With the 24-10 loss on “Monday Night Football”, the New York Football Giants leveled their record at 2-2. Fortunately for New York, the score of this year’s contest in Minnesota was not as lopsided as last year’s debacle against the Vikings (49-17). Unfortunately for Big Blue, the team never appeared to be in a position to make the game competitive. While no specific unit was to blame for the loss, team grades reflect the game’s lack of competitiveness.
None of the units performed especially well, and the some coaching and roster decisions clearly deserve a little more scrutiny. In addition, the team was unable to put the loss to the Washington Redskins behind them completely. Here are the team grades for Week 4:
TEAM GRADES: OFFENSE
Quarterback Eli Manning had 25 completions in 45 attempts (55.6 percent) for 261 passing yards. Keep in mind that 72 of those yards came on one play to rookie halfback Paul Perkins. Clearly Manning is in a slump.
With both Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen out of the line-up, no one can criticize the production of Orleans Darkwa, Paul Perkins or Bobby Rainey. All three gave a great effort, even if running lanes were hard to come by. A special shout out to Rainey, who caught seven passes and rushed four times for 22 yards. Running back injuries have not hurt the offense, which is all you can ask from reserves. These guys are the only reason this grade is not an F.
The trio of Sterling Shepard, Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz barely cracked 100 yards receiving (103 to be exact). The Giants are not going to win many games that way. Beckham had another flameout this week, and his lowest output as a professional.
The “Beckham issue” has hit critical mass for the Giants. Big Blue does not win without a productive Beckham.
The New York Post reported on Oct. 3, 2016 that tight end Larry Donnell left the game with a concussion. Judging from the hit that Donnell took from Anthony Barr, it would be hard to imagine him playing against Green Bay. Will Tye remains a serviceable option, but rookie Jerrell Adams is largely invisible. This is an area routinely ignored by general manager Jerry Reese and always seems to bite the G-Men each season.
The offensive line has not been the disaster as some predicted, but center Weston Richburg (58.2 Pro Football Focus grade) has to pick up his level of play. Too many penalties are taken by this unit each game.
The Giants went two for 12 converting third downs, and for good measure, the offense went zero for two on fourth down.
UNIT GRADE: C-
TEAM GRADES DEFENSE:
The defense allowed back-up running back Jerick McKinnon to gain 85 yards on 18 carries (4.7 yards per carry). Thus far, edge players Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon are holding down the fort, but they need help. Formerly stout interior defender Johnathan Hankins has struggled (46.4 PFF grade), and it seems noticeable in the middle. Largely the front four remains the least of the team’s concern.
The defense has been riding both Pierre-Paul and Vernon over the past few weeks, and that will be detrimental at year’s end. “Pierre-Paul and Vernon rank first and second respectively among NFL defensive ends in playing time. The Giants risk wearing out two of their best defensive players if they aren’t able to establish a rotation,” according to NJ.com in a report dated Oct. 5, 2016.
With the exception of Devon Kennard, the linebacking unit has been a disappointment. The Jonathan Casillas we saw in the preseason has seemingly disappeared, and Kelvin Sheppard is not as effective as he was billed. Keenan Robinson seems to be active and had six total tackles against Minnesota. By and large, the unit is not comprised of play-makers, but rather with status quo guys, who don’t give up big plays.
The secondary was hobbled, and the Vikes picked on replacement corner Trevin Wade. Veteran Leon Hall has stepped in and played well in whatever role he is asked. Surprisingly Minnesota quarterback Sam Bradford took a few shots at Janoris Jenkins. Jenkins has played better than what he showed in Minneapolis.
All in all, the unit does not create turnovers, and Minnesota ate the Giants’ lunch converting eight of 16 third down attempts.
UNIT GRADE: C+
TEAM GRADES: SPECIAL TEAMS
Another week, and another disastrous start for Tom Quinn’s unit. Dwayne Harris’ muffed punt put the G-Men behind the eight ball. A small amount of Giants’ momentum was stopped in its tracks and returned to the Vikes.
According to Newsday on Oct. 4, 2016, Harris likely took his eye off the punt. “I was just trying to run,” Harris said. “I was just trying to make a move before I had it and didn’t really have control of it when I caught it, so it just spun out.”
Having said that, one play does not decide a game, and hanging your hat on the botched punt return really shows how fragile this team is right now. Overall, special teams righted the ship, with Brad Wing’s 46.7 yard average leading the way. Wing had three of his six punts land inside the 20-yard line.
Minnesota’s Cordarrelle is explosive, but he only had one return for 29 yards. Josh Brown converted a 40-yard field goal and one extra point try on the evening.