Giants News: Sterling Shepard injury update, Jason Garrett play-calling makes zero sense

new york giants, sterling shepard

The New York Giants experienced a bevy of injuries in their third consecutive loss against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon. With Blake Martinez suffering a torn ACL which will keep them out for the remainder of the 2021 season, the offensive side also experienced a few injuries.

Receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton both suffered hamstring injuries, and with their statuses up in the air, the Giants may have to prepare for the New Orleans Saints with the expectation that both won’t be available.

However, there is still hope that Shepard can play next Sunday in New Orleans, the first game of the season after Hurricane Ida forced the Saints to play elsewhere.

Shepard was in the midst of a career season prior to the injury, tallying 223 yards and one score over three games. His averages were hurt significantly after leaving in the first half, but in his absence, reserve pass-catcher Collin Johnson stepped up to the plate. Johnson was targeted seven times, hauling in five catches for 51 yards.

Shepard being forced out will significantly alter the Giants’ offensive game plans moving forward, but it would indirectly give Kadarius Toney more action. Toney enjoyed 66% of offensive snaps after Shepard went down in the defeat, bringing in two receptions for 16 yards on three targets.

Getting more creative with Toney in the passing game is essential, as they can use him on screens, short and intermediate routes. Ultimately, scheming him into space and getting the ball in his hands is enough to pick up yardage and move the chains. However, relying on coordinator Jason Garrett to accomplish that is like trying to hit a bulls-eye with blindfolds on.

Oddly, Garrett refrained from using the read option and more RPOs against Atlanta, keeping Daniel Jones in the pocket. After the team scored 29 points against Washington using more creative playcalling, the former Dallas Cowboys head coach ripped that portion of his playbook out of the game plan.

It is quite mind-boggling that Garrett continues to change his playcalling on a weekly basis and make adjustments that simply aren’t benefiting the team. The Giants haven’t thrown a passing touchdown in the red zone since last season, which is completely unacceptable for a team that needs to curate more points and increase their offensive production.

The Giants’ offense is currently ranked 25th in the league in points per game and 15th in yards, once again showcasing a bottom of the barrel unit that is incapable of scoring regularly against bad defenses, notably the Atlanta Falcons, who had given up an average of 40 points per game and were without their top corner in Week 3.

Should the New York Giants explore trade opportunities for Evan Engram?

New York Giants, Evan Engram

New York Giants tight end Evan Engram is arguably one of the team’s most polarizing players on offense. Making his season debut against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3, Engram posted just two receptions for 21 yards. His impact was minimal, as the Giants primarily relied on Kenny Golladay, reserve receiver Collin Johnson, and running back Saquon Barkley to carry the load.

With the team starting 0-3 on the season, the Giants have a few big decisions to make this year as they ponder the future. After spending an exorbitant amount of money this past off-season to maximize quarterback Daniel Jones’s rookie window, they will have to find ways to open up salary space.

One way the Giants can add draft capital and a bit more salary flexibility is by trading Engram, who is currently in the last year of his rookie contract. The Giants picked up his fifth-year option, which will pay him $6 million this season.

Having suffered a calf injury against the New England Patriots in the final preseason game, Engram was unable to play against Denver and Washington. However, the athletic tight end has become more of a liability than an asset.

Despite Engram’s blazing speed and fantastic physical attributes, he has dropped 25 passes over the past four seasons, including eight last year, with six of Jones’s 12 interceptions going his way. However, the 27-year-old was unable to make a positive impact against the Falcons on Sunday afternoon.

In fact, his biggest contribution was a fumble in the third quarter with the Giants trailing by one. If not for an Azeez Ojulari strip-sack on Matt Ryan on the Giants’ 35-yard line, Engram’s turnover would’ve been far more costly.

At this point in his career, the Giants simply need to maximize his value and collect draft capital. When fans are cheering as a player walks off the field, you know things are a bit overdone, as the former first-round selection has been unable to alleviate his turnover issues and drops. The bigger question is, what could the Giants get in return for his services?

New York Giants V Atlanta Falcons Week 3 score prediction

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

Looking ahead at the New York Giants 2021 regular-season schedule, their upcoming game against the Atlanta Falcons might be their best chance to secure victory and begin to shift momentum.

After two consecutive losses to the Denver Broncos and Washington Football Team to open the season, the Giants are barely treading water as they prepare to take on the New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Rams, and Carolina Panthers consecutively. That is not even to mention their matchups against the Chiefs and Buccaneers in November. They need to begin playing clean football without self-inflicted wounds, which have severely limited their success to start the year.

With head coach, Joe Judge guaranteeing a disciplined unit and a product fans would be proud of, starting the year with two losses isn’t exactly what he predicted. However, there’s plenty of time to turn the ship around, and the Falcons present a perfect opportunity to do so.

With Eli Manning having his jersey retired at halftime against Atlanta, the Giants have a few goals in mind to overcome a team that has given up an average of 40 points through two games. Last week, they gave up 48 points to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and with the Giants securing 29 points against Washington last week, their offense has a clear-cut advantage.

What the New York Giants will be trying to accomplish:

To start, Daniel Jones needs to piece together another consistent game throwing and running the football. He nearly had two rushing and passing touchdowns last week if not for a costly drop and holding penalty on WR, CJ Board. Establishing the running game, controlling the clock, and winning the turnover battle must be the priority.

The Falcons will be without starting corner AJ Terrell and receiver Russell Gage, presenting a few match-up advantages on both sides of the ball. Terrell has been their best boundary corner this season, not allowing a reception last week against the Buccaneers. With him missing the game, the Giants should have a field day in the passing game, but running back Saquon Barkley should also take advantage of a unit that is averaging 127.5 yards allowed on the ground per game.

Overall, the Giants need to play a disciplined and clean game in Week 3, changing the narrative after a messy start to the season. In addition, the defense, who was expected to be a top-10 unit entering the year, has disappointed massively. Matt Ryan threw two interceptions which were taken for touchdowns against Tampa, so the Giants have a tremendous opportunity to right the ship and reset the clock on their season.

Score prediction: NYG 35 – ATL 23

Giants catch big break against already awful Falcons defense

a.j. terrell, falcons, new york giants

The New York Giants have an opportunity to reset their 2021 season with a poor Atlanta Falcons team making their way to MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon. With Eli Manning’s retirement ceremony commencing at halftime, the Giants will hope to have a comfortable lead in honor of one of the organization’s most valued players.

Luckily for a Big Blue, Atlanta’s defense ranks as the worst in the NFL in points allowed per game, giving up 40 on average over two games. Last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they allowed 48 points, with 14 coming from pick 6’s. However, with the Giants losing to the Washington Football Team in a torturous fashion, they are in desperate need of some positive momentum and success to help spur consistency. The coaching staff has been responsible for poor in-game adjustments and decisions, but the players have failed to execute at a high level in addition.

As aforementioned, Atlanta’s defense is one of the worst in a league, and they will be without top cornerback A.J. Terrell on Sunday. Terrell has seen 112 snaps on the field as the defense’s left boundary corner, and he ranks as the team’s best with a 68.6 overall coverage grade, per PFF. He has only given up three receptions for 30 yards this year as a 2020 draft pick in the first round.

With Terrell missing this contest, the Giants will have an easy time throwing the football and targeting their more prominent receivers through the air. With that being the case, we should expect quarterback Daniel Jones to have another solid performance, but Atlanta is also susceptible on the ground.

Through two weeks, the Falcons have given up 127.5 rushing yards, providing running back Saquon Barkley with a fantastic opportunity to enjoy some success after working his way back slowly to open the year. Offensively for the Falcons, they rank toward the bottom of the pack in average points per game, scoring 15.5. Oddly, they won time of possession last week against Tampa, despite scoring just 25 points and losing by a significant margin. Atlanta has one of the worst passing attacks in the NFL, averaging just 214.5 passing yards per game. The Giants sit towards the middle of the league with 241.

One way or another, the Giants need to scheme a strong game plan that will focus on exposing coverage flaws in Atlanta secondary. With their top corner out, distributing the football should be easy, but we never want to make any assumption when it comes to an unpredictable Giants team.  Factoring in rookie Kadarius Toney should be a priority, given the matchups. This is the perfect opportunity to get Toney’s feet wet in the NFL after playing just 19 snaps through the first two games.

New York Giants Injury Report: Kenny Golladay with new issue, Logan Ryan, Evan Engram progressing

New York Giants, Evan Engram

With the New York Giants heading into a must-win game against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon, a few new faces showed up on the injury report to start practice this week.

New York Giants Injury Report:

1.) Evan Engram = Calf injury

Status: Limited

Update:

Starting tight end, Evan Engram has been battling his way back after suffering a calf injury against the New England Patriots in the final preseason game of the off-season. However, the Giants’ offense has missed him dearly in the meantime, forcing Kyle Rudolph into an uncomfortable role that he clearly was not prepared for.

The expectation is that Engram will be available this weekend against Atlanta, providing quarterback Daniel Jones with one of his favorite targets in the passing game. He was listed as limited during Thursday’s practice but was moving around well and running routes.

2.) Kenny Golladay = Hip injury

Status: Limited

Update:

Kenny Golladay has been dealing with a hamstring injury for the past few weeks, but an old hip issue has bubbled to the surface after last weekend’s loss to Washington. The team hasn’t made a big deal over Golladay’s hip injury, but he was seen standing around doing little during practice on Thursday. This is likely a load management situation for the Giants as they will need him against Atlanta.

3.) Logan Ryan = Hamstring injury

Status: Limited

Update:

A new face showed up on the injury report Thursday, and his name is Logan Ryan. As one of the leaders on defense, losing Ryan would be a significant blow to a unit that has struggled to get going this year. Ryan was limited during practice, but all signs point toward him featuring against the Falcons.

4.) Saquon Barkley = Knee injury

Status: Limited

Update:

Expect Saquon Barkley to be a frequent flyer on the injury report the season, at least until the midway point. Barkley is still rehabilitating and working his way back from a serious injury, so the Giants will be cautious with him during practice.

5.) Kaden Smith = Knee injury

Status: Limited

Update:

Reserve tight end Kaden Smith popped up on the injury report with a knee issue this week. I wouldn’t think too much of it, as he will likely be available on Sunday, even if Engram is ready to make his debut.

6.) Kadarius Toney = Ankle injury

Status: Limited

Update:

Despite coordinator Jason Garrett stating that Kadarius Toney simply wasn’t ready to take the field in a more serious fashion, an ankle injury could be the real reason behind his lack of work. Toney has only played in 19 snaps this year, but the Giants have vowed to get him more involved in the near future.

7.) Austin Johnson = Illness

Status: Limited

Update:

Interior defensive lineman Austin Johnson was dealing with an illness on Thursday, so unless it develops into something more serious, he should be ready to go against Atlanta on Sunday.

8.) Cam Brown = Hamstring

Status: Out

Update:

One of the Giants’ top special teams players, Cam Brown, has been dealing with a more severe hamstring injury which is kept him out for the past few days, including last weekend’s loss to Washington. I wouldn’t expect Brown to be available in Week 3, but he might be aiming for a Week 4 return.

Giants have great opportunity to pummel league-worst Falcons defense, but how?

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants have arguably their easiest game through three weeks against the Atlanta Falcons this upcoming Sunday. While the Giants usually find ways to make more advantageous games difficult for themselves, the Falcons have the worst defense in the league after two regular-season games.

Atlanta has given up a league-high 40 points per game against the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which includes eight passing touchdowns against. Last week against Tampa, Tom Brady tossed five touchdowns, including two to tight end Rob Gronkowski and another two to Mike Evans. The Buccaneers’ defense also managed to record two interceptions taken for touchdowns, showcasing an inept Falcons unit that only had so many offensive opportunities because of how quickly the Buccaneers were scoring.

Looking over at the Giants, who manage 29 points against a solid Washington defense, managed to beat themselves in the final moments on an offsides call that would’ve resulted in a missed field goal by Dustin Hopkins. The Giants start off the season 0-2, similar to the Falcons.

However, this game offers the Giants a tremendous opportunity to get their offense in a better spot, getting the ball to big free agent signing Kenny Golladay more frequently and hopefully seeing Saquon Barkley rip off a few big runs. The biggest factor remains quarterback Daniel Jones, who had arguably the best game of his career against Washington.

In the loss, Jones finished with a 68.75% completion rate, 249 passing yards, 95 rushing yards, and two total touchdowns. If it weren’t for a bad holding call on receiver CJ Board and a drop by Darius Slayton, the Giants’ QB would’ve enjoyed his best stat-line to date, including five scores.

The expectation is that Jones will also enjoy the return of Evan Engram, opening up another element on offense with his athletic TE.

Looking over at Atlanta secondary, they have a selection of vulnerable cornerbacks. 2017 draft pick Fabian Moreau has already given up 65 yards and two scores through two weeks as the right boundary CB. The Falcons’ linebacker core is also a liability, with primary starter Deion Jones giving up 119 yards and a score through two weeks.

The Buccaneers targeted the middle of the field against the Falcons, specifically with their tight ends and slot receivers. The Giants will have plenty of opportunities running RPO‘s to give their past catchers good opportunities to pick up yards. Atlanta also ranks toward the bottom of the league in rushing yards allowed with 127.5 per game, which should widen the eyes of Barkley, who is still looking for a game with over 60 rushing yards.

Ultimately, this is a must-win game for the Giants as they prepare to head into a tougher portion of the schedule with the New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, and Los Angeles Rams coming up consecutively. Picking up some momentum and plastering a bad Atlanta defense would be a good way to get the gears turning.

The New York Giants are making a smart move with Matt Peart plans

New York Giants, Matt Peart

Going into the off-season, the New York Giants assumed that second-year offensive tackle Matt Peart would give veteran Nate Solder a run for his money at right tackle. After Solder opted out for the 2020 season due to COVID-19, Peart displayed signs of growth and adequacy as a rookie, but he lost out badly during the position battle for the starting job this pre-season.

In fact, Peart has only played 19 snaps this year, all of them coming in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos. He allowed one QB hit and a pressure during that time, quickly being supplemented for Solder as the Giants ended the competition and gave the more experienced option the job.

However, the Giants aren’t giving up on the Connecticut product just yet, as they’re making a proactive decision to cross-train him at guard. This is a decision the former coaching staff failed to make with Ereck Flowers, forcing him to play left tackle despite significant issues. Peart, who stands at 6’7″ and over 300-pounds, would be a huge body in the interior. With superior athleticism, if he can develop his fundamentals, he could end up being an adequate option, which would be a definitive change in strategy.

Head coach Joe Judge indicated as much as Peart begins to earn reps with the second-team during practice at guard.

“We’re going to rotate Matt on through the tackle position,” Judge said. “We’ll kind of take a look at him maybe playing some stuff inside as we get going right here. We’ll kind of work around through practice these next few days and kind of see where things shake out.

I wouldn’t expect to see Peart starting at LG anytime soon, as the Giants have been Bredeson, for who they traded a fourth-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens. While he’s shown flashes in run-blocking, his pass-protection has been spotty at best. He has allowed five hurries and five pressures over 100 snaps this year. The Giants started Center Nick Gates at left guard against Washington before he suffered a gruesome lower leg injury, forcing Bredeson into the starting spot.

Taking a more progressive approach toward Peart is a great move by the coaching staff and one that will hopefully pan out in the future. The Giants might try to sprinkle him in to get his feet wet against the Falcons, but unless something serious happens to Bredeson, I expect him to remain the starter moving forward.

Giants’ Daniel Jones showed flashes of franchise quarterback play, but what does he need to establish himself?

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has been one of the most polarizing players on the team since being drafted in 2019. As the 6th overall selection, Jones had high expectations coming out of Duke, representing a quarterback with intriguing mobility and solid accuracy.

The major problem surrounding Jones has been his turnover issues, as he threw 22 interceptions during his first two seasons and fumbled 29 times. However, through two games this season, Jones has only fumbled once, not throwing an interception over 69 passing attempts. So far, he has thrown for 516 yards and two passing touchdowns but has also rushed for 122 yards and two rushing scores. He’s currently the teams leading rusher and is on pace for 4,352 yards, which would completely destroy his previous high of 3,027 yards.

In the team’s most recent loss to the Washington Football Team last Thursday, Jones was one of the best players on the field, carrying the Giants’ offense to 29 points on 22 completions for 249 yards and two total touchdowns. He would’ve ran for two scores, but a botched holding call on wide receiver CJ board resulted in the play coming back.

PFF graded Jones with a 91.3 overall in Week 2, the highest player in the game and the highest grade in his entire career. His adjusted completion percentage landed at 78.1%, including drops from receivers. In fact, in both weeks, his receivers dropped 12% of passes thrown, an unacceptable number. In addition, opposing defenses have curated 28 total pressures, showcasing his mobility and increased ball security. His only fumble happened outside of the pocket on a run up the middle. The growth and development he’s experienced over the off-season regarding ball security and pocket movement are clearly on display, as the offensive line remains a deficiency and Jones dominated against Washington regardless.

The OL has allowed a league-high six sacks, tied with only the Tennessee Titans and New York Jets. Of those three quarterbacks (Ryan Tannehill, Zach Wilson), Jones has the highest QBR, highest completion percentage, and most amount of yards.

The qualities that Jones has displayed through two weeks are convincing that he’s capable of being a franchise quarterback, but he needs to play consistently great to earn that term.

Specifically, he needs to perform well against teams not named Washington and crush opponents like the Atlanta Falcons coming up in Week 3. The Falcons have allowed 30+ points in each of their last two games, including 48 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Giants’ offense must display another strong performance, and if Jones can string together a few solid outings, the narrative around him will quickly begin to change in the Giants community.

How should the New York Giants use Kadarius Toney moving forward?

new york giants, kadarius toney

When the New York Giants drafted Kadarius Toney with the 20th overall pick, they added a versatile weapon on offense who could be used in many different creative ways. With gadget utilities and raw athleticism, Toney was one of the best receivers regarding missed tackles forced during his final year with Florida in 2020. He lead receivers in college last season with a 30% missed tackle rate, showcasing his strengths as he adapts to the NFL and finds his way into the Giants’ scheme.

However, the team has seldom used Toney, featuring him in just 24 offensive snaps through two weeks against Denver and Washington. He has only touched the football twice, both on design plays that failed to produce any positive gains.

The media quickly began to spin stories and rumors regarding his usage and the frustration that was boiling. Toney took to social media to express his emotions, later taking a shot at the media for starting a negative narrative.

However, the Giants are underutilizing Toney, who clearly could help on offense. Every team‘s first-round pick should have an instant impact unless you are developing a quarterback to take over for a veteran, in which case represents a different scenario. When drafting impact weapons on offense and skill position players, they need to be featured early and often to help them adjust to the physicality and speed of the game at the next level.

How the New York Giants can get Toney involved moving forward:

Toney is far more than just a gadget player, with solid route running and unique abilities in the open field. Some ways the Giants can get Toney more involved include using him as a punt returner and featuring him in bunch formations alongside Sterling Shepard in the interior. With Kenny Golladay also taking snaps from the slot, Toney could be pushed outside and supplement reps from Darius Slayton, who had a costly drop against Washington in Week 2, which ended up being the difference in the game.

Having dropped just four passes over four seasons with Florida, there’s no question he is a reliable target that can contribute toward a more efficient unit. Given the Giants scored just seven meaningful points in Week 1, they bounced back with a far more extensive and aggressive strategy against Washington, scoring 29 points. The Giants scored more than 29 points just once in 2020, so they’ve already gotten off to a decent start in context with Jason Garrett’s vanilla scheme.

There are two reasons the Giants might be holding back from unleashing Kadarius:

First, he could be dealing with an injury and recovering from Covid, so they want to take a more cautious approach with his health. Alternatively, the Giants are still developing their scheme and adding new elements every week, so perfecting the base concepts and expanding that route tree could be more prevalent in the short term. With Toney’s unique skill set, they might be waiting to add his qualities at the right time when the offense has momentum, and they’ve begun stringing together consistent performances with their more established players.

How will the New York Giants supplement the massive loss of Nick Gates on offensive line?

New York Giants, Nick Gates

The New York Giants already had problems in the trenches before losing starting center Nick Gates to a fractured lower leg against the Washington Football Team on Thursday evening. Gates, who was shifted over to left guard, was pushed back into quarterback Daniel Jones when a defender landed awkwardly on the back of his leg, sending him to the ground in a heap, experiencing obvious pain.

Losing Gates for the rest of the 2021 season is a massive casualty, as the OL was already thin. They’ve been actively trying to work in two players who the Giants recently traded for, Billy Price and Ben Bredeson.

Gates, who had allowed just one hurry and one pressure over 74 snaps the season, will be replaced by Price on the short-term at least. Price, who was recently acquired from the Cincinnati Bengals in exchange for B.J. Hill and a conditional draft pick, struggled in his first action with Bug Blue. He recorded an 8.7 pass-blocking grade, per PFF, allowing one sack, four hurries, and five pressures.

The Giants also have Matt Skura, who has been activated and will compete with Price for the starting job. Skura had issues last year snapping the football in Baltimore but was battling injury and was once considered to be a rising star at the position. I wouldn’t be surprised if Skura gave Price a serious run for his money, overtaking him and establishing himself as the starter moving forward. The Giants would be smart to provide both with an opportunity to showcase their qualities in live-action.

At left guard, the expectation is that Bredeson will take over full-time, despite having his fair share of struggles in pass protection through two weeks. He has a 28.6 overall pass-blocking grade, allowing five hurries and five pressures over 100 snaps. He has been far more efficient as a run blocker, but the Giants have unfortunately been unable to curate a consistent running game, aside from Daniel Jones and the read-option.

However, Bredeson has plenty of potential, and the Giants will likely exercise him at left guard with hopes he can develop as a pass blocker. Luckily, the performance of Andrew Thomas has been extremely encouraging and should help Bredeson adapt quicker. He is still learning the playbook and developing chemistry with his teammates, so there will be hiccups along the way.

There’s also the possibility the Giants trade for another player, which is where safety Jabrill Peppers and their extensive draft capital might come into play.