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence registered sacks in this game
  • LB Blake Martinez was all over the field in this game. As advertised, he recorded 12 tackles (8 solo)
  • We didn’t really expect to win this game, did we?

The Bad

  • Nick Gates struggled in his first attempt at the Center position for the Giants
  • Cam Fleming struggled in his first outing at Right Tackle for the GMEN
  • The Giants run-blocking was non-existent against the Steelers
  • The Giants could not stop the Steelers from converting any key plays, a disturbing issue that                               seems to have carried-forward from last season.
  • Both Cornerbacks James Blackberry and Isaac Yiadom were beaten for touchdowns

The Ugly

  • Saquon Barkely had 15 rushes for 6 yards
  • Evan Engram continued to no-show in key games with 2 receptions for 9 yards. He dropped                          passes and missed blocks.

Next week we are off to Chicago.  It will be interesting to see if  Joe Judge’s young squad can build off this outing against the Steelers.

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Good things come in 3’s today for the New York Giants

Three was the magic number of the day, today for the New York Giants as they were able to generate 3 sacks, 3 interceptions and held the Redskins to just 3 points in total on this fourth game of the 2019 season.  Although it did not always have the feel of a great win, the men in blue soundly defeated the Washington Redskins today, 24-3 in front of a home crowd.  This was the second consecutive win for rookie Daniel Jones who went a respectable 22 of  31 for 225 yards.

Jones, however proved that he was human today by throwing two interceptions to Washington’s Quentin Dunbar. He also showed Giants fans what he is capable of doing with his feet as he got out of a multiple defender rush with a scamper which was reminiscent of Eli Manning’s escapism that occurred in Superbowl XLII on February 3, 2008. In it nice to see a level of athleticism for Jones which hasn’t been enjoyed in decades by Giants fans. (The last Giants QB with this degree of mobility was Jeff Hostetler in 1991).  You know how that story ended with a Superbowl win against the Buffalo Bills.

As for the role players on the Giants offense today, Wayne Gallman filled in unspectacularly well for the injured Saquon Barkley rushing 18 times for 63 yards with two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving. Gallman was also a factor in the passing game making 6 catches for 55 yards.  With over 100 yards from scrimmage rushing and receiving, Gallman’s workhorse performance was instrumental in today’s win.  Sterling Shepard had another strong day contributing 7 receptions for 76 yards. It is starting to appear that Shepard was worth the big money thrown his way after the offseason Beckum Jr. megatrade. Evan Engram contributed to the tune of 4 receptions for 54 yards.

The long awaited debut of Dwayne Haskins at QB for the Washington Redskins occurred just before the half with Haskins completing two first downs on this drive. With nobody open, Haskins showed some ability to scamper by running it down to the 1 yard line. The Redskins had to settle for a field goal on his first drive. The score at the end of the first half:  14-3, Giants.

That drive was as good as it got for Haskins all day. He completed 9 of 17 passes for 107 yards. The highly touted rookie who many thought would be the Giants selection in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft  looked like a rookie. His entrance undoubtedly spells the end for Case Keenum as the Redskins starting QB.

The star of the day was the New York Giants defense.  Any time you hold a team to 3 points in total, your defense usually has something to do with it.  The Giants were strong against both the run and the pass today, holding the Redskins to just 176 yards on offense with 121 passing yards and 55 rushing yards.  It seemed like the Giants secondary were in the right place for the first time all season. Jabril Peppers had a particularly strong day, most notably for picking off Redskin QB Case Keenum and returning it all the way to the house for a pick-6.  Janoris Jenkins also bounced back from a rough day against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with at 2 interception day.

Today’s Giants sack team by committee consisting of Marcus Golden, Oshane Ximines, Tuzar Skipper, and Dexter Lawrence contributed 3 sacks on top of last week’s 4 sacks. Tighter coverage in the Giants secondary and modification in defensive game plan must have contributed to the pressure they were able to generate on the quarterback. Fifth round draft pick Ryan Connelly had another impressive day in the middle of the Giants D with 5 tackles and 1 sack.  He did, however leave the game with a knee injury; severity of injury uncertain.  The last factor helping the Giants win today was the sloppy performance of the Washington Redskins with multiple penalties occurring throughout the game. It was the type of performance that results in head coaches being fired.  Tune in to see what happens in our Nation’s Capital this week.

It is far too early to consider the Giants to be a good team. Many fans would be satisfied with a 2-2 split of the first 4 games.  They play a tough Minnesota Vikings team next week and then the New England Patriots at Foxboro.  They could easily be 2-4 after their first six games.

In order for the Giants to continue their momentum, the must improve each week on both sides of the ball.  This was indeed the case today on Defense.  The offense did what it needed to win today as well.  One has to ask whether the Giants are any closer to competing with a Dallas team who they lost to in Week 1.

The GMEN will be benefitted by the return of veteran wide receiver Golden Tate next week.  Tate should provide a deep threat who is able to complement Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram and Darius Slayton. As long as Daniel Jones continues to improve, and the Giants defense continues to improve, the Giants may make this a three team race in the NFC East.  Stay tuned, keep your seatbelt fastened.  This season is just starting to get good !

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An improbable win for Daniel Jones and the New York Giants

Just as Eli Manning was thrown in the water on November 21, 2004, Daniel Jones was given his first opportunity to start on Sunday, and from the results he did not disappoint! He can pass (23-36 for 336 yards), he can run (4-28) and he can win games in the end regardless of how bad the team around him is playing.  Winning his first game, however, did not come easy.

Much like Game 1 against the Cowboys, the Giants could not stop their opponent on Defense in the first half.  Passes to Tampa Bay Wide Receiver Mike Evans went virtually uncontested (8-190, 23.8 avg). One had to wonder whether the defensive game plan installed for this game was placing too much reliance on the skills of aging cornerback, Janoris Jenkins who, looked old during the game.  Jenkins appeared to be overmatched throughout the first half against Evans. Having no safety playing behind him left him exposed and vulnerable. Again, one had to wonder whether the game plan installed was sound.

It was a strange day for the Giants.  Down 28-10 at the half, only the most fervent believers could forecast that something special was about to happen.  And then it began, on the opening drive of the second half, starting with a crossing route to TE Evan Engram (who had a monster of a game). After the long touchdown to Engram followed by a 2-point conversion, it was a 10 point game.

Enter the defense.  The much maligned defense of James Bettcher began to make plays in the second half.  After allowing 11 drives of 70 yards or more, the Giants forced the first punt of the game for Tampa Bay.  Perhaps the tide was truly turning.

After another long drive by the GMEN capped by a touchdown to Sterling Shepard, the Giants closed the deficit to 28-25.  Daniel Jones looked confident and appeared unflappable at times.  Following a third straight Tampa Bay punt, the Giants pass coverage improved and was much tighter in the second half.

The half was far from one-sided.  The Giants offensive line was repeatedly abused by Tampa Bay linebacker Shaq Barrett, who had his way with lineman Nate Solder to the tune of 4 sacks. He did his best to kill any thoughts about a Giants comeback on this day.  Also notable in the second half was the lack of Saquon Barkley who would experience a high ankle sprain in this game and as a result was not a factor. Wayne Gallman came in as his replacement and was barely serviceable.  A better solution will be required in Barkely’s absence, which is reportedly in the 4-8 week range.

After two more Tampa Bay field goals the Giants were down 31-25.  If there was to be any magic finish for the GMEN, it would have to occur on this drive. Thanks to a long Darius Slayton reception, the GMEN were knocking on the door with the chance to score the go ahead touchdown. And then we were reminded why they drafted this kid. A seven yard scamper on fourth down gave the Giants a 32-31 lead. I need to remind readers that this was not a play that would have been made by Eli Manning. No way, no how.

Still, the game was not won.  Tampa Bay marched back down the field putting their kicker in a good position to win the game.  And then it occurred…wide left. Giants win!  The comeback victory was complete.

GAME BALLS

Daniel Jones

Although this hard fought Giants victory was far from perfect, there are many players to credit for this win, starting of course with the Giants new quarterback, Daniel Jones.  Jones brought a new level of excitement to the team and restored, even if briefly, the notion that winning is again possible.  Jones finished the game 23-36 for 336 yards with 4 TD’s (2 running, 2 passing).

Evan Engram

Engram was a beast and is becoming a true factor in the Giants offense. He had a huge touchdown to open the second half and finished the day with 6 receptions for 113 yards, averaging 18.8 yards with 1 touchdown.

Sterling Shepard

Shepard stepped up big time with several big receptions.  He had 7 catches on the day for 100 yards and 1 touchdown, averaging 14.3 yards per reception.  Keep it up, Sterling. You are filling some big shoes!

Darius Slayton

The rookie made one of the biggest plays of the game in the second half.  He had 3 receptions for 82 yards with a 27.3 average.  Hopefully he will continue to establish himself as a deep threat this season and become a reliable second or third option on offense.

The Giants Defense

Somehow, someway the Giants D got the job done in the second half.  DeAndre Baker was credited with shutting his receiver’s down, and the Giants ensemble of pass rushers including Marcus Golden, Oshane Ximinez, and Dexter Lawrence (5 hurries, 1 sack) provided some legitimate pressure on the quarterback.

Janoris Jenkins was able to salvage a rough day with a win.

It is clear that the Giants have much work to be done ahead of them if they are going to go anywhere this season. But this victory certainly felt good. There is magic in the air and until we are told otherwise, it resides in the hands of #8, Daniel Jones.

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Entering the season on a positive note

The New York Giants are in the unenviable position of being a team being overlooked this season. Many prognosticators have them ranked as low as 28th out of the 32 teams in the NFL.  It appears that there is only one direction they can go, and I believe that is up!

The cause of their ranking is because of fear of the unknown.  Like in the stock market, professionals like certainty. There has never been less certainty than with this current Giants team. There are question marks in just about every area of this team and that includes coach and general manager.

At the close of the Giants vs. Patriots game on Thursday, August 29, backup Quarterback Kyle Lauletta threw a last ditch effort into the end zone which was caught by wide receiver Alonzo Russell, his second of the game.  This reception won the game. Euphoria erupted. The players stormed the field.  You would have thought this was a game 7 World Series win, or perhaps another Superbowl win over the Patriots. Sure, this had the makings of a fun sports movie; perhaps Any Given Sunday or a Friday Night Lights episode.  Giants management proceeded to reward Lauletta, Russell, as well as TJ Jones, their leading receiver during the 2019 preseason, by cutting all 3 of them.

Russell’s preseason stats were 6 receptions for 131 yards with 2 TD’s.  He wasn’t even their best receiver in the preseason. TJ Jones caught 12 receptions for 146 yards and 2 TD’s as well. As for the quarterback responsible for mopping up many of these preseason games, Kyle Lauletta completed 37 of 62 passes for 453 yards and 4 TD’S.  Hardly Tom Brady-like numbers, but certainly worthy of third QB consideration. No such outcome. He too was cut and did not make the final 53.

The NFL is a cruel league. That much is clear.  Maybe I am just expressing my sour grapes because I have admittedly developed a liking for Russell, who is affectionately referred to as “Zo” in postgame locker room celebrations.  Did I mention that there were 4 of these wins this preseason?  That’s right, the Giants won all 4 of their preseason games.

These wins are not the basis of my optimism for the upcoming season.  My confidence starts on the offensive side of the ball with a talent like Saquon Barkley.  Add an improved offensive line to the equation and you are likely to see extended drives that result in points.  Eli Manning is 38 years young and still appears to be able to manage the offense efficiently for now.  The Giants should be able to score points.  That’s right, you heard it here, the Giants offense should be improved even without a playmaker like O’dell Beckum Jr.  Dare we talk about Daniel Jones at all in this blog? I guess we will save him for the future.  After all, he will be doing little besides holding a clipboard, right?

Defense is another story but I will try to dwell on the positives.  The committee consisting of Lorenzo Carter, Marcus Golden, Oshane Ximinez and Dexter Lawrence should be able to get to the quarterback.  Perhaps they will not be Strahan, Tuck, Umenyoura and Kiwanuka immediately, but they should be able to make some plays.  I am expecting some big pressure up the middle by the rookie Lawrence, we they invested a first round pick on.

The defensive backfield stands a chance to be improved as well.  DeAndre Baker, if healthy will make a nice pairing with Janoris Jenkins.  This guy does not give up many completions, especially not touchdowns.  Add some other talented players into the mix including Sam Beal, Julian Love and Grant Haley along with what should be better safety play by Bethea and Peppers and James Bettcher’s defense could return to the outstanding rankings he experienced in Arizona.

I know the preseason is for meaningless but when you have Saquon Barkley on your team and some talented players on defense, you might be pleasantly surprised.  I’m not picking the GMEN to win it all, but with what appears to be a fairly soft schedule, a 9-7 record could be within their grasp.

Please bring on the regular season!

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