The New York Giants suffered an ugly loss on Sunday and will need to make changes ahead of their Week 3 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers.
The New York Giants are off to an 0-2 start for the fourth consecutive season and the seventh time in eight years. Their loss on Sunday to the Chicago Bears was ugly for several reasons, so let’s get the big ones out of the way first.
Face of the franchise and superstar running back Saquon Barkley tore his ACL during the game and will be out for the remainder of the season. It’s one of the worst things that could’ve happened to the Giants, but they’re going to need to accommodate if they hope to have any semblance of a successful season.
This will likely open up a spot for a rookie receiver to show their stuff but isn’t ideal for the Giants as Shepard is a notable piece of their offense.
The Giants suffered two huge injuries, but the remainder of the team was disappointing for most of the game. Daniel Jones took a step back from his pretty solid outing against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1.
He’s already committed four turnovers through the first two games and it’s beginning to appear as though he will always have that problem. The question is: How much will this issue impact his game?
This was also the first game of his young career in which he didn’t throw a single touchdown pass.
On a more positive note, tight end Evan Engram was much better this week. He recorded six receptions on eight targets for 65 yards — a huge step up from his measly nine yards against the Steelers.
Engram is known for being a poor blocker but was actually the eighth-best pass-blocking tight end in the league in Week 2, according to Pro Football Focus.
If he can consistently play this well, he’ll be very valuable to his young quarterback and will help keep the offense above water in the absence of Barkley and Shepard.
Let’s move on to the offensive line.
Unfortunately, rookie tackle Andrew Thomas looked like he took a step back in his second career NFL game. He was bad in both pass protection and run blocking.
To make matters worse, left guard Will Hernandez continues to disappoint. According to PFF, he allowed a sack and three pressures against the Bears.
He’s allowed nine pressures, has a 49.8 PFF grade, and additionally possesses a pass-blocking efficiency score of 94.6 to begin the season, which is good for 48th among 53 qualifying guards.
The left guard spot may be a position the Giants will need to address during the upcoming offseason.
Right guard Kevin Zeitler was another bright spot on the line, having undergone a bounce-back game. According to PFF, Zeitler allowed just two pressures on 50 pass-blocking snaps and recorded an impressive 77.6 pass-blocking grade.
He was also the highest-graded offensive player of the week for the Giants. It would’ve been nice to see Thomas and Zeitler have great games together, but fans must wait to witness that.
Kevin Zeitler bounced back to the play PFF is used to seeing from him.
He allowed only 2 pressures on 50 pass-blocking snaps with a 77.6 pass-block grade.
Zeitler is the highest graded offensive player in W2 for the Giants. pic.twitter.com/DwA4UNhZCt
— PFF NY Giants (@PFF_Giants) September 21, 2020
The defense continues to employ more bright spots than the offense.
Defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence is making a name for himself and is emerging as one of the best defensive players on the team. His 85.7 PFF grade makes him the fourth-highest graded interior defensive lineman in the league thus far.
Dexter Lawrence is the 4th highest graded interior DL through the first two weeks of the season, pending tonight’s game. https://t.co/CPp5USnXFH
— PFF NY Giants (@PFF_Giants) September 21, 2020
Blake Martinez continues to get the job done as well and has been the team’s best inside linebacker.
Cornerback James Bradberry, however, was the star of the show. According to PFF, Bradberry earned a 93.1 coverage grade and recorded one interception, three pass breakups, and allowed just one catch on six targets in what was the best game of his career.
He also leads the league in forced incompletion percentage at 39%, per PFF.
Bradberry was tasked with covering Allen Robinson II — Chicago’s top wideout and a very talented receiver at that — and was stellar, shutting him down completely.
Bradberry was named to PFF’s Team of the Week and was also named the PFF Defensive Player of the Week. Lawrence, Martinez, and Bradberry were the only three defensive players on the Giants to earn PFF grades above 80.
In a game that really couldn’t have gone much worse for New York, having a player perform as great as Bradberry did was much needed and hopefully a sign of good things to come.
The Giants offense will be slightly anemic heading into Sunday’s contest against the 49ers, but a game that was predicted to result in an automatic loss for Big Blue should end up becoming the team’s first win of the year.
Barkley is gone, yes, but the Giants did sign Devonta Freeman on Wednesday. Freeman is 28 years old and spent his entire six-year career with the Atlanta Falcons up until this point. He’s undergone a solid career and should be impactful for the Giants.
The 49ers were hit harder by injuries than any other team this past week, and that’s saying something. They’ll be without their quarterback, top wide receiver, top two running backs, and a chunk of their defense including big names such as Nick Bosa, Richard Sherman, and Solomon Thomas. Superstar tight end George Kittle is also questionable.
The Giants should be able to muster up a win here, which would be step No. 1 in turning their season around quickly. Stealing a victory against one of the very best teams in the league, and one that’s riddled with injuries, would be a huge success and help build confidence.
Head coach Joe Judge just needs to ensure that his players aren’t as sloppy as they were in their first pair of games.