Tag Archives: Mike Evans

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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Arizona Cardinals, Week Two: Back on Track or Panic Time?

fitzgerald-ponders

Arizona’s last-second game-winning 46 yard field goal attempt in Sunday night’s opener was a four-step process: Low snap, late hold, wide left, heads hung.

Kicker Chandler Catanzaro had converted 100% of his kicks from that distance and closer last season. Not this time, and the Cardinals sputtered out of the 2016 gate with a 23-21 loss to the visiting Patriots. Without offensive stalwarts Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, Coach Bill Belichick had tricks up his sleeve—he’s Houdini in a hoodie—and too often he left the Cardinals mystified. Damage had been done well before that kick.

After the disappointing result, many Arizona fans fashioned a two-step process of their own:

Step one: Locate panic button.
Step two: Press it, with vigor.

Catanzaro’s wide-swinger was the final act of a special teams unit that was sub-par all day. The return game offered little. Punts were short. Coach Bruce Arians will tell you that, and he’ll regale you with tales of poor tackling, missed assignments, third down defensive laxness, vanishing receivers, lack of sustained offensive flow, and much more. Monday morning, GM Steve Keim used words like “disappointed” and “embarrassed” when he assessed the effort.

Still, Arizona came within a whisker of beating the vaunted Patriots and helping to wipe away the foul memory of last year’s NFC Championship smack down at the hands of the Carolina Panthers.

Don’t press that button just yet, folks.

Keep it handy though, just in case. Tampa Bay’s wunderkind QB Jameis Winston rolls into town today with his aerial circus in tow. Winston is fresh off Offensive Player of the Week honors after completing 23 of 32 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns in a Buccaneers win over the Falcons last week. Arizona’s cornerbacks will have their hands full as Winston slings it to talented Buc receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, who are both tall and can stretch the field.

The Cardinals’ mood is more anger than panic. They aim to prove they still belong in conversations about the NFL elite.

KEYS TO THE GAME

  1. More touches for running back David Johnson. Johnson gained 89 yards on 16 carries and caught four passes for a 10.8 yard average last week. Johnson may be the most elusive 225 pounder on the planet and he can plow over you if needed. He has a flair for first downs and touchdowns. Get him the ball.
  2. Help Larry. Larry Fitzgerald hauled in eight catches last week and scored twice. He has sticky hands and he’ll be in Canton someday. But he needs some help right now. Michael Floyd caught three passes last week. No other Cardinal wide receiver caught more than one.
  3. Boost Brandon Williams’ confidence. The rookie cornerback won the job in the preseason, though it would likely be Justin Bethel’s if he wasn’t playing with pain in his surgically-repaired foot. Williams blew a coverage and misplayed a pass last week, both leading to Patriots scores. Tampa Bay will want to throw his way, and the Cards will have to play more zone to help Williams.

KNITTING DOG SWEATERS
The following players will be unavailable Sunday and may be otherwise occupied:

Frostee Rucker, DT (knee).
Kareem Martin, LB (knee).

The season is young, but this feels like a pivotal game for Arizona. A win over Tampa Bay makes the Patriots game a blip. A loss makes it a trend.

Fans: If you need to push that panic button, please wipe the BBQ sauce off your fingers first. It’s mannerly, and simply good hygiene.

– Eric Forgaard

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