The wheels aren't completely off the New York Giants' train, but they're getting looser following their 30-29 loss to the Washington Football Team Thursday night.
There was frustration on the Giants sideline--receiver Kenny Golladay was caught on camera yelling at quarterback Daniel Jones, while another receiver, first-round draft pick Kadarius Toney, took to social media to post his frustrations, presumably over having received 19 snaps and zero pass targets.
Yet despite the outcome, there were some signs of good that offered hope that maybe this season won't be a total washout.
And then there was the coaching. But read on for more if you have the stomach to do so.
Rushing Offense: A-
The Giants running game finished with 163 yards on 28 carries, a 5.8 yards per carry average. And of course, leading the way was quarterback Daniel Jones, who racked up 95 yards on none runs, most of those being his zone reads that he's shown he can do so well.
Saquon Barkley, who saw his snap count jump from 29 last week to 58 this week (84%), looked no worse for the wear given the short turnaround, ripping off a 41-yard run in the first quarter.
He finished with 57 yards on 13 carries, a 4.4 average. Fullback Eli Penny has quietly emerged as a reliable go-to when the team needs one or two yards late in the series. Penny converted two 3rd-and-1 situations with plenty of yards to spare.
Passing Offense: B-
Quarterback Daniel Jones played well enough to win behind a reshuffled offensive line that had to undergo another change when Nick Gates suffered a broken leg in the first quarter.
The line itself ended up allowing four sacks and seven hits, but none seemed to be backbreakers. Darius Slayton's inexplicable drop of a sure touchdown in the second half is the real backbreaker dragging the passing offense's grade down.
The Washington Football Team had a blown coverage, which left Slayton with nothing but daylight, yet after having the ball hit his hands, he couldn't reel it in. The Giants had to settle for a field goal, the four-point difference--the Giants ended up leaving 11 points on the field--being points the Giants could have used.
Rushing Defense: B
The run defense was much better this week in setting the edge, allowing Washington 87 yards on 22 carries and just one run of more than 10 yards, that being by Antonio Gibson on a 14-yard scramble. The Giants also did a better job tackling this week, cutting their missed tackles down to five from the 11 they had in Week 1.
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Passing Defense: C
The Giants made a journeyman quarterback look like a franchise player for the second week in a row. The pass rush remains asleep at the wheel, the Giants only coming up with one sack and two quarterback hits. And the secondary--what on earth has happened to cornerback James Bradberry.
Tasked to cover Terry McLaurin, Bradberry looked so lost that ultimately the Giants had to roll some safety help his way to stop the bleeding. And speaking of Bradberry, he had two penalties, defensive holding and defensive pass interference in what was yet another forgettable showing for this veteran.
Heinicke made several throws that probably should have been picked off, but which the Giants defense just missed. But overall, considering the scheme called for--off-ball and very little man coverage--the players did what they could, which unfortunately wasn't quite enough.
Special Teams: B
Take away the costly and fatal penalty by Dexter Lawrence that set up the walk-off field goal, and otherwise, it wasn't a horrible night for the Giants' special teams. Graham Gano was superb, hitting all five of his field goal attempts, including a long of 55 yards. None of Riley Dixons' punts were returned, which is another plus, and for the second week in a row, the Giants won the average starting field position battle.
At some point, Joe Judge has to stop trying to gloss over the mistakes his team continues to make that doom them and start being blunt about what's acceptable and what isn't. The fans--the paying customers--deserve that same kind of passion he displayed outwardly when he took the Eagles to task last year after the regular-season finale.
Jason Garrett called a brilliant first series, but it was right back to the same old, same old. Suddenly targets for Sterling Shepard, who's only been the Giants' most consistent playmaker these first two weeks, dried up. There were no pass targets for first-round draft pick Kadarius Toney--really? (And please don't tell us that you've got to do a better job of that--ya think?)
But Garrett's biggest and most unforgivable stretch of play-calling came late in the game following cornerback James Bradberry's pick of Heinicke's pass. With 1st-and-10 at the Washington 20, the Giants ran two running plays inside the tackle box that picked up a whopping three yards.
Facing a 3rd-and-7, the Giants finally went back to Shepard, but the short pass over the middle fell incomplete, and the giants again had to settle for a field goal which made it 29-27 Giants.
With some more aggressive play-calling, perhaps the Giants score a touchdown there, and then guess what? The Football Team now has to drive the field's length to pull out a win instead of having the less challenging task of getting into field goal territory.
Patrick Graham's defense has allowed two quarterbacks--Teddy Bridgewater and Taylor Heinicke--complete a combined 75.6% of their pass attempts for 600 yards and four touchdowns to one interception. Let that sink in for a moment.
Judge warned that the first couple of games might look like the preseason, and so far, that's come to fruition, which makes the start of the season even more frustrating since it makes one wonder just what it is they accomplished in the actual preseason when these games didn't count.
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