The Giants hope to pick up their second consecutive win when they travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins in Week 13.
Big Blue got back in the win column last week when they defeated divisional rival Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium, 13-7. The defense forced four takeaways, including three interceptions, and held Eagles QB Jalen Hurts to just 129 passing yards.
Miami enters this matchup as one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Brian Flores and the Dolphins have won four consecutive games, with the defense allowing an average of 11.5 points per game during the win streak. Miami defeated the Carolina Panthers, 33-10, last week after forcing three turnovers and holding the Panthers to under 200 yards of total offense.
Here are five storylines to follow in the Week 13 battle:
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. If that were the Giants' average on the season, they would rank as the No. 1 scoring defense.
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 back 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.
Who is under center?
Through the first 12 weeks of the season, Daniel Jones has started every game for the Giants. The only action he missed was a little over half of the Cowboys game in Week 5 after suffering a concussion. However, that start streak is in jeopardy as the young pro is dealing with a neck injury, according to Head Coach Joe Judge.
Judge would not rule out Jones for Sunday's game against the Dolphins. In fact, Judge told the media that the third-year quarterback will be on the practice field all week, and that Jones would have a "normal day" of practice Wednesday. The quarterback was officially listed as limited for Wednesday's walkthrough.
"Feeling good, feeling good," Jones told the media Wednesday. "Just getting better every day and trying to listen to what the trainers and doctors are telling me, but I'm doing good… I'm going through the week preparing to play and getting myself ready to play, listening to the trainers and doctors. My job is to be ready to play, so I'll go through the week like I always do."
If Jones is unable to suit up, veteran Mike Glennon will get his first start with the Giants. After relieving Jones against the Cowboys, Glennon completed 16 of 25 of his passes (64 percent) for 196 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. 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.
"it's our job to get everyone prepared," said Judge when asked if Fromm could be active on Sunday. "He's signed, he's on our 53-man roster right now. It's our job to get him ready. (Quarterbacks Coach) Jerry (Schuplinski) will work with him extra throughout this week, make sure he gets caught up on the vocabulary. This guy comes from an offense where I know he's handled a lot of multiples. He's a smart guy. He's done a good job through college and early in his pro career with the experience he's had, so we'll see how it translates over. We'll get Mike and Daniel ready, and Jake, as well."
Overcoming tough Miami defense
After allowing 16 points to the Patriots in their Week 1 win, the Dolphins went on to give up an average of 31 points per game over their next seven contests, all of which were losses. Since then, Miami has won each of their last four games, and a big reason for that is the play of the defense.
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).
"It's really been about being aggressive, they have very good talent, they're very, very aggressive in how they use that talent," Judge said about Miami's recent defensive success. "It's been a lot of blitz zero and pressure more so than anyone else in the league the last four weeks. You see this team really coming along and they're coached well, they play hard, they've got a lot of talented players. It's going to take a lot to prepare for this team and get ready for Sunday."
It remains to be seen which of the Giants' playmakers will be on the field in Miami. Sterling Shepard has missed the last three contests due to a quad injury, but could return for this week's matchup against the Dolphins. Although Kadarius Toney and Kyle Rudolph's statuses are in question, Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay will be back after suiting up for last week's game against the Eagles.
View rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins
Matching up with Dolphins' playmakers
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.
Miami's No. 2 option in the passing game comes in the form of tight end Mike Gesicki. Despite not topping five receptions or 55 receiving yards since Week 7, Gesicki still ranks second on the team with 52 receptions for 596 yards. The Dolphins also like to get their running backs involved in the passing game, with Myles Gaskin's 43 receptions ranking third in the offense. Gaskin has 212 receiving yards and four touchdowns while adding 483 yards and three scores on the ground.
The Giants' defense held Eagles QB Jalen Hurts to just 129 passing yards and a 45.2 completion percentage (14 of 31) while intercepting three passes. Cornerback James Bradberry did a great job of limiting DeVonta Smith and the Eagles' receivers, allowing just one reception on two targets for a 64.6 passer rating. Adoree' Jackson and Darnay Holmes were forced out of the game early, leading to more playing time for some of the team's younger defensive backs, who took advantage of the opportunity. Rookie CB Aaron Robinson played a season-high 45 defensive snaps and gave up just one catch on six targets, good for a 40.3 passer rating when targeted. Third-year safety Julian Love also played well, earning a 67.0 overall grade from PFF, while Steven Parker earned a solid 62.4 overall grade.
Former Patriot 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 first began in the scouting department with the Patriots in 2004, spending four years in the front office before transitioning to the coaching side. His first role with New England's coaching staff was special teams assistant under Bill Belichick, working three seasons on special teams from 2008-2010 before moving over to the defense in 2011. Flores worked himself up from defensive assistant to safeties coach to linebackers coach before taking the head coaching job with the Dolphins.
"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.