The New York Giants make the grade in their 25-3 win over the Carolina Panthers.
Rushing Offense: B
The Giants managed to run for 103 yards on 31 carries, a pedestrian 3.3 yards-per-carry average. But in all fairness, there wasn’t much in the way of run blocking provided by yet another starting offensive line combination.
But give the Giants running game credit for the four big third-down rushing plays by fullback Eli Penny, three of which he converted into first downs (including the last one, which came with 1:59 left to seal the deal for the Giants.
Quarterback Daniel Jones was also back to contributing with his legs, finishing second on the team this week with 28 rushing yards on eight carries.
Passing Offense: C+
The offensive line had its usual weekly adventures, particularly on the right side. But at the end of the day, Jones wasn’t under pressure all that much (only 25.7 percent of the time—more on that in the coaching section), and there were no turnovers, which in itself is a win.
Jones’s receiving targets had another couple of dropped balls—if they could only clean that up, just think how much better his numbers would be. Speaking of Jones, how about his becoming a first-time NFL receiver on that big 16-yard pass from receiver Dante Pettis? Seriously, raise your hand if you saw that coming.
Run Defense: A
The Panthers drew a line in the sand when head coach Matt Rhule declared an intention to run the ball this week, and the Giants responded. The Giants run defense, which over the last couple of weeks has been dreadful, allowed one long run of 13 yards on the day, but otherwise, shut the Christian McCaffrey-less Panthers down with a vice-like grip.
The Giants came up with 22 stops, three of which came in the running game when the Giants defense threw Carolina for minus-9 yards on those plays. You know the run defense is operating the way it should when your team’s leading tacklers are not all representatives of the defensive secondary, and this week, the Giants were extra good in that department.
Linebacker Tae Crowder led the way with six tackles (two solos), followed by defensive lineman Leonard Williams (six tackles, one solo). Safety Jabrill Peppers, who was down in the box more this week, had five tackles, four of which were solo efforts, and rookie Azeez Ojulari finished with five tackles, three solos.
Pass Defense: A
Hello pass rush, where have you been? The Giants produce a season-high six sacks, and leading the way was rookie Azeez Ojulari (2.5 sacks), whom the Giants are hoping can be their next great homegrown pass rusher. Ojulari also recorded three tackles for a loss and four quarterback hits.
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Meanwhile, Leonard Williams delivered 1.5 sacks, and three quarterback hits on a day where the Giants pass rush finally woke from its season-long slumber and just in time ahead of a tough three-game stretch that awaits them starting a week from Monday in Kansas City.
The secondary had one of its best games, breaking up seven passes to go along with cornerback James Bradberry’s big interception to snuff out a Panthers scoring drive.
Special teams: B
A fired-up Graham Gano was perfect against his old team, nailing field goals of 49, 53, and 44 yards with ease. Punter Riley Dixon had just one clunker in his five punts, a 48-yarder that went for a touchback late in the second quarter, but he was otherwise solid with his punt placement throughout.
Darnay Holmes took over as the kickoff returner for the injured C.J. Board (broken arm, IR) and had a 23-yard return, but he also had two penalties, including an illegal block in the back and a holding call.
Kudos all around to the coaching staff, starting with Joe Judge, who, according to SI.com’s Albert Breer, went back to the basics last week in practice (and who also per a report by FOX’s Shannon Spake abandoned the load management silliness and had those healthy players on the team go all out in practice). Something had to be done to get the team caught up with the fundamentals that were eluding them, and Judge delivered.
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. He didn’t call the perfect game plan—the calls inside the 5-yard line left something to be desired—but what he did manage to do was to wisely deploy Daniel Jones’ athleticism to keep him on the move (and hence keep him from becoming a sitting duck behind yet another offensive line combination).
As previously noted, Jones was only under pressure on 25.7 percent of his drop backs, otherwise enjoying a clean pocket thanks to a series of play-action, boots, and designed rollouts that kept the Panthers edge rushers from having a set target. Defensively the Giants came to play as coordinator Patrick Graham finally got them in the right position to be effective.
And how about that decision by special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey to not drop a return man on the Panthers’ first punt of the game? Carolina ended up with a 28-yard clunker on that play thanks to the Giants sending the pressure at the punter rather than worrying about the return.
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