With the Eagles and Cowboys playing Sunday, the New York Giants were in a prime position to share second place with one of their NFC East rivals.
After two straight losses to the Vikings and Patriots, the Giants hoped to calm the storm this week against the Cardinals. But when it rains, it pours.
The Arizona Cardinals gave Daniel Jones and the Giants their third straight loss, their fifth of the season. The Giants could have woken up Monday morning with a 3-4 record and been tied with the Eagles, but instead they lost 27-21, proving to be anything but opportunistic.
The game was hyped up to be a battle between the 2019 number one overall draft pick, Kyler Murray, and the number sixth overall pick, Daniel Jones. However, the game came down to defensive play and coaching as each rookie quarterback took a back seat during a rainy afternoon.
Cardinals first year NFL Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury had the Giants defense in a blender. Kingsbury’s offense has many looks and they were able to confuse a defense that struggles identifying and anticipating plays. Field conditions also worked in his favor, as defenses usually struggle in the rain.
Arizona ran a lot of fake sweeps and ran pass options (RPOs) and they had the Giants’ linebackers looking like they were stuck in the mud. Giants defenders never knew where to commit since they struggled for most of the game trying to tell who was going to take the ball.
Kyler Murray came out of college being known as a mobile quarterback, so the Giants had a lot to account for. Murray only ran for 28 yards and threw for 104, but the threat of him running and fake wide receiver sweeps opened the door for back up running back Chase Edmonds.
Edmonds was the workhorse for the day since starting back David Johnson was limited due to an ankle injury. The Giants made Edmonds look like a pro-bowler after they allowed him to run for 126 yards and score three touchdowns.
The Giants’ defense performance was filled with woes but they gave their offense a chance to win the game. They only allowed ten points in the second half and special teams provided a touchdown off a blocked punt by Michael Thomas. Unfortunately, Jones and company just couldn’t get the job done.
An improved Giants’ offense was expected with running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Evan Engram coming back from injuries, but there was little they could do. The Cardinals’ defense had allowed three 100 yard games and six touchdowns to tight ends up to Sunday’s game, but Engram only caught one pass for six yards.
Jones took a beating, being sacked eight times and turning the ball over three.
Jones’ pocket awareness isn’t improving. His two fumbles could have been avoided and his one interception came from a forced pass into double coverage.
Tight coverage and pressure didn’t allow Jones much to work with, but he still was able to drop a dime to tight end Rhett Ellison for a touchdown.
Saquon Barkley scored in the fourth, but Arizona was able to contain Barkley, holding him to only 72 yards.
Barkley lost yards on plays where he tried to make something out of nothing, but seeing him cutting around the field should reassure fans that he’s passed his ankle sprain.
Barkley did have to get his foot taped up after tweaking something, but he was able to go back out.
While Kingsbury was being clever with his offense, Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur was foolish.
The turning point in the game came late in the fourth, where with four minutes left and down by three the Giants found themselves with a third and eighteen situation.
Most teams would consider that point in the game four down territory and would try to gain at least half the yardage needed and live for an easier fourth down conversion, but Shurmur called a run play up the middle with Barkley that resulted for three yards.
With a fourth and long, Jones had no choice but to throw. The Giants ended up failing to convert and the Cardinals went on to score another field goal, gaining a 27-21 lead.
Shurmur was unable to put his team in a position to win and his postgame explanations did little to convince everyone that he’s a competent coach.
As reported by the NY Post’s Paul Schwartz, Shurmur said the decision to hand the ball to Barkley on third and long was so they could “keep Saquon involved.” And when asked about going for it on fourth and fifteen he said, “it played out exactly as I hoped.”
Jones was sacked and lost the ball on that fourth down play. That is what exactly happened.
Shurmur’s words are as confusing as his play calling. The Giants have a promising rookie quarterback, a generational talent in Saquon Barkley and a defense that occasionally can be described as “bend but don’t break.”
A team is only as good as its weakest link, and Shumur may be holding this team back from ever reaching its full potential.
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