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Grading the Giants: Rough day for the offense and worse for the defense

Head coach Joe Judge of the Giants looks

Head coach Joe Judge of the Giants looks on from the sidelines late in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sep. 12, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac


The fumble was a back-breaker. Daniel Jones had an otherwise respectable performance, completing 22 of 37 passes for 267 yards and a touchdown and rushing for another score, but his propensity for coughing up the football marred everything else he did on the field. The Giants’ pass protection was not awful – they allowed two sacks and no other quarterback hits – but they were unable to open any holes for the running game. Not even Saquon Barkley could find any wiggle room behind them. His longest gain of the day was his 5-yard run on the first snap. Sterling Shepard, who had the best preseason of any Giant, had the best opening game, too. He caught seven passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.



Teddy Bridgewater was a step ahead of everything the Giants threw at him, whether it was his ability to sidestep and run away from the few instances of pressure they put on him in the pocket or his skill at finding wide open receivers in the middle of the suddenly sloppy secondary. Darnay Holmes looked lost at times and compounded his most glaring mistake with a frustration penalty hurling a receiver to the ground while out of bounds. The Giants did a decent job bottling up the Broncos’ running attack for most of the game, but the one 70-yard touchdown run by Melvin Gordon that sealed the game accounted for 42.4 percent of their total yardage on the ground (165). The Giants need to find a way to get pressure on the quarterback without sending players from the secondary. Blake Martinez had nine tackles but whiffed on what should have been an easy one for him to open the third quarter.



The Giants didn’t have many chances to return punts since the Broncos had seven fourth downs, kicked two field goals, punted twice and went for it three times. C.J. Board was the Giants’ kickoff returner and he brought a little dynamite to the position with a 38-yard return late in the game but he probably should have stayed in the end zone on the opening kick rather than take it out from 5 yards deep. Punter Riley Dixon launched a 61-yard punt from his own end zone but the Giants couldn’t cover it very well and allowed an 11-yard return.



The most glaring offense was Joe Judge throwing the challenge flag on the touchdown, a violation of the rules (it cost him a timeout), which he said he knew was illegal but was a desperate attempt to get the attention of the officials. The Giants did not commit many penalties (four), but when they did they were very costly (three of them gave the Broncos first downs). Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who was dubbed the "Black Picasso" in a Sports Illustrated article this week, certainly had an abstract game plan that could not account for the Broncos’ horizontal crossing routes and slants. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett needs to figure out a way to get rookie Kadarius Toney on the field without telegraphing their intent to get him the ball. That should happen naturally as he is integrated into the offense on a more regular basis.


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