New York Giants: Joe Judge downplays Troy Aikman’s remarks

new york giants, joe judge

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge isn’t looking to add more narratives to an already important division matchup on Sunday. Despite having a chance to play it up as motivation for the team, Judge had a very Belichick-like response when asked about Troy Aikman’s radio comments about the Giants.

“I don’t think we really need any external motivation to show up and do our jobs and do them effectively, to be honest with you. I think you have to understand the magnitude of every game you play,” Judge told reporters on Friday. “These division games are obviously no different, so if we need somebody else to kind of get us in the mind frame to play, I think we have other issues at hand.”

Aikman made headlines recently for appearing on radio in Dallas and saying that the Giants aren’t in the same class as the Cowboys. While it seems like that statement was true through the first three weeks of the season, the matter is murkier after the Giants upset the Saints in week 4. Some have said that Aikman is providing the Giants with easy ‘bulletin board material.’

Judge acknowledged the players taking note of it, but had a different narrative on the issue.

We don’t even have a bulletin board in there, to be honest with you. Everything’s screens and magnets and stuff now. We’re in the future now, so we don’t have bulletin boards anymore. Look, these guys are all active on Twitter and all that type of junk, so I’m sure they see stuff all the time.”

New York Giants enter week 5 as underdogs

Aside from his generally stern coaching style, it’s easy to see why Judge is downplaying Aikman’s comments – the Giants already have enough pressure on their shoulders without an added narrative about proving someone wrong.

While the Giants did make a big improvement in week 4, they come into the Dallas game affected by injuries on both sides of the ball. Wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton are out for this game, and the same goes for safety Jabrill Peppers and guard Ben Bredeson.

Andrew Thomas is dealing with a foot injury, one which may be related to the injury that he had surgery for last season. His status is questionable, and it’s debatable if he can play full speed even if he does make it onto the field.

In other words, this Giants vs Cowboys game isn’t quite an even matchup. The Giants are underdogs both due to their record and their missing players, and it seems wise to avoid adding more narratives and pressure to this game on top of what is already there.

Giants Injury Update: Andrew Thomas limping, Kaden Smith, Shepard and Slayton still bothered by hamstrings

sterling shepard, new york giants

The New York Giants are gearing up for a crucial game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon. The Giants will need all hands on deck against a Dallas team that has won three straight games and scored over 35 points in the last two victories. Plastering the Carolina Panthers for 36 points, the Giants’ defense has gotten off to a tough start, representing another potential victim unless they can find the equation to taking down Dak Prescott and a Kellen Moore lead offense.

Ultimately, it starts with health, and the Giants had a few players on the injury report this week, as multiple faces are questionable for the contest.

New York Giants injury report:

Andrew Thomas: Limited (foot)

Andrew Thomas walked away from the New Orleans Saints victory with a foot issue. Thomas was a limited participant in practice but was walking gingerly, favoring his right foot. Thomas has been one of the more exciting players this season in terms of development, earning one of the best pass-blocking grades of any tackle in the NFL.

The expectation is that Thomas will suit up against Dallas without any limitations, but he will need the next few days to return to full health.

Sterling Shepard: Out (hamstring)

Shepard missed last week’s contest against New Orleans with a hamstring injury suffered against Atlanta Falcons in Week 3. Shepard has been one of Daniel Jones’s favorite targets this season, but the third-year quarterback relied on rookie Kadarius Toney to fill the void in what was the best performance from the offense this year.

Shep was out of practice on Thursday, indicating he might miss another game this upcoming weekend.

Darius Slayton: Out (hamstring)

Slayton suffered a hamstring injury against the Atlanta Falcons as well, missing Week 4 against the Saints. He’s in the same boat as Sterling — both failed to participate in practice on Thursday. Luckily, the return of John Ross will supplement his loss, holding over the WR core until the Auburn product is able to make a return.

Kaden Smith: Limited (knee)

Reserve tight end Kaden Smith has been listed on the injury report weekly with a knee issue, but he continues to suit up and make an impact in multiple facets. Last week, Smith primarily served as a blocker, but he is a reliable receiver who gets involved every now and again. He will likely be available against Dallas on Sunday.

Jabrill Peppers: Out (hamstring)

Peppers stated after the victory over New Orleans that it would be tough to stop him from playing against Dallas. Peppers remains the energizer of the defense, but his snaps have decreased consistently this season as coordinator Patrick Graham relies more on Xavier McKinney and Logan Ryan. If Peppers is able to go, expect him to return punts at the very least.

Ben Bredeson: Limited (hand)

With Ben Bredeson suffering a hand injury against the Falcons, the Giants rolled with Matt Skura at left guard last week, which surprisingly went quite well. Skura seems to have solid chemistry with Andrew Thomas and combo blocked with Billy Price adequately. The expectation is that Skura will start again despite Bredeson being limited on Thursday.

Nate Ebner: Limited (quad)

Special-teams ace Nate Ebner has been dealing with a quad injury for the last few weeks, but he hasn’t missed much time since attempting to join the national rugby team and making a comeback late in training camp.

Leonard Williams: Limited (knee)

Big money interior defender Leonard Williams has never missed a game due to injury, but he showed up on the injury report this week with a knee issue. Supposedly, the injury isn’t too serious, so he should be available against Dallas, and he’s going to have to bring his “A” game.

New York Giants: Daniel Jones has seemingly turned the corner

daniel jones, new york giants

The New York Giants are 1-3 coming off of their first win in Week Four. Last year, the season also started slow and much of the blame fell on the shoulders of quarterback Daniel Jones. This year, however, the tune has changed regarding New York’s starting signal-caller.

Now, fans and analysts alike are acknowledging Daniel Jones’s talent. Through the first four weeks of the 2021 season, Daniel Jones is an exponentially better quarterback than he was through the first four weeks of the 2020 season. It is early, but after this strong start to the season, Daniel Jones has fans believing that he has turned the corner.

2020 Daniel Jones vs 2021 Daniel Jones

The New York Giants finished the 2020 season 6-10 after an 0-5 start. The vibes surrounding the team were much different than they are through the first four weeks of this season. The Giants did not have to wait as long to get their first win of the year as they came away with their first victory in Week Four this season. Daniel Jones had a career game that saw him win NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

In Week Four, Daniel Jones threw for 402 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Giants topped the New Orleans Saints on the road with a thrilling 27-21 overtime victory. After this game, Giants fans seem sold. They all seem to believe that Daniel Jones is a franchise quarterback. Through four weeks of the regular season, he sure is playing like one.

Daniel Jones 2020 Stats (Weeks 1-4)

  • Yards Per Attempt: 6.0
  • TD-Int: 2-5
  • Total QBR: 45
  • Turnovers: 7

Daniel Jones 2021 Stats (Weeks 1-4)

  • Yards Per Attempt: 8.2
  • TD-Int: 4-1
  • Total QBR: 60
  • Turnovers: 2

Daniel Jones has improved in every major statistical category since last season. He is throwing the ball accurately downfield, creating big plays, and keeping the ball clean. Jones’s turnover total is down tremendously. Throughout the first two years of his career, the biggest criticism of Daniel Jones has always been his turnover issue. It seems like Daniel Jones has gotten that issue under control now.

The Giants have not come away with many wins, but they have been hanging in every game this season. Thanks to Daniel Jones, the New York Giants are competitive. If Daniel Jones continues to play at this high level, the Giants will win more games, and he truly will establish himself as a franchise quarterback.

New York Giants: Jason Garrett identifies major area of improvement for Daniel Jones

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

Winning isn’t the only task for the New York Giants this season. This year also serves as an evaluation for quarterback Daniel Jones at the individual level. After two previous seasons of Jones at QB, and with a new General Manager potentially coming in this offseason, this seems like the year the Giants will make a decision about the player.

So far, Jones has offered mixed results but displayed improvement against Washington and New Orleans, against whom he delivered his best games of the season. His play so far was enough to draw several praises from offensive coordinator Jason Garrett when Garrett was asked where Jones had seen the most progress.

“You have to take care of the ball and I think he’s done that. Starting from about midseason last year, he’s done a great job taking care of the ball. He has made really good decisions, he’s played decisively,” Garrett said on Thursday about Jones.

Jones only has one fumble lost since the season opener, where he lost the ball against Denver. While he does have one interception this season, it only came on a Hail Mary before halftime in week 4.

While Jones hasn’t been perfect, and the unlucky interception could be considered karma for luckier moments earlier in the season, he has yet to throw a legitimate interception this season.

“When things aren’t there, he’s made good decisions to get rid of the ball. Two or three times in the game the other day, maybe a rusher came free, or something didn’t come up exactly like we wanted to, he used his feet, he threw the ball away, we went to the next down,” Garrett continued.

A better environment for Jones

What has caused the improvement in play from Daniel Jones? One thing that Garrett mentioned is a better environment around him compared to last season.

“As the environment gets better around him as we protect better and we get some guys outside who can make some plays for him, he’s going to continue to play better. That’s been my experience with quarterback play.”

In the case of Jones, the improvement in his environment has come in the form of new receivers and better offensive line play. The upgrade was perhaps most visible against New Orleans, when the Giants utilized Kadarius Toney more in their gameplan. Furthermore, a healthier Kenny Golladay was able to make more of an impact in the receiving game.

For the offense, a current challenge is continuing to provide the support that Jones needs. Headed into week 5, wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton are dealing with hamstring injuries and could miss another game. The team saw a step up from John Ross in their absence, but it’s unclear whether the trend will continue.

But whether the Giants enter the game injured at receiver or not, it’s clear that Jones will shoulder much of the responsibility for Sunday’s result when the team takes on a division nemesis.

Should the Giants be entertaining trade calls for WR Darius Slayton?

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

The New York Giants will likely be active at the trade deadline this season, but where they might be trying to bring players in the past, they have a few pieces they can let go for capital in the future.

Both Evan Engram and Jabrill Peppers are in the fifth year of the rookie contracts, representing an opportunity for the Giants to move on and acquire draft capital for their services. Engram is an athletic tight end with unparalleled speed at the position, but he has trouble holding onto the football and allowing turnovers. Over the past four seasons, Engram has dropped 25 passes, including a drop and fumble over two weeks this season.

Peppers, on the other hand, has seen his snap count decrease this year as the Giants deploy Xavier McKinney more frequently in the free safety role. Peppers has had trouble in coverage against tight ends, a spot where they desperately needed him to improve.

The New York Giants have a deep WR core:

However, the emergence of receiver Kadarius Toney has made one pass-catcher expendable, and that is third-year player Darius Slayton.

With Sterling Shepard still under contract and Toney beginning to take the reins on offense, Slayton has found himself in a peculiar situation. Fellow speedster John Ross has returned from injury and looked fantastic against the New Orleans Saints last weekend, so Slayton will already be battling for snaps moving forward.

Over three games this year, he has caught seven passes for 127 yards and a score, catching 50% of his targets. Slayton, though, has already dropped three passes this year over just 14 targets, representing a 30% drop rate.

Given his struggles, the Giants might float the idea of treating him and potentially getting back draft capital since he’s outperformed his fifth-round selection back in 2019.

With Ross providing more refined route running and gadget utilities, Slayton’s snap count will likely decrease over the next few weeks, presenting the Giants with an opportunity. The argument against trading Slayton would be that Ross is on a one-year contract while the Auburn product still has another year left on his deal.

Do you think it is worth trading Darius Slayton at the deadline? Comment here!

New York Giants: Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton limited on Wednesday

new york giants, sterling shepard

As the New York Giants head towards week 5, they’re still dealing with injury problems for some of their top offensive talents. The Giants were missing two notable receivers, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, against the New Orleans Saints. The hope is that the pair will make their return in week 5 when the Giants head to Dallas, but their status on the injury report shows they aren’t over their injuries just yet.

Neither Shepard nor Slayton participated in the team’s walkthrough and light practice on Wednesday.

With that being said, the situation isn’t all bad. While they didn’t participate with the rest of the team, they did work out separately and put in some work on a side field. Furthermore, Joe Judge was confident enough to publicly take an optimistic position on getting them back in time for the next game.

Shepard specifically is a major player on the offense whose presence or absence will likely have a large impact. As others struggled with injuries, Shepard came into the season as the top wide receiver and played in more than 90% of the Giants’ offensive snaps in their first two games.

The wide receiver duo aren’t the only ones on the injury list at the moment. Jabrill Peppers, Andrew Thomas, Leonard Williams and Kaden Smith also sat out practice on Wednesday.

The Cowboys are entering Sunday’s game as favorite by nearly a touchdown. It’s clear the Giants have a chance at beating them, after they showed a step up in their upset win over the Saints, but the health status of several players could make the task far tougher.

We saw John Ross step up in week 4 due to the injuries. It remains to be seen if a similar step up from a backup will be needed in week 5.

New York Giants: 3 keys for beating the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4

kadarius toney, new york giants

The New York Giants have a tall task ahead with the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington next weekend. Dallas has won their last three games, sitting at 3-1 on the year, with their only defeat coming against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1.

Over their last three contests, they have scored a combined 97 points, finishing with just a minimum of 36 points over the last two games. In their most recent victory over the Carolina Panthers in Week 3, Dallas won the turnover battle, intercepting Sam Darnold twice and keeping the ball protected. While they did lose time of possession, they were efficient with the ball in their hands, punting four times and scoring touchdowns on five possessions.

The Giants are going to have to match fire with fire as they travel to Dallas, but let’s take a look at a few keys that help them in this match-up.

Three keys for the New York Giants to beat the Dallas Cowboys:

1.) Get Kadarius Toney MORE involved

Teams are still trying to figure out a way to stop Giants rookie receiver Kadarius Toney, who had his best game of the season, hauling in six receptions for 78 yards against New Orleans. Coordinator Jason Garrett got him more involved with Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton missing the game with hamstring injuries. Toney showed flashes of brilliance, using his quick-twitch abilities and insane lateral movement to dodge incoming tacklers and pick up extra yards.

Getting the ball in Toney’s hands should be a priority moving forward, and as he further incorporates himself into the offense, quarterback Daniel Jones will begin to rely on him as one of his favorite explosive play makers. The best part about Toney is that getting the ball in his hands from short range is all it takes to curate a big play. He rarely goes down on first contact and has already been coined the “human joystick.”

Designing a few plays around him will keep Dallas’s defense on their toes. Having speed on the outside with John Ross should clear out the underneath for Toney to have more open space, which the Giants should consider if they use him on drag routes and shorter concepts. Bunching him with Golladay and Shepard (if he plays) might also be a unique strategy — something Garrett used more against the Saints to create confusion, running different routes from similar sets.

2.) Control the clock

While Dallas managed to overcome Carolina despite losing time of possession, the Giants would be smart to try and control the clock, which would help control momentum. Dallas has such a fantastic offensive scheme capable of dominating any opponent, slowing the game down is their only shot at keeping this game within reach. Despite a great performance against the New Orleans Saints, the Giants’ offense hasn’t proved they can be a high-octane unit on a weekly basis, so trading blow-for-blow will be difficult.

Garrett should still incorporate explosive downfield plays into his strategy, but if the Giants want to win this game, the run blocking needs to be far better than it has been through four weeks, and Saquon Barkley needs to have his best game of the season on the ground.

3.) Win the turnover battle

The Cowboys’ defense has been curating turnovers at an astronomical rate, as young corner Trevon Diggs intercepted Darnold twice this past weekend. In each of the last three wins, the Cowboys have won the turnover battle, forcing two turnovers in each game. The Giants have been far better protecting the football, which should provide them a bit more efficiency. Nonetheless, Dallas has a stingy defense, but they are missing a few key pass rushers, including Demarcus Lawrence, so the offensive line should be able to protect Daniel Jones well for the second consecutive week.

New York Giants: John Ross speaks on speed, chemistry with Kadarius Toney

New York Giants, John Ross

With John Ross, the New York Giants may have found a receiving talent that adds even more value to their already deep lineup at the position. While Ross was more or less considered a draft bust based on his first four seasons in the league after being taken in the top 10 by the Bengals, the wide receiver showed flashes of his old potential in week 4.

Ross finished the game with 77 receiving yards on 3 catches, and scored a notable touchdown after using his speed to burn the Saints defense on a deep route. While the play technically involved a fumble and a recovery in the end zone, that didn’t make a difference on the scoreboard as it counted as a touchdown nonetheless.

Plays like that are something we could see more of from Ross. When speaking to the press on Monday, Ross mentioned fellow receiver Kadarius Toney multiple times and believes the combination of two fast receivers can open doors for the Giants on offense.

John Ross talks on the benefits of speed

“I think that’s something that’s hard to coach against,” Ross said about the element of speed. “Once you utilize it, it’s something you have to really hone in on. I think what me and Kadarius can do opens up a lot of things.”

He also believes it can open up chances for other players, through forcing the defense to look deep.

“I think, there’s no secret that I’m fast, so I would expect when teams put out a scouting report, or whenever my name is called, the first thing they think of is speed. So, I expect to kind of get a softer coverage a lot of times and for guys to play deeper.”

Ross has the advantage of being just one part of a talented and still improving group of wide receivers.

The Giants have a number of players at that spot who, when they are playing well, should qualify as standout players to the opposing defense. The opposing defense can’t prioritize every receiving target, and having speedy players such as Ross further down the depth chart will help force opponents to ‘pick their poison.’

The 77 yard performance was also Ross’ season debut, after injury kept him out through the first three games of the season. It’s hard to say at this point, but the Giants may have found a player that can improve week-to-week as the injury moves further into the past and more experience is picked up in the current offense.

New York Giants: Just how great has Andrew Thomas looked through 4 games?

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants have patiently been waiting for left tackle Andrew Thomas to reach his potential, and after struggling in the final preseason game of the off-season against the New England Patriots, he has been lights out on the football field.

The New York Giants are watching their young tackle blossom:

Thomas has had a tremendous start to the 2021 season, which is also his sophomore campaign. After a tough start to his rookie season, he turned it around during the second half, posting far more optimistic numbers. Following the conclusion of the year, Thomas immediately underwent surgery to fix an ankle issue that had been bothering him since training camp. Ever since then, Thomas has completely redefined himself, thanks to new coach Rob Sale, who has done a fantastic job helping elevate the offensive line as a whole.

Currently, the Giants offensive line ranks 17th in the league in pass-blocking efficiency, a big jump from 31st in 2020, per PFF. This is primarily thanks to the establishment of Thomas at the most important position in the trenches, which has given quarterback Daniel Jones more time in the pocket to execute his throws.

Just take a look at the detailed statistics that Thomas has posted this year compared to last season. They represent an entirely different player with processed fundamentals and a focus on great pass blocking.

2021:

-1 QB hit

-5 hurries

-6 pressure

-ZERO sacks

2020:

-3 QB hits

-13 hurries

-19 pressures

-3 sacks allowed

“I think this year I’m doing a little bit better with my sets, getting to the spot a little bit better with hand placement,’’ he said. “The thing I want to improve on is double teams in the run game. I think my base blocks on the D-ends have been pretty good but I got to get better on my double teams, getting up to the ’backers and second-level blocks.’’

Thomas knows that his development is far from over, but he started off the 2021 campaign in fantastic fashion. As the team’s top-rated pass protector, he has enjoyed 264 offensive snaps, committing just two penalties, both of which came against Washington.

It is not as if Thomas has faced off against lackluster talent either, taking on Chase Young, Dante Fowler, and Cam Jordan in consecutive weeks. In fact, Jordan, who struggled against the Giants in Week 4, recorded just one hit and two pressures, arguably his worst game of the season. The week before against New England, Jordan tallied three hits and six hurries, far outpacing his performance this past week against the Georgia product.

Not only is Thomas putting together a great start to his second professional season, but he’s doing it against quality players, which is all the difference.

New York Giants: Daniel Jones thriving off deep passing attack

new york giants, daniel jones

The New York Giants just earned their first win of the 2021 season. In thrilling fashion, the Giants pulled off an overtime upset over the New Orleans Saints to improve their record to 1-3. Quarterback Daniel Jones had a career game that propelled the team to victory.

Daniel Jones threw for a single-game career-high 402 passing yards against the Saints on Sunday. Much of Jones’s yardage was gained on deep passes, 15 or 20+ yards downfield. The Giants opened up their offense, calling more deep passing plays, allowing Danny to deliver some big-time dimes.

Daniel Jones thriving off deep passing attack

Through the first three weeks of the 2021 season, Daniel Jones attempted only 7 passes of 20+ yards downfield (about 2.3 attempts per game). Fans and analysts have criticized Jason Garrett’s offensive scheme for being too “dink-and-dunk” and not taking enough shots downfield. Garrett and Jones heard the criticisms and opened the offense up on Sunday.

In the Giants’ Week Four victory, Daniel Jones threw 5 passes of 20+ yards downfield, far more than he has been throwing on average this season. Jones lit it up on these attempts, going 2/5 with 106 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 irrelevant interception (the hail mary attempt at the end of the first half).

Even while scaling the threshold back, the Giants were throwing the ball further downfield than the rest of the NFL on Sunday. Daniel Jones had 9 completions on throws 10+ yards downfield in Week 4, the most among all quarterbacks (PFF).

On passes 15+ yards downfield, Daniel Jones was surgical. The Giants’ quarterback was 8 of 11 for 229 and 2 touchdowns on throws of 15+ air yards (Jordan Raanan ESPN). The downfield passing attack is letting Daniel Jones breakout.

New York Giants fans might be discouraged by their team’s 1-3 start to the season. Week Four was a step in the right direction, but by no means does it make the Giants a Super Bowl contender. Despite this lowly record, the Giants have reasons for optimism. The biggest reason for optimism: Daniel Jones.

Daniel Jones is developing into a franchise quarterback. Through four weeks of the 2021 season, Jones looks like one of the best signal-callers in the NFL. If the Giants are going to turn things around, it’s going to be because of Daniel Jones.