New York Giants vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Full Report Card Grades for New York
This is rock bottom, Big Blue believers.
With only three wins and nine losses, the New York Giants are every bit as bad as their record says they are. If you didn't believe it before this weekend, the Giants' second-half meltdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 13 probably sealed the deal for you.
New York led Jacksonville, 21-0, at one point in this game, when it looked like utter domination. The 25-24 final score tells us this Sunday's tale took a dramatic twist.
Each position unit contributed to the Giants' downfall in one way or another. See how they all graded out in the slides to follow.
The quarterback position was hardly to blame for New York's loss to Jacksonville on Saturday. Eli Manning finished the day with an admirable completion percentage of 70.6. He did not throw an interception for the first time since Week 9.
Manning's downfall came in the second half, when every dropback was a sack (four for 34 yards) or at least a hurried attempt. By the time New York was down to its fourth-string right offensive tackle—not to mention without starting running back Rashad Jennings (ankle)—Manning was doomed.
Again, Manning showed potential in the early goings of the game. The majority of his positive production came in the first three drives of the game. From there, however, the well went dry.
Manning's fumble, which was recovered for a touchdown, may have been the worst play of the game. But he wasn't to blame for the immediate swarming pressure in his face, nor Jennings' poor decision not to fall on the ball for a safety in the end zone.
He did lead the team down the field for a go-ahead field goal with less than four minutes to play, although it didn't hold.
Rashad Jennings looked like he wanted to win more than any other Giant on Sunday, until he was sidelined late in the game with an ankle injury. His runs were the heart and soul of New York's early drives. Fighting for every yard, Jennings knifed through spotty blocking 26 times for 91 yards and two well-earned touchdowns.
Jennings wasn't as much of a factor as a receiver this week, catching only three passes for three yards. His backup, Andre Williams, however, turned one short pass upfield for an impressive 18 yards. Williams wasn't really effective taking handoffs, amassing only 21 yards on eight carries.
As mentioned on the quarterback slide, Jennings did make a mistake on Manning's fumble. He should have pounced on it in the end zone, saving the team four points.
Still, if every Giant played with Jennings' will, they might be 9-3 right now instead of 3-9.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
The only exceptional player in this position group was Odell Beckham Jr. He was again a lethal threat on the outside, catching seven passes for 90 yards. Jacksonville was able to keep Beckham out of the end zone, though.
The Giants also ran a four-yard reverse to Beckham. Cool, but not effective.
Some other positive notes from the receivers were Kevin Ogletree's two catches on two targets (25 yards) and Preston Parker's tough, three-yard touchdown catch.
Tight end Larry Donnell was pacing himself to have a big game, making a couple spectacular catches before losing a fumble that was returned 41-yards the other way for Jacksonville's first go-ahead score.
The only player in the position group who might have been a bigger goat than Donnell was Rueben Randle, who was benched for the first quarter of the game, according to Around the NFL (h/t Big Blue View). By the time he came around with three catches for 52 yards, it was too late.
The offensive line showed promise on the first few drives of the game, but injuries caught up with the Giants rather quickly here. At right tackle, Geoff Schwartz (who was already filling in for Justin Pugh) was carted off the field with an ankle injury. Then, his replacement, James Brewer, was lost to a concussion, according to The Record's Art Stapleton (h/t CBSSports.com).
The final configuration never stood a chance to properly protect Eli Manning. The Giants quarterback weathered four sacks and four hits. That's also not counting his many narrow escapes, just to throw the ball away or complete a pass short of the sticks.
The O-line was just as porous against the run. Half a dozen times, the men up front leaked a Jaguar who ended up making a stop for a loss.
Center J.D. Walton had a particularly rough outing. John Jerry played guard and tackle on the right side and played them both poorly.
The defensive line got great pressure on Blake Bortles, who also happens to quarterback the team with the worst pass protection in the NFL. Ignoring this fact for a moment, New York got three sacks and the majority of its improved pass-rush from the defensive line.
Then, the Jaguars stumbled upon the Wildcat/zone read with a mixture of Bortles and Denard Robinson taking shotgun snaps. Forget his 1.5 sacks, Jason Pierre-Paul is in his fifth season, and he still can't figure out how to contain the edge. Will the Giants watch his contract expire?
Damontre Moore couldn't get a sack, but he did deflect two passes at the line.
New York stuffed the Jags when they tried straightforward running. A lot of this has to do with Johnathan Hankins' presence at defensive tackle. The 320-pounder came away from Sunday's action with a sack.
The last half-sack came from none other than Kerry Wynn, the undrafted rookie defensive end who was been inactive for every game so far this season. Seeing him involved in the pass-rush was an encouraging sign of the Giants' future potential at this positional unit.
The linebackers may have enjoyed the best afternoon of any Giants positional unit. They were aggressive, making several plays behind the line of scrimmage and keeping the Jaguars from ever sustaining a ton of offensive success. (Jax was 3-of-12 on third downs.) Remember, New York's defense only surrendered 13 of Jacksonville's 25 points.
Devon Kennard was the star. The rookie made a handful of truly special plays, including two sacks and three tackles for a loss. He is another hope-inspiring youngster on the Giants defense.
It didn't seem like the Giants were missing Jon Beason at middle linebacker on Sunday. Jameel McClain led the team with nine tackles (six solo) and a sack.
Spencer Paysinger and Mark Herzlich chipped in with two tackles each. One of Herzlich's stops was for a loss.
The Giants secondary did a fine job, except for one play: Marquise Lee's 30-yard touchdown. Zack Bowman was the cornerback in supposed coverage on the play, as he trailed Lee down the right sideline and watched him complete the play without ever laying a hand on him.
Other than that one play, the Jaguars were mostly kept in check when they threw the ball. Outside of Lee, no Jacksonville pass-catcher caught a pass longer than 14 yards.
Blake Bortles was not threatening, averaging only 5.5 yards per pass attempt, but New York's defensive backs couldn't force him into making any rookie mistakes. He didn't throw a single interception.
Stevie Brown helped hold together the injury-riddled position unit. The safety made several plays near the line of scrimmage, finishing the game with six tackles and a sack.
The Giants lost by only a point, so Josh Brown's first missed field goal of the season was magnified. It occurred in the third quarter with less than five minutes remaining. Big Blue still held an 11-point lead when Brown pushed the 43-yard attempt wide right.
Before that kick, Brown was a perfect 10-of-10 on the season. Had the defense been able to hold Jacksonville on its final offensive drive of the game, Brown would have redeemed himself with a game-winning kick from 33 yards out with three minutes, 26 seconds left in regulation.
Nothing else New York did on coverage or return units was enough to save the special teams from a failing grade.
The Giants coaching has to get most of the blame for a loss to Jacksonville. When playing a team as bad as the Jaguars, you find some way to win. That's what last year's Giants managed to do seven times. Unless New York wins its remaining four games, this team can't prove it isn't worse than the abysmal one that took the field in 2013.
Injuries take their toll. Insufficient depth is a drain. But, as some point, the coach must be held accountable for what he's able to do with the talent he's given. After blowing two consecutive, multi-score halftime leads, head coach Tom Coughlin must be blamed for losing his team somewhere in the second half.
I'm not sold on Ben McAdoo's offense. Three games in a row, the offense has started out hot only to fizzle as the opponent completely figures out how to defend it. During this time, New York has scored 49 first-half points and only 13 second-half points.
And how is Perry Fewell foolish enough to make the same mistake twice? He replaced Devon Kennard with Spencer Paysinger at linebacker when the Giants went to a softer, prevent defense on Jacksonville's final offensive drive of the game. That worked about as well as it did against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 12.