1-5 Giants right in the Thick of the NFC East Race
Ladies and gentleman, the NFC East is horrible at football. The Cowboys are in first place with a 2-4 record. This puts the 1-5 Giants and 1-5 Washington Football team only one game back from first place. Matt wrote an excellent piece outlining the terrible division earlier today. Head on over there for coverage of the whole division. We are going to focus on strictly the Giants here today. So, let’s take a look at what went well for the Giants and where improvements still need to be made.
The Defense – James Bradberry and Leonard Williams
James Bradberry has been one of the most effective signings from this past offseason. The star cornerback is looking like one of the best corners in the NFL this season. He has 20 total tackles with 10 passes defended and 2 interceptions, including one this past week. Bradberry continues to shut down the opponents best receiver. He has been the lone bright spot for the New York secondary.
Leonard Williams is an enigmatic player. The Giants gave up valuable assets to acquire him from the Jets and fans were not happy about it. The former sixth overall pick has not lived up to the hype coming out of USC. Last season, he only had .5 sacks. This year however, he is looking like a new player. He already has 3 sacks on the season and has been playing really well defending the run. He is playing under the franchise tag and is looking for a new contract after this season, so that may be playing into his new found effectiveness.
The Running Game
The Giants running game has been abysmal all season. Even when Barkley was healthy, they could not get anything going on the ground. However, Devonta Freeman has been looking kind of like his old self and putting some defenders on skates. He is contributing to the run game and may have resurrected his career here in New York.
Despite Freeman’s recent success, Daniel Jones has been the team’s leading rusher. Jones currently leads the team with 204 rush yards with nearly 1/4 of those coming on one play this past week. Having Jones at QB has allowed the Giants to run some RPOs, something they could not do with Eli Manning. Jones ripped off a 49 yard run that left the camera man behind.
Areas of Improvement
How many times do I have to write that Jones needs to take better care of the football. Once again, Jones killed a nice drive by throwing another interception in the red zone. It appeared as if he might get saved by the replay, but the call on the field stood and he cost the Giants a chance to extend their lead. Turnovers has been the defining storyline for Jones so far in his career. He has committed at least one turnover in every game of his career except maybe two. The guy is a turnover machine. We knew this was an area of concern coming into the season, but it has yet to be corrected.
The offense as a whole has been a weakness. Jones threw his first touchdown since week 1 with a dime to Darius Slayton. The defense has mostly been keeping them in games recently. Even though they lost, they played a really well fought game against the Rams, and the defense held strong against the Football team. New Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett has been calling the plays so far this season. I would like to see what Joe Judge can do handling that responsibility. Garrett’s play calling has always been subject to criticism even going back to his days in Dallas. It is way too predictable. There needs to be more variety and trickery if you will. I am not advocating for flea flickers of statue of liberties but I want to see more read options, play actions, and getting the ball to Slayton and Evan Engram.
It is not every year you can be one of the favorites for the first overall pick, but only be one game back from the division lead. The winner of the NFC East could easily have no more than 6 wins. With Prescott and Barkley out for the season, and Wentz looking wildly inconsistent, the division is wide open. The NFC East is the only division where every team has a negative point differential. In contrast, the NFC has every team with a positive point differential. I have always said, the NFC East is one of the worst divisions in football, but it is always one of the most competitive. Even though the Giants are 1-5, they are right there. They can string together some wins, and I think it will be a valuable experience for this team. However, if it was between winning the division at 6 wins and drafting Trevor Lawrence, I take Lawrence everytime.
-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)