Winners and Losers of New York Giants' Week 3 Performance
While that feat alone is a step in the right direction, there remain some serious flaws with this team that it has yet to show it can overcome. For example, the play-calling, which was supposed to be more balanced this year between the run and the pass, continues to heavily favor the passing game, 117 to 45.
And speaking of the run, the run defense—a top-five unit last year—has allowed opponents three straight 100-yard performances.
"We had a rough day yesterday defending the run," head coach Ben McAdoo said during his Monday conference call with reporters. "We need to be better with our blocking structure, and we need to cut down on the missed tackles. We had some opportunities to tackle better and it starts with those two things."
Speaking of McAdoo, the jury remains out on his continued insistence in calling the plays, especially when he's calling for a run on 4th-and-1 down by the goal line, a play that the man on the moon saw coming.
"They were all hunkered down in there, whether you had a fullback on the field or not," McAdoo said when asked about why he didn't put a fullback on the field to help with the run blocking. "It was going to be tough sledding."
He then said that in retrospect, he would have done things differently in that situation. "I would like to have that call back. We did have some opportunities for one-on-ones on the outside. I take responsibility for that call."
The Giants will try again for their first win of 2017 on Sunday when they visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Before we get to breaking that matchup down later this week, let's take one last look back at the winners and losers from the Giants' 27-24 loss to the Eagles.
Winner: DE Olivier Vernon
Each week without fail, Olivier Vernon shows up ready to get to work regardless of the circumstances.
This past week, the defensive end suffered a sprained right ankle that he tried his best to gut out until the bitter end.
Although he ultimately had to exit the game when the injury became too much to bear—and for him to take such a step, you know it had to be bad—Vernon recorded five tackles (four solo), one tackle for a loss, one quarterback hit and a sack.
After the game, the 26-year-old spoke about doing whatever was necessary to get himself ready for the Week 4 game at Tampa.
In his Monday conference call, McAdoo said it was too early in the week to know if Vernon would be ready to go, but if there is anyone who can overcome whatever physical limitations his health might possess, he would be the guy.
Loser: P Brad Wing
There is just something about playing the Eagles of late that seems to bring out the worst in Giants punters.
This week, Brad Wing—who has been all over the map with his punting for two weeks now—delivered a terrible shanked punt on his final kick of the day; the ball traveled just 28 yards out of bounds to set the Eagles up with excellent starting field position on their 38-yard line.
Three plays later, Eagles kicker Jake Elliott was being hoisted on the shoulders of his teammates for a victory ride off the field after kicking the game-winning 61-yard field goal.
As for Wing, who was brutally honest in the locker room after the game—he used a derogatory term to describe his shank—he mused that the Giants might be in much better shape these last two games if he had gotten his act together.
While it's nice he held himself accountable, certainly no one is going to disagree that he hasn't helped the team these last two weeks.
Winner: QB Eli Manning
Yes, Eli Manning threw two interceptions, but you can probably make a strong case that at least one of those picks—the ball intended for Brandon Marshall—wouldn't have been intercepted had the wide receiver been a bit more aggressive in fighting for the ball.
Otherwise, Manning came through with his best showing of the new season, completing 35 of 47 pass attempts (74.4 percent completion rate) for 366 yards and three touchdowns.
Working in the Giants' up-tempo offense, which put an emphasis on getting the ball out as fast as possible, also helped Manning avoid getting knocked around like a bowling pin as did having his top receiver, Odell Beckham Jr. available for a larger workload.
Loser: CB Eli Apple
Cornerback Eli Apple’s sophomore NFL season hasn't exactly started off with a bang.
Per Pro Football Focus, Apple has a 138.8 NFL Rating, the worst of the Giants top three cornerbacks, and it's not even close.
He has allowed 17 of 23 pass targets to be complete for 196 yards and has been beaten for three touchdowns while his contemporaries, Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, have kept opponents off the scoreboard.
Apple's rough start included two defensive pass interference calls, both legit, which cost his team 77 penalty yards. Even more damning, his penalties aided two Eagles touchdown drives in the second half.
Apple, the team's first-round pick last year, is by no means a bust, but he has to start remembering to look back for the ball if he hopes to avoid future pass interference penalties.
Winner: WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Touchdown celebration aside—Beckham's mimicking of a dog urinating after he scored his first touchdown of the 2017 campaign was, according to the player, in response to President Donald Trump's suggestion that NFL owners "Get that son of a bitch off the field" if a player protested during the National Anthem—the electric receiver made a big impact on the game.
Beckham, who caught nine of his 13 pass targets for 79 yards, scored two touchdowns over a span of less than two minutes, breathing new life into a sluggish Giants offense that clearly missed him in Week 1 when he was sidelined with an ankle injury.
As Beckham continues to progress in his rehab, the pitch count he's under will gradually decrease, which should help to make the Giants offense more complete again.
Loser: S Darian Thompson
Another young defensive player who seems to be having a lackluster sophomore NFL season is free safety Darian Thompson.
Once thought to be a ball-hawking safety, Thompson has looked slow out of the gate. Per Pro Football Focus, Thompson missed four tackles out of eight attempts against the Eagles.
Thompson has also yet to come anywhere close to picking off a pass this season and has just one pass defensed in three games in what's been an underwhelming showing.
It's unclear if the surgery he had on his foot has deprived him of the speed he showed last year as a rookie, but the Giants need more production out of him moving forward.
Winner: WR Sterling Shepard
To no one's surprise, the Giants went to town against a depleted Eagles defensive secondary Sunday—a strategy that was enhanced by the coaching decision to have Manning get rid of the ball quicker to avoid being bounced around like a pinball.
Besides getting a big game out of Beckham, the Giants also finally got production out of slot receiver Sterling Shepard, who caught seven of 10 passes for a team-leading 133 yards, a new single-game career high and his first 100-yard receiving game since Week 2 of last season.
Shepard's big play was his 77-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter which gave the Giants a 21-14 lead.
Like Beckham, Shepard might have finished the day with two scores except an earlier catch that initially appeared to be a touchdown was ruled incomplete as the 22-year-old didn't have control of the ball as his momentum was carrying him out of the end zone.
Loser: RB Paul Perkins
The good news is running back Paul Perkins' 2.4 yards per carry Sunday was his season high thus far.
The bad news is that he was still the least productive of the Giants running backs, a group that includes Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa (rookie Wayne Gallman has been inactive thus far this season).
Perkins rushed nine times for 22 yards and a long of seven. Darkwa, who also had 22 yards, did so in nine carries, with a long of 20 while Vereen's lone rush resulted in five yards.
There is no question the Giants' running game continues to be an issue—and the offensive line needs to take its share of the blame for this as does the play-caller who continues to feed more of the snaps to Perkins, who has yet to show he's up to rewarding the confidence placed in him.
Patricia Traina covers the New York Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise sourced.