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Trends & top performers from Giants' first half


The Giants are at the bye week, which happened to come as close to the halfway point of a 17-game schedule as possible. It's the perfect time to do a mid-season look at some of the team's top performers (full rookie breakdown can be found HERE) and some team-wide trends so far this season.

Leonard Williams: Williams is tied for the team lead with 5.5 sacks and leads the team with 10 quarterback hits. According to Pro Football Focus, he is sixth among interior defensive linemen with 32 total pressures. Williams is on pace for about 60 pressures this season, which would be five less than he compiled in 16 games last year.

Only Aaron Donald and Jeffrey Simmons have played more snaps than Leonard Williams (509) this season. Williams has continued to be stout against the run, with four tackles for loss. Pro Football Focus has tracked him for 17 run stops this season, which is only one less than he had in all of 2020. He is fourth on the team with 50 tackles. He has played mostly on the right side of the line and has split time between right tackle and right end.

Dexter Lawrence: Even though Lawrence only has 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hits to show for it, he has improved as a pass rusher this year. He has done a good job using his power to collapse the inside the pocket, which prevents quarterbacks from stepping up into throws. PFF has already tracked him for 27 pressures this year, which is only four less than he had all of 2021 despite having more than 100 fewer pass rush snaps.

Xavier McKinney: The Giants' 2020 second-round pick is having a breakout season. He has played all over the defense, though the large majority of his defensive snaps have come as a deep safety (440 of 597). He has consistently gotten his hands on the football with four interceptions and seven passes defended. He is also fifth on the team with 46 tackles.

Andrew Thomas: The improved play we saw from Andrew Thomas over the final six games of last season has carried into 2021. According to PFF, in 200 pass blocking snaps, Thomas has not allowed a sack and only allowed three quarterback hits, six hurries and nine total pressures.

Much like Xavier McKinney, Thomas has taken a huge step in his second season and his return to the field will surely help the Giants offense do more things.

Daniel Jones: Before diving into Jones' numbers it is important to note what has been going on around the quarterback that has impacted his performance. He has had to play without three starting offensive linemen for most of the season (Nick Gates, Shane Lemieux and Andrew Thomas) and has had every one of his primary skill position players miss at least one game due to injury.

Jones has been put in a role to run a more conservative offense that focuses on the run game, quick throws and protecting the ball. His 1.7% interception rate is the tenth-lowest in the NFL. He is completing 64.8% of his passes, which is a career high. His 2.7-seconds average time to throw is the 15th-fastest time in the league. Pro Football Focus tracks what percentage of a team's pass plays go for 15 or more yards, and the Giants rank 15th in that category at 14.7%. A

Sterling Shepard: Shepard was having a career year before injuries knocked him off the field. He had 32 receptions and 324 yards in only five games, which extrapolates to 1100 receiving yards and 109 catches over a 17-game season.

Graham Gano: Gano has continued to kick field goals with remarkable consistency. He has only missed two field goals this year and has made all 12 of his extra points. He is 5-6 on 50+ yard kicks and is 4-4 from between 40-49 yards.

From Daniel Jones' one-handed catch on a trick play to Xavier McKinney's pick-six to the OT thriller in New Orleans, re-live the best moments from the first half of the season in this must-see photo gallery.

Here are some team areas the Giants have performed particularly well in this season:

They have only punted after three plays on 15% of their drives this season, which is the seventh-lowest rate in the NFL.

The Giants are tied for seventh in drives of 5+ minutes with 15. They are 15th in gaining an average of 5.65 yards on their first downs. Although the offense hasstruggled in side the red zone (46% touchdown rate, 31st) they rank fifth in points (66) from outside the red zone.

The offense has allowed pressure on 34% of Daniel Jones's dropbacks (18th). On defense, the Giants are 10th on third down (38% conversion rate) and tied for fourth on third-and-7+ yards (18%).

The Giants are only allowing touchdowns 51% of opponent possession in the red zone (sixth and give up 12 goal-to-go drives (tied for fifth) and no team has more than the Giants' five red zone takeaways.

The Giants are tied with the Dallas Cowboys with a +3 turnover margin, which is tied for 10th-best in the NFL and their 14 takeaways put them tied for fifth.

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