New York Giants: Silver Linings From Week One vs Pittsburgh

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants suffered a disappointing loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last night. After getting off to a good start, the Giants squandered their lead and ultimately lost the game by two possessions. The final score was 26-16.

Despite this loss, there was plenty to like about the Giants’ performance in Week One. Some Solid performances on both sides of the football can encourage Giants fans heading into the second week of the season.

The Silver Linings

Daniel Jones

The Giants’ second-year quarterback, Daniel Jones, played a great game on Monday night. However, he did turn the ball over twice, and it cost the Giants big-time. But outside of those two turnovers, Jones was impressive as can be in Week One.

The Steelers possess one of the best defenses in the NFL. Their run-defense and pass-rush were elite last night. The Steelers held Saquon Barkley to 6 rushing yards and pressured Daniel Jones on 26 of his passing attempts. Jones was pressured 6 times more than any other quarterback in the NFL in Week One.

Despite having pressure in his face constantly, and despite not having a solid run game to rely on, Daniel Jones stood in the pocket and made some of the best throws of his career. Jones totaled 279 yards and 2 touchdown passes on 26 attempts.

Jones was particularly good when targeting the middle of the field. When targeting the middle, Jones completed 13 of his 15 passing attempts for 182 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jones was also superb on third down and carried the Giants’ offense at times. If Jones can continue to play at this level while keeping the turnovers down and receiving more help from his offensive line, 2020 could be the year Jones establishes himself as a franchise quarterback.

The Front Seven

The Giants enjoyed multiple impressive performances in their front seven. No one was more impressive than newly-signed inside linebacker Blake Martinez. Martinez recorded 11 tackles (tied for the most of all linebackers in Week One) en route to an 83.9 overall grade by Pro Football Focus. Blake Martinez played like one of the best linebackers in the NFL in Week One.

Lorenzo Carter also had one of the best games of his career on Monday night. Carter recorded 3 pressures, nearly had a sack, and earned an 81.5 overall PFF grade this week. His 3 pressures were tied for the team lead along with Leonard Williams, another player who had an impressive performance.

Leonard Williams recorded a sack and 3 pressures in Week One. Another interior defensive lineman also recorded a sack, though. Dexter Lawrence, the big hog molly out of Clemson started his second season off on the right track, earning a sack in an impressive performance.

The Giants’ defense was most impressive in Week One. The front seven was excellent, seeing multiple players have some of the best individual performances of their careers. This was especially important as the defensive secondary struggled to contain Ben Roethlisberger and his playmakers. The Giants will want to see their front seven build off of an impressive performance in Week Two, while also hoping to see some improvement from their young and inexperienced secondary.

New York Giants: Leonard Williams Impressing During Training Camp

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

The New York Giants made a controversial trade during the 2019 season. Despite a poor, losing record, GM Dave Gettleman gave up future draft picks to trade for a player. This player was Leonard Williams and this trade has received plenty of criticism since it happened.

New York gave up a 2020 third-round and a 2021 fifth-round pick in exchange for Leonard Williams. Williams is a former first-round pick, so usually, this would be pretty great value for the Giants in this trade. But Williams was an impending free agent, meaning the Giants would have had a chance to sign him in free agency without giving up draft capital. Williams is now set to play the 2020 NFL season on the franchise tag with the Giants.

Despite all the outside noise and criticism, Leonard Williams has shown up and impressed during the Giants’ training camp. In fact, defensive line coach Sean Spencer said that he believes Leonard Williams is “starting to put it all together.”

Leonard Williams Putting It All Together

Leonard Williams has been in the NFL since 2015. He was a hyped-up prospect entering the 2015 draft, but so far he has not lived up to the hype. Leonard has been a great interior defensive lineman throughout his career, but not the dominant force that he was expected to be.

Now, entering his sixth season, Williams could be headed for a breakout season. Williams has been standing out in training camp to the coaches and reporters alike. Watch Leonard Williams teach rookie offensive tackle, Andrew Thomas, a lesson below:

Since 2015, Leonard Williams has had the second-most quarterback hits among interior defensive linemen since 2015. Williams has recorded 82 quarterback hits, second only to Aaron Donald (93).

The biggest problem for Williams, though, has been turning pressures and hits into sacks. Leonard has only 17.5 career sacks and recorded a career-low 0.5 sack in 2019. But, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, the Giants’ coaching staff is “convinced they can refine Williams’ technique and teach him things that will turn pressures into actual sacks for him this year.”

If the coaches are right, then a big season could be in store for Leonard Williams. The Giants’ defensive line is filled with young talent. Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Leonard Williams could combine to be one of the best front lines in the league. But if Williams can truly put it all together, he could but this line over the top.

New York Giants: Leonard Williams Makes It Off Of Injury List

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

It’s that time again. The time to talk about one of the more controversial players on the New York Giants. Of course, that player is defensive end Leonard Williams.

Williams has the highest base salary on the team at the current moment, so fans expect to see him on the field and performing during training camp. It seems like they’re going to get their wish, because Williams has been removed from the non football injury list. Also, Williams was seen in practice the very same day, showing he’s ready to jump back into action.

Leonard Williams back on the field

Williams had a hamstring injury from the start of training camp, which kept him on the non football injury list until just now. However, there’s a big chance that even seeing Williams return to the field for the rest of training camp won’t be enough to silence his critics.

That’s mainly because the Giants owe Williams $16 million in salary this year, which puts him above other players that have done more for the team. Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Jabrill Peppers are among the players that are set to make less this year than Williams.

He’ll have to improve from his half a sack in 2019 for sure, to have a chance of diminishing the harsh criticism for the Giants’ choice to bring him back for another year.

But to his credit, Williams has a pretty good chance this year. This will be his first full year with the Giants and it’s a decent time for it to happen. Entering a defensive line that also has Dalvin Tomlinson and Dexter Lawrence up front, it won’t be a lack of teammates potentially holding back Williams in 2020.

New York Giants: Why The Defensive Line Could Dominate In 2020

Since becoming general manager of the New York Giants in 2018, Dave Gettleman has put an emphasis on building up the defensive line. Since 2018, here is what the Giants have invested into their defensive line: a 2018 third-round pick, a 2018 fifth-round pick, a 2019 first-round pick, a 2019 seventh-round pick, a 2020 third-round pick and 2021 fifth-round pick in a trade to acquire Leonard Williams, and a $16.1 million franchise tag on Leonard Williams. Additionally, the Giants already had a 2017 second-round pick invested in Dalvin Tomlinson.

The Giants have invested a considerable amount in their defensive line. But this investment should pay off, as New York has a young core of highly-talented hog mollies to fill the trenches.

Young Defensive Line Talent

Dalvin Tomlinson

The Giants’ longest-tenured defensive lineman is an underrated star, Dalvin Tomlinson. The hog molly out of Alabama has been the most consistent and efficient player on the Giants’ defense since entering the league in 2017. Dalvin has not missed a game in his career, starting in 16 games every season for the past three seasons.

2019 was a career year for Tomlinson. Dalvin Tomlinson recorded 49 combined tackles with 7 tackles for loss. What made Tomlinson’s 2019 season so exciting though was his improvements as a pass-rusher. After failing to record a single sack in 2018, Tomlinson totaled a career-high 3.5 sacks in 2019. Dalvin Also totaled 13 pressures in 2019, 5 more than he did in 2018.

There is a reason to believe that Dalvin Tomlinson will improve further in 2020. When asked about new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s scheme, Tomlinson expressed excitement:

The scheme is fun. It reminds me of the Alabama defense and the Alabama days and the techniques I used to use and stuff like that.  – Dalvin Tomlinson via Giants.com 8/6/20

New York Giants: Sterling Shepard, Leonard Williams, and Saquon Barkley Speak With Media

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

Training camp is here for the New York Giants and with that comes the first official player interviews of the 2020 NFL season. New head coach Joe Judge was the first to speak with the media, doing so on Wednesday. You can read those quotes here.

Yesterday, Daniel Jones, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Blake Martinez spoke with the media. Today, it was Sterling Shepard, Leonard Williams, and Saquon Barkley’s turns to speak. The three players each completed ten-minute interviews via Zoom today. Here are the highlights:

Sterling Shepard:

Sterling Shepard is the longest-tenured player on the New York Giants’ roster. Sterling was drafted by the Giants in 2016 and has played a prominent role in the team’s offense ever since. Could 2020 be the year the Shepard gets himself a Captain’s Badge? Shepard said he “be happy to wear that badge and take that role” if the team votes him a captain but whether he gets it or not, he will “find a way to lead” in “whichever role” they have him in.

“(I will) just set a good example for the young guys and kind of teach them about some of the different rivalries that we have and how important those games are to the New York Giants as an organization.” – Sterling Shepard via Giants.com

Shepard also expressed excitement for the Giants’ new offensive scheme, coached by Jason Garrett. Sterling noted that “it’s an offense that utilizes everyone’s skill set.” The fifth-year slot receiver also gave some insight into Joe Judge’s virtual offseason program: “When we were going through the OTA period on the Zoom calls, the coaches would have some trivia questions for us, so we did this Kahoot! challenge to kind of get guys going and understanding the history of the organization.”

Saquon Barkley:

Superstar running back Saquon Barkley spoke with the media today and gave some insight to his offseason. Barkley considers the Giants’ current regime and roster to be “a fresh new start,” explaining that this is a team of young players who “are learning every single day, on the offensive side, and on the defensive side. Learning a new scheme and system and trying to focus on the little things to get better every single day.”

Saquon made it clear that head coach Joe Judge is instilling a new culture for the Giants:

“The Giants are known for being tough, physical and doing the little things right. That’s something that coach Judge and all the coaches have made a focal point for us in the short time that we have been here. That’s what we try to attack every single day and try to get better every single day.” – Saquon Barkley via Giants.com

Barkley also discussed his teammate and quarterback, Daniel Jones, stating that he is “definitely excited for DJ.” Barkley said that they have grown closer and that they have been hanging out and working together.

Certainly, the most exciting part of Saquon Barkley’s media session came when he discussed his expectations for himself in the upcoming season. Barkley is only focused on improving, despite being one of the best running backs in the league already:

“What I want to seem from myself is just growth,” he said. “I feel like I have been saying this answer so much in my first two years. I’m really focused on trying to get better in every area of my game. I feel like I have so much more room to continue to grow and there is so much I can continue to add to my game. I would say some big focal points are pass pro(tection), in between the tackles, outside the tackles, catching the ball, ball security. Every single day try to focus and try to get better in every area of my game. I am a big stickler when it comes to stuff like that. Definitely when our coaches sat down, they really have us focused on the details and all the little things matter. That’s the focus and where I want to improve my game, which I guess you could say is everything.” – Saquon Barkley via Giants.com

Leonard Williams:

The Giants’ newly acquired defensive lineman, Leonard Williams, also spoke to the media today. Williams was acquired in the middle of the 2019 season via trade in what has been a controversial and polarizing move amongst the fanbase. The Giants placed the franchise tag on Leonard Williams this offseason after the two sides failed to come to an agreement on a long-term deal.

Williams discussed this, saying he thinks “it’s always in the player’s interest to get a long-term deal, but that’s something that worked itself out between my agents and the organization.” Leonard said he is not disappointed that there was no deal agreed upon, he is simply “looking at it as an opportunity.”

But Williams also made it clear that he is ” just happy to be here, play with this team again, and learn about the guys that I’ve been with since last year.”

The media asked Leonard Williams about his injury. The disruptive defensive lineman showed up to training camp with a hamstring injury and was placed on the non-football injury list. When asked about it, here is what Leonard Williams had to say:

We can’t really talk about injuries. If somebody wants to get more information on that, you might have to bring it up with Coach (Joe) Judge or someone else on the team. I’m definitely making strides on it and doing the best that I can to get out there with my teammates. – Leonard Williams via Giants.com

When asked about learning that new defensive scheme that Saquon Barkley mentioned earlier, Leonard Williams referred to new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham as a “genius.” Williams said he loves the new scheme and that he loves working with the team’s new defensive line coach, Sean Spencer.

Overall, the Giants’ three young stars sound excited about the upcoming 2020 NFL season. The players are optimistic about their new coaching staff and seem focused on improving after a disappointing 2019 season.

New York Giants: Leonard Williams shows up to training camp injured

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

The New York Giants started off training camp with a bit of bad news. This past week, left tackle Nate Solder opted out of the 2020 season, leaving fourth overall pick Andrew Thomas to fend at left tackle. They did sign Cameron Fleming to act as reserve talent, but he might be thrust into a starting position at the beginning of the season.

However, the bad news doesn’t end there as Leonard Williams showed up to training camp already injured. According to Jordan Raanan of ESPN, the Giants decided to go with the 80-man roster for camp.

Wide receiver Da’Mari Scott was the second Giant to opt-out and the team placed Williams on the designated non-football injury list.

The Giants placed the franchise tag on Williams this off-season, which will count $16 million against the cap. Showing up with a hamstring injury does not offer optimism for the fan base, who have been extremely hostile over the decision to trade for Williams in the first place. Gettleman offered a third-round pick to the Jets for his services, when he was going to be a free agent at the end of the season anyway.

In 2019, Williams posted 26 combined tackles, 11 quarterback hits, and 0.5 sacks over 33% of defensive snaps. He was expected to be a focal point in the interior of the line, and while he should be ready for the regular season, he will lose essential training time to get his body in shape.

New York Giants: Is Dalvin Tomlinson The Most Underrated Player On The Giants?

New York Giants, Dalvin Tomlinson

The New York Giants‘ defensive line is slowly turning into one of the best units in the NFL. The combination of Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Dexter Lawrence will leave opposing offensive lines struggling to gain ground in 2020.

On that defensive line, there is a player who is rarely talked about. Dalvin Tomlinson, the heart and soul of the Giants’ defensive front, has been one of the best and most consistent defensive linemen in the NFL over the past few years. Heading into 2020, Tomlinson is still an underrated and underappreciated talent.

Why Dalvin Tomlinson Deserves More Respect

Since entering the league as a second-round draft pick in 2017, Dalvin Tomlinson has been a rock on the Giants’ defense. Dalvin has not missed a game in his career, starting in 16 games every season for the past three seasons. Tomlinson was already a solid player in his rookie 2017 season but he has only gotten better each year.

Tomlinson finished with 50 or more tackles in each of his first two seasons. In 2017, Dalvin totaled 50 tackles, and in 2018 he totaled 59. He improved his tackles for loss total to 5 in 2018 after posting only 1 in 2017. Dalvin Tomlinson is not a flashy player, but he gets the job done.

In 2019, Dalvin Tomlinson recorded 49 combined tackles with 7 tackles for loss. What made Tomlinson’s 2019 season so exciting though was his improvements as a pass-rusher. After failing to record a single sack in 2018, Tomlinson totaled a career-high 3.5 sacks in 2019. Dalvin Also totaled 13 pressures in 2019, 5 more than he did in 2018.

Dalvin Tomlinson is far from a household name. He has never been to a Pro Bowl and he is rarely discussed as one of the best defenders on the Giants. But silently, Dalvin has been the Giants’ best defensive player over the past three years. Entering a new Alabama-like system in 2020, Tomlinson is bound to break out and get the respect he deserves (and maybe even a new contract).

New York Giants: Nate Solder and Leonard Williams combine for a massive percentage of salary cap

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

The New York Giants are strapped of cash this year due to several contracts that are taking up a high percentage of cap space.

With DeAndre Baker dealing with legal issues, which seemingly took a turn for the worst last week, having extra money available would have been beneficial. If Baker is guilty of the charges being pressed against him, the Giants will be down one starting cornerback.

Supplementing his loss will be essential, even if the Giants elect to go with their younger options in hopes of development. However, the two players that take up the most cap space are also the most controversial on the team.

Leonard Williams and Nate Solder are the two players aforementioned, accounting for 18% of the Giants’ cap.

Solder, who signed a four year, $62 million deal with the Giants in 2018, had a potential out this off-season. If the Giants cut him, he would’ve counted $16 million in dead cap, which would result in just a $3.5 million in savings. However, if the Giants wait until 2021, his cap hit will go down to $6.5 million, where they will save $14 million.

Waiting one more season is highly advisable, as Solder still has some value if moved over to the right tackle spot. In addition, personal issues in his life have limited his development with the Giants and adaptation to their style.

Why Nate Solder has struggled with the New York Giants:

Essentially, he has failed to change his technique from New England. Tom Brady took far shorter drop-backs than Eli Manning and Daniel Jones. He has been pushing his assignment right into the Giants’ quarterbacks. He would open up his outside shoulder, giving opposing pass rushers the speed rush around the edge, and Brady would simply step up into the pocket to avoid it. Manning and Jones are different types of quarterbacks, as they take 7-8 yard drop-backs instead of 4-yard.

As for Leonard Williams, we all know the debate surrounding his retention. General manager Dave Gettleman gave up a third and fifth-round pick to acquire Williams from the New York Jets in 2019. Most arguments are based on his low sack totals, but there’s no doubt Williams has an impact on the interior defensive line. His ability to draw double teams and put pressure on the pocket is evident, but for $16.1 million per season, his services are overvalued. The Giants need to lower that 18% hit in 2021, and I imagine they will do just that by cutting Solder and reworking Williams’s contract if he performs in 2020.

New York Giants: The Leonard Williams debate comes down to one factor

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

The conundrum that New York Giants’ pass rusher Leonard Williams has created among the fans is toxic. When general manager Dave Gettleman traded a third and fifth-round pick for Williams from the New York Jets, most were perplexed at the decision.

Ultimately, Williams brought experience and pass rush efficiency to Big Blue. Before he entered the fold, the Giants were relying on rookie Dexter Lawrence, second-year interior defender BJ Hill, and veteran Dalvin Tomlinson.

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The New York Giants are a better team with Leonard Williams on the field

Leonard immediately made an impact, helping his teammates produce more and draw double teams frequently. Over eight games with the Giants, he posted 0.5 sacks, 26 combined tackles, two tackles for loss, and 11 quarterback hits. His 3.7% missed tackle rate was solid and he showed the ability to collapse the pocket and force early throws.

The value Williams brings is clear, but his inability to reach the quarterback and take him to the ground has been the focal point regarding the justification of Gettleman’s trade. However, the Giants hit Williams with the franchise tag this off-season, which will pay him $16.1 million in 2020.

The entire debate holds minimal value until we see what type of player Williams is next season. If he can produce elevated numbers and get after the quarterback well, the trade will have been justified. If he fails to leave his mark, Gettleman could lose his job because of it.

The one-year deal the Giants offered Leonard is a good move. It allows them to move on if he doesn’t perform in 2020. Having no long-term implications is a great thing, aside from the fact they will have lost a third and fifth-round pick from the 2020 NFL draft.

Those picks could have resulted in a starting center or new pass rusher to add to the rotation. That was the opportunity cost of bringing in Williams, who currently serves as one of the better players on defense.

The bottom line, the 2020 season will give us all the answers we need to judge Gettleman’s acquisition of Williams. However, it is too early to make any final decisions on the matter.

New York Giants: Is Leonard Williams Worth His Reported Asking Price?

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

The New York Giants placed their franchise tag on newly acquired defensive lineman Leonard Williams this offseason. That franchise tag will pay Williams $16.1 million for the 2020 NFL season. Williams was acquired in a midseason trade that cost the Giants a 2020 third-round pick and a 2021 fifth-round pick. General Manager Dave Gettleman prioritizes the defensive line and felt this to be a worthy trade, despite the negative reaction amongst fans.

One of the main criticisms of the Leonard Williams trade was Leonard’s impending contract status. Williams was set to be a free agent in the 2020 offseason. With his contract expiring, many fans did not understand why Gettleman felt the need to trade for him midseason when the Giants could have just bid on Williams in free agency instead.

Leonard Williams Contract Update

Critics of this trade are getting more justification with the latest news. According to a report by Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, Leonard Williams is asking for crazy money from the New York Giants. The report states that Williams is “seeking a deal worth $18-$20M per season.” The deadline for the Giants and Williams to agree to a long-term deal is July 15th and the two sides reportedly are “not close” to reaching an agreement.

Is Leonard Williams Worth His Asking Price?

If the Giants do pay Leonard Williams that salary, it will be a highly controversial decision. An $18-20 million dollar salary will make Williams one of the highest-paid interior defensive linemen in the NFL. Currently, Aaron Donald is the highest-paid IDL with an average salary of $22.5 million. A salary of $18-20 million would make Leonard Williams the third-highest-paid interior defensive lineman in the league. At that price point, Williams would be paid more than the likes of J.J. Watt, Fletcher Cox, Grady Jarrett, Geno Atkins, and many other highly-talented defensive linemen on their second contracts.

Leonard Williams is not the only interior defensive lineman looking to secure a big bag right now. Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones is also seeking a contract worth $20 million annually. Jones’s contract dispute with Kansas City could lead to a trade. The difference between Chris Jones and Leonard Williams, though, is that Chris Jones is a much better player.

Chris Jones is a legitimate pass-rushing threat from the interior. In 2018, Jones totaled 15.5 sacks and 49 pressures. He followed that up with a 9 sack, 27 pressure performance in 2019. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones ranks third among interior defenders in pass-rushing grade over the past four seasons. He also has recorded 212 pressures in that time span, fourth-most (PFF). Production like that is worth a premium price. Compare that to Leonard Williams’s 17.5 career sacks, and it is hard to justify paying these two players the same salary.

Leonard Williams is a talented defensive lineman and does have value as one of the ten best players at his position. However, he is not a top-three player at his position and it would not make much sense for the Giants to pay him like he is.

Leonard Williams Stats and Highlights

The Giants do have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. Leonard Williams is arguably the best player on the team’s defense. He has been a great run-defender throughout his entire career but he has not been a consistently good pass-rusher. However, PFF has discussed why Williams might be underrated as a pass-rusher:

“Among 87 interior defenders with 200 or more pass-rushing snaps, Williams ranked 13th in pressure rate at 11.3% but his one sack in 424 pass-rushing snaps put him near the bottom of the list in sack rate. On the other hand, Williams led the position with 19 quarterback hits. A few fractions of a second faster on several of those plays and that sack total looks a whole lot more respectable.” Pro Football Focus on Leonard Williams’s pass-rushing ability.

Williams does get consistent quarterback pressure. He recorded 17 pressures in 8 games with the New York Giants in 2019. But is this reason enough to justify a $20 million dollar contract? The Giants have other players that they will soon need to consider paying large contracts to, such as Saquon Barkley, Jabrill Peppers, Daniel Jones, and Evan Engram. It might be wise for the Giants to save their money for those players, rather than pay Leonard Williams like he is one of the best players in the NFL when he simply is not.