The New York Giants' 31-19 win over the Washington Commanders snapped a three-game losing streak to improve the Giants record to 3-8. Here are some thoughts to come from that game.
1. Jersey Strong. Given the Giants' injury situation at quarterback, many thought the team might immediately turn to a veteran to at least try to salvage its season rather than place the season's fate in the hands of undrafted rookie Tommy DeVito.
But the scrappy New Jersey native, while nowhere close to being a finished product, has rewarded the coaching staff’s faith in him by delivering two starting campaigns in which he’s now 1-1 and where, in the loss, he wasn’t the lone reason for the team coming up short.
“I was asked a fair amount of questions about bringing in some older guys and thought this guy was a good, young player to work with,” head coach Brian Daboll said after the Giants defeated the Washington Commanders 31-19.
“Again, he’s played in two and a half games, so there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. But he certainly has put the work in. When he was out on the look team at practice, you could see some of his instinctiveness even though he was a show team quarterback in terms of throwing the ball on time, anticipation. And so, thought he’d be a good player to work with. There are a lot of things he did well and many things we can help him improve on.
“(It was) a team win, and certainly proud of Tommy. That’s a tough position to play, and he’s got a really good mindset. Now, we’ll have to go back and fix things like we normally do, whether it’s a win or a loss. But I'm proud of him for all the work that he does put into it. He puts a lot of work into it.”
2. Saquon Shines. I have no idea if the Giants plan to retain running back Saquon Barkley. But considering he’s missed time this year due to injury—what starter on this team hasn’t at this point?—when he’s been in the lineup, he continues to be a difference-maker.
In Sunday’s win over Washington, Barkley recorded his second career game with two receiving touchdowns, his first since October 7, 2018, the fifth game of his career. His team-leading four touchdown catches ties the career-high he set as a rookie in 2018. And did we mention that this season, the Giants are 3-0 when Barkley scores a touchdown and 0-8 when he doesn’t?
For those who feel the Giants should move on from the running back because of his injury history, because he’s another year older, or whatever reason you might want to hang your hat on, just take a closer look at the difference he makes when he’s in the lineup and ask yourself how the Giants have replaced that lost production when he’s been sidelined.
3. The Oh-Line. For the first time this season, the Giants started the same five offensive linemen in consecutive games: Andrew Thomas, Justin Pugh, John Michael Schmitz, Ben Bredeson, and Tyre Phillips. That ends a streak of nine games with nine different starting offensive line combinations, a scenario largely brought about by injuries.
Although this version of the offensive line has been part of 14 sacks allowed against the quarterback, it’s probably fair to say that DeVito is responsible for running himself into a vast majority of those sacks thanks to his read-and-duck approach in the pocket.
The good news, though, is that DeVito’s ball security has been pristine, and while no one wants to see plays that go for negative yardage, it sure does beat the alternative, which is to wildly throw the ball away and risk it being picked off.
4. Mr. Thibs Comes of Age. Does anyone still think Kayvon Thibodeaux is a bust? Since that whole debate, as brought up by a local New York sports talk radio station, all Thibodeaux has done is shut his mouth and let his play do the talking.
The second-year defender has 6.5 of his 10.5 sacks on the season since Week 7, having recorded at least 1.5 in three of those four games. Also, in that stretch, he’s recorded six of his ten tackles for a loss and has eight of his 17 quarterback hits in that span.
Thibodeaux also becomes the first defender in a Wink Martindale defense to record double-digit sacks and the first Giant since Leonard Williams (11.5) in 2020. He's also the first Giants linebacker to achieve this milestone since Markus Golden recorded ten sacks in 2019.
And let’s not forget about his run defense, which has also improved. Five of his seven run-defense tackles have come in the last three weeks.
A bust? We think not.
5. So Now What? The Giants used their three standard practice squad elevations on kicker Randy Bullock, which means if they bring him up from the practice squad a fourth time, he would then be subject to waivers, So would the Giants, who, based on these last three weeks don’t seem to think that youngster Cade York is ready to kick in a pressure cooker, continue to take their chances or is a roster move coming that will see Bullock added to the roster?
The team likes York and thinks he’s got something that can be developed (translation: they view him as insurance in case Graham Gano isn’t ready to roll after his knee surgery). But with no real kicking coach to bring the best out of York, would carrying two kickers (Bullock and York) on the roster be prudent?
Probably not, but that could be where this is headed.
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