The Giants got their first win of the season in dramatic fashion on Sunday, thanks to a second half comeback by their rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. Here's what I saw watching the coaches tape of the victory at Tampa Bay:
*In the first half, Jones did well in his decision making based on what the defense showed. Against man coverage, he targeted his best players or his receiver that won in coverage. The Bucs blitzed often in front of their man defense, and the offensive line gave Jones enough time to find completions. Against softer zones, he was content to get the ball out and take what the defense gave him.
*Jones flashed his mobility in different ways during the game. On the second play of the second quarter, the Bucs played man-to-man and blitzed five on third and five. Saquon Barkley picked up linebacker Kevin Minter, who blitzed up the middle, and Jones scrambled to his right. It looked like Shaquil Barrett, who had dropped into coverage, had the angle to stop Jones, but he underestimated the quarterback's speed and was beaten to the edge for the first down.
*Later in the same drive, Jones was contacted by Barrett coming off the edge, but he was strong enough to shrug off the hit, step up in the pocket and create enough time with his legs to hit Barkley on the move to gain 19 yards and convert a third and four. Those were the types of plays that Pat Shurmur mentioned in his postgame press conference that are innate and difficult to teach.
*Jones' first touchdown run came on a nice play design. Russell Shepard motioned right to left across the formation pre-snap, drawing the eyes of the defense to the left. Jones then ran a read-option with Barkley faking up the middle, which sucked in safety Jordan Whitehead. Jones kept the ball and ran right towards the sideline and beat defensive back M.J. Stewart to the end zone.
*Jones caught a break on his next possession. Against two-deep, man-under coverage, he tried to hit Bennie Fowler on a deep in-cut on a 3rd and 15. Safety Mike Edwards read it and jumped the route. The ball hit him right in the hands, but Edwards dropped the easy interception. It was a play the rookie will learn from.
*Jones did turn it over on the Giants' final possession of the half. On first down, Jones threw it over the middle to Darius Slayton, who had settled between the Bucs' linebackers and safeties who were playing zone to convert a third and five. On the next play, Barrett beat Nate Solder inside and Will Hernandez was a moment late in his help. Jones was trying to get the ball to Evan Engram over the middle, but he pulled the ball back down because of linebacker Lavonte David's tight coverage, which gave Barrett a chance to get home and strip the ball away, leading to a turnover.
*The Bucs were not going to let the Giants run the ball. Their defensive line was stout, and if they didn't have an eighth man in the box, they ran a defensive back in late to give them the numbers advantage at the line of scrimmage. Barkley had only eight rushes for 10 yards before his ankle injury.
*Down 28-10 to start the second half, the first play from scrimmage turned into a 75-yard touchdown for Engram. The Giants ran play action with Wayne Gallman, who had replaced the injured Barkley, which drew the Bucs linebackers in. Engram got behind David to catch a 12-yard crossing pattern. The Bucs were in Cover Three, with only the single high safety, Edwards, with a free run at Engram. He took a bad angle, which allowed Engram to use his speed to run by him. Wide receiver Darius Slayton blocked cornerback Vernon Hargreaves downfield to get Engram to the end zone.
*The Giants attempted a two-point conversion and ran Sterling Shepard across the formation. The traffic helped get him some separation from cornerback Carlton Davis, and Jones hit him for the easy pitch and catch.
*Jones was a little strong on his deep ball in the first half. He overthrew Slayton and Sterling Shepard down the right sideline, and missed a wide open Russell Shepard on an overthrow on a deep post. In the second half, he hit Slayton on a perfectly thrown deep post. Slayton beat Hargreaves, and Stewart got caught peaking at a covered Engram short and over the middle. Jones threw it over their heads for the 46-yard completion, which helped set up the Giants' second score of the third quarter. As good as the throw was, Jones' pocket presence was better. Elijah Penny and Rhett Ellison were beaten off the edge after the play action fake, but Jones stepped away from defensive end Anthony Nelson to create the time to hit Slayton. Jones threw the pass while he was on the move, and showed good arm strength while not moving toward the receiver.
*The touchdown that culminated the drive was due to Sterling Shepard beating Hargreaves' attempt to jam him at the line of scrimmage. Shepard got his separation, Stewart couldn't get over in time to help, and Jones threw a perfect pass at the sideline for Shepard to make the diving catch. Sometimes winning at the line of scrimmage for a receiver can make all the difference.
*The Bucs pass rush took over on the Giants next two possessions. Jones was sacked on five of seven snaps. Two came on strong individual rushes by Barrett (an inside spin move and an outside rip move). Two were plays where Jones held the ball too long, and the third came on a play where Gallman accidentally ran into Nate Solder to free up Barrett to get to Jones.
*The Giants got the ball back on their final possession at their own 25-yard line with 3:16 to play. The most impressive play of the drive was Jones' 2nd and 10 pass to Slayton for 21 yards. The Bucs were playing cover 4 (quarters), which is a deep umbrella overage. Slayton ran hard down the right sideline, and Jones unleashed the ball long before Slayton got into his break to come back to the ball. That type of anticipation is something usually only seen from veterans. Two plays later, Sterling Shepard was wide open on a deep out against cover-4 for a 36-yard gain to Tampa's 12-yard line. The Bucs went into man to man and forced incompletions on 2nd and 5 and 3rd and 5. On fourth down, they played man again. Safety Jordan Whitehead vacated the middle of the field to double team Engram, even though David had him covered. That opened up the middle of the field. Jones had about 15 yards of daylight between the numbers to run uncontested into the end zone for the game winning score.
*Jones made his share of correctable mistakes in the game, but his overall poise was impressive. He knew where to go with the ball, wasn't shaken by an aggressive defense, and the game was not too fast for him. He did some innate things that only good quarterbacks do. It was a great start to his career.
*The Giants first half defense was a struggle for the second straight week. The Giants gave up 311 yards, and allowed the Bucs to score on all six of their first half drives. The Bucs were able to get the Giants in advantageous one-on-one matchups and they exploited those with nine plays of 15 yards or more.
*Defensive coordinator James Bettcher dialed up several blitzes in the first half, and the Bucs were able to take advantage of it. Wide receiver Mike Evans got the better of his one on one matchups and caught seven passes for 146 yards in the first half. His first touchdown came on zero coverage, which means there is no safety help for the cornerback. His second was on a simple quick throw after stacking behind Curtis Godwin, who blocked a clear path for him into the end zone.
Giants.com hands out game balls in Giants' win over the Bucs
*On the Bucs first offensive play of the second quarter, they caught the Giants in a combo coverage. Jabrill Peppers trailed Cameron Brate across the middle, and Antoine Bethea stayed on his side of the field playing what looked like cover two with DeAndre Baker. It left Evans one on one with no help. Evans' third touchdown was against a seven-man pressure, which resulted in man-to-man defense with a single high safety. Evans caught a deep in-cut for the touchdown.
*O.J. Howard had two catches for 48 yards, with plays on cornerback Grant Haley and safety Jabrill Peppers. Bruce Arians did a nice job isolating Howard on one side of the field and taking advantage of those opportunities.
*The big play on the Bucs second drive was a 41-yard screen, which was a perfectly called play for the Giants blitz that came from the same side of the field. There was a ton of open field and Ronald Jones had blockers in front of him.
*The Giants defense played better in the second half. The Bucs had to punt on their first three drives and scored just three points in the half. The Giants ran fewer blitzes and played more zone with help over the top. Some two-deep safety looks late in the game gave the Bucs opportunities to run the ball, but it prevented the type of chunk plays that hurt the Giants in the first half.
*Rookie linebacker Ryan Connelly made three important plays in the second half. The first was an interception. He was playing zone in the middle of the field when pressure from Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter forced Jameis Winston to make an errant throw high and behind an open Evans. Connelly took advantage and made the interception. His two other big plays were in the run game. On the Bucs penultimate drive, he filled the hole and tackled Peyton Barber short of the first down marker on 3rd and 2 from the 5-yard line. The Bucs had to settle for the field goal. Markus Golden helped on the play by coming down hard on the left guard, which gave Connelly the room to scrape into the hole. On the Bucs last possession, he forced Ronald Jones to cut back into B.J. Hill and Dexter Lawrence on a 2nd and 2 for no gain. The Bucs came up short on 3rd and 2 thanks a great open field tackle by Michael Thomas and had to punt the ball away.
*Rookie corner DeAndre Baker was targeted only four times and allowed just two catches for 24 yards.
*The Giants finished with four sacks and did a nice job freeing up their rushers using stunts and twists. Golden had two sacks on those plays. Oshane Ximines got his sack after pressure from Golden forced Winston out of the pocket. For the second straight game, Dexter Lawrence created havoc inside, pushing the pocket and getting his hands on Winston to force incompletions. Good coverage forced Winston to hold the ball in the pocket too long often in the second half.
*The defense had to stop the Bucs with 1:16 remaining and the Bucs starting on their own 25-yard line. They allowed two chunk plays, the first on a 20-yard deep in-cut to Curtis Godwin in front of the deep safety. The second was the killer, a 44-yard play to Evans.
*Special teams is often overlooked. The Bucs missed an extra point, had a second one blocked, and missed a game winning field goal from 34 yards. The Giants punt coverage was spectacular in the game, holding the Tampa Bay to only nine yards on five returns. Antonio Hamilton continues to shine as a gunner.