Written by Patrick Pryor, @patpryorgraphic
Last week, Daniel Jones got fans excited with fantastic stats. 5/5 passing, 67 yards and a nice touchdown to Bennie Fowler in his first and only series that game. Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta would also throw a touchdown apiece. It was a close game, but this week, the Giants dominated the Bears. Granted, Mitch Trubisky, Allen Robinson, Kahlil Mack, and almost all Bears starters watched from the sidelines, but this was still a good game for the Giants defense. Against the Jets, Daniel Jones was the talk of Metlife Stadium. Surely, Dave Gettleman walked into work the next day with a smile on his face.
This week wasn’t exactly the same. Corey Ballentine returned the kickoff, and Eli Manning started off from his own 21-yard line. His first pass was over the middle to Cody Latimer for 20 yards. Rod Smith and Paul Perkins poked through the Bears' defense to the 23-yard line. Four plays later, Eli Manning hit an open Bennie Fowler, who bounced off a defender for the touchdown. Chase Daniel took the field from the Bears. A roughing the passer call put them at their own 37, and in three plays they were at the Giants 31. After a first down, the Giants held them on a third and five with an incomplete pass. They’d settle for a field goal.
Despite a good start, Eli Manning would move aside for Daniel Jones. After two handoffs and a penalty, he’d get his first throw on second and 14. A glimpse of what we saw last week, in a trio of plays he threw for 61 yards. 1st and 10 in the redzone, after a nice pass, Daniel Jones simply drops the snap while going to hand it off. Defensive end Jonothan Bullard jumped on it, and Chase Daniel headed back out. A Markus Golden sack helped the Giants force a three-and-out on the Bears, and Jones would get another chance. However, he would throw two incompletions, and Paul Perkins could only get two yards. It’s looking like both punters will be active. The Bears have another three-and-out, and the Giants get the ball again.
Two Paul Perkins gains are negated by an Evan Brown holding, and a third straight incompletion by Jones brought up a third down. On third and 11, he dropped back, looking to throw. Instead, linebacker James Vaughters blows past the line to poke the ball out of Jones’s hand and jumps on it himself. Oshane Ximines, the third-rounder out of Old Dominion, brings down Chase Daniel on the first play, but Antonio Hamilton, a corner who spent the last four games of the season on IR last year, went down with a groin injury. His condition is still unknown. Another sack by Olsen Pierre, and the Giants are back with the ball.
Daniel Jones was back on with another chance, and he fulfilled it. Despite a Rod Smith fumble, the Giants kept the ball and drove down the field for a field goal. With about three minutes to go, the Bears went no huddle. Maybe moving too quickly, the snap simply passes by Chase Daniel and he has to dive into the endzone for it, resulting in a safety. New York gets the ball back, and Daniel Jones drives down with a good pass to TJ Jones in the endzone. A quick drive by the Bears, a field goal ends the half.
Two three-and-outs by the Bears and one by the Giants start the third quarter. Tyler Bray and Alex Tanney have replaced Chase Daniel and Daniel Jones respectively. Tanney begins to drive, and a pass interference puts them on Chicago’s one. A chance to take a larger lead takes a nasty turn, as Clifton Duck jumps in front of the pass, gets up and runs 62 yards before being taken down by Alonso Russell. Six plays later, Kyle White gets into the endzone on a Bears challenge. A good kick return, a few Jon Hilliman runs, and an Alex Tanney 38-yard pass puts the Giants on the 10, and Hilliman goes untouched into the endzone. A failed two point conversion makes it 25-13 in the fourth. After one first down, Tyler Bray throws three straight incompletions, and the Giants get it back again. Kyle Lauletta now in the game, they go three-and-out. The Bears then fumble on third down, recovered by Josiah Tauaefa. John Hilliman again has a few good runs, setting Kyle Lauletta up for a 10 yard touchdown. After a Chicago fumble, the Giants would drive and give it up on fourth down, leading to the Bears kneeling out the game. Final score, 32-13. The Giants lead since their first touchdown. Despite a few longer gains, the defense stepped up and limited the Bears to 13 points.
Daniel Jones is no longer tied for best all time completion percentage and quarterback rating. Despite two preventable fumbles, this game had its upsides. Last week he had his first eight snaps, and this time he tripled that. Going from 5/5 to 11/14 isn’t bad by any means. No one is going to complain about getting 94 more yards with 6 more completions, an average of 15.6 yards. His fumbles can just be explained by a learning curve and shouldn’t worry anyone. His talent that was demonstrated last week and for most of this week is still there. His second fumble came after the only sack he faced. His first time that he was going to be sacked, it’s no surprise he made a mistake. Two more preseason games, he’ll be ready to go if Eli needs him this season.
Alonso Russell made his case for a spot on the 53-man roster. He was targeted one time and couldn’t bring it in. However, he made plays elsewhere. On the Clifton Duck interception, Russell turned on the jets, bolting down the field and saving the pick-six. In the fourth quarter, he prevented a punt return by knocking the ball out, forcing the returner to jump back on it. Last week he had one catch for 39 yards on third down. He could make a case for the team, and even if they let him go, be sure to see him in someone’s depth chart this season.
The running back competition got more fierce. Jon Hilliman led the team in nearly every category. He came out undrafted and had two catches for 16 yards before getting hurt against the Jets. This week, he had 16 attempts, 56 yards, a nice touchdown, and a three yard reception. Behind him, Rod Smith had 10 attempts for 42 yards, and a hurdle to impress even Saquon Barkley. Paul perkins went for 35 on six attempts. Wayne Gallman, the likely Saquon backup who led in rushing last week (with just 13 yards), didn’t play. These last two games will decide who is going to backup the consensus number 1 fantasy pick.
Markus Golden, Olsen Pierre, and Oshane Ximines, all first year Giants, had sacks. The entire defense kept pressuring Bray and Daniel, as they combined to go for 18/31 and 156 yards, not being able to throw any touchdowns. The entire defense came up well. Nate Stupar and Grant Haley had passes defended.
Kyle Lauletta had an uneventful game. He went 2 for 3 for 13 yards and a touchdown. While it was nothing huge, it likely secured his spot over Alex Tanney, the traveling veteran. 4 for 9, 54 yards, and an interception isn’t enough to earn a spot, even as a third-string quarterback. With the third game having more starters, we may not see him play until week 4, if he’s still on the team.
It was backups against backups, but a dominant win over one of the best teams in the NFL feels good for Big Blue. 4 fumbles with 2 being lost isn't good, but is a small fixable issue in a game full of good. Some confidence for a highly doubted team is exactly what you need early on if you want to surprise critics.