After a slow start to the season, the Big Blue defense has been on quite the surge over the last six games. The defense allowed an average of 29.5 points in the first six weeks of the season, but have since cut that number almost in half. Dating back to the Week 7 win over the Carolina Panthers, Patrick Graham's unit has surrendered just 15.2 points per game.
The defense has been able to limit opponents' success in other areas during this stretch, as well. The Giants are giving up 335.6 yards per game since Week 7, down from 401.3 in the first six games. They've also cut down the number of first downs surrendered per game by four, while holding opposing quarterbacks to a 58.5 completion percentage, a stark improvement from the 73.9 completion percentage opponents had to start the year.
Perhaps the most impressive feat accomplished by the defense has been the turnover streak. The Giants have at least one takeaway in 13 consecutive games dating to last year, which matches the Indianapolis Colts for the longest active streak in the NFL. The Giants and Colts are the only two teams with a takeaway in every game this season. Big Blue also has the league's longest active streak of games with an interception at eight.
Sunday's matchup will be the 10th meeting between the Giants and Dolphins. After losing the first game against Miami in 1972, the Giants won the next three games in the series, two of which were in Miami. Big Blue has emerged with the victory in each of the last four meetings. The franchises last met in 2019, when Eli Manning led the Giants to a 36-20 win in the final start of his career.
Out: LB Trent Harris (Ankle), DB Adoree' Jackson (Quad), TE Kaden Smith (Knee), QB Daniel Jones (Neck)
Doubtful: WR Sterling Shepard (Quad), WR Kadarius Toney (Oblique/Quad)
Questionable: FB Cullen Gillaspia (Calf), WR John Ross (Illness/Quad), TE Kyle Rudolph (Ankle), T Nate Solder (Elbow)
Doubtful: CB Trill Williams (Hamstring), RB Phillip Lindsay (Ankle), TE Adam Shaheen (Knee)
Questionable: S Brandon Jones (Ankle/Elbow), LB Jaelan Phillips (Hip)
GLENNON UNDER CENTER
With Daniel Jones not cleared for contact and already ruled out, veteran Mike Glennon will get his first start with the Giants. After relieving Jones against the Cowboys, Glennon completed 16 of 25 (64 percent) for 196 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. In five starts for the Jaguars last season, Glennon completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,072 yards (214.4 avg.), seven touchdowns and five interceptions and averaged 6.0 yards per attempt.
"We have a lot of confidence in Mike," Coach Judge said about the veteran quarterback. "He's played for us this year, he's played well in the times when he's gone in. Look, we expect Mike to go in and run the offense...
"Everyone's job is to be prepared, it's our job to put them in position to go out there and make plays. In terms of Mike, Mike does a great job of being ready every week. He does a great job of that. He's a true professional, he's a good teammate, he's a good leader."
The Giants also signed quarterback Jake Fromm from the Buffalo Bills practice squad. Fromm has not played in the NFL after being a fifth-round pick in 2020, but threw for 8,224 yards and 78 touchdowns with 18 interceptions in 43 games at Georgia. Judge said Fromm will likely suit up as the backup quarterback on Sunday.
"I think Jake's a smart guy," Judge said about Fromm. "He's definitely put in a lot of hours of work this week with (Quarterbacks Coach) Jerry Schuplinski, (Offensive Quality Control Coach) Nick Williams, a bunch of other guys as far as getting caught up. He's been on the field, he's operated through practices, he's done some good things. Obviously, there's some schemes and system things that carry over from other offenses that a lot of the teams have. It's just knowing what the verbiage is, but he's done a good job so far coming along for us."
PROTECTING AGAINST THE BLITZ
The Giants must make protecting the quarterback their top priority against the Dolphins. Heading into Week 13, only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers blitz more often than Brian Flores' team (38.5 percent). The Giants' offensive line did well in protecting Jones last week, as the third-year quarterback was sacked just once. Both Andrew Thomas (71.5 overall grade) and Billy Price (67.8) performed well against the Eagles, according to Pro Football Focus.
"I think our offensive line has done a really good job of playing in sync and they've made a lot of progression throughout the year in terms of our pass protections," Judge said this week. "Really, where they're aggressive with the Dolphins is you talk specifically about their pressures and blitzes, but it's that blitz zero that they've been doing a lot of, more so than anyone else in the league. In terms of playing against these guys, it's just something you have to account for. Everybody has something different schematically you have to prepare for every week and this is just something you have to prepare for with them."
The Dolphins have surrendered just 11.5 points per game during their four-game win streak while keeping three of the four opponents under 305 total yards of offense. In last week's win over the Panthers, Carolina was only able to muster 198 yards of offense. The defense's recent success has shown in the red zone, as Miami has improved to fifth in the league in red zone defense, allowing just 23 touchdowns on 45 trips inside their 20 (51.1 percent).
Since returning from a sprained ankle in Week 11, Saquon Barkley has rushed for 65 yards on 19 carries while adding another 44 yards on 10 receptions. The fourth-year back was on the field a lot more against the Eagles, playing on 87 percent of the team's offensive snaps, up from 62 percent the week before.
"This is one of those things where week by week it's just going to keep getting better and better," Barkley told the media Thursday. "Just getting back in a rhythm, just feeling it, getting my eyes back into it last week. I felt like I played better last week than I did in Tampa. Felt like my legs were underneath me a little bit better. Throughout the rest of the season, just going to continue to get better."
Miami's run defense has looked strong this season, as the unit ranks 10th in rushing yards and touchdowns allowed. But the strength of the Dolphins' run D is their ability to stop runs to the outside. According to PFF, they have allowed a first down or touchdown on just 16.2 percent of outside zone plays. However, the Giants are one of the teams that run the least amount of outside zone.
GETTING SOME PLAYMAKERS BACK
The Giants have been without several different playmakers essentially all season, as Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, Darius Slayton and John Ross have missed time due to injury. While the team is unlikely to have all of those guys back for Sunday's game, a lot of them could be on the field in Week 13.
Barkley, Golladay, Engram and Slayton are all good to go as they have not been listed on the injury report this week. Ross didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday due to a non-COVID illness, but returned on Friday and is questionable for Week 13. Toney did not practice this week and is listed as doubtful, along with Shepard. However, Rudolph received a questionable tag for Sunday's game after being a limited participant both Thursday and Friday.
The Giants' defense did a great job of limiting Eagles QB Jalen Hurts in the air last week, holding him to a 45.2 completion percentage for just 129 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. However, the unit was only able to bring Hurts down for one sack. The Giants are currently tied with the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Chargers for 24th in the NFL with 21 sacks on the season.
Miami enters this matchup ranking 22nd in the league at 29 sacks allowed. In last week's win over the Panthers, Tua Tagovailoa was taken down twice, marking the fourth time in their last five games that the Dolphins surrendered multiple sacks.
Tagovailoa has been on a roll in recent weeks, finishing the last two games with 230+ passing yards and a completion percentage of at least 81.5 percent. This came after completing just 55.8 percent of his passes between Weeks 8 and 10, his previous two starts. On the season, Tagovailoa has completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 1,701 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions in eight games (seven starts). He has also rushed for three additional scores.
Heading into Week 13, no rookie has as many receptions as Dolphins receiver Jaylen Waddle, whose 77 catches are 27 more than Cincinnati's Ja'Marr Chase. Waddle's 759 receiving yards ranks second in the rookie class, while his 78.0 overall grade and 78.2 receiving grade from Pro Football Focus are both the highest among rookie receivers. Waddle has topped four receptions and 60 yards in six of his last seven games, and is coming off the strongest performance of his young NFL career. In last week's win over the Panthers, Waddle reeled in nine of 10 targets for a career-high 137 yards and a touchdown.
"He's fast," Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham said about Waddle on Thursday. "That's the first thing, he's really, really fast. He's explosive out of his breaks and then I would say (Dolphins Co-Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends Coach) George (Godsey) and (Dolphins Co-Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs Coach) Eric Studesville are doing a good job of putting him in spots to get him open… They're really smart coaches and they're doing a good job of getting him in space, creating mismatches with the guys, so that's one thing they're doing. On top of his skill level, they're putting him in the right spot and that's what I'm seeing on tape."
FORMER PATRIOTS REUNION
Sunday's game will be a reunion for several members of both the Giants and Dolphins coaching staff, starting with the head coaches. Joe Judge was a member of the Patriots' coaching staff from 2012-2019, beginning as a special teams assistant before taking over as the unit's coordinator. For the first seven years he spent in New England, Judge coached alongside Brian Flores, Miami's head coach since 2019. Flores spent several seasons in the Patriots' scouting department before transitioning over to the coaching side in 2008 for the next decade.
"Flo is a guy that I know very well," Judge said about Flores. "We worked together for seven years in New England. A lot of respect for Flo. I think he's got a very unique path in terms of how he became a head coach, working in all aspects of the organization, starting in personnel, working with offense, defense and special teams, so his involvement with all three phases along with the draft and free agency really shows through his personality and how they play."
Judge and Flores are far from the only members of the coaching staff that will be on the sideline in Miami Sunday. Giants Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham was with the Patriots from 2009-2015, and also served as Flores' defensive coordinator for the Dolphins in 2019. Quarterbacks Coach Jerry Schuplinski was another member of Belichick's coaching staff, spending 2013-2018 in New England before going with Flores to the Dolphins in 2019. For the Dolphins, defensive coordinator Josh Boyer was with the Patriots for over a decade, spending 2006-2018 in New England in various roles.
View rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins