New York Giants: James Bradberry Stands Out With Stellar Performance Despite Loss

The New York Giants endured another heartbreaking loss today. The Giants fell short in their comeback attempt against the Chicago Bears, falling to 0-2 for the fourth year in a row.

Daniel Jones and the Giants’ offense surged back late in the game and had a chance to win on the final drive of the game. Unfortunately, it was too little too late. But this game could have been much worse. After a putrid first quarter, it seemed likely that the Giants would be blown out on Sunday.

One factor that held the Giants together on Sunday was their formidable defense. The Chicago Bears were held to only 17 points as the Giants forced 2 turnovers. One player, in particular, stood out on Sunday afternoon: James Bradberry.

James Bradberry Stats and Highlights

The New York Giants signed cornerback James Bradberry to a highly-lucrative contract this offseason. Bradberry inked a three-year deal worth $43.5 million. So far, Bradberry has lived up to the contract, performing as the best player on the Giants’ defense.

In Week Two, Bradberry totaled 4 tackles, 4 passes defended, and 1 interception. He was constantly getting his hands on the football, making plays, and breaking up passes. His interception on Allen Robinson was maybe the most impressive play of the game:

This was one of many impressive plays Bradberry made on the football today. But this is nothing new, rather, this is a continuation of last week. Bradberry was solid in Week One, too, forcing a fumble and deflecting 2 passes.

With 6 passes defended through two games, James Bradberry is pacing out to have one of his career’s best seasons. Continued success from Bradberry in coverage will be key for the Giants as this season continues, especially considering the poor performances from the rest of the team’s cornerbacks through two weeks.

New York Giants: Andrew Thomas vs Khalil Mack A Key Matchup To Watch In Week Two

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants‘ offensive line struggled mightily in Week One. According to Pro Football Focus, the Giants’ offensive line allowed pressure on 52.1% of the team’s pass plays against the Steelers last week. This week, New York has to face one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL.

Khalil Mack is coming off of an impressive Week One performance that saw him record 6 total pressures. Mack, the three-time First-Team All-Pro, will be lining up against rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas this weekend. Thomas played well in Week One against a fierce Steelers defense. But this week’s matchup will be a true test for the rookie.

Mack v Thomas

Rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas made his debut in Blue against one of the best defenses in the league last week. Thomas’s primary task was blocking Bud Dupree. This was a challenge, but Thomas held his own and looked like the best offensive lineman on the Giants in Week One.

In Week Two, Thomas has an even more challenging task at hand. The rookie out of Georgia will be blocking one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL this week. Khalil Mack will likely be Thomas’s toughest blocking assignment of the 2020 season.

Granted, Thomas will not be blocking Mack the entire game. Khalil played 60% of his snaps lined up over the right tackle last week. But the Bears like to move their star pass-rusher around and get the best matchups possible. They will undoubtedly face him off with Andrew Thomas to test the rookie.

Opposite of Khalil Mack, the Bears have another talented pass-rusher. Robert Quinn, coming off of an 11.5 sack 2019 season with the Cowboys, is now a member of the Bears’ defense. Quinn did not play in Week One, though, and he is questionable to play this week. If he does, this matchup will be even more challenging for Andrew Thomas.

New York Giants: A More Creative Rushing Attack Is The Key To A Win Against Chicago

New York Giants, Austin Mack, Jason Garrett

The New York Giants‘ rushing attack was shut down in Week One of the 2020 NFL season. The Giants were handed a disappointing loss on Monday night against the stout Pittsburgh Steelers defense. Pittsburgh has one of the best defenses in the league and they absolutely suffocated Saquon Barkley and the Giants’ offensive line.

Saquon Barkley is under criticism this week for his performance as a pass-blocker in Week One. But all are aware of the fact that Saquon is one of the best running backs in the NFL when his offensive line does their job. On Monday night, they did not do their job, and the Giants’ offense suffered from the offensive line’s poor performance.

But is it fair to put all of the blame on the offensive line? This line features a rookie left tackle, a starting center who has never before played that position, and a newly-signed swing tackle starting at right tackle. The lack of continuity across the offensive line led to a multitude of negative rushing attempts. But the offensive line does not deserve all of the blame for the team’s pitiful rushing attack in Week One. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett deserves some blame, too, and he needs to implement a more creative rushing attack in order to beat the Chicago Bears in Week Two.

A Lack Of Creativity

The Giants’ rushing attack in Week One lacked creativity. New York’s running plays were predictable, which is why the Steelers seemed to be in the backfield often before the ball was handed off.

Saquon Barkley was given fifteen rushing attempts in Week One. Of these fifteen attempts, eight of them went wide right and five of them went inside right (according to Next Gen Stats). The Giants barely ran the ball to the left side of the line. One attempt went inside left and one attempt went wide left. For the Giants to only run the ball to the left side of the offensive line twice on fifteen attempts is almost inexplicable.

On the left side of the line are arguably the Giants’ two best run-blocking offensive linemen. Andrew Thomas was an elite run-blocker at Georgia and Will Hernandez is now a veteran left guard. Only thirteen percent of Saquon’s rushing attempts followed these two excellent run-blockers.

An even more perplexing statistic relates to the Giants’ usage of pre-snap motion. Across the NFL, the teams with the best rushing attacks emphasize the usage of pre-snap motion (the Ravens, Chiefs, and 49ers are known to lead the league in pre-snap motion percentage). On Monday night, the Giants utilized snap motion on only 1.6% of their offensive snaps. They used all forms of pre-snap motion on a league-lowest 9.4% of the time.

This lack of creativity in the run-game led to a 15 attempt, 6-yard rushing performance by Saquon Barkley. Saquon is an uber-talented player, but he will only go as far as his offensive line and offensive coordinator allow him. In need of a win in Week Two, the Giants need to emphasize the utilization of a more creative rushing attack in order to allow Saquon Barkley to dominate the Bears’ defense.

New York Giants: Offensive Stars Need To Improve In Week Two

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants are coming off of a disappointing loss to kick off the season. On Monday Night, New York lost to the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers with a final score of 26-16. Despite this loss, there were plenty of positives to draw from the Giants’ performance. However, there were some glaring negatives to take away from it as well.

In particular, the Giants had a couple of disappointing performances on the offensive side of the ball. Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram, two of the Giants’ most dynamic playmakers, need to improve in Week Two if the Giants want to beat the Chicago Bears.

Saquon Barkley Not An Every-Down Back?

Superstar running back Saquon Barkley has received plenty of criticism from the media and fans after his performance in Week One. Most prominently, former Giants star running back Tiki Barber was very critical of Barkley this week. Tiki was quoted saying:

“Saquon Barkley is a great back, but he might not be an every down back. He cannot pass protect. It’s becoming glaring & could become a liability” – Tiki Barber on Saquon Barkley

What Tiki said does have some substance. Obviously, Saquon is a phenomenal running back and should be on the field as much as possible. He is a mismatch as a receiver and a big-play machine as a runner. And it is hard to criticize Barkley’s Week One rushing performance, given the way his offensive line played on Monday night. But Saquon Barkley’s struggles in pass protection have become a glaring weakness in his game.

Saquon let up more than one sack in pass protection on Monday night. According to Pro Football Focus, Saquon Barkley earned a 27.0 pass-blocking grade in Week One. He was a liability in pass protection for the Giants vs the Steelers. Granted, the Giants were facing arguably the best defense and best pass-rush in the NFL in Week One. It is a long season, so Saquon has plenty of time to improve, but he needs to step up and silence the doubters against the Bears in Week Two.

Evan Engram’s Night To Forget

The uber-versatile tight end Evan Engram had maybe the worst game of his career in Week One. With Jason Garrett serving as the team’s new offensive coordinator, Giants fans heard all season long about how big of a role Evan Engram would have with the Giants moving forward.

While Engram did have a substantial role in the Giants’ game plan versus the Steelers, he put together an extremely disappointing performance in that role. Engram was targeted 7 times on Monday but only hauled in 2 receptions for 9 receiving yards. Evan also dropped 2 passes in this game and committed an offensive pass interference penalty that erased a big gain through the air.

Pro Football Focus’s grading for Engram was pretty harsh, too. They gave Engram the worst grade amongst all tight ends in the league, 30.9 overall. Evan was also a complete liability as a blocker, both in pass protection and in the running game. He earned an 18.2 pass-blocking grade and a 32.9 run-blocking grade, both the lowest marks at the position.

Monday’s game was a night for Engram to forget. He will need to bounce back in a major way on Sunday to quiet the critics. Fans and analysts alike have torn Engram to shreds this week, rightfully so. But, like Barkley, Evan has plenty of time to make things right. A strong performance in Week Two versus the Bears will get Engram back on the right track.