Tag Archives: Nick Gates

Close is just not good enough…

When you’re 0-5, it is probably safe to say that you are what your record says you are.  That holds true for the New York Giants.

Blowing a 14 point lead early in the game, the 2020 New York Giants looked for every possible way to give up their lead.  Most notable guffaws from Week 5 included eight penalties for 81 yards which resulted in two touchdowns being taken off the board; far more points than would have been required in their 37-34 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.  Throw in a clear missed pick-6 by cornerback James Bradberry and one has to be wondering where the team’s concentration is during the games played thus far.

The truth of the matter is that the Giants have been in the thick of 3 winnable games in 2020.  The scores included the following:

Week 2:   17-13 loss to the Chicago Bears

Week 4:  17-9 loss to the Los Angeles Rams

Week 5:  37-34 loss to the Dallas Cowboys

Their only blowout in 2020 thus far came at the hands of the San Francisco Forty Niners who, playing a number of backups, handily beat the Giants 36-9.  Throw in a 26-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener as another game in which the GMEN were manhandled on both the O-line and D-lines.

Looking under the hood, one can see that there is plenty wrong with this team.  Let’s look at the Giants Regular Season Statistics through 5 games (courtesy of Espn.com):

2020 Regular Season Statistics 

Offense

GP YDS YDS/G YDS YDS/G YDS YDS/G PTS PTS/G
5 1,412 282.4 1,017 203.4 395 79.0 81 16.2

Ranking:  30th

Defense

The Giants defense, on the other hand, while keeping things close during most games played in 2020 continues to allow game-winning drives.

 GP TOT. PTS PTS/G RUSH YDS RUSH YDS/G               pyds     Pyds/game TOT YDS YDS/G
5 133                                        26.6 553 110.60 1162        232.40         1715 343

Ranking:  20th (Per Pro Football Focus)

This is the third time this season Jones had a chance to win the game on the final drive, against the Bears, Rams, and now Cowboys, and has come up empty each time.  Joe Montana, he’s not,  Obviously, that’s an unfairly high bar, but he needs to convert some of these drives into wins if he’s going to be anything more than a journeyman quarterback.

This game saw a significant step in the right direction for the Giants offense, although it’s difficult to discern whether this was due to an improvement in Jason Garrett’s play calling or just a consequence of playing against arguably the worst defense in the league.  Devonta Freeman, who had 60 yards on 17 carries, showed good field vision, finding holes a still developing offensive line created for him.

The Giants secondary remains a major weakness despite their offseason attempts to improve it.  James Bradberry looks to be a bright spot, as he was able to contain Amari Cooper most of the game, but Ryan Lewis allowed a 38 yard gain by Michael Gallup that set up the winning field goal.  And unfortunately, the Giants number 2 pick in this season’s draft, Xavier McKinney, who was arguably the best safety in this draft class, has yet to see the field due to injury.

It is safe to say that this team does not inspire any confidence in maintaining a lead.  Even after the Giants took a 34-31 lead with 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter (after an Andy Dalton fumble resulting from a bad snap), this 2020 team does not let you rest assured that a victory is in sight.  The Cowboys game winning drive saw Dalton connect with Amari Cooper on a 15 yard pass, wide receiver Michael Gallup on a deep pass for 19 yards, and then Gallup again for a 38 yard reception.  That basically sums up the Giants season thus far; inability to make the big stop when needed.  Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein proceeded to kick a 34-yard field goal to win the game, 37-34.

Long gone are the days of Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyoura, Justin Tuck and Matthias Kiwanuka.  The fact is that the current Giants squad does not have one defensive player on the roster who can be counted on to secure a win. And if you thought that special player was going to be Defensive End Lorenzo Carter this season, you would be wrong.  He left the game and the team for the season with a torn achilles. Yet another bit of misfortune in a horrendous season.

Bad drafting (Eric Flowers), bad luck (Saquon’s injury), Covid-10… all must improve before the Giants emerge from the cellar of the NFL.

Special thanks to our friend Gregory Frank for sharing his intimate thoughts about the week 5 matchup vs. the Cowboys.

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

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.

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