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New York Giants Rookie Review

Mr. Irrelevant, Tae Crowder’s scoop-and-score for the Game-Winning TD (Photo Credit: USA Today, Robert Deutsch)

By: Michael Gagliardi

Do I hear 11-5? I think I hear 11-5.

In all seriousness, this win was as ugly as it gets. That being said, ugly wins go in the record books in the same way as blowout wins, so who cares? It’s just so nice to finally wake up on Monday morning feeling good about yourself as a Giants fan for once.

This was a wild one, and it saw a good first half for the Giants offense, which was then stymied in the second half. Jones played very well other than one play: the interception in the end zone. Yes, I know that you can’t just take a play out of the game, but what if that play should never have stood as a pick? The DB was clearly out of bounds--even the announcers were sure that the pick would be overturned--but nope! As I said last week though, bad teams put themselves at the mercy of the refs, and that has constantly happened with the Giants these past few years. Should Jones have thrown it a millisecond sooner? Yes. Should he have taken the sack? Yes, but then everyone ends up whining about how he took a sack instead of throwing it away. However, extending the play like that in any capacity should not have happened on a first-and-goal situation. I don’t know why we’re running play-action on a goal-to-go situation by the way; that certainly didn’t help the play succeed.

Fortunately for DJ, however, the defense (after giving everyone a heart attack and letting the game come down to one final 2 point conversion) stopped the Football Team when it mattered, and that end zone “interception” will fade into obscurity, and the New York Giants can enjoy a victory over the team with no name.

The rookies played a big part in this game, and are starting to contribute much more as the season progresses, so let’s take a look at how they fared.

Inactive/Injured/DNP: Xavier McKinney (2nd), TJ Brunson (7th), Chris Williamson (7th--Practice Squad):

Julian Love got burned on a couple of big plays Sunday, although his coverage on the Football Team’s first touchdown was perfect; he just got physically overmatched. McKinney’s presence at FS would have helped the Giants immeasurably this season thus far, and we just have to hope he comes back healthy ASAP.

TJ Brunson was once again inactive, with fellow ILB David Mayo being elevated to the active roster this week and seeing the field immediately as a rotational and special teams player. He is the only healthy rookie not on the practice squad to never see the field this year, but that tends to happen to some 7th round picks their first year, especially if they are undersized for their position like Brunson.

Chris Williamson is still chilling out on the practice squad.

LT Andrew Thomas (1st):

This was certainly an interesting week for our rookie O-tackles wasn’t it? Thomas apparently was late to a pregame meeting on Saturday due to an honest mistake, so Judge rightfully showed no mercy to his 4th overall pick and benched him for the start of the game. Thomas and Peart both got 3 series each for the day, and Peart got 26 snaps as opposed to Thomas’s 22. If you’ve kept up with Giants news these past few days, you’d have heard grumblings about how Peart “outplayed Thomas” and “should be our left tackle instead.” To that, I say it’s time to pump the brakes. Thomas played very well on Sunday when he got in. First off, he was a beast, as usual against the run, save for one play where he blew a hinge block on Montez Sweat and allowed him to come from the backside to blow up a run play. That was his worst play of the game though. If you rewatch the game, you’ll see Thomas mauling people all day in the run game alongside Will Hernandez. He was credited by PFF for 3 pressures, but I have no idea where they’re getting that from. I rewatched Thomas’s snaps and will give him 1, maybe 2 on the day. Most promising of all, Thomas is showing improvement already from last week, as he did not lunge anywhere near as often as he did in the last few weeks. Any lunge that was there was small, and he could easily dig his foot in the ground and recover from it. Thomas did not get beat with any inside moves in pass protection, which is something he’s struggled with in recent weeks. If he can keep this improvement going and keep the sloppy mistakes out of his game on Thursday, I think we may very well see the first complete good game of Andrew Thomas’s career.

OT Matt Peart (3rd):

Having said that people need to pump the brakes on the whole “Peart is better than Thomas” sentiment, I will agree that Peart just flat out outplayed better than Thomas on Sunday. I would wager that he was the best O-lineman on the field for either team. He let up only one pressure, which was on Jones’s touchdown pass to Slayton, where Montez Sweat bull-rushed him and got a swipe off at Jones as he threw. Other than that, Peart was pretty much spotless for all of his 26 snaps and did not look remotely like the “project” tackle that we were made to believe he was. It’s not like he was going up against soft competition either, as Chase Young, Sweat, and Ryan Kerrigan are no walks-in-the-park to block. His run blocking, however, was really where Peart shined on Sunday. This man was mauling people, and clearing great lanes for Devonta Freeman to run through, especially on the opening drive.

As I said before, though, Peart, despite looking great on Sunday, should not, and will not, replace Andrew Thomas as the left tackle. The Football Team prepared for Thomas all week, and probably barely even watched any tape on Peart because he basically has none. I’m sure the Football Team’s D-line would have gotten to Peart more if they had prep time for him, but hey, you’ve got to hand it to the big man: he played his butt off. As far as I see it: yes it is an overreaction to crown him as the next Tyron Smith and say he’s better than Thomas, but it is not at all an overreaction to say that he should start at RT over Cam Fleming on Thursday. The reason that Fleming has been starting thus far is that “Peart is a project and he needs time to get ready before he starts.” Well, if what I saw on Sunday wasn’t Peart being “ready,” then I don’t know what that could possibly look like. He played a great game against a quality defensive front, and Fleming got dominated by the same players that Peart excelled against. From what I saw Sunday and throughout the season thus far, Peart will have his struggles if he starts, but he will not be worse than Fleming, and in my eyes, you need to let your young raw talent develop on the field as soon as they can handle NFL reps. Peart can handle them, and I’m excited to see if he’s the real deal.

CB Darnay Holmes (4th):

Holmes’s outing today was short: playing only 3 snaps before leaving the game with a neck injury. He allowed no catches on 2 coverage snaps, for one of which he threw a good block for James Bradberry’s interception return. Nothing much else to say for Holmes other than I hope he’s okay. It seems like the Giants were keeping him out more precautionarily, as he never went to the locker room, and was standing on the sidelines with his pads on for the whole game. I doubt he plays Thursday, but Logan Ryan did a great job, other than allowing the last Football Team touchdown, as a fill-in at nickel corner.

G Shane Lemieux (5th):

Lemieux got one snap for the third week in a row, but this time it came on special teams. He got the nod for the field goal block team at the end of the first half, playing next to Matt Peart. I kind of expected the Giants to put the 6’7” (7’2” wingspan) Peart on the block team at some point, but I can’t say I was expecting Lemieux. It seems like they’re trying to get Lemieux to clear out guys in the middle so Peart can get a soft spot to lift his arm and try to block the kick. The Giants are high on Lemieux, as he’s seeing the field in any capacity that he can, but they just have no place to play him at guard right now.

EDGE Cam Brown (6th):

Brown played his first 5 snaps from scrimmage on Sunday, being put in for pass-rushing situations. He looked fine, and I’d credit him with a pressure against Morgan Moses, even though he was not credited with one officially. Moses won ⅗ of their battles (with one being a stalemate), but Brown seemed to be moving the 6’6” 335lb veteran pretty well, especially for someone who is at a 100lbs weight disadvantage. He showed a good motor on Kyle Allen’s scramble for a first down in the 4th quarter, chasing Allen down from behind on a scramble. However, Brown might’ve been running so fast and aggressively that he got out of control and lost his balance. Because of this, Brown ended up getting to Allen a fraction of a second too late, and the QB was able to stretch the ball across the line to gain. He also threw a block on Tae Crowder’s fumble return, which probably prevented a touchdown-saving shoestring tackle. Brown still played 77% of the Giants special teams snaps, was within a foot of blocking a Tress Way punt, and was still flying around on kickoff coverage. Overall, nothing necessarily bad from Cam Brown in his first defensive action, and I look forward to seeing him go up against the struggling Eagles O-line on Thursday night.

EDGE Carter Coughlin (7th):

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even realize that Coughlin played from scrimmage on Sunday until I looked at the snap counts on and saw that he took 3 defensive snaps. Looking at the tape, 2 of those 3 plays were very good! On a 3rd down, he got a pressure off a twist stunt, where Leonard Williams absolutely cleaned out the entire left side of the O-line, causing Kyle Allen to check the ball down. Later on the drive, he dropped into coverage by the goal line and bracketed the middle of the field quite well. Allen threw the ball away on this play. As for his one not-so-good play, he tried to bullrush the Football Team’s left tackle Geron Christian, and just got slapped down to the ground. Other than his defensive performance, Coughlin registered his first NFL assisted tackle on kickoff coverage, taking on a block and getting nice separation from his man before making an athletic diving tackle.

LB Tae Crowder (7th):

The hero of the game! Fun fact, Crowder is now the first Mr. Irrelevant in NFL history to score a defensive touchdown. Credit to Crowder for having the awareness to fly out of his QB spy as soon as he saw the ball, and for having the athleticism to run it back all the way! Where last week, he looked very hesitant out there and just a step slow, I think this week he was a lot looser. This was especially the case against the run, as Crowder was flying around out there and being a lot more instinctive than last week. He still seemed a step slow against the pass, though, and got burned for major YAC as a result. Here’s my theory on that: Crowder has only been playing LB for 2 years now. Yes, that surprised me too when I heard it because he’s very instinctive back there. He came into Georgia as an RB, then converted after his sophomore year. This is a huge part of why he has open-field tackling issues in the passing game: he takes bad angles to the ball. Pursuit to the ball as a linebacker is not something that’s easy to pick up, especially at the NFL level, and for a guy who is in his 3rd year playing LB, it’s gotta be a really hard thing to adjust to. Crowder’s lack of angles makes any fraction of a second he is late to react to his reads put him behind much more than usual. This causes Crowder to put himself in the position where he has to make diving stops instead of being in a position to hit his man squarely and explains his 4 missed tackles (most against pass plays in the open field) on Sunday.

Unfortunately, it seems like Crowder sacrificed his hamstring on that fumble return, as he has been placed on non-season-ending IR, and will miss at least the next 3 weeks. That’s a shame because I, along with all Giants fans, was looking forward to seeing Crowder string together 2 good performances in a row. I guess we’ll see the return of David Mayo to the starting lineup on Thursday night.

What to Expect Next Week:

Coming off a short week, the Giants play the Eagles Thursday, and boy would it feel amazing to beat them for the first time since 2016. The Eagles are about as banged up as it gets, and their backups are nowhere close to as good as the ones the Giants faced in week 3 against the 49ers. On offense, the Eagles will likely be without WR Alshon Jeffery, RB Miles Sanders, WR Jalen Reagor, as well as TEs Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. On defense, they will likely be without starting DT Malik Jackson and CB2 Avonte Maddox. If there was ever a time to beat the Eagles into the ground and take revenge for the last 4 years of them doing that to us, then this would be it.

For God’s sake, can the Giants just come out and play a complete game? I’m looking at you, DJ, Thomas, receivers, and DBs. Jones especially needs to play a clean game in his first-ever game in front of the Philly crowd (at least he gets an easy start with only 7500 people there). Danny Dimes needs to show that this is his new era and give it a fresh start with a beatdown of his most hated rival team.

As for the rookies, Andrew Thomas just needs to put it all together. I’ve been saying this for weeks now, but this has to be the week where we see him have a clean game of looking like the 4th overall pick in the draft. Fletcher Cox is the only big name for the Eagles’ pass rush, but they are a good unit, averaging 3.5 sacks per game for the year. As for Peart, I hope and hope and hope that he starts this week over Fleming and gets a shot to play a full game and show if Sunday was just a flash in the pan or not. He is a difficult physical matchup for anybody with his frame; he just needs to prove that he knows how to use it.

If Holmes plays, he will be covering guys from off the street, pretty much. He needs to play like he’s the 4th round pick covering nobodies. Not allowing anything big is the main idea for him. Lemieux needs to stay ready and make his opportunities count. Brown and Coughlin will likely see increased action Thursday, with the pass rush rotation coming off a short week, and they are going up against one of the worst O-lines in the league, averaging 4.2 sacks given up per game for the year. This is the time for these two to make their mark and help restart the tradition of the home-grown New York Giants pass rush.

Call me crazy, but I think the Giants march into Lincoln Financial Field and beat the pants off this hobbled Eagles squad and give all us Giants fans a sliver of hope that there may be better days not far off on the horizon. Jones and the offense have their first good performance of the year (but not great), and the defense handles the replacement Eagles offense, turning Wentz over twice in the process. 28-10 Giants win, and they are all of a sudden in a tie for the division lead.

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