New York Giants: Sterling Shepard key to offense’s success

New York Giants receiver, Sterling Shepard.

The New York Giants suffered a heart-breaking loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night. But the Giants’ offense had one of its best performances of the season in that game.

New York’s offense put together three touchdown drives, including one 15-play 75-yard scoring drive. That drive was capped off with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Shepard played his first game since Week Two as he has been recovering from a turf toe injury on injured reserve.

In his first game back from injury, Sterling Shepard was excellent and proved just how important he is to the Giants’ offense.

Sterling Shepard Week 7 Stats and Highlights

Sterling Shepard was the Giants’ leading receiver on Thursday night. He totaled 6 receptions for 59 yards and 1 touchdown on 8 targets.

The key to Shepard’s success is his route running. Sterling is by far the Giants’ best route runner. He is able to run elite routes to separate from defenders and get himself open against tight coverage. Shepard averaged an impressive 4.5 yards of separation according to Next Gen Stats.

Sterling Shepard’s consistent separation is crucial for the Giants’ offense. The rest of the team’s playmakers on offense often struggle to separate on their routes. Darius Slayton is only averaging 2.1 yards of separation and Golden Tate is averaging 2.7 yards.

The Giants’ offense severely missed having Sterling Shepard on the field. But now, with Shepard healthy and back in the starting lineup, the Giants’ passing attack should improve drastically. The Giants finally have a wide receiver who can get open consistently. Expect to see Sterling Shepard finish the 2020 NFL season strong for New York.

New York Giants: Daniel Jones is not the problem

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants, once again, suffered a heart-breaking loss last night. The Giants fought valiantly on the road against Philadelphia but came up short to fall to 1-6 on the season. Meanwhile, the Eagles rise to the top of the division as the Giants fall off to the bottom.

The Giants were leading by 11 points last night with under five minutes left to play. The team had a quick meltdown that saw them blow their lead and lose the game 22-21.

It is easy to point fingers and play the blame game after losses like this. Often times, the quarterback gets the bulk of the blame when NFL teams lose close games. But for the Giants, the quarterback is not to blame this week. Daniel Jones is not the problem with the Giants. In fact, after last night, he looks like the solution.

Expanding the Offense

Daniel Jones is providing the Giants’ offense with a versatility that they have never had out of the quarterback position. New York spent the better part of the last twenty years scheming an offense around an immobile quarterback that could only make plays while standing in a clean pocket.

While Daniel Jones does his best work from a clean pocket, he can make plays happen elsewhere. The young quarterback has sneakily elite athleticism. Jones put his athletic ability on full display last night, ripping off an 80-yard run that put the Giants in scoring position.

That was the longest run by a quarterback in New York Giants history. That run was also longer than any rushing attempt by Saquon Barkley since 2018. Jones’s ability to make plays with his legs is special and allows the Giants to expand their offense and open up the playbook. Jones’s running ability should be treated as a real threat from now on and there should be far more designed quarterback-runs called on gamedays.

Coming Up In The Clutch

When the New York Giants needed their quarterback to mak a play last night, Daniel Jones delivered. Unofortunately, the same cannot be said for Jones’s teammates, which is ultimately why the Giants lost this game.

This season, we have seen Daniel Jones make the same mistake on multiple occasions. We have seen him put together long, 14+ play drives to get his team down in the red zone before throwing a heart-breaking interception. This happened in Week One against Pittsburgh, in Week Four against the Rams, and even in the Week Six win against Washington.

In Week Seven, the Giants put together one of those long drives to get in the red zone. This time, Daniel delivered, connecting  with Sterling Shepard on a touchdown pass to finish off a 15-play, 75-yard drivee.

So Daniel Jones passed one test; he proved he can put together long scoring drives. Check. But Jones was faced with a much more difficult and important test later in this game.

In the fourth quarter with a one possession lead with just over two minutes left in the game, the Giants are driving. Their running game is on point but stalls out. The Giants’ offense finds itself in a third and six, must-convert situation. Daniel Jones has to step up and make a play. Daniel Jones delivers with a perfect pass to Evan Engram down the left sideline.

Dropped. Evan Engram dropped it and the Giants had to punt the football. Philadelphia responds with a scoring drive and the Giants fall to 1-6.

This play changed the narrative of the entire game. If Evan Engram catches this football, fans are not talking about the upcoming “fire sale” at the trade deadline. Instead, fans would be talking about how their young, second-year quarterback marched into the belly of the beast and took down the Giants’ biggest division rival with one clutch play after another to thrust the Giants to the top of the NFC East.

Thursday night’s game should have been Daniel Jones’s coming of age. Not the reminder of the Giants’ impending doom. But if fans extract Daniel Jones’s performance from this game and analyze just the way their quarterback played, they might feel a lot more confident in the direction the team is heading. Daniel Jones had a breakout performance last night that will be forgotten due to the ineptitude of the rest of the New York Giants’ roster. The quarterback position is the lone bright spot, despite the contradictory narrative. Daniel Jones is not the problem. In fact, he just might be the solution.

The New York Giants need to be sellers at the trade deadline and nothing else

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

The Nov. 3 NFL trade deadline is quickly approaching, and the New York Giants find themselves in an interesting dilemma.

They aren’t a playoff-caliber team, not by a long shot, and yet they are still firmly in the race for the NFC East division title despite sitting at 1-5 on the season. Coming off a close win against the Washington Football Team last week, if the Giants win their second divisional game in a row Thursday night against the Eagles, they would be tied for first place in the division.

Getting a win on Thursday, however, could be potentially dangerous for the Giants. Not to say winning is bad, but the Giants being right in the thick of the NFC East race might prompt general manager Dave Gettleman to try and make a move to acquire a player at the trade deadline in an effort to win the division. That is the opposite of what the Giants should be doing, as they are a rebuilding team who needs to acquire more draft capital by giving away players, not the other way around.

Gettleman is widely expected to be let go after the season, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, and this could force him to go into desperation mode at the deadline. But, the reality is this team is nowhere near in position to be giving up more draft picks and future assets because they aren’t a win-now team, no matter where they are in the divisional standings.

The Giants only have five picks in the 2021 NFL Draft as is, after giving up a 5th in the Leonard Williams trade last year and a 7th for cornerback Isaac Yiadom right before the season started. The last thing they can afford is having even less draft picks to work with for this draft and potentially beyond, especially if there’s going to be a new general manager calling the shots.

There have been some players around the league rumored to be potential trade targets who could help the Giants, such as Cincinnati Bengals speedy wide receiver John Ross. The former first-round pick could provide a much-needed boost for the Giants lackluster passing game and give Jason Garrett an intriguing down-field threat to work with.

But, no matter who may be available via trade, the Giants need to resist the temptation and look at the big picture. Making a move at the deadline that would possibly help the team in the short-term would handicap them in the long-term, and that’s what this team should be focusing on. Is it really worth it for the Giants bring in a player who gets them to maybe 6-7 wins at best and buys them a first-round exit in the playoffs? Not only that but by winning the division, the Giants would have a late first-round pick and miss out on a lot of the top draft prospects, which would be a nightmare scenario.

The Giants need to be looking at players on their roster who they can potentially move for any semblance of value. Some possible options include wide receivers Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard, and outside linebacker Markus Golden. If they can draft picks for any one of those players, they need to pull the trigger and stock up for the future.

With Gettleman seemingly on his way out, Joe Judge and the Giants need to stop Gettleman from giving in and making another Leonard Williams-type trade in a last-ditch effort to try and save his job. This team needs to be focusing on building for the future, getting any value they can for expendable players who aren’t part of the long-term plan, and developing the young players they have on the roster currently.

Therefore, the Giants need to be sellers this trade deadline rather than buyers because the only thing they would be buying themselves is another ticket on the same carousel they’ve been riding since 2011.

New York Giants: Sterling Shepard practices, could play Thursday night

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

Few would say that the New York Giants are a primetime team based on their performance this season, but that’s the case as they have a Thursday Night Football game coming up with the Eagles. The team has suffered from a number of injuries this season that may hurt their performance in that game. However, one injured player, Sterling Shepard, may make his return.

We’ll probably know the answer sooner rather than later as the Giants have a short week to prepare for this one given the Thursday night date. What we do know for now is that Shepard practiced on Tuesday and hasn’t been eliminated from making a return against the Eagles.

What this return means for the Giants

Shepard has only appeared in two games this season. The first was the season opener where he played the entire game and caught all six of the passes targeted at him. However, his total statistics could have been better as he finished the game with a relatively low 47 yards. The second game Shepard appeared in is the one where he was injured. He registered 2 catches for 29 yards up until that point, and hasn’t played since.

The return of Shepard would be useful to quarterback Daniel Jones, who threw for one touchdown and one interception against Washington and has been under the magnifying glass of the fans and the media this season. With the team suffering from a slow start and with Dave Gettleman on the hot seat, it’s also believed that Jones might not have 100% job security as one of Gettleman’s most known draft picks.

But with Shepard, Jones will have another one of his main weapons and we’ll once again get to see the combination of Shepard and Darius Slayton playing at the same time. With healthy tight end Evan Engram thrown into the mix, the Giants appear to have a dangerous receiving game ready to face the Eagles.

New York Giants could receive an offensive boost on Thursday against Eagles

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

The New York Giants have been surviving without wide receiver Sterling Shepard the past few weeks, as he suffered a turf toe injury against the Chicago Bears in week 2. Some believed he could return against the Washington Football Team in week 6, but he was ultimately ruled out with the lingering injury.

The Giants have struggled in his absence, averaging a putrid 187.5 yards passing per game. That ranks 30th in the NFL, above just the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens. Their inability to throw downfield and keep the offense on the field has affected their points per game as well, as they rank 31st in the league with 16.8.

Thankfully for Big Blue, Shepard could return in week seven against the Philadelphia Eagles, and with the NFC East wide open for the taking, gaining back any significant talent is a big deal.

“I think we’re a little bit closer than we were last week. Obviously, he didn’t make it to the game,” Joe Judge stated on Monday. “He worked with the trainers today. I’m going a lot right now off the information they’ve given me from today’s workout. We were in staff meetings when he was out there on the field doing some of his rehab stuff.

The New York Giants need to do what’s best for the offense:

Staying cautious with Shepard is probably the best course of action, as re-injuring the toe could force him out for another few weeks. However, this would be a good time to test his recovery, as they have a bye week coming up in two weeks and could use that in conjunction to ensure his availability afterward. Especially since they will face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 8, which represents a far stronger team than the Eagles or any of the divisional opponents.

“Being a walkthrough week for us, we’ll have to go really based on what the trainers tell us. We’ll have to go ahead and look at him. We’ll see. This could go up to a pregame workout. We’re not sure. We’ll see where he’s at throughout the week.”

In 2019, Shep accounted for 576 yards and three touchdowns in just 10 games, playing in only 56% of offensive snaps. He dealt with concussions last year, which forced him out for six contests and severely limited his production. Sterling has been unable to string together some momentum and positive progress, and returning from this injury and gathering some momentum could go a long way in his development with Daniel Jones. In addition, he has very minimal reps in the new scheme, and every snap counts toward his influence on offense.

New York Giants: Sterling Shepard injury update, could miss more time

New York Giants, Austin Mack, Sterling Shepard

The New York Giants have struggled to get their passing game going through five weeks, and a big part of that is due to the absence of Sterling Shepard. As their top slot option and security blanket for Daniel Jones, losing him has been catastrophic.

However, even though two weeks when Shepard was present, he didn’t make a significant impact. He only tallied 76 yards and eight receptions against Pittsburgh and Chicago before suffering a turf toe injury that has kept him out since.

The Giants inevitably put him on injured reserve, and he is likely to miss the week six contest against the Washington Football Team as the injury lingers.

The Giants have looked Darius Slayton‘s way more than not in recent weeks due to Sterling’s absence, as veteran pass-catcher Golden Tate hasn’t managed to get anything going.

Management elected to elevate Austin Mack from the practice squad and waive Damion Ratley after a costly offensive passing interference call against Dallas in week five.

Mack, who has given defensive backs trouble all season long and during training camp, will finally get his chance to suit up and prove his worth in an NFL game.

As for Shepard, turf toe can be a multiple week injury, as it has been. I don’t expect him to play until week seven against the Philadelphia Eagles, which will be an essential division game, especially if they overcome Washington in week six.

What does Sterling Shepard bring to the New York Giants’ offense?

Even though Shepard didn’t make a significant impact in the receiving game through two weeks, his run blocking is one of the best in the NFL. His ability to seal the outside matches perfectly with Jason Garrett outside zone blocking scheme.

However, consistency and continuity in the new offense are essential for players like Shep, who couldn’t develop a rhythm. Remaining healthy is essential for the 27-year-old receiver, and he has been unfortunately injury prone the past few seasons, notably with concussions.

New York Giants: Sterling Shepard to return to practice this week

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

The New York Giants started the season with an 0-5 record but they’ll soon have a key player back to rejoin the hunt for a first win. That player is wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who went down with a turf toe injury during the team’s loss to the Chicago Bears. It was a stroke of bad luck in a game that had plenty of that for the Giants, as they also lost Saquon Barkley for the season in the very same game.

However, the forecast for Shepard fortunately shows a faster turnaround than Barkley will have. After the missed time, he’s set to get back to practice this week according to a report from Jordan Raanan.

It doesn’t, however, look like Shepard will make his return on Sunday against Washington. The team seems more likely to take a conservative approach with the injury and not rush Shepard back into action.

The impact of Sterling Shepard’s return

When Shepard does return, it will mean another weapon is available for Daniel Jones. Jones could use the help, as although his chemistry with Darius Slayton aided the Giants against the Cowboys, he only has two passing touchdowns overall. To make matters worse for the second year QB, he already has five interceptions and had a key fumble against Dallas.

The Giants are committed to Daniel Jones as their quarterback, but they were also committed to Eli Manning only weeks before Jones replaced him. Jones doesn’t have limitless job security, and so having a full arsenal of weapons in the receiving game will be important for him in his fight to deter the Giants from drafting Trevor Lawrence if they get the chance.

Shepard had 6 receptions for 47 yards in the season opener against the Steelers. Not the greatest numbers, but right now, the Giants need all the help they can get when it comes to offense. Especially when the performance of the passing game this season has a big role to play in the quarterback debates of the future.

New York Giants place WR Sterling Shepard on IR, what now?

New York Giants receiver, Sterling Shepard.

The injury bug just keeps getting worse for the New York Giants, as they lost both Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard last Sunday against the Chicago Bears.

Barkley’s injury is much more severe, having torn his ACL and partially his meniscus. Unfortunately, he will require surgery and miss the entire 2020 season. As for Sterling Shepard, the Giants placed him on injured reserve Wednesday morning, which means he cannot return for a minimum of three games.

After getting his foot stuck underneath of him on a tackle attempt against the Bears, Shep came up gimpy and ultimately was unable to return. He was diagnosed with turf toe, which can be a multiple week injury. Essentially, turf toe is the sprain of the main joints in the big toe. It normally occurs when the toe is forcibly bent up into hyperextension, or in Shepard‘s case, when he got his toes stuck on the flat ground. Evidently, it doesn’t have much to do with playing in turf.

Sterling’s injury thins out the wide receiver corps, which will now be led by Darius Slayton and Golden Tate. I anticipate CJ Board and Damian Ratley will receive more reps, but it will limit Daniel Jones’s weaponry on an everyday basis. I wouldn’t be surprised if Big Blue went out and re-signed either Corey Coleman or Alex Bachman, two players who have a better understanding of the playbook and can contribute if need be.

Luckily, the Giants face off against a severely injured San Francisco 49ers team next week, which is a very winnable game. Hopefully, Shep can return in due time, but his injury concerns only increase, as he missed multiple contests with concussion symptoms last year.

New York Giants: Recapping Today’s Practice 8/25

New York Giants, Austin Mack, Sterling Shepard

The New York Giants had another late practice session tonight, wrapping up well after seven p.m. Practice was halted for a while too, as lightning was striking in the surrounding area. Because of this, media coverage was limited, but they were able to drop some tidbits on today’s practice session.

Injury update

Darius Slayton returned to practice today. Jabrill Peppers and Shane Lemieux also participated after leaving practice early on Thursday.

Ryan Connelly, Nate Ebner, Spencer Pulley, and Eli Penny did not participate in practice today. They all worked on the side with the training staff (via Art Stapleton).

Highlights

There was finally a fight at Giants practice today. Lorenzo Carter and Evan Engram got into a scrum. Engram’s helmet was thrown off his head. Head coach Joe Judge determined that Carter was in the wrong, so he sent him for a lap.

Later on, Sterling Shepard scored a nice touchdown reception with James Bradberry in coverage. Shepard celebrated to get back at the defense, jumping into the arms of Nick Gates. Later on, Shepard dropped a potential touchdown pass in a two-minute drill, and the defense got after him for that.

Giants’ practice is intensifying as we inch closer to the regular season. With no preseason due COVID-19, Joe Judge is making sure to work his players hard to prepare for the season. Judge even said today that the team is considering having Daniel Jones take off his no-hitting red jersey to get him acclimated to the hits of football (via Matt Lombardo).

The Giants wrapped up another intense practice today, as Joe Judge continues to set the tone for his new team. With less than three weeks left until the Giants’ first regular-season game, do not expect to see the Giants take their foot off the pedal anytime soon.

New York Giants: Sterling Shepard A Top Name In Training Camp

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

Last season was rough for New York Giants receiver Sterling Shepard. It was the first year that Shepard was playing on a big new deal. He was supposed to be the main player to step in for Odell Beckham Jr., who the team traded before Shepard’s new contract. And he was supposed to be the main weapon for Eli Manning and then, after the change happened at the position, Daniel Jones.

In reality, Shepard had a much tougher time. He missed a lot of the year with concussions. The first one didn’t raise too many eyebrows. Concussions happen in a rough sport like football, after all. But when Shepard picked up another concussion soon after his return, there was more concern from the fans.

There was even talk about whether or not Shepard should retire. But maybe it’s time to dismiss all that talk. Based on the reports coming out of Giants training camp, Shepard is one of the top players the offense has right now.

Sterling Shepard a hard cover during training camp

The Giants were back in pads at training camp on Monday and Shepard was one of the standout performers. In fact, he earned the title of toughest cover from the team website’s report on the day’s activities during camp.

Sterling Shepard continues to be the toughest cover amongst the wide receivers at camp. He seems to be even shiftier than we’ve seen him in prior seasons. Even in small spaces, he is creating a lot of separation. In a non-contact tackling simulation drill, he put a move on a defensive back and went past him completely untouched.

This comes during a time when the status of Darius Slayton, the team leader in receiving yards and touchdowns from last season, is unknown. Slayton didn’t practice on Monday. Head coach Joe Judge aid that the trainers are dealing with the player but didn’t give much more than that.

If there’s going to be injury problems with Slayton going into the start of the season, which is under a month away, a healthy Shepard would be a big help to the Giants in filling the missed production.

Shepard has never had a 1,000 yard season. He had a career low in yards during the last season, but that’s understandable given the amount of time he missed. The year prior to his concussions, he had a more admirable 872 yards.

Based on his performance in camp, maybe it’s not too much of a stretch to predict Shepard having his first 1,000 yard year in 2020 while bouncing back from the lows of last year?