I know you are still celebrating the jaw-dropping events of Sunday’s 21-20 upset victory by your New York Giants over the Tennessee Titans. So, let’s help the celebration with our traditional “Kudos & Wet Willies” on this Victory Monday.
Brian Daboll – The Daboll era got off to a fantastic start with an upset road win against a very good team from Tennessee. The Giants gave the rookie coach a game ball after his first career win as head coach.
The most important thing on Sunday? We learned that trusting his players isn’t just something Daboll says. He’s actually willing to do that, to be aggressive, to put games in their hands and let them win – or lose – them. His players admire him for it.
There was what I heard called “F, yeah the energy” around the Giants on Sunday night. It is absolutely to the credit of the head coach.
Saquon Barkley – Barkley has been warning his critics throughout the offseason that he is going back to being SAQUON BARKLEY again, and he took a big step forward on Sunday to show it. Barkley rushed for 164 yards, the third-highest total of his career. He had rushes for 68 yards and 33 yards, both when the Giants needed big plays. He had a 4-yard touchdown run. He’s averaging 9.1 yards per carry. He had six receptions. He made a nice move to score the winners on a 2-point conversion that a Titans defenseman looked like he could stop.
Sterling Shepard – In his return from a torn Achilles tendon last December, Shepard caught a 65-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Jones. He played 43 snaps, the Giants’ second wide receiver. On several occasions, he threw his 5’10, 201-pound frame into the fray to block Barkley. Welcome Shep!
Richie James — Want an unexpected gaming star? James must be. He played 42 snaps on offense. He caught five passes on six targets for 42 yards, the most catches of anyone other than Barkley. The only blemish of his day was a fall on a tough pitch in the fourth quarter by Jones. James had punt returns for 18 and 17 yards, averaging 12.4 total yards on five returns.
Defense of the Giants –The Giants held Derrick Henry to 82 yards on 21 carries (3.9 yards per attempt). After giving up an early touchdown on a short field, Wink Martindale’s crew allowed just 13 more runs. The Giants didn’t exactly stop Tennessee on the final drive of the game — a 47-yard field goal is the most an NFL kicker should make under the right conditions — but their overall effort ended up being enough. Well.
I struggle to single out the individual defensive players in this game, though Jihad Ward (six tackles) and Oshane Ximines (six tackles, two quarterback hits, one pass defended) played hard. So did Tae Crowder (seven tackles, including a massive blow that sent Henry flying).
Crowder and Austin Calitro were both burned for touchdown passes by Titans running back Dontrell Hilliard. There were some unfortunate penalties in the secondary.
Overall, though, a quality effort.
Wet Willies at…
Kick coverage – The Giants gave up a 46-yard punt return that set up the Titans’ first touchdown. They gave up a 52-yard kickoff return that was nullified by a Tennessee holding penalty.
The Giants struggled to cover kicks during the preseason. Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey downplayed this issue due to the personnel being used and the programs not being used. Well, the fight continued in the regular season. McGaughey needs to get it fixed.
Daniel Jones – Jones completed 17 of 21 passes, a career-high 81% with a touchdown pass. Jones’ passer rating of 115.9 was his best since his 2019 rookie season. He ran 25 yards.
Daboll said he thought Jones played “a hell of a game”.
“I took care of the ball for the most part. But more importantly, we made the right decisions with precision to get the team to score points when we needed them,” Daboll said.
There were imperfections. Jones threw a bad interception in the fourth quarter, trying to force a back shoulder throw to Barkley in the end zone that was intercepted by Tennessee’s Amani Hooker, snuffing out a potential draw. He also lost a fumble on a strip sack where the blame really fell on rookie guard Joshua Ezeudu, beaten cleanly on the play by Tennessee’s Jeffrey Simmons.
Perhaps the most instructive thing was Daboll’s reaction to Jones’ interception. He immediately headed for the quarterback on the sidelines. Here is how Daboll recounted the conversation.
“I just said what did you see. He thought he could potentially go back. And I said, ‘It’s not what I saw, but you have the ball in your hands, so you’re going to get the ball back at some point. Our defense will bring it to you. Let’s go down and get it.
Daboll may not have been happy with Jones’ decision and certainly wasn’t happy with the outcome of the game, but left the quarterback with a positive message. In the end, the quarterback delivered a game-winning 12-play, 73-yard drive in the final moments.
offensive line – I don’t know what the Pro Football Focus ratings will be yet, but there have been ups and downs for the line.
Five bags allowed, including the Simmons band bag. To the line’s credit, however, only one of those sacks came in the second half.
Andrew Thomas was solid and PFF’s initial review had Evan Neal allowing just one press in 31 pass-blocking snaps.
There were issues on the inside, which is more or less where we anticipated most of the struggles would come from.
Ezeudu, who played 28 snaps while rotating at left guard with Ben Bredeson (32 snaps), dropped the tape sack. He struggled at other times, but also did a good job clearing space for Barkley. Bredeson appeared to be pushed back into Jones’ lap a few times.
Mark Glowinski receives a waiting penalty. I’m curious to see center Jon Feliciano’s PFF ratings. Without a second look at the game, I thought he struggled at times, especially early in the game.
Overall, the run lock was encouraging. The same goes for the fact that early pass blocking issues didn’t carry over into the later stages of the game.
#GiantsTitans #Kudos #Wet #Willies #Celebrating #surprise #win #Monday