Green Bay vs. NY Giants: Full Roster Report Card Grades for New York

Patricia TrainaFeatured Columnist IVNovember 18, 2013

Green Bay vs. NY Giants: Full Roster Report Card Grades for New York

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    The New York Giants rolled over the Green Bay Packers 27-13, thanks in part to their ability to win the turnover battle.  

    The biggest of the Giants' turnovers was a 24-yard interception return for a touchdown by defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who told reporters that he knew he was going to come up with the big play just seconds before he made it. 

    “I read the formation, the tight end, how he was set, and I caught the ball,” said Pierre-Paul, who as late as Friday wasn't even sure if he was going to play due to a right shoulder injury.

    His interception broke open the game for the Giants, who prior to the play held a slim 20-13 lead. It was his second pick-six in his career; the first was a 28-yard play last year at Dallas.

    In addition to the interceptions, the Giants run defense once again rose to the occasion, holding dynamic rookie running back Eddie Lacy to just 27 yards on 14 carries.

    The win is the Giants’ fourth in a row and has helped elevate them out of the division cellar and into third place, ahead of Washington, who lost 24-16 to the Philadelphia Eagles.

    The Giants will close out their current three-game home swing next week against the Dallas Cowboys. Here are the report card grades for their win over the Packers.

Quarterback

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    Participants: Eli Manning

    Manning completed 25 of 35 passes for 279 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The pick was the fault of receiver Louis Murphy instead of Manning.

    Despite absorbing four sacks—the second most in a game allowed by the offensive line this seasonManning had a 71.4 completion percentage, which was a season high.

    Manning and his receiverswho have struggled this season to connect on big playshad two passes of 30 or more yards this week. It was the first time they've done that since Week 6 at Chicago.

    Unit Grade: A

Running Backs

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    Participants: Andre Brown, Brandon Jacobs, John Conner (FB)

    It only took two games, but Brownwho finished with 66 yards on 18 carriesis now the Giants' 2013 season rushing leader with 181 yards in 48 carries.

    Unfortunately for him, his streak of six games (dating back to last year) with a rushing touchdown was snapped, but that's OK with him, since Jacobs is handling the goal-line work in order to keep Brown fresh.

    Speaking of Jacobs, he made his triumphant return to the lineup after missing the last three games with hamstring and knee issues.

    While he only ran for nine yards on five carries, he did have a big one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to widen the Giants’ lead to 20-6. It was his 60th career rushing score.

    Conner didn’t have much to do this week in the running game, as the offensive strategy was to draw the linebackers into the flats.

    However, he did contribute two receptions for two yards, and he helped open the hole for Jacobs’ touchdown score.

    Unit Grade: B

Tight Ends

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    Participants: Brandon Myers, Bear Pascoe, Larry Donnell 

    Myers had three receptions for 32 yards, including a big 15-yard catch in the first quarter to help pull his team out of a 2nd-and-20.

    That reception helped keep the Giants' scoring drive alive, as New York jumped out to a 7-0 first-quarter lead.

    Pascoe and Donnell didn’t contribute anything to the passing game. Pascoe did run a deep corner route against linebacker Clay Matthews, but the pass was incomplete.

    From a blocking perspective, both Pascoe and Donnell—who contributed in short yardagedidn’t hurt the team with their efforts. They got in the way of defenders to get the job done.

    Unit Grade: B

Receivers

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    Participants: Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan, Louis Murphy Jr.

    The Giants passing game had some success at exploiting the Packers with the deep ball this week, completing two pass plays of 30 or more yards, one each to Cruz and Nicks.

    Cruz finished with a season-high eight receptions out of 11 targets. He went for 110 yards, marking his fourth 100-yard game this season. 

    Nickswho has now gone 12 games dating back to last season without a receiving touchdown after predicting that the Packers game might be the end of his dry spellcaught four out of five passes for 50 yards, 35 of which came on one play.

    He was also spotted having a mini meltdown on the Giants sideline. Teammate Brandon Jacobs attempted to calm Nicks down. 

    Randle widened his lead on the team in touchdown receptions to six when he caught Manning’s 26-yard strike in the first quarter to get the Giants on the board.

    Murphy doesn’t get many chances, but when he does, nothing good seems to come of them. He was the guilty party on Eli Manning’s lone interception this week, which came on a 3rd-and-11 at the Packers 15-yard line.

    “(Murphy) should have come inside,” said head coach Tom Coughlin, per Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger. “There was no option involved there. He made a mistake. Eli should not be charged with that, but nevertheless that's the way it goes.”

    To his credit, Murphy accepted the blame, telling Orr: "I had hard inside leverage and I just wanted to sell a hitch, make the cornerback jump it and then go inside. We just weren't on the same page."

    Jernigan, who was removed from kickoff return duties, caught both passes thrown his way for 21 yards, with a long of 13.

    Unit Grade: B

Offensive Line

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    Participants: LT Will Beatty, LG Kevin Boothe, C Jim Cordle, RG David Diehl, RT Justin Pugh, James Brewer (jumbo blocker)

    The offensive line allowed four sacks this week, its second highest total this season.

    The O-line also gave up six hits against quarterback Eli Manning, yet somehow he finished with his highest completion percentage (71.4 percent).

    Beatty turned in a solid performance in run blocking. Numerous successful runs went to his side of the formation, including the one-yard touchdown run by Brandon Jacobs.

    As a pass-blocker, he wasn’t quite as solid, allowing a number of hits and pressures through his hole.

    His biggest problem in the pass block was that he didn’t remain true to his technique; when he tried to be creative, he ended up being burned.  

    Pugh handled the majority of his pass-blocking assignments without any chip-blocking help. He also turned in a solid job of run blocking, even though he struggled to sustain some of his blocks.

    While he was called for a personal foul penalty, he showed some fight out there, especially on his seal blocks.  

    Boothe was repeatedly beaten by quickness as he gave up a couple of hits and pressures. He did have a better showing as a run-blocker; he turned in a few nice pulls that helped blow open holes for the running backs to exploit.

    Diehl will always battle, but he just can’t seem to match power with power. The same thing happened this week when he was walked back into the pocket on a handful of instances.  

    By allowing himself to be pushed back, he took away valuable real estate for Manning to step into his throws.

    Cordle has come a long way since making his first start, cutting down on his mistakes and staying on his feet when establishing contact. He did a nice job of pushing the pile on Jacobs’ one-yard touchdown run.

    Brewer’s play continues to be frustrating in that he has wonderful size yet plays a soft game. He struggled to hold his blocks against linebackers who were smaller than him, and that didn't help the Giants when they wanted to run the ball to his side of the formation.

    Unit Grade: C+

Defensive Line

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    Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

    Participants: (Ends) Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka; (Tackles) Cullen Jenkins, Linval Joseph, Mike Paterson, Johnathan Hankins

    The Giants’ defensive front was a big reason why Packers running back Eddie Lacy had just 27 yards on 14 carries.

    Let’s start with Tuck, whose stat line of two tackles doesn’t begin to tell the story of his contributions.

    He was a constant disruptive force who managed to get two hits on the quarterback, and he was effective in his edge rushes that hurried the quarterback into throwing the ball prematurely.  

    The biggest thing about Tuck is that despite facing solo blocking, these days he’s winning far more of those battles than he’s losing. As a result, the defensive line has been playing so much better of late.

    Pierre-Paul’s pick-six, which he predicted before breaking the huddle, was one of those plays that happened so fast that you missed it if you blinked.

    Credit Pierre-Paul, who was playing with a harness on his injured right shoulder, for fighting through the pain and getting his hands up and on the ball for what ultimately was the score that put the game away for the Giants.

    Kiwanuka provided some solid run contain on the edges, where he didn’t let much get past him.  

    Moore was spotted on one play in the second half, and he did a nice job of rushing the quarterback. However, he ended up knocking down a teammate in pursuit after the pass was completed.   

    Jenkins continued to draw extra attention from opponents, which helped his linemates when they won their one-on-one battles. As he’s done most of this season, he controlled his gaps well and fought through blocks.

    Joseph is another guy who doesn’t get the glory or the statistics, but he was exceptional in controlling his gap and taking away cutback lanes for Lacy to exploit.  

    Patterson finished with three assisted tackles. When he wasn’t shooting gaps, he was sitting back and creating congestion in between the tackles.  

    Hankins continues to earn snaps each week, and he’s showing himself to be worthy of them. He managed to hit the quarterback on a pass rush, and in run defense, he ate up space and flashed into plays.  

    Unit Grade: A

Linebackers

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    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Participants: Jon Beason, Keith Rivers, Jacquian Williams 

    The coaches threw caution to the wind by playing Williams—an outstanding cover linebacker who had been iffy against the run—against the Packers running game this week, and he did not disappoint.

    Williams posted eight tackles (six solo), which tied him for second this week with Beason.

    When the linebackers are among the team leaders in tackles, then the defense is doing its job well.

    Back to Williams. Three of his tackles were for zero or negative yardage, which is an unheard-of stat for one player. He did run a few blitzes, but they didn’t get home.

    In coverage, he was beaten only once, by tight end Andrew Quarless in the third quarter.  

    As previously mentioned, Beasonwho earlier in the week opined that the Giants had been snubbed because the networks decided to move the game against the Packers out of the prime-time slot—finished tied for second on the team with eight tackles (six solo).

    He ran numerous blitzes that hurried the quarterback, and he had the big interception in the third quarter that set up Josh Brown’s second field goal.

    Rivers might not have the stats to show for ithe posted just one solo tackle—but he played a solid contain game against the run.

    So long as he plays the contain role, he won’t post gaudy statistics, but that doesn’t mean he’s not contributing to the party.

    Grade: A

Safeties

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    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Participants: Will Hill, Antrel Rolle, Ryan Mundy

    Hill was primarily assigned to help contain running back Eddie Lacy, and he did a fine job of it, recording five tackles. He was also sent off a few blitzes that didn’t quite hit home, but he did force Packers quarterback Scott Tolzien into making some hurried throws.

    Rolle’s fourth-quarter interception sealed the deal for the Giants. The most versatile safety on the team, he was tasked with providing the deep help and showed good instincts in anticipating where the ball was going.  

    There wasn’t much from Mundy this week, as his snaps were given to Hill.

    Unit Grade: A

Cornerbacks

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    Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

    Participants: Prince Amukamara, Trumaine McBride, Terrell Thomas

    Amukamara had some trouble this week in keeping stride-for-stride with the Packers receivers. They took advantage of the man-to-man coverage that the Giants mostly deployed because of the strategy to add an extra man in the box to top the run.  

    He did finish with six tackles, all solo, but as previously stated, his coverage was shaky.

    McBride had another solid game, recording five tackles and, for the most part, staying on the receiver’s hip. He was beaten on one deep second-half pass, but otherwise, he held up well.

    Thomas led the Giants with eight tackles, seven solo. As the nickelback, he held his own in coverage for the most part.

    Unit Grade: B

Special Teams

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    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Participants: P Steve Weatherford, K Josh Brown, KOR Michael Cox, PR Rueben Randle

    This inconsistent unit finally put together a performance that helped the team’s chances.

    Punter Steve Weatherford punted five times for a 53.0-yard gross average and a 42.2-yard net average, sending every punt down the middle of the field. According to the postgame notes at Giants.com, his net average was his highest of the season, while his gross average trailed only his 54.7-yard average on Sept. 8 in Dallas.

    Kicker Josh Brown made both of his field-goal attempts and had three touchbacks on kickoffs. Three other kickoffs that were returned never made it past the opponent’s 20-yard line.

    Ruben Randle had his best game as the punt returner. On his only return opportunity of the game, which came in the first quarter, he ran the ball back 32 yards for a career best. That return helped set the stage for the Giants’ first score of the game, a 26-yard touchdown catch by Randle.

    Kickoff returner Michael Cox, who replaced Jerrel Jernigan, ran back two kickoffs for 35 yards. Most importantly, though, he didn’t have any ball-handling issues.

    Some additional other performances worth mentioning include:

    • Mark Herzlich, who finished with a team-best three tackles on special teams.
    • Spencer Paysinger, who alertly stopped the Packers one yard shy of the first down on their fake punt attempt. 
    • Gunners Charles James and Cooper Taylor, who did a nice job with contain.

    The lone negative from this unit was Louis Murphy running into the punter, which set up the fake punt. Because the Giants snuffed out the fake, no harm was done, but Murphy has to do a better job in that scenario.

    “Hopefully this is the start of a great thing because realistically our punt and other special teams areas have been sub-par, we know that,” Paysinger told Zach Braziller of the New York Post.

    Unit Grade: B+

     

    Patricia Traina is the senior editor for Inside Football. All quotes and information obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow Patricia on Twitter, @Patricia_Traina.