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Midseason Grades for the New York Giants

The New York Giants are about ready to come out of their bye week with an important matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After nine games, the Giants sit with a 3-6 record with 8 games left to make a push for the playoffs. They currently are one game back despite their best efforts not to be in the playoffs race. Before I look ahead, I want to take a look at all the good and bad with the Giants. I will grade each unit performance thus far on offense and defense, let's get to it!

Offense - C-

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I struggled to give this unit a grade in the C range, given everything we have seen so far. But the numbers don’t lie, or as Rasheed Wallace would lament, “ball don’t lie!” The Giants are 21st in total yards per game, 15th in passing yards per game, 25th in rushing yards per game and 24th in points per game. The Giants are at best a middle of the pack offense that struggles to get 20 points per game. This is a terrible combination for an offense trying to chase the Cowboys in their own division. But compared to last year where they were at the bottom of most categories, this is an improvement.

Daniel Jones has had an up and down first half to his 3rd season as the Giants quarterback. He has been steady but not otherworldly yet. It’s a critical year for Jones as we need to decide if he’s the future of this team. Jones has passed for 2,059 yards with a 65% completion percentage so far, but the production isn;t there with 8 TDs and 5 INTs. He’s doing a better job of protecting the ball with fumbles, and outside of the Rams game he’s limiting the picks. The offense has been limited with all the injuries and Jones has somewhat weathered the storm of limited weapons. But when the injuries on the line began popping up, Jones got exposed.

The offense line has improved from last year, but are still below average in terms of both pass protection and run blocking. Andrew Thomas has been one of the bright spots on the line with his play. He’s really improved in year 2 and his grade is among one of the better tackles in the league. Will Hernandez has been steady as he moved to left guard, but Matt Peart and Nate Solder have struggled.

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The skill positions have struggled as this group has been riddled with injuries. Another frustrating injury for RB Saquon Barkley in his critical 4th season. While I would bring him back, you don’t have to give him the big contract yet. Devontae Booker has found a groove in the last 2 games as he’s had over 100 total yards. Elijhaa Penny has been effective in the passing and running game. Barkley should return from the ankle injury and COVID list to boost this unit.

The WR signing of Kenny Golladay has not hit yet as he’s been injured and when in the lineup has been schemed out of the game plan (see coaching below). WR Sterling Shepard got off to a hot start but injuries stopped that. Say the same for rookie Kadarius Toney, who flashes the skills and speed to be a threat in this league, but injuries have plagued him also. The weapons that are in the lineup are just ineffective and not able to give the Giants the threats they need. When adding in the backs and tight ends into the equation, the Giants are near the bottom in the NFL with 14 drops.

Defense - B

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The season got off to a shaky start for the Patrick Graham lead defensive unit and it got worse quickly. The defense was giving up just under 24 points per game for the first 4 games of the season. Then the Cowboys and Rams beat the defense up for 44 points and 38 points respectively. But the defense has rallied to play some respectable defense, yielding 13 points over the last 3 games against the Panthers, Chiefs and Raiders.

It took a time for the G-Men to find consistency and a lineup that worked. The injury to defensive captain Blake Martinez really set them back for a month plus. However, they have played better each game as the defensive line and secondary have anchored the unit.. They’ve played a bend but don’t break style that has kept them in games and use red zone defense / opportunistic plays to keep them in games. The Giants are still struggling against the run and can be a problem going forward. The tackling at the 2nd level is a big issue without Martinez, so the Giants need to scheme to cover that with Tae Crowder.

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The tune around started on the defensive line as DT Leonard Williams stepped up huge for this unit. His play has helped to stabilize the line against the run. Their pass rush has been MIA for two years but has come to life behind waiver pickup Quincy Roche and rookie Azeez Ojulari. They have made plays on the edges and have earned the right to start for the rest of the year.

Early in the season there were too many breakdowns in the secondary. James Bradberry was a Pro-Bowl CB a year ago and was struggling in coverage early in the season. To the naked eye, you would say it was Bradberry, but knowing the game showed he was being exposed by blown assignments in the backend. The Giants have seemingly cleaned up the secondary lapses, as CB Adoree Jackson and S Logan Ryan have really stepped up for the Giants.

Coaching - C-

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I struggled to come to a common ground on an overall grade for the coaching staff. Jason Garrett and Patrick Graham have both struggled this year at times. But they also have made strides given the circumstances.

Graham has the higher grade in my opinion. He has simplified the overall defensive scheme, and the defensive unit has seen a significant turnaround. The secondary was left exposed way too much, but you can see the improvement over the last month. The injuries to Martinez and S Jabrill Peppers has forced a shift in scheme for the better.

Garrett has had to adapt to the injuries on the offensive side, but he’s sticking with a gameplan that isn’t working. The play-calling for the Giants has not put the team in a position to succeed, especially in the red zone. Garrett hasn’t been able to get Barkley going, and that’s on him not running to the offensive line’s strengths of zone /misdirection blocking. He hasn’t gotten Golladay involved at all and it took him 3 games to realize that Toney needed to get the ball.

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The tie breaker was Joe Judge, who has had a questionable 2nd year in my opinion. Judge’s worst clock management and timeout use is literally high school level bad. For someone that preaches discipline, I haven't seen much of it so far this season (penalties, mental mistakes, etc.). However, after the Giants started this season 1-5 it’s easy for the locker room to quit on Judge. He rallied the team, full of injuries and excuses to pack it in, to get to 3-6 and in position to make a late push. The Giants coaching staff has been a mix of good and bad, but his team desperately needs consistency and to start getting putting this team in position to win.

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