GETTING THE OFFENSE ON TRACK
The Giants' struggles continued on Monday. Their three points marked the third time in four weeks that they were held to 12 points or fewer. The Giants allowed 11 sacks and 36 pressures, both of which led the league. The Giants rank 32nd in the league in points scored, while only the Bengals have gained fewer total yards on offense.
"Look, we just need to do a better job overall, collectively," head coach Brian Daboll said. "Everyone involved in the offense. Whether it's sacks, pass game, run game. We've got a lot of work to do."
"I think we didn't expect to be in this position, but at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter now," quarterback Daniel Jones added. "It's about what we do from here and how we correct the things we need to correct, how we improve and where we go from here. That's what we're focused on. That's what I'm focused on."
The Dolphins' defense ranks 28th in points and 26th in yards allowed this season. They have allowed their opponents to convert on 24 of 52 (46.2 percent) third-down attempts (25th in the league), and have surrendered a touchdown on 12 of 17 (70.6 percent) trips inside the red zone (27th).
The New York Giants travel south to take on the Miami Dolphins in Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 8. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. ET on FOX.
The Giants have faced the Dolphins 10 times, their fewest games against any opponent in existence at the 1970 merger. The Giants hold a four-game advantage in the series (7-3) and a three-game advantage on the road (4-1).
The Giants' only road loss against the Dolphins came in their most recent matchup on Dec. 5, 2021, when they were defeated in Hard Rock Stadium, 20-9. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak against Miami from 2007 to 2019.
View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 5 matchup against the Miami Dolphins.
Out: OL Shane Lemieux (groin), C John Michael Schmitz (shoulder), T Andrew Thomas (hamstring)
Questionable: RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), TE Daniel Bellinger (knee), ILB Micah McFadden (ankle)
Out: OL Rob Jones (knee), CB Nik Needham (achilles)
Questionable: OL Lester Cotton (ankle), LB Jaelan Phillips (oblique), C Connor Williams (groin)
STATE OF THE O-LINE
Left tackle Andrew Thomas missed his third consecutive game on Monday due to the hamstring injury he suffered in Week 1. Thomas went through individual drills in last Thursday's practice but was unable to participate the next two days. After missing practice all of this week, Thomas was ruled out on Friday.
Thomas is not the only offensive lineman dealing with an injury. Center John Michael Schmitz suffered a shoulder injury on the first drive of the game against the Seahawks and was unable to return. With the rookie sidelined, Ben Bredeson moved over to center while Shane Lemieux took over at left guard. Lemieux then suffered an groin injury and missed the remainder of the game, with Mark Glowinski taking over for him. Neither Schmitz nor Lemieux participated in practice this week, and both were also ruled out for Sunday's game.
"He's a smart guy, knows all our calls, had a bunch of reps in the summer so that was – it's good to have a guy that plays guard that can play center as well," Daboll said about Bredeson filling in at center.
"I think right now it's just part of being in the National Football League," offensive coordinator Mike Kafka added about the injuries. "There's injuries everywhere, we have to be able to adjust and have the next man up mentality and our guys have been great. That's why we've kept them all through offseason, OTA's, training camp and building that foundation with the guys so the next guy who's up, he's ready to rock and roll and that's who we give our trust into."
Right tackle Evan Neal (ankle/hand) and right guard Marcus McKethan (knee) were limited in practice this week, but both will be ready to go this weekend.
The Giants brought back a familiar face on Tuesday when they signed veteran offensive lineman Justin Pugh to the practice squad. Pugh was with the Arizona Cardinals for the previous five seasons after spending his first five years with the Giants. The 33-year-old tore his ACL in Week 6 last year, and will need some time to ramp up his workload before he takes the field for the Giants.
SAQUON 'TAKING IT ONE DAY AT A TIME'
The Giants have been without star running back Saquon Barkley ever since he injured his ankle late in the Week 2 win in Arizona. Barkley was enjoying a big game against the Cardinals, as he ran for 63 yards and a touchdown and added another 29 yards and an additional score through the air. In the two games since then, Giants running backs have combined for just 61 yards on the ground.
Barkley was a limited participant in practice all week. The sixth-year back participated in team drills this week for the first time since suffering the injury, and told the media that he is continuing to improve each and every day. He is listed as questionable for the Week 5 matchup.
"Each day it gets better…" Barkley said Thursday. "I'd definitely say I'm in a better spot than where I was last Thursday. So, definitely encouraged, but I don't want to make any guarantees. Continuing to trust in my body and trust in the training staff and go from them."
Through the first four games, the Dolphins have surrendered 494 rushing yards (22nd in the NFL) and six touchdowns (26th). Buffalo totaled 104 yards and two touchdowns on the ground against them last week.
"I would love to be out there," Barkley told the media. "I feel like I can help. I feel like I can help us get back on track. I know there's some people out there that wouldn't agree with that, but that's why I believe in my mindset. I'm fighting, I'm trying to do everything I can in my power to get back and be there for my teammates…
"As a competitor, you want to be out there, and you go back and look at film every game whether you play in it or you don't. You think, 'Is there anything else I could have done different if I was in this play or if I was here or there?' That's not any diss to (running back) Gary (Brightwell) or (running back Matt) Breida, those guys have been doing a great job coming in and making plays for us. But as a player, you want to be out there, and I'll try my best."
THIRD-DOWN DEFENSE IMPROVING
Through the first three weeks of the season, the Giants' defense struggled to get off the field on third down. The Cowboys, Cardinals and 49ers were successful on 19 of 39 third down attempts (48.7 percent), including several third-and-long conversions from the 49ers. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale put an emphasis on this area heading into the Week 4 matchup against the Seahawks, and the defense saw results. The Giants limited the Seahawks to just three conversions on 12 third down attempts (25 percent), in addition to stopping them on both of their fourth down tries.
"I think we're making progress defensively as you saw in the Seattle game," said Martindale. "The biggest thing that stood out for us defensively was the improvement on third down, and I like where we're headed. I like that we've stayed positive throughout the tough time we're going through right now and we have a tremendous challenge coming up down there in Miami on Sunday. It's going to be a great a challenge for us. It's going to be exciting. Fun to watch."
Miami enters this game with the league's top offense in points, total yards, passing yards and rushing yards. Miami has converted on 42.1 percent of their third-down attempts, which ranks 12th in the league.
Wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson made his 2023 debut in Week 3 when he caught four passes (on five targets) for 21 yards. The second-year receiver was on the field for just 11 offensive snaps against the 49ers, but with 11 days between their Week 3 and Week 4 games, Robinson saw his playing time increase significantly against the Seahawks. The 22-year-old played 48 offensive snaps (64 percent) Monday night and finished tied for the team-lead with five receptions, which he took for 40 yards, while his six targets led the offense. Robinson also added a seven-yard run.
The Dolphins enter this matchup with the No. 25 pass defense as they are allowing an average of 251.0 yards per game. Heading into Week 4, Dolphins cornerback Kader Kohou had allowed the third-most yards in coverage (132) among slot cornerbacks in 2023, according to Next Gen Stats. Miami then went to Buffalo, where it fell to the division rival and allowed Josh Allen to throw for 320 yards and four touchdowns. According to Pro Football Focus, Kohou was targeted in coverage five times and surrendered four receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns, although most of that came with him lined up on the outside.
KAYVON 'WANTS TO GET BETTER EVERY DAY'
After going the first two games of the season without a sack, outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux has picked it up over the last two weeks. The second-year outside linebacker recorded a sack against the 49ers before registering another two against the Seahawks, along with a pass breakup. His three sacks through four games are just one shy of his total last year, a season that saw him finish fourth in the Defensive Rookie of the Year voting.
"I think that Kayvon wants to win, and Kayvon wants to get better every day," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said Thursday. "Kayvon will get better, he'll continue to get better every day, because that's his personality. I want to see Kayvon every day. He's a good dude. You know what I mean? So, yeah, that's one of the greatest things about coaching. That's why you've been at as long as we have, because you want your guys to have success, so you're excited to see that. I think that he knows what's expected of him. I just told him keep being himself and keep trying to get better. Do everything the best you can do it and as fast as you can do it, and I think that's what you saw against Seattle. I thought he played well."
Thibodeaux's four pressures against the Seahawks matched his pressures from the first three games combined, according to PFF. Lining up opposite Thibodeaux for the first time since Week 1 was Azeez Ojulari, who missed two games with a hamstring injury. While Ojulari did not show up much in the box score (one solo tackle), his five pressures Monday night led the Giants' defense. The third-year outside linebacker was limited at practice this week, but Daboll reassured the media Wednesday that Ojulari did not suffer any setbacks.
The Dolphins have done a good job of protecting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa this season. The fourth-year quarterback has only been sacked five times, which is tied for the third-fewest in the NFL. But four of those sacks came in last week's loss to the Bills, a game that saw Dolphins Pro Bowl left tackle Tarron Armstead leave in the second quarter with a knee injury. The Dolphins placed Armstead on injured reserve Friday, sidelining him for at least the next four games.
THE GREATEST SHOW ON SURF?
Miami has made history with its hot start to the season. Coach Mike McDaniel's offense ranks No. 1 in the NFL in both points and yards. Not only that, but the Dolphins' 2,044 total yards of offense is the most through four games in NFL history. However, the most impressive accomplishment from McDaniel's team is easily their Week 3 performance against the Broncos. The Dolphins scored 70 points, among the most in NFL history, along with 726 total yards of offense. Perhaps even more impressive than the total yardage is the near exact split between the run and pass game. Miami finished with 376 passing yards and and 350 rushing yards, along with five touchdowns through the air and five scores on the ground. Martindale could not help but applaud the Dolphins for their historic performance.
"It's unbelievable," the defensive coordinator said about the Dolphins' Week 3 win. "But that's where this league's heading with some of the other scores. The points have been up pretty high. I told our guys, not the players, I told our staff because we're all old enough to remember 'The Greatest Show on Turf'. This is like that, 2023 supersonic. I mean, they are fast. Faster than that. That's the whole thing that in preparing a team going into this environment, that's not even turf there. It's grass and they're still faster.
"This quarterback is playing at a high level. I've got a lot of respect for the kid. He knows where to go with the football. He's accurate. He gets rid of it quick. I can't say enough about Mike because of the situations that he puts him in where he can get rid of the ball quick, and he's got those receivers and the right route concepts and everything else to get it to them quick. I'm not just saying quick like three-yard routes. He's throwing them before receivers come out of breaks and it's just put right there on them. So, in this game, I told the defense, there's going to be plays made. You've got to just have that mentality that's like, 'Here we go again.' Let's just try to get a stop. Every play, let's just try to get a stop. The more we can get them in third downs, the better off it is for us."
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa leads the league with 1,306 passing yards. Tagovailoa has thrown nine touchdown passes to just three interceptions, and his 114.4 passer rating is second in the league, trailing San Francisco's Brock Purdy (115.1). His 71.3 completion percentage also ranks in the top five among starting quarterbacks. Daboll is plenty familiar with the Dolphins' quarterback, as the two won a national championship together at Alabama in 2017, with Daboll serving as Tagovailoa's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
"I have a lot of respect for Tua and how he plays that position, some of the stuff he went through early on in his career," Daboll said Wednesday. "He's got great anticipation, he's accurate, he's a leader, and I am not surprised at all with the success he has had. He's bounced back from some tough things injury-wise, but he's a heck of a quarterback."
SCOUTING THE REST OF THE DOLPHINS
Tagovailoa's top target is wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The five-time All-Pro receiver has been electric this season, racking up 470 yards (No. 3 in the NFL) through the first four games to go with 28 receptions and four touchdowns. Hill has gone over 150 yards receiving in two of four games. Hill's fellow starting wideout, Jaylen Waddle, returned in Week 4 after missing a game due to a concussion. Waddle has 210 yards on 12 receptions in three games.
Miami's run game has enjoyed as much success as its pass game, as the Dolphins also rank first in the league with 707 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns and an incredible 6.3 yards per carry. Raheem Mostert has registered the most carries this season with 48, which he has taken for 249 yards and six touchdowns. But rookie De'Von Achane has actually topped the veteran with 309 yards on just 27 rush attempts, good for an eye-opening 11.4 yards per carry. The two running backs have also combined for three receiving touchdowns, giving the pair 13 total scores through four weeks.
Miami's defense has not had as much success as its offense, as it ranks 28th in points and 26th in yards allowed on the year. The Dolphins have recorded 10 sacks, with linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel leading the way with three. The team's remaining seven sacks are spread across eight different players.
Cornerback Xavien Howard and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah have registered Miami's two interceptions, while safety Jevon Holland (two) and defensive end Bradley Chubb (one) have accounted for the defense's three forced fumbles. Howard is also tied with safety DeShon Elliott with a team-high three passes defensed.
View rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins