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New York Giants Competitive Edge Week 6: Offense vs. Rams Defense

Does the Giants offense stand a chance against this Rams defense? Olivier Dumont analyzes which side has the competitive edges in this upcoming matchup.

In football, some situations can skyrocket from 0 to 100. This was the New York Giants' offense in Week 4 when they completed an 11-point comeback win against the New Orleans Saints.

But if there was any NFL game so far this year that captured a drop from 100 to 0, it’s the brutal 44-20 loss this Giants team suffered against the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday.

In Week 4, when Daniel Jones threw for 402 yards against the Saints, panned out a lot differently. Jones only mustered a 38.5 completion percentage and 98 passing yards before leaving the game with a concussion near the end of the second quarter.

To make matters worse, running back Saquon Barkley suffered a bad ankle sprain that will sideline him for a week, if not more. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay also left the game with a hyperextended knee injury that will keep him inactive this week, if not longer.

That's not good news for a Giants offense set to face one scary Los Angeles Rams defense. The Rams have a dominant group of defenders who have played an influential role in leading this team to a 4-1 start.

In all fairness, the Rams do have their share of weaknesses defensively that the Giants offense can expose. But a lot needs to fall into place for that to happen, considering how banged up this Giants offense is.

On that note, here is our Week 6 competitive edge breakdown between the Giants offense vs. the Rams defense.

Giants Pass Offense

  • Quarterback (Daniel Jones, Mike Glennon) 
  • Running Backs (Devontae Booker)
  • Tight Ends (Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph)
  • Wide Receivers (Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, John Ross, Kadarius Toney, Collin Johnson, C.J. Board)
  • Offensive Lineman (LT Andrew Thomas, RT Nate Solder, RG Will Hernandez, OC Billy Price, LG Matt Skura, Ben Bredeson, Matt Peart)

Jones appears to be on track to return despite his scary-looking concussion last week, and if he clears the five-step protocol, Jones, according to head coach Joe Judge, will play.

But just in case, the team has been getting backup quarterback Mike Glennon ready. Glennon had a pedestrian preseason, throwing for 253 yards and two touchdowns on 37 pass attempts with no interceptions.

Last week in relief of Jones, Glennon served as more of a game manager, throwing two bad interceptions (one of which was returned for a touchdown). He finished with a passer rating of 68.1.

Whoever the quarterback is, they'll line up behind an offensive line that allowed 18 pressures last week despite not giving up any sacks. Jones had an average of 2.96 seconds to throw and Glennon with 2.67 seconds on his dropbacks, but both quarterbacks were under pressure by the Cowboys front. (Jones was pressured on 50 percent of his dropbacks and Glennon 42.3 percent.)

Nate Solder had his worst game of the season, allowing eight pressures and posting a pass-blocking efficiency rating of 90.2. Solder, who moved from right tackle to left tackle with Andrew Thomas being kept in reserve last week due to his foot injury, didn't benefit from the help blocking he's been getting on the right side, as the coaches left him out on an island.

This week if Thomas still can't play, the Giants will probably move Matt Peart to left tackle so that Solder can go back to right tackle, where he'd mainly see Rams edge rusher Leonard Floyd.

At receiver, as noted, the Giants will be without Golladay, but Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton are both on track to return after a two-week layoff due to hamstring strains.

Rookie Kadarius Toney, who tweaked his ankle and who is coming off a big game against the Cowboys, avoided a suspension by the league (and apparently will avoid one from his head coach), and he's expected to be in the mix this weekend.

After a breakout 189 yard receiving performance against the Cowboys, Toney officially put his potential on the map and illustrated just how incredibly dangerous of a weapon he can be.

Whether it’s a three-yard reception or 15, Toney’s flip-of-the-switch speed and shiftiness that he uses to extend a play are truly outstanding. Last week, 89 of his yards (47.8 percent) came after the catch, illustrating just how shifty and elusive he is.

And Toney, who leads the Giants receivers with nine forced missed tackles this season, led his teammates with three against Dallas.

Rams Pass Defense

Pass Coverage

  • Cornerbacks (Jalen Ramsey, Darious Williams, David Long Jr., Robert Rochell)
  • Safeties (Jordan Fuller, Taylor Rapp, Nick Scott, Terrell Burgess)

Last season, the Rams passing defense was lights out. Ranking first in fewest average yards per game allowed (190.7), first in fewest passing touchdowns allowed (17), and second in opponent passer rating (80.4), the Rams also allowed a league-low 18.5 points per game.

The Rams haven't been quite able to match those levels in 2021, conceding an average of 23.2 points per game (11th in the league) while ranking 24th in opponent passing yards per game (271) and 28th in opponent completion percentage (69.9).

Los Angeles does have a new defensive coordinator in Raheem Morris, who replaced Brandon Staley (now the Chargers head coach), and while Morris has deployed many of the same concepts, there have been some subtle changes.

Leading this group of defensive backs is cornerback Jalen Ramsey, a two-time All-Pro cornerback who continues to prove why he is the best in the league year after year.

A major part of why this Rams pass defense was as game-changing as it was last season was because of the impact Ramsey brought to the table. Though he only had one interception, Ramsey finished the year allowing opponents to complete just 50 percent of their pass targets against him. He also posted eight pass breakups to his name.

That said, Ramsey's role has changed a bit under Morris, and that's affected his production. Through five games, he's seen almost as many snaps (55) in the STAR role down in the box as he did all last season (77).

Ramsey has also allowed an average reception rate of 63.6 percent on a team-high 33 targets in coverage.

The Rams will be without Darious Williams, their slot corner, who was placed on IR this week with an ankle injury. They could look to a committee approach to fill that role, including dipping into their practice squad where they have several defensive backs capable of playing that role.

At safety, Fuller and Rapp have allowed an 81.1 percent reception percentage on a combined total of 37 targets between the two and have only two pass breakups to account for in five games.

If there is a weakness for this Giants team to exploit, the Rams defensive secondary is it.

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Pass Rush

  • Defensive Line (Aaron Donald, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Greg Gains)
  • Edge (Leonard Floyd, Terrell Lewis, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo)
  • Linebackers (Kenny Young, Troy Reader)

While the Rams pass coverage has not experienced the smoothest transition from 2020 to 2021, their pass rush hasn’t missed a beat. Sitting fourth in the league in sacks (14), this Rams pass rush is a force with which to be reckoned and is one of the best at generating unrelenting pressure.

Standing in a field of his own and leading the ranks of this pass rush is three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year and six-time All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald. Since he set foot into the league in 2014, Donald has evolved into one of the greatest defensive linemen this game has ever seen and is virtually unstoppable up front.

Gathering double-digit sacks in five of his seven full seasons (which includes a 20.5 sack season in 2017), Donald has proven to be a master at getting his hands on opposing quarterbacks and has already three sacks to his name this season.

Even when he doesn’t, Donald still finds a way to inflict his pass-rushing influence any which way possible and led the league in total pressures last year (98).

Alongside him on the defensive line is Sebastian Joseph-Day, who’s been off to a strong start this season. After a quiet Week 1 performance where he only had one pressure, Joseph-Day has collected 12 pressures and two sacks since.

Standing at 6’4” and weighing in at 310 pounds, Joseph-Day brings steamrolling strength and power from inside, providing a great complement to Donald’s quickness and athleticism.

To add to their one-two punch on their defensive line is Floyd, a tenacious presence off the edge that adds another level of ferocity to this pass rush that is hard to contain.

Coming off a career year in sacks (10.5), total tackles (55), and fumble recoveries (2) last season, the 29-year-old Georgia native picked up right where he left off this year, placing second on the team in total pressures (21) and is tied in first in sacks (3).

Competitive Edge: Rams

Though the likely return of Shepard and Slayton is reassuring news (particularly with Toney, John Ross, and Evan Engram at full strength), the absences of Golladay and Saquon Barkley are significant losses.

Regardless of who gets the start for the Giants at quarterback, the Rams pass rush is so lethal at penetrating and shedding blockers. That's not good news for a Giants offensive line that had trouble keeping the quarterback clean last week against an aggressive pass rush.

In all fairness to the Giants, they do have some hope against this vulnerable Rams pass coverage unit. Still, give the competitive edge to the Rams pass defense.

Giants Run Offense

  • Running Backs (Devontae Booker, Eli Penny)
  • Tight Ends (Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, Kaden Smith)
  • Offensive Line (LT Andrew Thomas, RT Nate Solder, RG Will Hernandez, OC Billy Price, LG Matt Skura, Ben Bredeson, Matt Peart)

Losing Saquon Barkley to a left ankle sprain was a big blow for this Giants' run offense. After finally getting him back to full strength over the summer, the last thing this Giants offense needed was for their best player to get yet another injury setback that would sideline him for any amount of time. Barkley will not play this weekend and is considered week-to-week.

In his place, Devontae Booker will get the start. On 16 attempts against Dallas, Booker ran for 42 yards and claimed a big 4th-and-goal touchdown to tie the game. That said, Booker managed to average only 2.6 yards-per-carry and 1.94 yards after contact, a discouraging sign considering he’s done better in both categories in previous seasons.

The greatest concern for this Giants rush attack has to be the run blocking by the offensive line. On the whole, the Giants have struggled with creating clean running lanes for the running backs. Against Dallas, half of Booker’s 16 carries resulted in two-yard gains or less as he found himself swallowed up by multiple Cowboy defenders all too often.

Rams Run Defense

  • Defensive Line (Aaron Donald, Sebastian Joseph-Day, A’Shawn Robinson, Greg Gains)
  • Edge (Leonard Floyd, Terrell Lewis, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo)
  • Linebackers (Kenny Young, Troy Reader)

The Rams run defense ranks 19th in the league in rushing yards per game allowed (117.2) and has conceded an average of 4.5 yards-per-rush attempt to go along with six rushing touchdowns in five games. To give you an idea of its struggles against the Cardinals in Week 4, the Rams allowed 216 rushing yards on 40 attempts.

With that said, this group does have a handful of playmakers that have been quite productive so far. Joseph-Day is second in the league in run play stops (14) and first on the Rams in total stops (17). After recording a career-high 30 run stops last season, Joseph-Day is nearly halfway there this year through five games.

Aaron Donald is also part of the run-stopping brigade. Donald is a prolific run-stopper whose combo of patience, speed, and power has led him to collect nine run stops on the season and a team-high five tackles for a loss.

Just last week against the Seahawks on a big 4th-and-two play in the first quarter, Donald put that skill on full display, waiting for running back Alex Collins to come to him before he pounced with a couple of other Rams defenders and held him for no gain.

If there is a weakness to Donald's game--and there aren't very many--teams can have some success if they run right at him. Donald has always been on the smallish side for a defensive lineman and has made his living off his speed and quickness. But teams have had success running against him.

But the fiery punch the Rams bring off the edge and from the linebacker position reflected in Leonard Floyd and Kenny Young round out this group of run stoppers nicely.

Floyd’s lanky frame and wide wingspan make him difficult to avoid, adding a level of elusiveness and athleticism that allows him to exploit any vulnerable openings the offensive line concedes.

Floyd crashing the ball off the edge leaves the 234-pound Young to hover over the defensive line to exploit gaps.

Young recorded a 4.6 40-yard dash time in his 2018 NFL combine, his quickness and precision on display when crashing down on the ball. He recorded six stops against Tampa Bay in Week 3 alone.

Competitive Edge: Rams

Until the Giants group of run blockers demonstrates that they can provide the lanes and space up front needed for their running backs to succeed, it’s difficult to grant them the edge right now.

Between Booker and Barkley, both Giants running backs are posting a combined 3.4 yards-per-carry average with only three rushing touchdowns to show for in their opportunities over a five-game stretch.

Along with Joseph-Day, Donald, Floyd, and Young, the Rams also have a run-stopping secret weapon in defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson. From the eight stops he’s mustered this year, seven of them came against the run, showing just how authoritative he can be against opposing running backs.

Though there’s a chance that the Giants could capitalize on a few breakout runs, expect the Rams run defense to have a significant competitive edge come Sunday. 


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