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.

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: Golden Tate OUT For Season Opener

New York Giants, Golden Tate

The New York Giants kick off their season at 7:20 p.m. tonight. Wide receiver Golden Tate has been questionable to play in the season opener all week. Now, Golden Tate has officially been ruled out of tonight’s game with a hamstring injury, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.

Second-year quarterback Daniel Jones will be without one of his top wide receivers again to start the season. In 2019, Jones never played a single game with all of his playmakers. Daniel Jones never hit the field with Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, Saquon Barkley, Darius Slayton, and Golden Tate all healthy last season. The Giants’ skill positions looked different week-to-week last year, and the discontinuity is continuing to begin the 2020 season.

Who’s Next?

Filling in for Golden Tate will likely be Damion Ratley. The Giants claimed Ratley off of the waivers last week. He was listed as the second-string wide receiver behind Golden Tate on the Giants’ first depth chart. Ratley spent the last two seasons with the Cleveland Browns, totaling 25 catches for 344 yards and 1 touchdown.

The New York Giants are facing one of the toughest defenses in the NFL tonight. Being without Golden Tate will be a serious blow to the Giants’ offense. Tate was one of Daniel Jones’s favorite targets last year as he totaled 676 yards and 6 touchdowns in 11 games. There was a strong chance that Tate played tonight, so he should be ready to roll in Week Two despite tonight’s disappointing game-time decision.

New York Giants: Turnover-Free Football The Key To Beating The Steelers In Week One

New York Giants, Daniel Jones, Lorenzo Carter

The 2020 NFL season kicked off today after a long, tumultuous offseason. Almost every team played on Sunday, but four teams remain unplayed heading into Monday night. The Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans will face off on Monday, as well as the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Giants are the underdogs in their Week One matchup. They are hosting the rugged Steelers defense at home while installing brand new offensive schemes. For New York, the key to winning their first game of the 2020 season is to play turnover-free football.

Jones Can Not Fumble

The Pittsburgh Steelers possess one of the best defenses in the NFL. In 2019, Pittsburgh led the NFL with 38 forced turnovers. The Steelers intercepted 20 passes (second-most) while holding opposing quarterbacks to only 3,113 passing yards (third-best).

The Giants will have a tough time airing out the football in Week One. The Steelers’ secondary is loaded with playmakers, but they also have the best pass-rush in the NFL. Pittsburgh sacked opposing quarterbacks a league-high 54 times last season. Their 30.5% pressure rate also led the NFL.

Pittsburgh’s incredible pass-rush is led by First-Team All-Pro TJ Watt. JJ Watt’s younger brother was dominant in his third professional season. Last year, TJ put together an insane 14.5 sack performance along with 8 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions. Watt is a versatile talent that forces turnovers with ease and impacts both the run and pass games.

There are other pass-rushers on the Steelers’ defense who pose a serious threat to New York’s new offensive line. Opposite of TJ Watt is Bud Dupree, an edge rusher who totaled 11.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles last season. Those are two talented edge rushers on the Steelers’ defense, but there is also a pretty dominant rusher on Pittsburgh’s interior. Cameron Heyward was also a First-Team All-pro, as he totaled 9 sacks and 1 forced fumble in 2019.

Daniel Jones struggled to hold onto the football last season. As a rookie, Jones fumbled 17 times in 13 starts. This is something that Danny Dimes needs to improve on to take that step forward as a franchise quarterback in 2020. With such fierce pass-rushers who force so many fumbles all over the Steelers’ defense, it is crucial that Daniel Jones keeps the ball off the turf.

Smart Decisions Necessary

Daniel Jones struggled with fumbles last year, but he kept his interception number down for the most part. But as great as the Steelers’ pass-rush is, their secondary is phenomenal, too. That unit is led by third-year superstar Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick is another Steelers player coming off of a 2019 First-Team All-Pro campaign. Minkah intercepted 5 passes last season and forced 2 fumbles. Fitzpatrick also scored 2 defensive touchdowns. He is a turnover machine that must be avoided by Daniel Jones and the Giants’ offense.

The Steelers’ secondary also features veteran Joe Haden and Steven Nelson. The Steelers are bound to force turnovers all season long, but if the Giants can play turnover-free football in Week One, they can keep themselves in this game.

New York Giants: Feeding Saquon The Key To Success In Week One

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants are about to face off against arguably the best defense in the NFL on Monday night. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense led the league in forced turnovers last season. The Steelers’ defensive unit features three 2019 First-Team All-Pros and other Pro Bowlers littered throughout.

The Steelers have the best pass-rushing duo in the NFL in TJ Watt and Bud Dupree. The two combined for a total of 26 sacks in 2019 and 12 forced fumbles. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick also totaled 5 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles playing alongside Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden. Throwing against this secondary and pass-rush will be a true test for Daniel Jones entering his second NFL season.

For this reason, the Giants need to rely on their best player more than usual in Week One. Saquon Barkley, arguably the most talented running back in the NFL, is the key to success for the Giants on Monday night.

Feed Saquon

Saquon Barkley had an up and down season in 2019. He spent much of the season either on the sideline, nursing an injury, or on the field playing through that injury. When healthy, Barkley was his dominant self, but the Giants’ offense still struggled to use him in an efficient manner.

Entering 2020, Saquon has a brand new offensive line and coaching staff to help him find success. In Week One, Saquon Barkley needs to be fed the ball abundantly in order for the Giants to win. This is not a defense that teams want to air the ball out on. They have playmakers in the secondary and relentless pass-rushers in the front seven. Daniel Jones should not shoulder the load for New York this week.

If there is a weakness on the Steelers’ defense, it is their run defense. While their run defense is not an actual weakness, it is their weakest link, and Saquon Barkley is the Giants’ strongest link. Pounding the rock with Saquon Barkley will tire down the Steelers’ defense and allow the Giants to control the game pacing and game clock.

While the Steelers’ defense allowed the third-fewest passing yards in the NFL last season, their run defense ranked 14th in the NFL, which is still above average, but not dominant like their pass defense. If the Giants want to take down this suffocating Steelers’ defense, they need to control the clock by pounding the rock with Saquon Barkley.

New York Giants Have A Tall Task In Slowing Down TJ Watt

The New York Giants will face off with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night to kick off their 2020 NFL season. Second-year quarterback Daniel Jones will lead the Giants’ young offense into battle against a fierce Pittsburgh defense that led the NFL in forced turnovers in 2019.

Daniel Jones struggled to keep the ball out of harm’s way in his rookie season. In 12 starts, Jones fumbled the ball 17 times. Jones and the Giants’ coaching staff have worked hard this offseason to improve on this flaw in Daniel’s game. But the Steelers have a certain sack-master on defense that is known to force quite a few fumbles. TJ Watt led the NFL in forced fumbles last season. The New York Giants have a tall task in slowing down TJ Watt on Monday night.

What Makes Watt So Dominant?

Daniel Jones is going to be under pressure in this Week One matchup. The Steelers had the best pass-rush in the NFL last season, leading the league with 54 total sacks and a 30.5% pressure rate. This is a brand new, young Giants offensive line that could struggle early on this season. Pittsburgh could exploit that and bring the heat in Week One.

The leader of that Steelers pass-rush was TJ Watt. TJ Watt is one of the best and most versatile edge rushers in the NFL, and he could cause serious problems for Daniel Jones and the Giants.

TJ Watt is entering his fourth NFL season and coming off of a 2019 campaign that saw him finish as a First-Team All-Pro. Watt recorded 14.5 sacks, 59 pressures, and 36 quarterback hits, and 8 forced fumbles in 2019. He was absolutely dominant as a pass-rusher and even against the run.

Watt typically lines up over the right tackle position, so it will be up to Cam Fleming to slow down the Steelers’ most talented defender. Fleming started three games for the Dallas Cowboys in 2019. This will be a tall task for him, as it will be for the rest of the Giants’ offense.

TJ Watt rushes with incredible burst and speed off of the edge. He often wins with the speed rush. The pass-rush move that Watt uses the most is the dip and rip. He uses a speed rush to get leverage on the outside shoulder of a right tackle, then dips down, and rips his right arm up to fight off the offensive tackle.

If the New York Giants want to win this game, they need to slow down TJ Watt. He is a game-wrecking, dominant force, and he could spoil the Giants’ season opener if they do not handle him properly.

New York Giants: Week One Will Be A Tough Test For Daniel Jones

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants will play their first regular-season game of the 2020 NFL season next Monday. The Giants will host the Pittsburgh Steelers in this highly-anticipated Week One matchup.

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is entering his second NFL season, coming off of an impressive rookie campaign. As impressive as Jones was as a rookie, he made plenty of mistakes. There were peaks and valleys for the Duke alum, his biggest flaw being his fumbling issue. Jones fumbled the ball 18 times in only 13 games (one game being one drive that ended in a fumble).

The Giants did everything they could do fix this problem this offseason. They hired an excellent quarterbacks coach in Jerry Schuplinski, a wise offensive coordinator in Jason Garrett, and totally revamped the offensive line. Additionally, Daniel Jones worked hard himself to improve his ball security, even adding nine pounds of muscle.

All eyes will be on Daniel Jones during the Giants’ primetime matchup with Pittsburgh. Daniel will go up against a tough Steelers defense that will challenge him and put him to the test to start his sophomore season.

A Challenging Steelers Defense

The Pittsburgh Steelers had the NFL’s sixth-ranked defense in 2019. They forced a league-high 38 turnovers last season. In order for the Giants to win this game, they need to keep the ball out of harm’s way.

There are a few playmakers on that Pittsburgh defense. T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick are the two biggest standouts. In 2019, T.J. Watt was a first-team All-Pro, as he had a career-year in his third professional season. Watt played in all 16 games, racking up a dominant 14.5 sacks and a league-high 8 forced fumbles.

Watt’s knack for poking the football loose is troubling news for Daniel Jones and the Giants’ offense. New York needs to slow down T.J. Watt if they want to start the season off with a win. The best fumble-forcing edge rusher in the NFL is going up against the most fumble-prone quarterback. This could be a recipe for disaster if Daniel Jones does not demonstrate the improved ball security that has been promised.

Minkah Fitzpatrick is the other turnover machine on the Steelers’ defense. In 2019, the Steelers acquired Fitzpatrick via trade with the Miami Dolphins. Minkah started 14 games for the Steelers and was an absolute ballhawk. Minkah forced 6 turnovers in 2019, including 5 interceptions and 1 forced fumble. He even scored 2 defensive touchdowns, one on a pick-six and the other off of a recovered fumble.

Interceptions were not a huge problem for Daniel Jones in his rookie season. Jones threw 12 interceptions, which is an average of one per game. Of course, Jones would like to lower that average further, but for a rookie, that was a respectable number.

Daniel Jones faced some tough defenses in 2019. He will face another one to kick off the 2020 season. It will be a tough test for the second-year gunslinger, but if he can protect the football, it will bode well for the team’s season.