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New York Giants Week 13 Postgame Musings

There's a lot to say about this week's latest Giants fiasco.

"There were a lot of things that I saw today in the way we played, a lot of things that are moving in the right direction, a lot of things I'm very pleased with in terms of how we competed. And we were able to make some stops at critical moments, able to make some good decisions. A lot of guys stepped up in different situations."

Those weren't the words that Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores spoke in the postgame media sessions. They were spoken by Giants head coach Joe Judge, whose Giants lost the game 20-9. 

This is the same Giants team whose offensive play-calling appears to lack a rhyme or reason, whose offensive line continues to struggle with handling stunts and twists, whose defense allowed the Dolphins to dink-and-dunk their way down the field, and whose lifeless offense desperately needs a swift kick in the rear.

So naturally, Judge was asked to elaborate on what he saw that he thought was so pleasing and why he thought this team was moving in the right direction versus what the rest of the world who watched his Giants trudge through three hours of inept football.

"I think right now there are some opportunities we have as far as getting the ball down the field, pushing it down the field and making plays," he said. "I like some of the plays that (tight end) Evan (Engram) was able to come up with, some of the catches (receiver) Kenny (Golladay) was able to come up with, some of the things (running back Devontae) Booker is doing with some catch and runs on the screen.

"(Tight end) Kyle Rudolph is doing a good job with some of the balls getting vertical, producing first downs. There's a lot of things moving in the right direction as far as that."

That's all well and good, but the result is still a third straight game with the offense scoring less than 20 points and 260 net yards of net offense. And those numbers just aren't going to cut it in today's NFL.

Judge's determination to protect the franchise is admirable. But when he tries to spin negatives into positives, that comes across as grasping for straws, especially when in past press conferences he's mentioned having to review the tape before offering any opinion, good or bad.

Some more thoughts...

1. The Giants, for whatever the reason, went away from the running game in the second half, rushing just 11 times despite the game being relatively close right into the fourth quarter.

While the running backs weren't exactly lighting things up, one can't help but wonder if they had been given more of a chance to get into a rhythm, would they have finally found a groove against a Dolphins run defense that had yielded 104.9 yards to opponents entering this game.

2. Speaking of the running game, the more one watches Saquon Barkley, the more obvious it is becoming that he doesn't trust the run blocking in front of him (and why should he?)

But Barkley's issues aren't all on the offensive line. He struggles to make people miss in the open field, and he can’t run away from people or stay on his feet the way he used to in his rookie season.

Is his ankle still an issue? Possibly, which is why it's hard to understand the logic in giving him the lion's share of the touches rather than splitting them more equally with Devontae Booker.

While Barkley, who this week had two terrible dropped passes, didn't get much help from the offensive line this week, nor did the coaches do him any favors by giving up on the running game.

3. Poor Matt Peart and Oshane Ximines. Both of those young players are so far in the doghouse, it's sad.

In Peart's case, he didn't even get a single snap as the jumbo tight end as has been the case the last several weeks, those snaps going to Korey Cunningham. Peart, who was limited to special teams duty, was never called on to relieve Nate Solder at right tackle despite Solder's battling an elbow injury.

Ximines? He's buried even deeper in the dog house as he didn't even get a game-day uniform.

While I get it that coaches go with those who give them the best chance to win, I'm not sure what burying guys who supposedly come to work eager and willing to learn will accomplish. 

I also understand that there are only so many game uniforms to go around, but I'm not sure how trying to bury a problem rather than trying to fully work through it, even if it's just for a small handful of snaps, is going to help in the long-term.

4. Speaking of doghouses, is anyone else wondering why John Ross barely gets a pass thrown his way? This week he had one pass target, which went incomplete (not sure that was his fault either as quarterback Mike Glennon's accuracy left something to be desired this week).

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Ross, who has been with this team since training camp, has had three pass targets in the last three games as the coaches continue to favor Pharoh Cooper for those secondary pass targets.

The only explanation I can come up with is that Ross has been on the injury report. (Cooper's health status isn't known since the team doesn't have to file injury reports for practice squad players.)

5. When will the Giants learn that blocking with five on the pass block hasn't worked all year with this line? At this point, they might as well keep a back or a tight end in to help chip because this offensive line isn't getting it done all by their lonesome.

6. Mike Glennon might have a cannon for an arm, but a good number of his incomplete passes resulted from him getting the ball out late due to an extended windup.

Glennon is also lucky he didn't get any of his receivers injured as he very seldom put the ball between their numbers or on their shoulders. And he's equally lucky that he escaped the game with one interception as there were at least three instances where he threw the ball into double coverage.

7. Not-so-fun fact, courtesy of the FOX TV broadcast: The last time a Giants receiver or running back scored a touchdown was in Week 7 against the Panthers. Yes, the Giants have had injuries to their receivers, but that is still a pretty wild factoid.

Another not-so-fun factoid, this one courtesy of CBS Sports: The Giants have been outscored 52-0 in the last two minutes of the first half this season.

Woof!

8. Yes, Evan Engram had a nice game--that was until midway through the third quarter, when he split through a blown coverage and took off down the sideline only to break off his route and slow down.

Glennon's pass went deep, and Engram had to try to corral it with one hand to no avail. If Engram makes that catch, perhaps the Giants score a touchdown. Instead, they punted on 4th-and-2 near midfield.

Seriously, if we had a dollar for every blown opportunity this season this team has had, we'd probably have enough for a nice dinner at a high-end steakhouse.

9. Piggybacking off that last point, at some point, the Giants have to toss aside this conservativism they have and show some spunk. That 4th-and-2 mentioned above was just one instance where it might have been a good time to throw caution to the wind and go for it on fourth down.

So why didn't they?

"That was a spot right there where I felt that points were really at a premium in that game," said Judge. "We didn't want to give them a short field. Wanted to make sure if they had to be on offense they had to take a long field."

If that didn't drive you crazy, then how about the lack of urgency the Giants showed on their final drive of the game, the one that resulted in a missed 56-yard field goal by Graham Gano. The Giants began that drive at 1:11, and by the time they lined up for the field goal, there were 14 seconds left on the clock.

And what did the Giants, who, by the way, had no timeouts left after wasting one earlier in the half, do on that series? The first play was a pass over the middle to Evan Engram at 1:11. The next play was run with 49 seconds left, a pass to Saquon Barkley that fell incomplete.

With 45 seconds left, another pass over the middle, and then with 30 seconds left, Glennon spiked the ball to stop the clock.

Admittedly, the likelihood of the Giants scoring a field goal and then a touchdown and two-point conversion in 1:11 (assuming they were able to execute a successful onside kick) to send the game into overtime was asking a lot. But wasn't it at least worth a try?

10. I don't know what the rest of the season holds for Daniel Jones and his ailing neck, but I do know this. If I were the Giants, I would NOT put him out there behind that offensive line.

Yes, I know Jones's injuries have come as a runner, but why add a larger layer of risk to the young man's well-being by putting him behind a line that has been playing like a sieve?


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