The New York Giants offered their worst performance of the 2022 season in Sunday’s 31-18 loss to the Detroit Lions. Let’s get to the ‘Kudos & Wet Willies.’
Kudos to …
WanDale Robinson — The rookie wide receiver showed why the Giants drafted him with a career-best nine catches and 100 yards before suffering an awful-looking knee injury in the fourth quarter.
Andrew Thomas — Per Pro Football Focus, Thomas did not allow a quarterback pressure for a second consecutive game. The guy is pretty good.
Wet Willies to …
Adoree’ Jackson returning punts — The risk of using their top cornerback as a punt returner appears to have backfired significantly on the Giants. Jackson’s knee injury will reportedly cost him several weeks and, combined with Sunday’s injury to Fabian Moreau, and previous injuries to Aaron Robinson and Xavier McKinney, leaves the Giants’ secondary in shambles.
I understand head coach Brian Daboll saying that “there’s a risk playing every player.”
I understand the desire to give your best players the opportunity to impact games in any way possible. In two games, though, Jackson returned three punts for 5 total yards — hardly showing the ability to be an impact punt returner.
He is, though, an impact cornerback for the Giants. Who, because he suffered a knee injury doing something he probably shouldn’t have been doing, likely won’t be available for several weeks.
This turned out to be a risk that was not worth taking.
Shane Lemieux — His first action of 2022 did not go well. Detroit defensive tackle Alim McNeill, lining up over Lemieux on most plays, had a sack, four quarterback hits and two tackles for loss before Lemieux was removed for Joshua Ezeudu in the third quarter.
The Giants started Lemieux at left guard one day after activating him from injured reserve, and it didn’t go well. He gave up a sack to McNeill on the Giants’ first offensive series, and it never got better. Upon initial review, Pro Football Focus charged Lemieux with allowing five pressures in his half of action.
Lemieux’s play made starting him instead of Ezeudu look like a poor, hasty decision.
Run defence — The Giants, honestly, have not defended the run well all season. They are last in the league, giving up 5.5 yards per rushing attempt. Against the Lions, they gave up 160 rushing yards on 37 carries (4.3 yards per attempt) and four rushing touchdowns.
Pass rush — No sacks and just three quarterback hits is not good enough. The Giants’ needed the pass rush — they needed their front seven to come up big — with the secondary a mess. That didn’t happen.
Special teams — Graham Gano, kicking despite needing four IVs to get through the day, missed two extra points. One of those was partially blocked. Jamie Gillan hit a 25-yard punt. The Giants gave up a 36-yard kickoff return to start the second half. Gary Brightwell muffed a kickoff and averaged 13.7 yards on three returns.
Run blocking — I can’t give this ‘WW’ to Saquon Barkley. His ugly 15-carry, 22-yard stat line was not his fault. There was no place for him to go. The interior of the Giants offensive line — Lemieux, Jon Feliciano, Mark Glowinski — got dominated by the Lions. Detroit defensive tackle Alim McNeill had the best game of his two-year career. McNeill had a sack, three tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. This is the first time McNeill has had more than a single TFL or QB hit in an NFL game.
Injuries and poor play by Lemieux meant the Giants could not call upon all of the six and eight offensive linemen packages they have been utilizing, since Matt Peart, Nick Gates and Ezeudu were playing.
Kwillies to …
Daniel Jones — The quarterback ran for a team-high 50 yards and a touchdown as the Giants dusted off the designed quarterback run game for the first time in a few weeks. He passed for 341 yards, the third-highest total of his career. Still, he threw a pair of costly interceptions, doubling his season total. Asked to throw a season-high 44 times, Jones could not escape the game without those two costly mistakes.