Some leftover thoughts from the Giants’ 25-23 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football.
There continues to be outcries about the officiating every week and how it continues to screw the Giants, but on a bigger scale, that the Giants put themselves into a position to where they need the calls to go their way is proof that this team still has a long way to go before it can fully stand on its own two feet.
Along the same lines, people might be quick to point to Daniel Jones’ two turnovers as the reason the team lost the game, but while they didn’t help, safety Jabrill Peppers tried to put it in perspective.
“Turnovers didn’t just lose us this game. We missed a lot of opportunities on defense to get off the field on third down, myself included," he said.
"As a defender, when we go out there on the field, our job is to alleviate the damage. We don’t care when we get called to go out there; we have a job to do and we try to do it at a high level. But ultimately this game, we just missed too many opportunities, it wasn’t just turnovers.”
Although the turnovers are maddening, benching Daniel Jones is not the answer. A young player doesn’t learn by sitting on the bench. He learns by playing. And it’s not always going to be pretty, but a team has to take the growing pains along with success.
I realize it's been done--look no further than down in Washington where they've appeared to give up on Dwayne Haskins--but there are other considerations that go into such a decision from a big picture perspective.
Jones has shown he can lead a huddle. And he's been shown some moxie out there in taking a hit or taking a chance, the very same characteristic that often gets him into trouble with the turnovers.
But he's not regressing to the degree that Sam Darnoldof the Jets appears to be--far from it. And while Jones had way more growing pains in Monday’s game—the interceptions and the missed deep passes--he looked like a solid NFL quarterback leading his team down the field on that final drive, even completing two big-time throws on fourth and long, the first of which he was hit by Ndamukong Suh.
The Giants defense had its moments, but this unit is playing good enough to hold its own, especially the run defense, which is simply stifling, and which snuffed out the Bucs’ running game, particularly on first down.
And speaking of the defense, the players and coaches will never tell, but it sure did look as though the Giants defense had a different look on every play, including those plays where it initially looked the same, but there was some variation.
“That’s something that (defensive coordinator) Pat (Graham) brought this week,” said inside linebacker Blake Martinez.
“And understanding those aspects of it, going against a guy like Tom (Brady), we worked a lot this week making sure that we knew who was supposed to be out there whenever we had certain situations called, certain packages called. And I think overall, substitutions and those kinds of things helped a lot trying to disguise certain looks.”
Going back to that two-point conversion, I thought it was defensive pass interference at first.
But after pulling that clip and running through it frame by frame, it looks like Jones held the ball too long and put it too much inside to where he practically made it easy for Antoine Winfield Jr to make up for lost ground and break up the play.
I loved the Giants special teams the last two years under special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey. I love this unit even more now that Joe Judge has put his stamp on it.
I thought it was brilliant of them to try rushing 11 instead of having a punt returner back to return the punt. Call it a pseudo power play—11 vs. 10—and there was that hope that maybe they’d be able to overpower the Bucs and get a block. It didn’t happen, but it was a good move.
Rookie Shane Lemieux had a very solid debut as an NFL starter. He handled all the physical demands of the position with ease, held up to power, and kept up with the speed of the game while delivering some authoritative blows to the opponent with that nasty streak you love to see in an offensive lineman.
Save for a legitimate false start in the fourth quarter, Lemieux delivered an “A performance” that also included showing some fine mobility, handling of stunts, and some good foot speed and quickness at the second level.
While there are some who think Lemieux may have Wally Pipped Will Hernandez out of a job, Lemieux's very encouraging performance just reinforced my belief that veteran guard Kevin Zeitler's days as a Giant are numbered and that he won't be here next year.
Want some more positives to take from the latest game? Considering everyone ha the Bucs in the Super Bowl already and the Giants within the top-3 of next year’s draft order, New York and Tampa Bay were statistically even in a few major categories.
The Giants led in total yards, 357-344; rushing yards, 101-81; and first downs, 24-23. Tampa Bay had the edge in passing yards, 263-256, and time of possession, 30:10-29:50. Each team converted four third-down opportunities.
The Giants went with a running back rotation with Wayne Gallman leading the way (12 carries for 44 yards). By the end of the night, the unit finished with 101 yards on 24 carries, a 4.2 average, and their third straight 100-yard performance.
Count me in with the camp that thinks offensive coordinator Jason Garrett called perhaps his best game of the season.
It wasn’t perfect—I still don’t like that when they get close to the goal line, there are some slow-developing plays that oftentimes go nowhere, such as the one on 3rd-and-10 from the Bucs’ 15-yard line.
But I liked that they ran an up-tempo offense, that they had Jones get the ball out of his hand quickly, that there was a little more help given to the left side of the offensive line in the beginning, that they mixed the power run game in at just the right moments, and this little touch of razzle-dazzle: