The New York Giants defeated the Carolina Panthers 25-3. The score looks lopsided, but there were still plenty of aspects to improve upon, specifically on offense, and the Panthers hung around in the game well into the third quarter. The Panthers' offense couldn’t establish any sort of rhythm against this Giants’ defense.
A rash of injuries forced some unlikely contributors into the lineup. Sterling Shepard joined Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, and Kadarius Toney on the inactive list after his pre-game workout went nowhere fast.
Shepard’s absence led to 35 snaps for Dante Pettis and 27 for David Sills V, the latter having been one of the standard practice squad elevations. Both receivers got more snaps than Collin Johnson, who had 21.
Let's dive a little deeper into the snap counts and the performances.
Offense (72 Total Snaps)
Pettis seized the day by catching all five of his targets for 39 yards with a red zone touchdown, something that is hard to come by for this Giants offense.
The return of Darius Slayton also helped the offense. He didn’t have a significant impact on the stat sheet, but quarterback Daniel Jones targeted him early in the game. Slayton finished with five catches on nine targets for 63 yards, a very solid outing.
One of the more welcome surprises was the play of Matt Peart, who moving forward, will be the team's starting left tackle, at least until Andrew Thomas comes off injured reserve.
Peart, who was embarrassed when Jeremy Chinn beat him like a drum to drop Evan Engram for a loss of yards, shook that off and put together a strong showing after last week's two-sack, four-pressure showing.
In his 69 snaps--he missed a few snaps due to a hand injury suffered during the game--he had a strong bounce-back performance against a quality foe in the Panthers, pitching a pass-blocking shutout with zero pressures allowed.
We suspected that the Giants might deploy more 12-personnel this week given the injuries to the receivers, and it looks like that was the case. Evan Engram (44) only played three more snaps than Kyle Rudolph (41) as the Giants use a lot of multi-TE personnel packages. We also liked the spots in which offensive coordinator Jason Garrett used the 12-personnel packages, which we saw a bit more of this week inside the red zone.
The Giants also did a nice job of rotating their receivers' snaps. Johnson played the least amount of receiver snaps at 21, Slayton the most (44) in his return from a hamstring injury.
John Ross (37), Pettis (35), and Sills (27) played a solid complement of snaps. The Giants go empty set a lot, but they rarely do it from 10- or 01-personnel, which means they diversified their snaps at wide receiver when in 12- and 11-personnel.
The Giants also keep making a strong push to showcase the diversity of talents at their wide receiver corps. New York has trusted trick plays with Kadarius Toney throwing the football.
Toney is a former high school quarterback with a big arm. Well, they trusted Dante Pettis to throw the Philly Special play in this game. Jones slowed his route down a bit, but, in doing so, he was forced to make a catch reminiscent of Odell Beckham Jr. with one hand. And Pettis, with his baseball background--his dad Gary is the third base coach for the Houston Astros--is now two-for-two in pass attempts in the NFL.
Fullback Eli Penny saw what we believe is a career-high 22 snaps on offense. Penny has not seen the field much on offense, given the playmakers in front of him. Still, with the increased opportunities this week, he sure did make the most of them, especially on short yardage, where he converted three out four short-yardage situations to extend drives.
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It's great to see Penny getting an increased role in this offense after being buried. No, he's not going to out-gain Saquon Barkley or Devontae Booker, for that matter, in snap counts, but in select situations, he's continued to prove his worth time and time again.
Cullen Gillaspia, the other fullback on the roster, got in on one snap on offense (and only his second snap of the season) when the Giants went with a jumbo package down by the goal line when they were unable to punch it in.
Defense (64 Total Snaps)
This week the Giants only had three defensive players--cornerback James Bradberry, safety Xavier McKinney and inside linebacker Tae Crowder (added to the injury report late in the week with a thigh issue) play 100 percent of the snaps on defense.
With the Panthers promising to turn the ball more, the Giants' heavy package took a bit of a hit on the surface when defensive tackle Danny Shelton was inactive due to a pectoral issue. But rather than give Shelton's snaps to David Moa, a practice squad elevation, the Giants ended up folding Shelton's snaps into those by the main contributors part of the frequent three-down linemen sets often gave his snaps to a few players behind the main contributors.
Dexter Lawrence II (45) and Leonard Williams (53) played the majority of the game, with Austin Johnson (39) doing well as the third defensive lineman. Behind those three, Quincy Roche (23) played his highest snap count. Roche is a bit of a tweener between an end and an outside linebacker, with the latter being a bit more of his positional fit.
Raymond Johnson III played 11 snaps, and Moa got seven snaps toward the end of the game.
Cornerback Darnay Holmes played his highest snap share of the season since Week 2, coming up with 30 snaps, and he looked good in coverage which marks the third straight week of solid play for Holmes, albeit he only played a hand-full of snaps against Dallas. '
Cornerback Same Beal, whom the Giants continue to carry for some mysterious reason, was inactive with an injury again, so it was nice to see Holmes, who appeared to lose his slot cornerback role earlier in the season, get another opportunity to contribute.
Darnold couldn’t get anything going through the air against the Giants secondary. All of the secondary pieces made big plays contributing to this victory. The run defense took Matt Rhule’s assertion about running the football seriously. They only allowed a 3.3 yards-per-carry mark and shut down Carolina’s attack, doing this without inside linebacker Blake Martinez. Chuba Hubbard averaged 2.3 YPC and Royce Freeman 6 YPC in limited work.
Benardrick McKinney, a practice squad elevation, played 11 snaps. In that limited amount of time on the field, McKinney, a run stopper, had PFF's highest defensive grade among the Giants defenders. Not bad for a guy who has had to learn the playbook on the fly and certainly an encouraging sign as McKinney's role will likely continue to increase in the coming weeks as the Giants look to ensure they don't get gouged on the ground again this season.
What will be interesting to see is how much of an effect McKinney' has on the snaps that have been allocated to Reggie Ragland.
Speaking of Ragland, sure enough, he saw a reduction in his defensive snaps, where over the last four weeks, he averaged 50 defensive snaps. This week, his snap total dropped to 27.
If McKinney can establish himself as a solid player for the defense, then the linebacking group can have a third reliable asset to play on each down. (Carter Coughlin has a role with the team but hasn’t been trusted on early downs in run defense for an extended period.)
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