By Michael Stewart/@golferbad
The New York Giants are entering their bye week with a 3-7 record and if any team needs a week off; it’s certainly the Giants. The Giants are sitting in 2nd place only a game behind Philadelphia in the NFC east.
I wanted to give my take on the Giants performance with my mid-season report card which with grades for each position by position as a unit and not necessary by individual performances.
This season hasn’t been pretty for the most part for Giant fans, although the Giants weren’t projected to make the playoffs they have been playing much better over the last 5 or 6 games. So let’s get started and here are my mid-season grades for the Giants:
Daniel Jones has taken every snap under center for the Giants this season, so this grade will be solely based on Jones performance. Jones continues to turn the ball over this season with a total of 16 (9 interceptions and 7 fumbles) after 10 games.
However; over the last 5 games prior to their bye week, Jones has improved his QBR from 78.2 to 87.4 and has no turnovers over the last 2 games. Many Giant fans and some beat writers who cover the Giants believe the Giants need to move on from Jones and select a quarterback in the upcoming draft. Reports out of Giants camp is that the ownership and coaching staff still have confidence in Jones and have not shown any signs of moving on from him.
Jones has shown some brilliance with his arm and legs, but will that be enough to remain a Giant after the season? I firmly believe that with a better supporting cast, Jones would shine and if he continues to secure the ball; Jones is not going anywhere. GRADE C+
The Giants running game has come alive over the last two games (Washington/Philadelphia) totally 322 yards on the ground. The insertion of Shane Lemieux and Matt Peart on the offensive line has made the difference in the running game. Wayne Gallman has found new success as the Giants primary running back since he’s been getting more touches and along with Alfred Morris gives the Giants depth and production.
There were some concerns entering the season with the Giants wide receivers as Shepard, Tate and Slayton are at best ranked in the middle of the pack among NFL wide receivers. At the break, this unit has under-performed overall with only Darius Slayton producing at a steady pace (on pace for over 900 yards). Shepard has been injured on and off and Tate has been placed in Head Coach Joe Judge dog house.
The Giants really should consider bringing up some of the wide outs from the practice squad and see what they got to offer in the 2nd half of the season. GRADE: C-
Collectively the Giants tight end position has underperformed in 2020 led by Evan Engram who seems to have many believing that he was ready to take the next step up before the start of the season. Engram’s overall performance in the first 10 games has failed miserably and his inability as a blocker compounds his disappointed season thus far. Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo have only been targeted 21 times with a combined 17 catches compared to Engram’s targets of 67 and only 38 catches. The Giants are making an extreme effort in getting the ball to Engram as much as possible; unfortunately the results haven’t been what they expected. GRADE: D-
The Giants started the season with three new starters (Andrew Thomas, Nick Gates and Cam Fleming) with Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler as the only returning starters from 2019. This unit struggles early on; especially the left-side of Thomas and Hernandez.. On the right side Zeitler had a slow start, but has since shown improvement and Cameron for the most part has been replaced by rookie Matt Peart. Another rookie Shane Lemieux was inserted in place of Hernandez a few games back and has done a great job in the running game, but is still a work in progress in pass protection. Look for the Giants to give more playing time to Matt Peart in the 2nd half with Shane Lemieux remaining at left guard for the majority of the snaps. The offensive line grade was treading towards an F prior to insertion of Lemieux and Peart and now it’s climbed up a bit. GRADE C
This unit has accounted for nearly half of the team’s sack totals with 11.5 (25 total) at the bye led by Leonard Williams with 5. Against the run, this unit has allowed slightly over 100 yards per game (100.9), however; over the last 6 games they’ve allowed less than 100 yards (97.0). Giants coaching staff will be looking for better production in the 2nd half of the season. GRADE B+
Blake Martinez highlights the inside linebacker spot for the Giants in 2020, averaging nearly 10 tackles per game (96 total) at the bye. Martinez isn’t the only productive inside linebacker for the Giants as 2020 7th round draft pick Tae Crowder (coming off the IR) has emerged as a productive element with solid support production along with David Mayo who has returned from the injury list and played well in his return. As a unit, the inside linebacker position looks sound and should continue to produce for the rest of the season. GRADE B
Before the season, many believed (including myself) that this position would be the most productive in 2020. Thus far at the bye, this unit overall has not lived up to expectations. Markus Golden was traded andinjuries to both Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter have hampered the Giants effectiveness. Kyler Fackrell has been a blessing as he seems to be improving each week and currently has 3 sacks entering the bye week. GRADE C-
The Giants cornerback depth chart at one point in the off season was one of their deepest positions. However; with De’Andre Baker being exempt by the commissioner and the NFL and Sam Beal electing to sit out the 2020 season due to Covid-19, this team needed to add depth and talent to the position. With James Bradberry (free agent signing) playing at a Pro Bowl level, the addition of Logan Ryan to handle the CB2 position has been a god send as he is 2nd on the team in total tackles with 59. The rest of the cornerback group pushed the overall grade down a bit. GRADE C-
The injury to rookie Xaiver McKinney before the season really dampened the expectations of the Giants safety position; which also featured a healthy Jabrill Peppers and 2nd year player Julian Love. This unit was expected to elevate the Giants safety position to another level, but unfortunately McKinney has been injured and Love hasn’t progressed from his rookie season. Peppers has shown signs of being a playmaker over the last few games and hopefully this will continue in the 2nd half as McKinney is expected to return at some point. GRADE C+
Graham Cano would probably get a lot of votes as the team’s MVP in 2020; which speaks volume for Cano and why the Giants extended Cano until 2023 with a new deal. However; it also tells you how poorly the team has played; especially earlier in the season. Cano is nearly perfect missing only one field goal and that one was over 50 yards. Cano has also been consistent in extra points, making all of them. Cano should be able to continue his fine season and maybe he can kick a few game winners in the final 6 games. GRADE A
Riley Dixon has been every bit as consistent as Cano averaging 45.1 yards put punt with a net of 40.9. Dixon has been accurate as well netting 9 punts inside the 20 yard line. Dixon like Cano should continue this trend for the remainder of the season. GRADE A
As a unit, the Giants kickoff/punt returns are average with limited opportunities at the bye. Unfortunately; this area of the game is not going to define this team or make them win more games in 2020. Perhaps Head Coach Joe Judge should consider upgrading this area in 2021 since he was a special teams coach. GRADE C
Final Thoughts: As you can see this team needs to improve, but they trending upward in a lot of areas and we should see this continue in the 2nd half. It’s no secret that many of the players are auditioning for 2021 and let’s throw in the fact that the Giants could be playing some meaningful games in December.
The fate of GM Dave Gettleman may or may not have been decided yet as it could be determined over the final 6 games on how well the Giants do and finish out the season. Looking at all the NFC east teams remaining schedule, it appears that no team in the division will finish with a winning record. So the Giants have as good as a chance to finish on top of the NFC east with a solid 2nd half.