Tag Archives: Julio Jones

Run Forrest Run !

When your quarterback is the leading rusher for your team, as was the case with Daniel Jones of the New York Giants this past Sunday against the San Francisco Forty Niners, this is usually telling of the outcome of the game. Jones was the Giants leading rusher with 5 carries for 49 yards. When this appears to be the best play that you have going for you on offense, it is likely to be a long day.

Week 3 against the San Francisco Forty Niners offered very few positives for the New York Giants. The GMEN were thoroughly dominated by the Forty Niners on both sides of the ball. Time of possession said it all. The Niners had the ball 39:44 to the Giants 20:16, their lowest time of possession since a December 24, 2006 game against the New Orleans Saints.  Worst of all, the Giants were soundly beaten by a team comprised on backups. No Garoppolo, no Kittle, no Mostert.  The Niners backups Nick Mullens (QB), Jerick McKinnon, Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne, J. Wilson Jr. (RB & WR’s), and Ross Dwelley (TE) torched the GMEN to the tune of 25 completions on 36 attempts passing in a thoroughly dominant 36-9 victory.

What is wrong with the Giants?

Pretty much everything.  Whereas most analysts predicted that the Giants were at most a 6-game winner this season, it is possible they won’t win any games.  This season is not for the faint hearted.

The Giants are at best a work-in-progress.  They look competent on some plays but don’t sustain drives. Their defense makes the occasional sack, deflection or run-stop, but can’t seem to make any critical plays when needed.  As the statistics indicate, the defense was on the field for what felt like the entire game on Sunday against the Niners, unable to make any needed key third down stops.  This makes it easy to say this is a horrible team.  Perhaps they are, at the moment.  Their record and stats for the 2020 season thus far would indicate as much.

It isn’t like the Giants don’t have any talent.  They do, on both sides of the ball.  A number of players have shown signs of playmaking capability. Perhaps they simply needed the offseason and 4 preseason games, all lost to the Coronavirus epidemic.  Perhaps they need more direction from their coaches and head coach.

Some defensive linemen and linebackers have flashed.  Leonard Williams finally appears to be wrapping his arms around the quarterback (2 sacks); Lorenzo Carter has shown the ability to pressure the quarterback although the sacks have been slow to come.  Oshane Ximinez and Kyler Fackrell have to get home more in their limited opportunities.  Is it as simple as saying that their play is the result of not having an offseason or any preseason games to assess their strengths and weaknesses?  Perhaps to an extent, but at some point coaches have to start making a difference.  Kyle Shanahan’s play calling gave the Giants fits all game. The Niners scored four touchdowns and two field goals on six visits to the red zone.  The Giants, on the other hand, did not run one play inside the Niners 20 yard line.  Total domination by the Niners!

The secondary has been spotty at best. Free agent cornerback signing James Bradberry has made several pass breakups in addition to a few interceptions.  Julian Love has an interception and has been involved in some quality defensive plays.  I think I saw Logan Ryan check in for a play or two against the Forty Niners. However, the other corner position, as expected, has yielded too many key plays.

The Giants are too predictable.  When their opponents need a key third down reception, an opposing receiver can always be seen steaking across the middle of the field untouched.  The fact is, nobody is making key stops.

The offense has been equally unreliable.  As easy as it is to say the team’s fate rested in Saquon Barkley’s hands, they must move on after his devastating season-ending injury.  All teams are experiencing a plethora of major injuries this season.  The who’s who list includes Christian McCaffrey, Nick Bosa, Jimmy Garoppolo, Richard Sherman, Michael Thomas, Davante Adams, Julio Jones and others.

The injury wave can’t be the result of coincidence.  It is the ramification of forcing a league to begin on time without the benefit of an offseason as well as preseason games.

As for the GMEN, growing pains had to be expected for Daniel Jones in Season 2.  The bloom has come of the rose. It is time to determine if Jones has what it takes to be the quarterback of the New York Giants. His “dear in the headlights” face from operating behind an offensive line that lacks coherence and continuity is growing thin on fans.  He is going to have to make plays on his own.  He has definitively shown us that he has the running ability to do so.  He must also demand play-calling which keeps opposing teams guessing.

It is indeed a trying time to be a Giants fan.  Even though we have been spoiled with 4 Superbowl wins in the last 30 years, we have not had a winning season since 2016 when they went 11-5. It is not too much to ask for a team with a winning record.  Look at the models of consistency in the NFL.  Look at the Patriots, Saints, Seahawks and Forty Niners; teams that have consistently winning records.

I am not asking for this team to be in the Superbowl this year.  Far from it.  I am simply requiring progress in some areas; offense, defense, special teams.  Just show me improvement week to week that can be built on regardless of the outcome of the game. That is all I am asking for.  Without progress, you become a lesser franchise perennial cellar-dweller.

If you watch Sean Payton (head coach, New Orleans Saints) call a game, you know to expect the unexpected.  Although he does have a Superbowl-winning quarterback at the helm of his offense, he brings in another quarterback turned jack-of-all-trades Taysom Hill in on offense to mix things up.  I am not saying that gadget plays are the key to a New York Giants turnaround.  I am saying that more creativity from the coaching staff will be required if the Giants are to achieve any wins in this bizarre virus-impaired season.  Up next week:  a visit to the Los Angeles Rams.

Huddleball.com welcomes all fan insight and opinions.  If you want to blog with us this season, please email us at huddleball@gmail.com.

Arizona Cardinals in Atlanta: Palmer’s March?

carson-and-sherman

On November 15, 1864, after capturing the city of Atlanta, the Union Army’s General William Tecumseh Sherman set off with his troops to capture the port of Savannah. Seething with malice, his men laid waste to military targets, civilian property, infrastructure and industry, cutting a swath of destruction that crippled transportation networks, the Confederacy’s economy, and the morale of the civilian population.

Today, Coach Bruce Charles Arians’ Arizona Cardinals hope to take Atlanta in a more gentlemanly fashion, well-padded and without such dire consequences. To a team that started the year feeling poised to take the next step on a path laid out by Arians on the day of his hire in 2013, defeating the Falcons today in the Georgia Dome has a do-or-die air to it. The Cardinals sit at 4-5-1 after losing only three regular season games last year. The division title and a shot at the playoffs are sliding away, the offensive line and the receiving corps are banged up, and field general Carson Palmer isn’t commanding quite the degree of respect he earned last year.

On top of this, Arians felt chest pains after the Cardinals returned from Sunday’s road loss to the Minnesota Vikings, and his wife drove him to the hospital for evaluation. He survived the scare and rejoined the team Wednesday.

The debilitating effects of stress have been well documented, and one can imagine how the cruel memory of the Vikings’ high-flying win might have lodged in Arians’ chest. With the first half winding down and Arizona marching toward a touchdown and the lead, Minnesota cornerback Xavier Rhodes intercepted Palmer at the goal line and scampered 100 yards for a score and a 20-10 Vikings advantage. It was one of two picks on the day for Rhodes. Palmer helped answer that blow by marching the offense downfield for a touchdown, capped by a 29 yard pass to tight end Jermaine Gresham. This helped buoy the Cardinals’ spirits, and they jogged to the locker room down 20-17.

Arizona took the field in the second half properly fueled by anger and inspiration, but the air was swiftly sucked from their lungs by Cordarelle Patterson, who returned the second half kickoff 104 yards for a score to put Minnesota up 27-17, a margin the Cardinals couldn’t surmount. Ultimately the Cardinals fell 30-24, failing to overcome the Vikings’ two big plays. How big were they? The Vikings are the first team to score touchdowns on a 100-yard interception return and 100-plus yard kickoff return in the same game since the 1962 Dallas Cowboys.

On to Atlanta, where Georgia Dome crowds have been treated to a career year from QB Matt Ryan and the continued ascension of wide receiver Julio Jones. If it’s lonely at the top, Jones is a downright solitary figure, leading the world with 1,105 yards. Arizona All-Pro corner Patrick Peterson looks to slow down the talented Jones and erase the memory of their 2014 meeting, when Jones hit for 10 catches, 184 yards and a touchdown.

It’s a battle of #1s–Atlanta’s top-ranked offense v. Arizona’s top-ranked defense. The game may hinge on the performance of Cardinals running back David Johnson, who has quietly taken his place among the NFL’s elite. He has topped 100 yards from scrimmage in every game this season. Sounds reasonably impressive, but consider the full extent of it: Johnson is only the fourth player to accomplish this since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

Arizona victories this season have proven more elusive than fans expected. With playoff chances waning, a win might be found in Johnson’s legs or Palmer’s arm, in the collective will of a sturdy defense or the team’s DNA under this coaching regime. Whatever the result today, Arians’ heart and the Cardinals’ resolve will be tested once more.

Eric Forgaard

This blog is not sponsored by a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.