Wild Card Weekend Sunday Games

Today I take a look at the Wild Card Weekend Sunday Games. Going by points allowed and scored the Sunday games look to be the closer more competitive games compared to the Saturday games.

Vikings At Saints

Sunday, 1/5/20 at 1:05 ET

Viking RB Dalvin Cook

  • 1 of only 4 players to have 1600+ yards from scrimmage and score 70+ points
  • His 11.2 yards after the catch (YAC) per reception is first in the league.¹
  • His 4.54 yards per attempt make him 1 of only 19 backs with 100 attempts and a 4.5+ yards per attempt.

¹Cook averages -1.4 yards before the catch (YBC). When you add YBC and YAC then Cook trails backs Austin Ekeler and Miles Sanders.

Viking DE Danielle Hunter

  • Hunter is fourth in the league with 14.5 sacks
  • His 15 tackles for loss (TFL) is tie for tenth.
  • Hunter is 1 of only 3 players with 14+ sacks, 15+ TFLs and 20+ QB hits.

The Vikings have

  • Second lowest number of missed tackles. They have only two more than the Patriots and 18 less than the third team.
  • Lowest yards after the catch allowed per reception with an average 3.79 yards. The next team is a half yard more and the league average is 1.2 yards more.
  • The fourth highest Interception percentage by the opponent offense.
  • The sixth highest yards after contact per rush attempt with a 2.3 yard average.
  • The fifth highest yards after catch per reception (5.8 yards)
  • The second most balanced run/pass percentage (49.1/50.9)
  • The fifth best combination ranking in points scored and points allowed ranking eighth and fifth in those respectively.

Saints QB Drew Brees

  • Top Pass Completion Percentage  (74.3%)
  • Top Sack Percent (3.08%)
  • Second Passer Rating (116.3)
  • Third Adjusted Net Yards Pass Attempts (8.3)
  • Third Pass Touchdown Percent (7.1%)
  • Fourth Pass Interception Percent (1.1%)
  • Lowest Bad Throw Percent (10.7%)
  • Highest On Target Percent (84.1%)
  • Pro Bowl 13 of 19 year career including the last four years.

Saints WR Michael Thomas

  • In 2019 broke all-time record for receptions with 149. The record had stood since 2002 when Marvin Harrison had 143.
  • His 1,725 receiving yards is tops this season and number seven on all-time season record list.
  • First in receiving 1st downs.
  • The fourth year player is a three year pro-Bowl selection and a one year All-Pro (2018).

The Saints are

  • Second in passing touchdowns.
  • Third in least number of interceptions thrown (tie).
  • Sixth in yards per play (5.9 yards).

I see this game as being close. For points scored and points allowed these teams match up pretty close with a slight edge to the Vikings. Personnel wise the edge goes to the Saints. They have the better quarterback and offensive line. The Saints  also have the home field advantage.

Pick to win: Saints

Seahawks At Eagles

Sunday, 1/5/20 at 4:40 PM ET

Eagle DT Fletcher Cox

  • His 22 pressures is eighth most among defensive tackles.
  • One of only seven defensive tackles to have 3+ sacks, 10+ QB hits, 5+ tackles for loss and 1+ forced fumble. Of the seven DTs Fletcher Cox has the most forced fumbles with 3.
  • Made the Pro Bowl each of the last 5 seasons and in 2018 was 1st Team All-Pro.

Eagle TE Dallas Goedert¹

  • Goedert’s 5.7 yards after the catch per reception is ninth best among tight ends.
  • One of only seven tight ends to have 5+ receiving touchdowns, 600+ receiving yards, 10+ yards per reception and 6.9+ yards per target.

¹ Would have chosen Zach Ertz but I am assuming Ertz will not play due to a lacerated kidney.

Seahawk QB Russell Wilson

  • Wilson’s 5 game winning drives and 4 fourth quarter comebacks this season are both tie for tops in the league.
  • Wilson’s 32 passing touchdowns is third in the league and his touchdown percentage is fifth.
  • Wilson’s 1% interception percent is tie for second in the league.
  • Wilson’s 106.3 passer rating is fifth in the league.

Seahawk LB Bobby Wagner

  • Wagner’s 159 tackles this season is tops in the league.
  • Wagner has 9 games this season with double digit tackles. That is tie with ARI Jordan Hicks for most in the league.
  • Wagner was elected for the last six Pro Bowls and has been a 1st Team All-Pro four times in that time-frame.

The Seahawks are

  • Ninth in total points scored.
  • Fourth in passing touchdowns.
  • Tied for third in least passing interceptions.
  • Fourth in rushing yards and tenth in rushing yards per attempt with 4.6 yards.
  • Third in rushing first downs.
  • Ninth in percentage of drives ending in an offensive score (36.3%)

The Eagles are

  • Fifth in 1st downs allowed – 6th in rushing ad 10th in passing.
  • Tenth in opponent rushing yards per attempt (4.1 yards)
  • Eighth in defensive percentage of opponent drives ending in a score (33.5%)

In combined ranking of points scored and points allowed the Eagles are 27th and the Seahawks are 31st out of a possible 64 with lower better. The Seahawks better in offense and the Eagles in defense.

Pro Football Focus ranked a healthy Eagles offensive line as the best in the league following the season. However OT Lane Johnson is questionable and OG Brandon Brooks is out. The Seahawks line was ranked as 27th.

The Eagles are banged up on receivers. For the last two weeks they have run a two tight end formation (1-2-2WRs) on 73% of their offensive snaps and it has been successful 47% of the time. In that time-frame the Seahawks have run a 1-1-3 formation (3 WRs) on 79% and it has been successful 37% on pass and 41% on run. Even with a depleted team on offense the Eagle have won their last four games. They are at home which will be an advantage.

Pick to win: Eagles ¹

¹(As a Giant fan I would be glad to see the Seahawks win but I think the Eagles have the advantage and I pick them to win)

All  the games this weekend look like good ones. I think they will be close. Enjoy the games!

Wildcard Weekend Saturday Games

Today I look at the first two playoff games scheduled on this Saturday. i highlight two of the best players on each team and give a little data on each team overall.

Bills At Texans

Saturday, 1/4 at 4:35 ET

Bills CB  Tre’Davious White

  • Six interceptions is in three way tie for most interceptions in 2019
  • Passer rating of 44.5 when targeted is ninth best in league
  • Completion percent of 49.5% is twelfth best in league
  • Among players with zero touchdowns allowed White had 2nd most targets

Bills DT Jordan Phillips

  • His 9.5 sacks are the second most sacks by a defensive tackle
  • Since 1982  his 9.5 sacks are the second most sacks in a season by a player weighing 330 lbs or more
  • On a negative note his 20.5% missed tackles is worst among defensive tackles.

The Bills have a strong defense second to the Patriots in the first four statistics listed here. The Bills are:

  • 2nd in Points allowed,
  • 2nd in Percentage of opponent drives ending in offensive score,
  • 2nd in Opponent Adjusted Yards per pass attempt¹
  • 2nd in Opponent Touchdown percent
  • 3rd in Opponent Passer Rating allowed,
  • 4th in Opponent yards per offensive play (tie),
  • 6th in Total passing 1st downs allowed (tie),
  • 7th in Opponent 3rd down conversion percent
  • 7th in Rushing Yards Margin
  • 9th in Total Yards Margin
  • 9th in Total yards after the catch allowed,
  • 10th in Passing Yards Margin
  • 10th in Opponent Interception percent
  • 10th in Turnover Margin

Texans QB Deshaun Watson

  • Watson is in a three way tie for the most game winning drives this season with five. Interesting that the opposing quarterback, Josh Allen, is one of the other two.
  • Mostly due to injury his rookie season Watson has only started 37 games his first three seasons. Watson ranks sixth among all quarterbacks in number of games with a 100+ passer rating in their first 37 starts with 19 games. The top quarterback is Tony Romo in 2006-2008 with 22.

Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins

  • Hopkins is one of ten players to have 5+ games of 100+ receiving yards this season.
  • Hopkins drop percentage of 2.7% is eighth best among players with 100+ targets this season.
  • Hopkins’ sixty-eight 1st down receptions in 2019 is third most in the league.

The Bills and Texans played last year and the Texans won 20-13. The keys to the game for the Texans were turnovers, a good game from DeAndre Hopkins, special teams play and the toughness of DeShaun Watson.

Houston ranks higher than Buffalo in almost all offensive statistics. However as shown above Buffalo has a dominating defense.

Houston’s special teams gives them a third rank defensive starting field position. That compares to a Buffalo special teams that gives a 14th ranked field position of 2 yards more on average. A 2011 study attributed for every 3 yards closer to their opponent’s end zone, a team will add 2 wins on average.

In turnover margin Buffalo has a plus 4 to Houston’s zero for the season. In the 2018 Texans-Bills game there were 3 turnovers by each team and a total six points off turnovers by each team.

DeAndre Hopkins is coming off an illness but should be okay to play. In two of his last three games he has had 100+ yards receiving. DeShaun Watson has been bothered by a back injury but also should be good to go. He is one tough quarterback.

Update: In going solely by points scored and allowed the game pits an exceptional Bills defense against a slightly above average Houston offense. Also you have a below average Bills offense against an slightly below average Houston defense. Coupled with this is a Hopkins and Watson that may not be full strength. Look for the Bills defense to take over and the Bills pull the upset victory.

Pick to win: Bills

Titans At Patriots

Saturday, 1/4 at 8:15 PM ET last

Titan RB Derrick Henry

  • Henry’s 1,540 rushing yards this season is tops in the league.
  • Henry’s 16 rushing touchdowns is tie with Aaron Jones for most in the league.
  • Henry’s 5.1 yards per rush attempt is tie for fifth in the league.
  • Henry’s 3.2 yards after contact per attempt is second in the league

Titan QB Ryan Tannehill

  • Ryan Tannehill started 10 games after replacing Marcus Mariotta. He is the only quarterback to have 9.5+ yards per pass attempt and a passer rating of 115+.
  • Tannehill’s pass yards after the catch per completion of 6.2 is tie for second in the league.
  • Tannehill’s completed air yards per pass attempt of 5.2 yards is tie for second in the league.

The Titans have a balanced, efficient offense. Since Ryan Tannehill started in week seven no team has a better passer rating than the Titans. They are the third most balanced team in play selection of run/pass (47/53). The Titans  are tie for third in yards per play with an average of 6.1 yards. Their 5.0 yards per rush attempt is tie for second. Since Tannehill started in week seven the Titans are first in net yards per pass attempt. The Titans have the highest touchdown percentage in the red zone with 75.6%. They are tied for third in number of all touchdowns.

Patriot CB Stephon Gilmore

  • Six interceptions is in three way tie for most interceptions in 2019
  • Twenty passes defended is first in the league
  • Passer rating of 43.4 when targeted is eighth in the league
  • Gilmore has scored 2 touchdowns off interceptions and allowed zero reception touchdowns.

Patriot ST Matthew Slater

  • The unsung hero of the Patriots is special teamer Mathew Slater. He has played special teams for his 12 year career on the Patriots. He has made 8 Pro-Bowls. He has been named a Pro Football Writer’s All Pro four times, one more time than Tom Brady.
  • In 2019 Slater scored his 1st touchdown on an 11 yard blocked punt return and also blocked a punt which led to an offensive Patriot touchdown.
  • Slater is a gunner on kicks which means he runs down the field very fast to be  the first players to make a tackle.

The Patriots have a smothering, stingy defense. They  rank first in

  • Defensive starting field position,
  • Points allowed,
  • Total passing 1st downs allowed (tie),
  • Total yards after the catch allowed,
  • Percentage of opponent drives ending in offensive score,
  • Opponent yards per offensive play (tie),
  • Opponent Passer Rating allowed,
  • Opponent Adjusted Yards per pass attempt¹
  • Opponent Touchdown percent
  • Opponent Interception percent
  • Turnover Margin
  • Opponent 3rd down conversion percent

¹ (Passing Yards + 20 * Passing TD – 45 * Interceptions) / (Passes Attempted)

Just a note that Belichick is big on special teams having started coaching in that area. Besides first in defensive starting field position the Patriots are also first in Offensive starting field position.

Update: I highlighted the strengths of both teams. In some way this is a classic battle of strong offense against a strong defense. However both teams are good on the opposite side of the ball also. The Patriots have the second ranked team in terms of combination of points scored and points allowed ranking seventh and first in those respectively. That combination should be too much for a Titans team that is in the top 34% of the league. Going by points scores and allowed the Patriots would fall in the top 12% of the league.

Pick to win: Patriots

Enjoy the Games!

Giants 2020 Free Agents – What To Do

With the start of the offseason the Giants have a large amount of free agents in 2020. Here is a proposed approach on whether to sign the free agents. It also takes a look at potential players not free agents that they may want to cut. Free agents that have signed will be bolded and noted in the blue text. I will update the list as developments occur.

Resign the following free agents:

a. Markus Golden – Most sacks by a Giant since Jason Pierre Paul in 2014.

b. Leonard Williams – Leads Giants interior linemen in QB hits in just 7 games.

c. Michael Thomas – Special teams captain, was named to the 2019 Pro Bowl as a special teams replacement.

d. Cody Latimer – His 81.8% 1st downs / reception is 8th in the league among players with 10+ receptions.

e. David Mayo – Highest graded Giant linebacker by PFF (73.4)

f. Javorius Allen– His 4.1 yards after contact per attempt is third in the league among backs with 5+ attempts. He has nine attempts.

g. Alex Tanney – Set the NCAA record for most career touchdown passes thrown by any player in any division. A mentor for Daniel Jones. Check out his trick shot video below.

h. Deone Bucannon – A 2014 1st round draft pick by the Cardinals. Made 2014 All-Rookie Team. Had 13.8% Cardinal team market share of solo tackles in 2015. Joined Giants 10/22/19. Worth another season at low salary.

i. Scott Simonson – a good blocking tight end. The Giants run a 2 tight end formation on a third of their rush plays. Ellison and Simonson may be the two best blocking tight ends on the Giants.

j. Corey Coleman – A 2016 1st round draft pick by the Browns. Coleman had a 36% team market share of receiving yards in his final year of college in 2015. His first two NFL seasons were hampered by injury. He was out the 2019 on the Giants with a torn ACL. He is worth a shot at a low salary.

k. Jon Halapio – A restricted free agent.  Halapio did not play great in 2019 and hopefully the Giants can sign him for a smaller amount than an original-round RFA tender. The Giants should draft a center and worst case Halapio would be backup.

l. Aldrick Rosas – A restricted free agent. Rosas had a bad season in 2019 after making the Pro Bowl in 2018. Among kickers with 10+ attempts his field goal percentage and points made ranked 30th. His extra points percentage ranked 27th. Sign Rosas and bring in some competition for the preseason either drafted or a undrafted free agent.

m. Elijha Penny – The Giants ran a two back personnel Group on 9% of their offensive snaps. When they rushed in those formations they were successful 41%. When there was 1-3 yards to go they used the 2 backs on 29% of the rush attempts and were successful 59%. In 2018 only 3 qualifying fullbacks were graded higher than Elijha Penny in run-blocking grades (63.2). Sign Penny and see how the new signed fullback – George Aston – competes in preseason.

n. Colin Holba – Zak DeOssie’s replacement as long snapper.

o. Cody Core – Cody Core is the second-highest graded Giants special teams player according to Pro Football Focus. Core leads the unit in tackles with seven, including five solo. Core has pinned at least three punts inside the 20 this year.

p. Chad Slade – Slade spent his first 2.5 years on the Texans practice squad. But in practice he would go up against JJ Watt. He is a competent backup to Solder who can play tackle or guard. He says he can even play heavy tight end if needed. (Exclusive Rights Free Agent – can only sign with Giants if they place the minimum salary tender) (Giants resigned OL Chad Slade)

q. Da’Mari Scott – promoted off the practice squad late November, Scott has had 2 receptions on three targets each for eleven yards. He has averaged 7 yards after the catch per reception. Against Washington he also had 1 rush for 5 yards. In college Scott played receiver but in his last season he was used on 14 rush attempts for a 6.6 yard average. The second year player also has returned punts and kickoffs. (ERFA)

r. Sean Chandler – In college Chandler was one of only 9 players since 2000 to have 10+ interceptions, 20+ passes defended, 180+ solo tackles and 2+ sacks. Two year AAC All-Conference Second Team. Through week 12 of the 2018 season Chandler was PFF’s second highest graded player on special teams. (ERFA)

s. Eric Smith –  Smith was signed as an undrafted free agent by Miami following the 2017 draft. Pro Football Focus had ranked Smith as the tenth best offensive tackle going into the draft. Smith took his first regular season NFL snaps week ten of this season with the Giants.(ERFA) (Giants resigned OL Eric Smith)

t. Amba Etta-Tawo – In 2016 in his senior year Etta-Tawo achieved a 38% team market share of Syracuse receiving yards. He made ACC All-Conference First Team. He was ninth in the nation in receiving touchdowns with 14.  (ERFA)

u. Isaiah Searight – A 2019 undrafted free agent. Scout reports are big size, fast tight end that can break coverage and high point catches. Blocking ability is questionable. A raw route runner. (ERFA)

v. Devante Downs – On 10/1/19 the Giants added LB Devante Downs to their practice squad. The second year player was waived by the Vikings. Downs was elevated to the 53 man roster on 10/22 and played special teams. In 4 years at Cal Downs had 110 solo tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 5 interceptions and three forced fumbles. (ERFA) (The Giants resigned LB Devante Downs)

 

5. Let the following Free Agents Go

a. Eli Manning – Next up the Giants Ring Of Honor.

b. Mike Remmers – Nick Gates looks like an upgrade at Right Tackle. Unless sign Remmers for a lot less than his current $2.5 million as a backup.

c. Russell Shepard – 8 targets for 3 receptions this season. Over his 6 year career his Catch % never hit 60%.

d. Zak DeOssie – Colin Holba has filled in well for an injured DeOssie. It looks like time to move on after a great 13 year career on the Giants.

e. Antonio Hamilton – In his highest snap percentage on defense of his 4 year career Hamilton was targeted 9 times allowing 9 receptions for an average of 10 yards and 5 yards after the catch. His special teams performance alone can not justify the position.

f. Grant Haley – In 2019 PFF has graded Haley with a 53.3 grade. In 2019 Haley allowed a 111.8 passer rating when targeted and a 82.1% completion percentage for 32 completions. He had zero passes defended and has yet to get an interception. He committed one pass interference penalty for 15 yards. His 8.8 yards per target allowed is tie for 206th among 258 players.

6. Cut the following Player

a. Antoine Bethea – Bethea has been a liability in coverage this season. He was targeted 34 times and allowed 26 completions for a 75.6% completion percent. He allowed a passer rating of 145.2 when targeted. His yards per target of 13.8 was the worst in the league. He allowed an average 7 yards after the catch per completion. His base salary in 2020 is $2.5 million.

7. Trade the Following Player Or Else Cut

a. Alec Ogletree – Ogletree has also been a liability in coverage. He was targeted 48 times and allowed 42 completions for an 87.5% completion percent. Ogletree allowed a 109.6 passer rating when targeted. He allowed an average 6 yards after the catch per completion. His 16.7% missed tackles was 410th out of 459 players.

 

Prospects for the New York Giants’ New Coaching Staff

As the Giants begin the search for assembling their new coaching staff here are five potential candidates for head coach, defensive  and offensive coordinators. There is nothing implied by the order.

1. New Head Coach Prospects

a. Don Martindale, Ravens Defensive Coordinator – As two year defensive coordinator on the Ravens the team ranked second and third in points allowed. Believes in aggressive physical approach.

b. David Shaw, Stanford Head Coach – Record of 86-34 as Stanford head coach. Five bowl wins in eight years. Nine years NFL experience. Four years NFL Quarterback coach experience. He relies on the QB to call the right play among choices based on the defense. He believes in simple plays that look sophisticated.

c. Josh McDaniel, Patriots Offensive Coordinator – Experience with quarterbacks, defense, offensive coordinator and head coach. Seven years offensive coordinator and quarterback coach on the multiple Super Bowl Patriot teams. Believes in building plays around the strengths of your players.

d. Nick Sirianni, Colts Offensive Coordinator – quarterback coach for Phillip Rivers. Offensive coordinator for 2 years on Colts. Colts rushing yards per attempt went from 28th, to 21st to 12th. In 2017 prior to Sirianni with Jacoby Brisset as quarterback compared to 2019 with Sirianni and Brisset the Colts went from 30th to 17th on offense points scored. They improved significantly in most offensive statistics.

e. Robert Saleh, 49ers Defensive Coordinator – In three years as defensive coordinator the 49ers moved from last in points allowed (year prior) to eighth. Has 5 years experience as linebackers coach – an area the Giants need to improve.

2. New Defensive Coordinator Prospects:

a. Stephen Belichick, Safeties coach, New England Patriots – calling the defensive plays on what may be the best defense in the league.

b. Marvin Lewis, Arizona State, Special advisor – was DC on the 2000 Ravens which had one of the best defenses of all time.

c. Mike Nolan, Linebackers coach, New Orleans Saints – 1st year as DC on Giants in ’93 they allowed the least points in the league. They were in the top ten of least points allowed for 3 of his 4 years as Giants DC. (Update: Picked as Dallas Defensive Coordinator)

d. Dom Capers, Senior defensive assistant, Jacksonville Jaguars – Four of the Nine years (2009-2017) as Packers DC they were in top 12 teams of least points allowed.

e. Randy Shannon, defensive coordinator, UCF – During Shannon’s six years as the Hurricanes defensive coordinator (2001-2006), his defenses consistently finished among the best in the nation.

3. New Offensive Coordinate Prospects

a. Dan Mullen, Head Coach, Florida – A “quarterback whisperer” having tutored Alex Smith, Tim Tebow and Dak Prescott. He was brought along with Urban Meyer at a couple of Meyer’s coaching stops. He has run a spread offense, utilizing a quarterback’s ability to run, a power run game and big passing plays.

b. Jerry Schuplinski, Dolphins Assistant Quarterbacks Coach – has worked to help develop Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett. was an offensive assitant three years on the Patriots. (Update: Picked as Giants Quarterback Coach)

c. James Urban, Ravens Quarterback Coach – Besides helping to improve Lamar Jackson’s passing game, Urban has previously worked with Michael Vick and AJ Green as a receivers coach. He was also an offensive assistant 2 years on the Eagles.

d. Jay Gruden, Former Redskins Head Coach- As the Bengals Offensive coordinator in 2011-2013 he helped improve the Bengals from 22nd in points scored in 2010 to 18th, 12th and 6th in his three years. After he left the Bengals dropped down to 15th. (Update: Hired as Jaguars Offensive Coordinator)

e. Joe Brady, passing coordinator/receiver coach LSU – LSU leads the nation in points per game, is second in yards per game and first in red zone conversions. Prior to LSU Brady was offensive assistant on the Saints from 2017-2018. (Update: Picked as Offensive Coordinator Carolina Panthers)

It is an exciting time to see who they will assemble as the offseason has officially started for the Giants. Enjoy the next four months as the coaching staff is assembled, players are signed and eventually the draft arrives!

A Case As To Why The Giants Should Have Given Shurmur Another Year

On Monday following the last game of the season the Giants fired head coach Pat Shurmur. Personally I thought he deserved another year to turn things around. I had prepared a post on reasons to keep Shurmur and decided to post it here anyways even though it is now water under the bridge.

The San Francisco 49ers made Kyle Shanahan the head coach in 2017 after three years of three different head coaches. They gave him a six year contract and were set on committing to a long-term rebuild. After two years the 49ers were 10-22 under Kyle Shanahan. They had a young team and were beset by injuries including their quarterback – Jimmy Garoppolo. They were competitive and lost five games by one score to finish 4-12.  The 49ers front office stuck with Shanahan and it paid off as they now sit at 13-3 and the top seed in the NFC going into the playoffs.

The similarities to the Giants are eerie. Pat Shurmur signed a five year contract with the Giants in 2018. Shurmur is the first Giants head coach to receive a five-year deal since Dan Reeves when he was hired in 1993. It expresses a commitment to a long-term rebuild. The Giants are 9-23 under head coach Pat Shurmur after two seasons and finished 4-12 this season. The Giants 2019 season was also beset by injuries.

Saquon Barkley – out 3.5 games high ankle sprain
Golden Tate – out 4 games suspension
Sterling Shepard – out 6 games – concussions
Evan Engram – out 8 games foot injury (IR)
Jabrill Peppers – out 5.5 games back fracture (IR)
Ryan Connelly – out 12 games tore ACL
Janoris Jenkins – released (missed last 3 games)

Over the last two seasons the departure of Odell Beckham, Landon Collins, Snacks Harrison, Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins, Weston Richburg, Jason Pierre-Paul and Kerry Wynn may have been best for the team in the long run but you take an immediate hit short term.

In addition the Giants started a rookie quarterback for 12 games. The Giants fielded a young new team. There are only two players that have been on the team before 2016 – Eli Manning and Zak DeOssie. Eli was sat down to start the rookie quarterback after week two and Zak DeOssie was placed in IR after week 12. Only three players were acquired in 2016 and five in 2017. The rest of the team became a Giant over the last two years. That is 63 players.

Besides being a newly formed team they are a young team. As of the end of October the Giants led the league in rookie snap counts beating the second highest team by 500 snaps. Eight rookies have averaged 62.7% of the team snaps for their respective side. The top three are DeAndre Baker has averaged 91.5% of the defensive snaps, Dexter Lawrence has 78.4% and Daniel Jones has 74.9% of the offensive snaps . The other five are Sam Beal, Julian Love, Corey Ballentine, Oshane Ximines and Darius Slayton. All five have averaged over 30% of their respective side snap counts. For the most part the Giants are recently getting good play out of the rookies and they have shown improvement as the season went on. That reflects positively on the coaching staff. Here are the top ten teams with the most rookie snap counts as of 10/31/2019 and their season win/loss record. Of the ten teams only the Vikings had a winning record and they were number 9 on the list.

Team Rookie Snap Counts 10/31 Wins Loss Tie Win %
NYG 2907 4 12 25.00%
JAX 2418 6 10 37.50%
OAK 2352 7 9 43.75%
ARI 2228 5 10 1 33.33%
WAS 2177 3 13 18.75%
DEN 1985 7 9 43.75%
MIA 1974 5 11 31.25%
IND 1703 7 9 43.75%
MIN 1634 10 6 62.50%
DET 1605 3 12 20.00%
Total   57 101 1 36.08%

 

Update (1/1/2020 Here are the final 2019 most rookie snap counts)

Of the 56 rookie quarterbacks that started 8 or more games only 25% had a win-loss percentage of over .500.   The Giants in 2019 were the perfect storm. A rookie quarterback, the highest rookie snap counts, key players lost (injuries, trades, cuts, suspension) and prior season records of 3-13 and 5-11.

The team has played hard all season and even in the second half of the season when they were clearly out of the playoff picture. In the last eight games they have two wins, one overtime loss, two games decided by a score or less, two games that were a one point difference going into the fourth quarter and one tie going into the fourth quarter. The players like Shurmur. Many have vocalized their support of him. Daniel Jones has credited Shurmur for his development.

The development of Daniel Jones this season is perhaps the biggest reason to keep Shurmur. Jones games include the following with the number of rookies all-time that share each accomplishment.

  • three games with 4+ passing touchdowns (3 rookies),
  • five games of 300+ passing yards (3 rookies),
  • five games with 2+ passing TDs and 0 interceptions (5 rookies).
  • one game of 300+ passing yards, 5 TDs and 0 interceptions (only rookie)

This season Jones has the second highest 1st down conversion percentage (47.6%) for rushes among quarterbacks with over six rushes.

To mess with this development by bringing in a new head coach does not appear to be in the best interest of quarterback development. Shurmur who was credited as being a “quarterback whisperer” has performed well in regard to quarterback development. Here is a list of rookie quarterbacks all-time that had 25+ total touchdowns. There were only nine and Jones accomplished it in the least amount of games.

Player Year G Cmp% Yds Pass TD Int Rate Y/A Rush Yds Rush Y/A Rush TD Tot Tds
Cam Newton 2011 16 59.96 4051 21 17 84.5 7.84 706 5.6 14 35
Russell Wilson 2012 16 64.12 3118 26 10 100 7.93 489 5.2 4 30
Dak Prescott 2016 16 67.76 3667 23 4 104.9 7.99 282 4.95 6 29
Jameis Winston 2015 16 58.32 4042 22 15 84.2 7.56 213 3.94 6 28
Andrew Luck 2012 16 54.07 4374 23 18 76.5 6.98 255 4.11 5 28
Baker Mayfield 2018 14 63.79 3725 27 14 93.7 7.66 131 3.36 0 27
Robert Griffin 2012 15 65.65 3200 20 5 102.4 8.14 815 6.79 7 27
Daniel Jones 2019 13 61.87 3027 24 12 87.7 6.59 279 6.2 2 26
Peyton Manning 1998 16 56.7 3739 26 28 71.2 6.5 62 4.13 0 26

 

The allure of a new coach is inviting. Looking at some potential candidates two that stand out are Don Martindale, the Ravens defensive coordinator, and Josh McDaniel, the Patriots Offensive coordinator.  The Ravens have been the first and second team in minimal points allowed the two years that Martindale has been the defensive coordinator. However the year before he was defensive coordinator the team was already the sixth best team. So he took an already very good defense and made it better. The same can be said of Josh McDaniel. The year before McDaniel took over as offensive coordinator the Patriots were already the third best team in offensive points scored.  It is attributable to Josh McDaniel that he maintained a good offense for seven seasons. But I am sure Bill Belichick was helpful in achieving that. (Note: I like both these potential new coach prospects and will cover them with others in a future post).

Now lets look at what Shurmur was handed. In 2017, the year before Shurmur took over, the Giants were 31st in offensive points scored. The next year they were 16th and this year they are 19th. For defense in 2017, the year prior to Shurmur, the Giants were 27th in defensive points allowed. They improved to 23rd the next year and fell to 29th this year.  The point is that some of these coaching candidates that look real good started with much better teams. Shurmur started with a bottom tier team on both offense and defense. Coupled with the young rookie secondary this year it is not surprising the team has not won much. It is not fair to expect Shurmur to turn around a young, new, bottom-tier team in two years. One more year with high draft picks and favorable salary cap would provide the opportunity to succeed.

The biggest Giant turnaround was by new coach Jim Fassel in 1997. They went from a 6-10 team to a 10-5 team and lost in the first round of the playoffs. However the prior 1996 Giant team was tenth in the league in defense for points allowed. They had two All-Pro players in Michael Strahan and Jessie Armstead. They also had two talented cornerbacks in Jason Sehorn and Phillipi Sparks. Shurmur started with a 3-13 team that has nowhere near that defensive talent of the 1997 team.

The future does actually look promising. Daniel Jones has performed exceptionally well and has definitely improved as the year went on. Saquon Barkley had a Pro-Bowl rookie season. After an early season injury he looks back to his stellar self. DeAndre Baker has improved dramatically from a tough rookie start at cornerback. Markus Golden has had a outstanding year getting the most sacks by a Giant since Jason Pierre -Paul in 2014. Our fifth round draft pick of Darius Slayton has shown real promise. The defensive front three have been tough to run on in the middle. This is a good core to build around. I forget where I saw it but one analyst predicted the Giants to win the NFC East in the 2020 season.

Over the last five seasons the highest coach turnover has been three different head coaches. There are only eight teams that have had three different head coaches since 2015. They are the Cardinals, Browns, Broncos, Dolphins, Giants, 49ers, Buccaneers and Titans. Of those eight probably only the Browns and the Giants are considering going to a fourth coach in six years. The Browns made it official Sunday and are going with their fourth head coach in six years. There is a lot to be said for holding the course and not constantly changing head coaches. San Francisco stuck with their initial plan of Kyle Shanahan. This even though he had a similar losing record as Shurmur. That decision has paid off with the number one seed in the playoffs.  Hopefully the Giants decision is closer to the 49ers than the Browns.

As I said this is water under the bridge now. I believe the new coach will benefit from the work done over the last two seasons. I wish Pat Shurmur well in his future endeavors. Never the less it is time to move on. It is an exciting time as a Giant fan and I look forward to the new coaching staff and what I believe will be a better team in 2020. Go Giants!

Week 17 Giants Versus Eagles – An NFC East Battle

This weekend the Giants host the Eagles in a critical game for the NFC East division title. The Eagles can clinch the NFC East with a victory. If the Eagles lose they would need a Dallas loss to win the division and make the playoffs. The Giants are playing for Giant pride as they were long ago eliminated from the playoffs. This is a meaningful game for both teams, as all games are. This game will have the feel of a playoff game. It should be a hard fought battle. Today I look at the game and key points for a Giant victory.

Five reasons the Giants will win.

1. Daniel Jones has got similar or better statistics than Carson Wentz for the season.

  • Jones’ passer rating is a significant 10 points better than Wentz’s passer rating.
  • On a per game basis Daniel Jones has almost double the touchdowns
  • Jones leads Carson Wentz in passing yards per attempt 6.6 to 6.2.
  • Jones’ rushing yards per attempt is almost twice that of Wentz and Jones rushing yards per game is over twice that of Wentz.

2.  Since the Giants bye week (11) the Giants have a better yards per offensive play than the Eagles. This is also true for the whole year but it got better in the last five games.

 

3. Since the Giants’ bye week in week 11 the Giants have a better defensive yards per play allowed than the Eagles. The opposite was the case prior to the bye week.

 

4. The Giants have a better penalty yards allowed than the Eagles for the season. It has diverged even more since the bye week as shown in the following table.

 

5.  Since the Giants bye week (11) the Giants have a significantly better score margin in the first half. Here are the score margins after the first half from week 12.

 

Five reasons the Eagle will win.

1. Since the Eagles bye week (10) the Eagles have a better 3rd down conversion percentage than the Giants. This has been true also for the whole season.

 

2. The Eagles have a better total yards margin than the Giants for the season and since the Eagle’s bye week. Here are the margins for the season.

 

3. Since the Eagles bye week (10) the Eagles have more first downs than the Giants by almost eight per game. Here are the first downs since week 11.

 

4. the Eagles have allowed a significantly lower passer rating for opponents than the Giants. Here are the allowed passer ratings for the season.

5. Since the Giants bye in week 11 the Eagles have a better second half score margin than the Giants. Here are the second half score margins since week 12.

Keys to The Game

1.  Pressure the Quarterback
The two teams are close in the percentage of quarterback pressures per dropback.  The Eagles have just a 0.8% advantage at 23.4%. The Eagles lead the Giants with 39 sacks to the Giants 35. However Giant Markus Golden leads both teams in sacks and pressures. Golden is eighth in the league with 40 pressures. He is tie for fifth in the league in quarterback hits. The other Giant outside linebacker, Lorenzo Carter, has 21 pressures. The lead Eagle is Brandon Graham who is 33rd in the league with 26 pressures. The other side of the Eagles line has Derek Barnett who has 23 pressures. Golden is 17th in the league with 9.5 sacks. Brandon Graham leads the Eagles with 7.5 which is 32nd in the league.

The Giants 3-4 defensive front three includes Dalvin Tomlinson with 3.5 sacks and 13 pressures, and Dexter Lawrence with 2.5 sacks and 14 pressures. The Giant interior other lineman, Leonard Williams, has 19 pressures for the year (2 teams) and zero sacks. The Eagles run a 4-3 defense. Their interior linemen consist of Fletcher Cox with 3.5 sacks and 19 pressure and Tim Jernigan with 1 sack and 2 pressures.

The Eagles quarterback has been hurried on 11% of dropbacks. That is higher than the Giants 9% of dropbacks. The Giants quarterback has been hit on 11.3% of dropbacks compared to the Eagles 8.2%. Both quarterbacks have either passed in the pocket or the pocket collapsed within 2.3 seconds.

Pro Football Focus named four of the Eagles offensive linemen among the top 25 offensive linemen thru week 15. They are RG Brandon Brooks, RT Lane Johnson, LT Jason Peters and OC Jason Kelce. They rate the Eagles as the highest graded offensive line. ProFootballtalk recently named Peters and Kelce to their top 10 offensive linemen of the decade. Giant RG Kevin Zeitler is the only Giant to make the PFF list. They said – In 61 combined pass-blocking snaps against Ndamukong Suh, Fletcher Cox and Kenny Clark this season Zeitler allowed just one quarterback hurry.

In their week 14 overtime matchup the Giants blitzed Wentz over three times more than the Eagles blitzed Manning. The hurries show that increased production but the sacks do not. The QB hits are decent for the increased blitz rate. Here are the pressure statistics from that game.

 

Both quarterbacks perform well under pressure.

In the Tampa Bay game this year, as reported on msn.com, Daniel Jones was pressured on 47% of his dropbacks and he completed 80% of his passes on those pressured attempts for 233 yards, two touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 passer rating. That’s the 4th-most pressured passing yards by any QB in any regular season game in PFF history (2007-2019). Over that span, there are 1,674 instances of a QB attempting at least 12 pressured pass attempts in a game. Jones was the first to record a perfect passer rating.

Through week six this season, there were only three quarterbacks to record a passing grade above 70 when under pressure: Russel Wilson at 87.5, Carson Wentz at 83.0 and Aaron Rodgers at 76.7.

This season when Wentz was blitzed in the double digits his win percentage doubled, his passer rating went up 6 points and his interceptions decreased by half. His bad throw percentage did increase by 2.5%. Other statistics such as completion percentage, sacks and 1st down percentage remained relatively the same. In the Giants game the Giants blitzed Wentz 18 times which was the most by any team. He was sacked three times but his overall passer rating (109) and completion percentage (70) was above his season average and his bad throw percentage was below the average.  It may be better to try to get pressure without as much blitzing as last game.

 2. Cover the Pass

Here are the coverage results from their last game in week 14.

Player Tm Int Tgt Cmp Cmp% Yds Yds/Cmp Yds/Tgt TD Rat DADOT Air YAC YAC / Rec
Alec Ogletree NYG 0 6 6 100.0% 71 11.8 11.8 1 155.6 5.2 31 40 6.7
Deone Bucannon NYG 0 3 2 66.7% 36 18 12 0 107.6 5 18 18 9.0
Michael Thomas NYG 0 3 3 100.0% 23 7.7 7.7 0 98.6 2 6 17 5.7
Janoris Jenkins NYG 0 8 6 75.0% 55 9.2 6.9 0 93.2 2.5 21 34 5.7
Sam Beal NYG 0 7 5 71.4% 51 10.2 7.3 0 92 12.4 38 13 2.6
Julian Love NYG 0 10 5 50.0% 35 7 3.5 1 91.7 3.7 14 21 4.2
David Mayo NYG 0 3 3 100.0% 13 4.3 4.3 0 84.7 -2.3 -7 20 6.7
Antoine Bethea NYG 0 4 2 50.0% 34 17 8.5 0 79.2 14 26 8 4.0
Deandre Baker NYG 0 6 1 16.7% 7 7 1.2 0 39.6 11.5 7 0 0.0
Total 50 33 66.0%
Ronald Darby PHI 0 7 5 71.4% 151 30.2 21.6 2 153.3 17.9 96 55 11.0
Rodney McLeod PHI 0 1 1 100.0% 10 10 10 0 108.3 10 10 0 0.0
Duke Riley PHI 0 2 2 100.0% 5 2.5 2.5 0 79.2 -0.5 -1 6 3.0
Avonte Maddox PHI 0 2 1 50.0% 11 11 5.5 0 66.7 14 4 7 7.0
Nathan Gerry PHI 0 5 3 60.0% 10 3.3 2 0 64.6 -0.6 -4 14 4.7
Nigel Bradham PHI 0 3 1 33.3% 2 2 0.7 0 42.4 12.3 2 0 0.0
Jalen Mills PHI 0 3 1 33.3% 7 7 2.3 0 42.4 8.7 7 0 0.0
Malcolm Jenkins PHI 0 4 1 25.0% 7 7 1.8 0 39.6 8 6 1 1.0
Total 27 15 55.6%

 

Giant cornerback DeAndre Baker had a lights out game. The allowed passer rating when he was targeted was 39.6 with six targets and one completion. On his one completion he allowed zero yards after the catch. Eagles strong safety also had a good game allowing just 1 completion on 4 targets with 1 yard allowed after the catch.

On the negative side Giant Alec Ogletree had the worst day among Giant coverage plays. He was targeted six times allowing six completions for an allowed 155.6 passer rating when targeted. He also allowed an average 6.7 yards after the catch per reception. Ogletree was injured and did not play last week against Washington. Deone Bucannon took his place. For the season on the Giants Bucannon has allowed a higher passer rating when targeted than Ogletree. It is uncertain if Ogletree will play this Sunday against the Eagles.

Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby had a equivalent bad day. He allowed five completions on seven targets for 151 yards and a whopping average 11 yards after the catch. His allowed passer rating when targeted was 153.3. Ronald Darby has been placed on injured reserve. Head coach Doug Pederson said Rasul Douglas will start at cornerback with Darby out. Rasul Douglas has started 5 games in 2019. He has had 60 targets and allowed 34 catches for a 56.7% completion rate and a 115.9 passer rating when targeted. Douglas has allowed an average 5.6 yards after the catch.

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz leads all tight end in targets and is second in receptions. Ertz is ninth among all receivers in targets. He played last week with a fractured rib that occurred in the first quarter. It is unknown if he will play this weekend. The other tight end Dallas Goedert  is also a highly rated player. In the Dallas game last week he caught a touchdown pass. On a drive with 1:52 remaining on the half Goedert caught five consecutive passes for a total of 59 yards. In the fourth quarter he had a 22 yard reception. His 5.9 yards after the catch per reception is seventh best among tight ends. In the Dallas game Goedert made most catches in the middle and the intermediate range. Although Goedert also had a deep right catch and a screen pass to the left.  The Giants have to spend special attention the the Eagles tight ends as the Eagles are hurting in the wide receivers players with injuries. In the Dallas game last week 75% of their targets and 77% of the Eagles receptions were for running backs or tight ends.

The Giants could use a  lot of nickel defense formation in which they use five defensive backs to aid in covering tight ends and slot receivers. The Giants nickel package includes three rookies of DeAndre Baker, Julian Love and Corey Ballentine with Michael Thomas and Antoine Bethea at safety. Ballentine has been playing the nickel position.  With the exception of Robert Davis, the Eagles receivers are not exceptionally fast. I hope to see the Giants play more tight man-to-man coverage as opposed to zone. Their zone coverage often appears to be too soft leaving receivers open.

3. Stop the Run

The Eagles want to run the ball. They are seventh in rushing attempts and twelfth in rushing yards and rushing first downs. Luckily the run defense from the interior line is one of the strengths of the Giants team. The Giants 3.9 rushing yards allowed per attempt is fifth in the league. However they have allowed 91 rushing first downs which is seventeenth in the league and 16 rushing touchdowns which is 27th in the league. The Giants have allowed 11 rushing plays of 20+ yards which is 23rd in the league. Many of the big runs have occurred on the edge.  In Miles Sanders 100-yard rushing game against the Redskins his big rushes of 5+ yards were distributed as right end two rushes for 18 yards, left end two rushes for 67 yards and interior two rushes for 22 yards. He also had large pass plays of short passes and runs of two to the left for 26 yards, one to the right for 15 yards and two in the middle for 12 yards. The Giants have to play sound fundamentals of getting off your blocks and Contain on the edge. Force the runner inside.

4. Execute on Offense

I believe offensively the Giants match up favorably against a banged up Eagle offense. The Giants have the edge in wide receivers with Shepard, Slayton and Tate. A Saquon Barkley on his game has the edge over Miles Sanders. The Eagles have the edge on the offensive line. The tight end edge goes to the Eagles.

I like Daniel Jones versus Carson Wentz. Jones needs to eliminate the fumbles. Otherwise Jones has shown accuracy, poise, toughness, mobility, and the ability to lead drives with the game on the line. Jones has gone against eleven teams and other than the Vikings game, Jones has led the team to either a victory or a close game in the fourth quarter. I list the games in my post The Giants Are Improving And Not Just Behind The Scenes. Daniel Jones is his own man, but I see a lot of similar positive traits between him and Eli Manning. Jones may only have three victories but two of those were with game winning drives.

In Conclusion

This should be a real battle. The Eagles are playing to win the division and make the playoffs or else they most likely will be out. The Giants have a long history of playing tough even in games that the outcome does not matter to them. They have continued to do so this season. No game is meaningless. The Giant offense is more than capable to produce to keep this a close game. Like many games this year it will come down to the Giant defense limiting the opposition. This is not a slight on the defense. They also have fought hard every game right to the end. Against the Redskins the Giants started four rookies on defense if you count Sam Beal as a rookie. Three of those rookies were in the secondary. Rookies DeAndre Baker, Julian Love and Dexter Lawrence have all played well of late. The Giants have the talent, grit and drive to pull off the upset victory.  Enjoy the Game. Go Giants!!

Giants sign Fullback George Aston

The Giants signed fullback George Aston to the practice squad. Aston was signed as an undrafted free agent following the 2019 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos. However he was cut at the 53-man roster cuts following preseason.  Aston played at Pittsburgh in college.

Fullback George Aston is an“old school” football player. He bench pressed 29 reps at his pro day which would have been second among combine running backs. In 2016, Aston scored 5 receiving and 5 rushing touchdowns. Only 28 players over the last 10 years have scored at least 5 TDs in both phases. Aston is one of only two in this draft class to do so. Those 10 touchdowns in 2016 came on just 44 touches or a touchdown every 4.4 touches. In 2017 Aston was injured and contributed as a reserve in only two games. Granted a lot changes from year to year, but it is worth noting that Pittsburgh went from 86th in rushing yards /game (148) and 97th in average rush yards (3.87) in 2017 to 18th in rush yards/game (228) and 13th in average rush yards (5.6) in 2018. They had the same two running backs both years. The major differences were three new o-linemen and George Aston was now healthy and playing. One of the o-line changes was the loss of second round draft pick Brian O’Neill. Pittsburgh’s offensive line coach Dave Borbely called Aston the best fullback he’s ever been around. Borbely is in his 39th season as a college offensive linemen coach and run game coordinator.

At the high school level Aston was capable of bench pressing 440 pounds and squatting 700 pounds. To put that in perspective in the spring of 2018 DT Ed Oliver was reported to be capable of  a 650 squat and a 405 bench press. At his Pro Day Aston met fullback target goals for seven of the eight drills. “I live in the gym. I’m there every day. When I’m not lifting, I’m running sprint drills or doing cardiovascular work.” said George Aston coming out of high school.

Aston has been described as ‘hard-nosed’ and a ‘blue-collar warrior. “George is a monster in there,” Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi said this past season. Aston made my list of the five toughest players at each position for players drafted or signed as undrafted free agents in 2019.

Giants vs Redskins – The Rookies

The game week 16 between the Giants and the Redskins could be called the rookie bowl. There will be more rookies starting in this game than any other game this weekend. The Giants have four rookie starters and the Redskins have five.  Today I look at the rookie starters in the game.

New York Giants

QB Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones is one of only 13 rookie quarterbacks since 1950 that in their first 10 games had an 80+ passer rating, 2000+ passing yards, a 60% Completion percentage or better and a 6+ yards per pass attempt.

 

Daniel Jones is the only rookie quarterback since 1950 to have three games of 300+ passing yards, two passing touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 112+. He is also the only rookie quarterback to have two games of 300+ passing yards and four passing touchdowns. On the negative side Jones leads the league in fumbles with 15 for the season. However he is closely followed by Josh Allen and Carson Wentz who each have 14.

WR Darius Slayton

Darius Slayton is one of only 11 rookie wide receivers since 1992 who in their first 12 games had 6+ receiving touchdowns, 600+ receiving yards, a 60% or better catch percent and 6+ yards per target.

 

DT Dexter Lawrence

Dexter Lawrence is one of only 13 rookie interior defensive linemen since 2006 that had 2+ sacks, 20+ solo tackles, 2+ tackles for loss and 9+ quarterback hits in their first 14 games.

Player Pos Age Year Tm G Sk Solo Ast Comb TFL QBHits
Dexter Lawrence DL 21 2019 NYG 14 2.5 21 14 35 2 9
Olsen Pierre DL 26 2017 CRD 14 5.5 22 8 30 9 9
Solomon Thomas DL 22 2017 SFO 14 3 34 7 41 10 11
Willie Henry DT 23 2017 RAV 14 3.5 24 9 33 6 11
DeForest Buckner LDT 22 2016 SFO 14 6 42 28 70 7 17
Aaron Donald DT 23 2014 RAM 14 8 35 5 40 18 11
Chris Jones DT 23 2013 NWE 13 6 25 29 54 8 9
Fletcher Cox DT 21 2012 PHI 14 5.5 32 5 37 8 9
Marcell Dareus NT 21 2011 BUF 14 5.5 28 10 38 8 10
Ndamukong Suh DT 23 2010 DET 14 8 40 15 55 12 15
Gerald McCoy DT 22 2010 TAM 13 3 22 6 28 7 12
Tyson Alualu DT 23 2010 JAX 14 3.5 25 8 33 6 9
Jason Jones DL 22 2008 OTI 13 5 24 7 31 6 9

CB DeAndre Baker

Weeks 12-15 Baker has the 6th-best coverage grade among all qualified cornerbacks , while quarterbacks targeting Baker have completed just 26.3% of their passes, the lowest percentage targeting any corner. Baker has improved recently from a poor start to the year. For the season Baker has allowed a 111 passer rating when targeted.

Washington Redskins

QB Dwayne Haskins

Dwayne Haskins has just come off the best game of his rookie year. He passed for 261 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, a 9.32 yards per pass attempt and a 121.3 passer rating. Only 19 rookie quarterbacks since 1950 had a game like that and only one had two games that good in their rookie season. For the season Haskins 70.2 passer rating is last among quarterbacks that started six or more games.

WR Kelvin Harmon

Kelvin Harmon only advanced to 60% or more of the offensive snaps over the last five weeks. In that time-frame he is one of only five rookie receivers to have Receiving Yds >= 199, Yds/Target >= 8, Yds/Reception >= 14 and Catch Pct >= 58.  Three of those five rookies will play in this game.

WR Terry McLaurin

Terry McLaurin is one of only four rookie wide receivers since 1992 that in their first 13 games had 800+ receiving yards, 7+ receiving touchdowns, a 16+ yards per reception and 9+ yards per target.

LB Cole Holcomb

Cole Holcomb is one of only 13 players since 2006 who in their rookie season in their first 14 games had 90+ tackles, 60+ solo tackles, 6+ tackles for loss and 2+ quarterback hits. He is the only rookie this season to accomplish this. His main negative is in pass coverage where he has allowed a 117.5 passer rating when targeted and an 84% completion percentage on 38 targets for an average 9.5 yards per completion.

Montez Sweat

Montez Sweat has 23 quarterback pressures in his rookie season. That is fourth best among rookies. He is one of only four rookies in 2019 to have 5+ Sacks, 5+ Tackles for Loss and 9+ quarterback hits.
Enjoy the game! Go Giants! Go Daniel Jones!

How have Giant Players Performed in the Latter Part Of the Season

There is a lot to be said for how a team and a player finishes the season. Did they improve as the season went on or regress. This also reflects on the coaching staff if their team has improved with more experience and practice. Here is a look at the Giants starters and how they performed from the start of the season compared to the end in key statistics. This is not a reflection of how they performed for the year but only the difference in play from the early games to the later games. I have color coded the players showing improvement in Giant blue and those showing regression in red. They also have a + (improved) and a – (regressed) in front of their names.

Offense

+ Daniel Jones (Week 3-7 to 8-13)

+ Increased his passer rating from 74.9 to 92
+ Increased his passing touchdowns from 6 to 12
+ Decreased his interceptions from 7 to 4
– Increased his fumbles from 5 to 9
– Decreased his rushing touchdowns from 2 to 0

+ Darius Slayton (Week 3-8 to 9-15)
Targets 27 to 45

+ Increased receiving yards from 267 to 423
+ Increased receiving touchdowns from 3 to 5
– Decreased yards per reception from 16.7 to 15.1

+ Rhett Ellison (Week 1-5 to 6-10)
Targets from 9 to 19

+ Increased receptions from 7 to 11
+ Increased receiving yards from 46 to 121
+ Increased yards per reception from 6.6 to 11
+ Increased touchdowns from 0 to 1
+ Increased yards per target from 5.11 to 6.37
– Decreased Catch percentage from 77.8 to 57.9

+ Golden Tate (Week 5-8 to 9-15)
Targets from 36 to 30

– Decreased receptions from 23 to 15
– Decreased yards from 280 to 232
– Decreased Catch percentage from 64% to 50%
+ Increased Yards per reception from 12.2 to 15.5
+ Increased touchdowns from 1 to 4

+ Cody Latimer (Week 1-7 to 6-15)
Targets from 19 to 13

– Decreased Reception from 10 to 7
– Decreased Receiving yards from 137 to 107
+ Increased yards per reception from 13.7 to 15.3
+ Increased touchdowns from 0 to 1
+ Increased yards per target from 7.2 to 8.2
+ Increased Catch Percentage from 52.6% to 53.8%

– Saquon Barkley (Week 1-9 to 10-15)
Rushing attempts from 88 to 90
Receiving targets from 41 to 24

– Decreased yards per attempt from 4.56 to 3.57
– Decreased rushing yards from 401 to 321
– Decreased yards per reception from 8.14 to 5.59
– Decreased yards per target from 5.56 to 3.96

– Sterling Shepard (Week 1-5 to 12-15)
Targets from 34 to 33

– Decreased Receptions from 25 to 21
– Decreased receiving yards from 267 to 194
– Decreased yards per reception from 10.7 to 9.2
– Decreased Catch % from 73.5 to 63.6
– Decreased yards per target from 7.85 to 5.88

Defense

+ Markus Golden (Weeks 1-7 to 8-15)
Defensive Snaps from 369 to 427

– Decreased Sacks from 5 to 4
+ Increased Solo Tackles from 12 to 20
+ Increased tackles for loss from 3 to 8
+ Increased Quarterback hits from 11 to 13

+ Dalvin Tomlinson (Week 1-7 to 8-15)
Defensive Snap from 252 to 254

+ Increased solo tackles from 9 to 12
+ Increased tackles for loss from 1 to 4
+ Increase Quarterback hits from 3 to 6
+ Increased sacks from 0.5 to 3.0
+ Increased Forced Fumbles from 0 to 1

+ DeAndre Baker (Week 1-7 to 8-15)
Defensive Snaps from 428 to 407

+ Increased Passes Defended from 1 to 6
+ Increased solo tackles from 19 to 21
+ Increased tackles for loss from 0 to 1
+ week 1-10 allowed 149.9 passer rating when targeted, week 12-15 Baker has the 6th-best coverage grade among all qualified CBs , while QBs targeting Baker have completed just 26.3% of their passes, the lowest percentage targeting any corner

+ Jabrill Peppers (Week 1-5 to 6-12)
Defensive Snaps from 327 to 378

+ Increased Solo Tackles 21 to 30
+ Increased Total Tackles 30 to 46
+ Increased Tackles for Loss 1 to 4
+ Increased Forced Fumbles 1 to 2
– Decreased Interceptions 1 to 0
– Decreased Passes Defended 3 to 2

+ Antoine Bethea (Week 1-7 to 8-15)
Defensive Snaps from 471 to 492

– Decreased Solo Tackles from 37 to 35
– Decreased Total tackles from 55 to 43
+ Increased tackles for loss from 0 to 2
+ Increased Interceptions from 0 to 1
+ Increased Passes Defended from 1 to 4
+ Antoine Bethea has the 4th highest grade defending the run for a safety

+- Lorenzo Carter (Week 1-7 to 8-15)
Defensive Snaps 297 to 329

+ Increased sacks from 1.5 to 2
+ Increased tackles for loss from 0 to 4
– Decreased quarterback hits from 6 to 3
– Decreased forced fumbles from 1 to 0

– Alec Ogletree (week 1-8 to 9-15)
Defensive Snaps from 373 to 430

– Decreased Solo tackles from 24 to 22
– Decreased tackles for Loss from 3 to 1
– Decreased Quarterback hits from 2 to 1
– Decreased total tackles from 39 to 36
+ Increased Interceptions from 0 to 1

Dexter Lawrence (Week 1-7 to 8-15)
Defensive Snaps from 279 to 340

+ Increased Solo tackles from 9 to 12
+ Increased Quarterback hits from 3 to 6
– Decreased sacks from 2 to 0.5
– Decreased tackles for loss from 2 to 0
– Decreased total tackles from 19 to 16
– Decreased forced fumbles from 1 to 0

 – David Mayo (Week 3-8 to 9-15)
Defensive Snaps 230 to 258

– Decreased sacks from 1.5 to 0
+ Increased tackles for loss from 1 to 3
– Decreased quarterback hits from 1 to 0
– Decreased total tackles from 34 to 30

Special Teams

+ Aldrick Rosas (Week 1-7 to 8-15)

– Decreased Extra Point % from 100% to 75%
+ Increased Field Goal % from 66.7% to 77.8%
+ Increased points from 28 to 33

+ Riley Dixon (Week 1-7 to 8-15)

+ Increased yards per punt from 44.96 to 47.72
+ Decreased Blocked punts from 1 to 0

In Conclusion

This is not an exact science.  Some players were hard to classify as improved or regressed. In the case of Golden Tate his significant increase in touchdowns was the deciding factor. Lorenzo carter was tough to judge. I put him as the same, neither improved or regressed. Antoine Bethea has significant issues in coverage. As reported on Pro Football Reference he has a 143.8 passer rating allowed when targeted for the season. But from a half season to half season comparison he has improved when looking at all aspects of his play.  Dexter Lawrence is a great player but he has regressed in the latter half of the season.

Overall my opinion is that the majority of starting players have improved in the latter half of the season. With two games remaining that can change either way. Hopefully the improvements continue and translate into wins to finish out the year. Enjoy the Week 16 games. Go Giants!

Giants Not In Playoffs – Who To Root For?

Like most football fans once their team is out of the playoffs I look for two teams to root for – one in each conference.  Being a Giants fan that ruled out the Eagles or Cowboys. With both teams at 7-7 it does not look like the winner will go far in the playoffs. That leaves roughly five NFC teams to choose from and seven AFC teams. The Titans on the outside looking in still have a decent shot at making the playoffs.

There have only been twelve quarterbacks that have won multiple Super Bowls. Giant Eli Manning is one of them. Being a Giants fan and Eli Manning fan I would like to keep that number down at least until Manning makes the Hall Of Fame.  That means I do not want Aaron Rodgers (GNB), Russel Wilson (SEA) or Drew Brees (NOR) in the Super Bowl. That leaves the 49ers and the Vikings among the NFC teams. The AFC teams are still open to seven teams.

Being a statistics loving football fan, I next ran a query on teams to see who has excelled in some major stats. I used pro football reference which allows you to filter on four qualifiers. For four stats I like the following for showing how good a team is

  1. Yards per rushing attempt,
  2. Passer Rating,
  3. Net Yards per Pass Attempt, and
  4. Turnover Margin.

For yards per rushing attempt I first used 5.0 but only the Ravens and Browns showed up. So I decreased it to 4.0 yards per attempt. That gave me 22 teams.

Next I added passer rating. I started with a passer rating of 100. That actually was a good point. It yielded eight teams all of which are in playoff contention. If you drop it to 95 you get four more team and two of those are not in playoff contention. Those would be the Falcons and Raiders (only a slim slim chance).  So I stuck with a passer rating of 100 and combined it with the 4.0 rushing yards per attempt. Those two yielded the eight teams. They are the Ravens, Vikings, Saints, Seahawks, Titans, Chiefs, 49ers and Packers.

Next I checked net yards per pass attempt. Starting at a measly 5.0 yards per attempt yielded all 32 teams.  I added the query to my other two and upped the net yards/pass attempt to 6.0. That still yielded the eight teams I had without it. But I noticed a clear drop-off for the lowest team. The Packers had 6.3 net yards per attempt. The next lowest team the Titans were up to 6.9 yards per attempt. The next couple of teams were only slightly better. So I added a 6.5 net yards per pass attempt.

The next added qualifier was for turnover margin as positive. This yielded no change. in fact all seven remaining teams had a 5+ turnover margin. The lowest three went from 5, 6 to 7. I noticed the total yards  margin had a huge discrepancy. Two teams were well over a thousand. While the others were at 630 or less. That was my final fourth qualifier.

In a single season, in 2019, in the Regular Season, requiring

  1. Yds/Rushing Att >= 4 and
  2. Passer Rating >= 100 and
  3. Net Yds/Pass Att >= 6.5 and
  4. Total Yds Margin >= 700.
I was thinking Baltimore would be my AFC team as Lamar Jackson and their offense are an exciting team to watch. Jackson will likely win MVP of the year. Lamar Jackson has been the AFC Offensive Player of the Week four times this year. The records that he is setting are staggering. Some include:
  1. Most rushing yards by a quarterback in a season.
  2. Tied for most games in a season with a perfect passer rating (2).
  3. Only player to rush for 1000+ yards and pass for 2500 yards in a season.
  4. Youngest quarterback to achieve a perfect passer rating.
The 49ers have a good defense and maybe the defensive rookie of the year in Nick Bosa. Nick Bosa is one of only seven rookies all time to have 9 sacks and 20 quarterback hits. I also loved tight end George Kittle’s catch and run against the Saints that set up the game winning field goal. With a defender holding his facemask Kittle kept going for extra yards. Reminded me of Mark Bavaro. Jimmy Garoppolo is also having a good year.
  1. One of 4 QBs with 3000+ passing yards, 100+ passer rating and 8.0+ yards per pass attempt.
  2. One of 5 QBs with 3+ fourth quarter comebacks.
  3. His 6.1% touchdown percent is sixth in the league
  4. He leads the league in pass yards after the catch per completion. (tied Mahomes)
  5. Is tied for second in percentage of on-target throws per pass attempt.
Those two teams would make an exciting Super Bowl !  Go Ravens!! Go 49ers!!