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Five Takeaways from the New York Giants' First Win of 2021

The Giants season is back on track, but they're going to need to stack a lot more games like this weekend's win against the Saints to erase any lingering doubts.

The New York Giants have a long way to go.

It’s true. The Giants, who delivered an inspiring and very encouraging 27-21 overtime win against the New Orleans Saints, have one win this season to their name, a very big one at that.

But I think back to last year and how the Giants pulled off an upset against the Seahawks and the effect of that win on the team.

Whether they want to admit it or not, the team back then reached something of a pinnacle before ultimately coming back down to earth. And even though they were still in the NFC race thanks to the lack of quality in the division, the Giants still came up short of their goal because they needed help elsewhere at the time.

This year? Yes, the win over the Saints is a big one, but in no way, shape or form should this win be viewed as their Super Bowl. The Giants have a lot of football left to play and a lot more winning to do if they’re to fulfill their quest of getting into the playoffs.

Head coach Joe Judge knows this all too well, which is why he wasn’t too elated after the game when he spoke with reporters.

“I’m a believer in the process. I’m a believer in not looking at the result and thinking that justifies what you do,” he said. “Results are the most deceiving thing in mankind. If you keep focused with what’s away from you and forget about the steps you have to complete on the way there, you’ll never get to where you really want to be.”

Well said. And knowing Judge by now, you can bet when the players come into work Monday, this win, as relieving as it was to get, will be flushed away with all the losses to start the season as the Giants look for ways to sustain the good they were able to accomplish in this game.

Some more takeaways from the big win.

1. Kudos to Giants offensive line coach Rob Sale, assistant offensive line coach Ben Wilkerson and whoever else was involved in prepping the giants’ fourth offensive line combination in as many weeks. Going into this game, there were concerns about the communication and whether the offensive line would be able to function well in the noise.

Well, they not only did so in the pass projection end of things, allowing no sacks, but of the aforementioned three penalties, not one was called on the offensive line for a false start, a common penalty to be had in such a loud environment.

“They did a great job of communication, pre-snap and post-snap," quarterback Daniel Jones said.

"They played huge against a great defensive front. I think it has to do a lot with our preparation this week and understanding what the environment was going to be and practicing in it and having a plan for it. ... Those guys did a great job executing.”

According to Pro Football Focus, the Giants allowed just eight pressures against that Saints defense, four of them by the offensive line. That's pretty impressive against a pretty good defense.

Sale and the coaches will credit the players, but it starts with the teaching in the classroom and on the field.

2. Speaking of penalties, kudos again to the players and coaching staff in cleaning up those sloppy and stupid penalties that have plagued them through the first three weeks.

The Giants had 26 penalties in their first three games, an average of 8.6 penalties per game. This week, the Giants had three in what was a much better showing (and of the three, only one directly impacted a scoring drive.

3. Daniel Jones really has been coming of age this season, and besides having a better supporting cast around him, credit his being more comfortable in Year 2 of the same system.

Jones is speeding up his decision making process. He’s also showing more patience in letting things develop and he’s reading defenses as well as he has in three seasons in the league.

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“I will watch the tape before I make any broad-stroke, blanket statements. On the surface right now, I thought he handled a lot of things very well with the environment. I thought he did a good job preparing this week with the communication,” Judge said of Jones.

When asked if Jones delivered a franchise performance, Judge said, "Look, I love Daniel. He had a heck of a game today. I am going to leave that right there. I’m not going to sit here and make broad picture statements and headline-type things.

"If you’re asking me if he’s our quarterback, as I have said consistently, Daniel Jones is our quarterback. However you want to label that and go forward with that, you guys can put that in the paper."

The most impressive stat for Jones so far? Through four games, he has four touchdown passes versus one interception--and the interception came in Sunday's game on a Hail Mary.

Last year after four games, Jones had two touchdown passes to five interceptions. So the arrow there is definitely pointing up.

4. Remember how I used to tell you about how marvelous Saquon Barkley looked in practice when the Giants split him out wide and got him against a linebacker or defensive back?

Well, you got to see just what I meant this week on Barkley’s 54-yard touchdown run. And it’s high time that Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett started taking better advantage of Barkley’s unique skill set by getting him out in space.

“I’ve said this before about Saquon, everybody has seen how much and how hard he’s worked with the adversity he’s seen and had to overcome. This wasn’t a small injury (torn ACL) that he’s had to work and battle through. He’s gone through a lot of things, but he’s always kept the team first in everything he’s done, and they see that," Judge said.

"In terms of seeing him have success, it’s collective success. It is everyone’s win. Saquon obviously punched the ball in at the end to close it out. That’s what we wanted, to get the ball back and finish the game out right there. That’s what we were able to do.”

But there's another area of Barkley's game that has really come around from last year that no one is talking about: his pass blocking. In 138 pass blocking snaps, Barkley has allowed one pressure. Now granted, pass blocking isn't a big part of his game, but considering how poor he was at doing it in the past, this is also a big step forward for him.

5. It wasn't a perfect game, but offensive coordinator Jason Garrett delivered one of his best games to date with the Giants.

Garrett not only stayed with the run throughout the first and second half, he did a wonderful job of mixing things up. And with very few exceptions, his decisions were smart, timely and worked.

“I think Jason did a really good job today of feeling the flow of the game and taking the opportunities that were presented to us," Judge said.

"They have a really good pressure-based third-down defense. You have a guy like Cam Jordan sitting on the right edge as we see it, that is a guy you have to account for. So, when you go into these games, you have to think about what the other team has and how you have to matchup on them."

The Giants were four of 11 on third downs, but the game plan also yielded 8.1 yards per play as compared to the Saints' 6.2 yards per play

"When going into a game like this, you’re always looking to play aggressively," Judge said.

"Sometimes our aggressiveness is very different compared to someone else’s. Someone says punting the ball isn’t aggressive. I’ll say 'No, I’m going to be aggressive with the coverage units and the defense is going to make a stop.' Sometimes you can say keeping your offense out there is aggressive but sometimes doing that is just foolish.”


 

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