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Lex: Giants (6-2) Mid-Season Report; What’s Next For Big Blue?

The New York Giants have begun the season 6-2, the franchise’s best start since 2012. Not many across the NFL landscape predicted Big Blue to have this early-season success. Now heading into the bye week, many are now jumping aboard the Brian Daboll-Giants bandwagon.

“Maybe we should just accept that smart coaches—Brian Daboll, of course, and underrated Mike Kafka and Wink Martindale—can put players in position to win late in games,” King wrote. “They’ve done it for much of the season so far.” Peter King – ‘Football Morning in America’

What’s The Game Plan For Big Blue Moving Forward?

The Giants have six wins, which is the same number of combined points they have outscored their opponents by this season. The G-Men were the first team in NFL history to start 6-1 or better and have each of their first seven games decided by one possession, but they couldn’t conjure that late-game magic in Seattle. A week after running for 130 yards and eight first downs in the fourth quarter in Jacksonville, they couldn’t take their opponent out to deep water and leave them there.

“I’d say most games come down in this league to one-score games – a lot of them, a high percentage of them,” coach Brian Daboll said. “So, usually the teams you’re playing are good. It’s a back-and-forth game. A lot of games are won that way. Obviously, you’re always looking to improve; those chunk plays help you in moving the ball and scoring points. We’ll continue to look at that and figure out ways to try to improve that area. However, most of these, it’s not like you’re used to coaching in some colleges, and it’s over in the first quarter.” Brian Daboll – New York Giants
“Recipe or not, it’s working,” general manager Joe Schoen said. “I think, again, there’s nine games left. There’s things we know we can improve on. You can’t coach effort. You can’t coach toughness, and our guys have been tough. They’ve been competitive. They’ve been resilient. They’re playing their butts off. They’re preparing right. Some weeks, there’s just going to be negative matchups. No matter where I’ve been, there’s some games you play, you’re like, ‘That’s their good against our not so good.’ And it’s going to happen. Or some weeks, you just don’t have it. It’s the NFL; there’s a lot of parity in the league. And we’ve been able not to beat ourselves. We turned it over a couple of times in Seattle, but there’s 11 minutes left in the game, it’s 13-13. That’s where we’ve been a lot this season. We’ve made more plays than the other team. So again, I’m really proud of where the guys are and the way they’re playing and the way they’re approaching their craft. Again, whether it’s sustainable or not, I think we’ve got some good players here. I’m looking forward to the final nine games.” Joe Schoen – New York Giants

What Are The Chances The Giants Win The Division?

New York has played just one NFC East opponent in the first half, a 23-16 loss to the Cowboys on Monday Night Football at MetLife Stadium. They come out of the break with back-to-back home games against the Lions and Texans, who are combined 2-11-1, but then comes a stretch of crucial divisional games. They play at Dallas on Thanksgiving Day, home vs. Washington and Philadelphia, and then at Washington, all in consecutive weeks.

The Eagles, whom the Giants play on the road in the regular-season finale, sit atop the league as the only remaining unbeaten team heading into Week nine. The Cowboys, meanwhile, are tied with the Giants at (6-2), and the Commanders have climbed back to .500 with three consecutive wins. The surest way to the postseason is by winning your divisional games, which the Giants have not done consistently since their last berth. They are 9-22 against the NFC East since the start of the 2017 season.

Where Are The 2022 Rookies At in Their Development?

The challenge for every front office is finding the right balance between the present and the future, especially in the first season of a new era. Under first-year general manager Joe Schoen, the Giants held two picks in the Top Ten for the first time in franchise history, using them on outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux and right tackle Evan Neal. Big Blue’s trajectory will be closely tied to how those two players develop this season and beyond.

Evan Neal started every game in the first seven weeks before a knee injury suffered in Week seven led to him missing Sunday’s game in Seattle. Other than briefly departing the Week four matchup against the Bears, Neal hadn’t missed a single offensive snap and was beginning to show signs of improvement prior to last week’s injury. With Bredeson also getting hurt last week, third-round pick Ezeudu filled in as right guard against the Jaguars and started this past Sunday.

Second-round pick Wan’Dale Robinson missed four games due to a knee injury but has returned to play in the last three contests. Fourth-round tight end Daniel Bellinger had also been playing well before an eye injury suffered against Jacksonville forced him to miss the final game before the bye. Despite missing Week eight, Bellinger is still tied for third on the team with 16 receptions and has gained 152 yards. He is the only player on the team with two receiving touchdowns and even added a touchdown on the ground.

On defense, linebacker Darrian Beavers tore his ACL during the preseason, sidelining him for the year. Defensive Lineman D.J. Davidson also suffered a season-ending injury a couple of weeks ago, while cornerback Cor’Dale Flott has been out since going down with a calf injury in Week three. Number five overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux has seen a lot of playing time since returning from his knee injury suffered during the preseason. The outside linebacker has played at least 74 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in each of the last five games.

On the season, Thibodeaux has one sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, three passes defended, three quarterback hits, and 14 total tackles (ten solos). Fourth-round pick Dane Belton has made his presence felt with two fumble recoveries in seven games (two starts) to go with 19 total tackles (15 solos). Meanwhile, fifth-round pick Micah McFadden just picked up his first career sack against the Jaguars and has started one game this year. Then there’s undrafted outside linebacker Tomon Fox, who led the team with two tackles for loss and six run stops in Week eight. He picked up his first NFL sack earlier in the year.

“I think we’ll play the guys that we think earned it and then for that particular week gives us a chance that we think is best for our team,” Daboll said. “That’s what we’ve always done, and that’s what we’ll always do.” Brian Daboll – New York Giants

Giants Gridiron Affiliate Reebok

Starting Fast or More Late Game Heroics Moving Forward?

Heading into week eight, the Giants had accomplished something no team had done in NFL history. The Giants began the season 6-1, with all seven of their games decided by one possession. Their biggest win was an eight-point victory over the Bears, while their largest defeat was a seven-point loss against the Cowboys. Of course, that changed this past Sunday as the Giants fell to the Seahawks, 27-13. The Giants enter the bye with a plus-six differential on the season.

Despite Sunday’s two-possession loss, the Giants are still the leaders in the clubhouse when it comes to comebacks. Five of the team’s six wins were come-from-behind wins, as Daniel Jones leads the NFL with five game-winning drives, two more than any other quarterback. The Giants entered Week eight with the league’s second-best scoring differential in the fourth quarter at plus-36.

“Our guys are confident,” coach Daboll said after Sunday’s loss. “We just didn’t do enough today all the way around. Again, give Seattle credit. It’s hard, the ball is important. We have to do a better job of taking care of it and executing and finishing drives, converting on some third downs, particularly early on in the game. A lot to work on.” Brian Daboll – New York Giants
“We are confident in our ability to do that,” Jones said about the team being able to come from behind. “We had not done — we had not played a great game up to that point but confident in our ability to close out games. Just didn’t do enough down the stretch. Didn’t make enough plays. Things we have to look back on and clean it up.” Daniel Jones – New York Giants

Recovery From Injuries

The bye week comes at an ideal time for the Giants. The team is coming off three games on the road in the last four weeks, including the two longest trips of the season to London and Seattle. Daboll told the media on Monday that the players will get the rest of the week off starting on Tuesday, which should give the roster some much-needed rest and relaxation. But it should also allow some time for the team to get healthier as they enter the second half of the season.

The Giants activated two players off injured reserve last week, with offensive lineman Nick Gates and outside linebacker Elerson Smith playing in Week eight. Two other players on reserve returned to practice for tackling drills: Matt Peart and cornerback Rodarius Williams. Others who could return at some point in the second half of the season include Shane Lemieux, Azeez Ojulari, Aaron Robinson, Tony Jefferson, and Ben Bredeson.

The week off should also give time for a few injured players not on IR to get closer to returning to the field. Tight end Daniel Bellinger, CB Cor’Dale Flott, WR Kenny Golladay, T Evan Neal, and OLB Oshane Ximines; are all working their way back from their respective injuries. Coach Daboll would not commit as to anyone’s return coming out of the bye.

Contract Extensions Saquon and/or Daniel Jones?

Daniel Jones is one of 15 quarterbacks with at least 275 combined passes and rushing attempts this season. His four turnovers tie him with Geno Smith for the third-lowest total among those 15 players, behind Jalen Hurts with two and Brady with three.

D.J. is doing more than just avoiding turnovers this season. His five game-winning drives this season in the fourth quarter or overtime are the most in the league. Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins, and Matt Ryan are tied for second with three. Through eight games this season, Jones has thrown and completed fewer passes than at the same juncture in the first three seasons.

His completion percentage is the highest of his career, and his passer rating is virtually tied for his career best. Jones is also on pace to shatter his career standard in rushing yards. His 363 rushing yards are just 60 less than the Giants’ record for a quarterback in the Super Bowl era, set by Jones two years ago:

MOST RUSHING YARDS BY GIANTS QB / SUPER BOWL ERA

  1. 2020: Daniel Jones – 423

  2. 2022: Daniel Jones – 363

  3. 1967: Fran Tarkenton – 306

  4. 1968: Fran Tarkenton – 301

  5. 2021: Daniel Jones – 298

  6. 2019: Daniel Jones – 279

“I think Daniel’s done a good job,” Schoen said. “Those ‘got to have it’ moments, third downs, fourth quarters when you’ve got to have it and I think he’s answered the bell in a lot of those situations. He’s the same guy he was the day we got here in terms of, it’s their time off and he’s in here at 7:30am this morning having breakfast. It didn’t surprise me a bit. He’s a gym rat, he’s always around and I think he’s done a good job leading the team this year.” Joe Schoen – New York Giants

Saquon Barkley is first in the NFC and second in the NFL with 779 rushing yards, the third-highest total through eight games in franchise history:

  1. 2006: Tiki Barber – 830

  2. 2004: Tiki Barber – 820

  3. 2022: Saquon Barkley – 779

  4. 2010: Ahmad Bradshaw – 765

  5. 2005: Tiki Barber – 760

Saquon Barkley’s 968 scrimmage yards rank first in the conference and second in the league behind Miami wide receiver Tyreek Hill (986 yards, including 961 receiving yards). Barkley has the Giants’ seventh-highest eight-game yards from scrimmage total. Saquon’s 62 scrimmage yards in Seattle on Sunday increased his career total to 5,387 yards. That moved him past Doug Kotar (5,341) and into 14th place on the Giants’ all-time list. Ron Johnson is 13th with 5,789.

Barkley has a team-high 28 catches and is one of three players to lead a team in rushing yards and receptions:

  1. Saquon Barkley (Giants) – 779 rush yards, 28 receptions

  2. Christian McCaffrey* (Carolina) – 393, 33

  3. Austin Ekeler (L.A. Chargers) – 380, 53

“Saquon’s a great kid, he’s tough, he’s obviously talented. It’s a team game. I think him being healthy this year, you’ve kind of seen who he is and what he can do whether that’s catching the ball or running the ball. Again, it’s credit to the offensive line and the receivers blocking for him and he’s taking advantage of those opportunities with his God given gifts too and helped us a lot. So, I’m pleased with where Saquon is.” Joe Schoen – New York Giants

Schoen faces the same long-term question with each player. Jones and Barkley are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. He can use a franchise tag to secure just one of them. Of course, that decision mustn’t be made now because:

“There’s nine games left, so it’s an ongoing evaluation for everybody on the roster,” Schoen said. “Not just Saquon and Daniel being UFA’s (unrestricted free agents) and obviously those are two important players to where we are right now, but it’s a constant evaluation and we still have nine games left.” Joe Schoen – New York Giants

Schoen is open to possibly extending one or both players before the season concludes. The Giants are on their bye and next play at home against the Houston Texans on Nov. 13th.

“We’ll have those meetings this week,” Schoen said. “We’ll talk about it if we want to, we’ve got to get through the trade deadline today and those conversations, then we’ll kind of circle up with some strategy meetings as we move forward on contract extensions and if we may or may not do anybody. If I did, this would be the week. I would want to entertain it during the bye week and then I probably won’t do anything after that. I don’t want anything to be a distraction to the players or organization. So, if we do something it would be probably before Monday with any of our guys, I’m not saying him, but when we have those conversations.” Joe Schoen – New York Giants

Has GM Schoen decided if he wants to retain Jones beyond this season?

“We’ve got nine games left,” Schoen said. “For all these guys it’s going to be a continuing evaluation. We’ll talk through it, what the market looks like, we’ll have those meetings but it’s going to be an ongoing evaluation. We’ve had Daniel for eight games.” Joe Schoen – New York Giants

In summary, with nine games still left in the season and the bye week for players to heal and get back into the game. Schoen and his coaching staff must continue building a culture that will make the Giants a formidable franchise. They will continue to observe and evaluate each position and continue having conversations with other teams to find the best fit for continued growth. And that’s…”The Lex Of It”


𝑻𝑯𝑰𝑺 😤 𝑫𝑬𝑭𝑬𝑵𝑺𝑬 😤 Full highlights: https://t.co/dxVRr3xbcI pic.twitter.com/pRst11Zmen — New York Giants (@Giants) November 3, 2022


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