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Film Study

Film Study: What we learned from first 10 weeks


The annual bye week presents a good time for a bit of a round-up as to where the Giants are on both sides of the ball heading into the second part of the season. All advanced statistics are from Pro Football Focus, unless otherwise noted.


* The impact of Daniel Jones on the Giants' running attack cannot be understated. The Giants rank 16th in rushing yards per game (110.5) and 10th in rushing yards per play (4.46). Those totals would plummet to 72.1 yards per game (last in the NFL) and 3.6 yards per play (tied for last) if Jones' numbers were taken out of the equation. It is also apparent the threat of Jones keeping the ball on read-option plays is keeping defenders out of rushing lanes immediately after the hand-off, which is creating more space for Wayne Gallman and Alfred Morris. Jones has also become a weapon running in the red zone, and has accounted for a team-leading 12 runs of 10+ yards.

* The Giants' running game has found its way and determined what blocking schemes work for their offensive linemen and running backs. They use an outside zone blocking scheme on only 5% of their running plays, which is the lowest rate in the NFL. They have gone to more of a downhill running game featuring a lot of counter, power, and inside zone runs that allow the lineman to double team defenders at the point of attack. The Giants have run the third-most counter plays in the league and the eighth-most power plays. They are tied for the fourth-most traps run in the NFL. The running backs are taking advantage by hitting the holes quickly getting upfield.

* Jones is getting rid of the ball more quickly this year, dropping his average time to throw from 2.86 seconds to 2.74 seconds. After ranking 38th in the NFL last year, he ranks 27th this season among passers who have at least 25 drop backs. He has shown similar progress in getting rid of the ball on straight dropbacks where there is no RPO, play-action or pressure - tied for 23rd in the league at 2.17 seconds until release. On those plays last season, Jones was ranked last in the league, 52nd of 52 qualifying quarterbacks, with a 2.44-second average time to throw. Jones deserves credit for getting the ball out of his hand quicker, and Jason Garrett deserves credit for designing plays for him to do that more consistently.

* Jones has been an elite quarterback when he gets the ball out of his hands quickly. On passes where he gets rid of the ball in 2.5 seconds or fewer, he has PFF's 4th highest quarterback grade in 2020. He has not played as well when he has to hold the ball longer than 2.5 seconds, ranking 24th amongst quarterbacks in PFF passing grade. Jones is 13th in overall grade. When Jones has played with a clean pocket this year, he is PFF's 9th graded quarterback.

* Jones has done a better job protecting the football this season. Last season, PFF had him responsible for 31 turnover-worthy plays on 566 dropbacks. This season, he has 411 dropbacks and has been responsible for only 12 turnover-worthy plays.

* The Giants' offensive line has allowed a 45.3% pressure rate this year, which ranks 31st in the NFL. There has not been significant progress in this area as the season has gone along. Jones has been sacked 31 times this year, which is ranked 30th in the NFL. Daniel Jones has a 78.2 quarterback rating against the blitz this season. Jason Garrett has used a combination of play-action passes, RPO's, max protection and the quick game to allow the offense to move the ball despite these periodic issues in protection. In the past five weeks, for example, the Giants have the fifth-highest play-action pass percentage in football, running it on 32% of their pass plays.

The Giants have faced one of the toughest pass rushing schedules in the league. In terms of pressure percentage, Giants opponents ranked first, second, third (twice), fourth, eighth, 11th (twice), 17th, and 13th this season. In terms of percentage of plays when they sack the quarterback, Giants opponents rank first, second (twice), third (twice), fourth, fifth, 16th, 18th, and 21st. The doubled rankings identify the dual games against Washington and Philadelphia.

It will get a bit easier in this category after the bye week against the Bengals (32nd in pressure rate), the Seahawks (29th), the Cardinals (23rd) and the Browns (22nd). The Bengals are 31st in sack rate, followed by the Seahawks (20th), the Cardinals (17th), and Browns (13th).

* Andrew Thomas has shown marked improvement the past three weeks during which time he has allowed only one sack, two quarterback hits and five hurries. In the first three weeks, he allowed five sacks, five quarterback hits, and 29 quarterback hurries. He is starting to solve his issue of over-setting outside and allowing inside pass rushes.

* Since Sterling Shepard returned in Week 7, the Giants' offense is averaging 23.5 points per game. In the five games Shepard missed (including only 10 snaps in Week 2), the Giants averaged 17 points per game. Shepard's presence gives the Giants another weapon they can trust to get consistent separation.

* The Giants' success on third down as been very dependent on their down and distance. They rank 23rd overall with a 40.8% conversion rate. The Giants have been extremely successful, however, when they get into 3rd-and-manageable situations. On third-and-3 or less, the Giants are converting 71% of their opportunities (sixth in the NFL). From 4-6 yards, the Giants are converting 53% of their opportunities (ninth).

* Getting positive yards on early downs has been essential for the Giants to stay on the field and sustain drives. The Giants have relied on the run here, with the league's 12th-highest 1st-and-10 run rate.

* The Giants have not been overly explosive in the passing game. They have 23 completions of 20+ yards (tied for 24th). Daniel Jones, however, has been very efficient when he throws down the field. On passes that travel 21 or more yards in the air, he has a passer rating of 142.4. He has 14 completions on 26 attempts for 453 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.


* The Giants defense has been much more effective than expected in rushing the passer this season. They've pressured opposing quarterbacks on 32% of their dropbacks, which is ranked 10th in the league and one percent above the league's average rate. They sack opposing quarterbacks on 6.8% of their dropbacks, which is the seventh-highest rate in the league, and their 25 sacks are tied for seventh. The Giants have not been afraid to blitz, sending pressure on 30.5% of their snaps (12th) at a rate just above the league average.

* When the Giants do not blitz, their pressure rate drops to 17th in the league (29.6%). When the Giants blitz, they earn a 39% pressure rate. Opposing quarterbacks have a 87.5 quarterback rating when blitzed, which is the ninth-best in the league.

* Leonard Williams has been the team's top pass rusher, with five sacks, 11 quarterback hits and 17 hurries. His 35 total pressures (tied for seventh among interior defensive linemen) are more than twice as many as anyone else on the team besides Dexter Lawrence. Williams is on pace for 56 total pressures, which is precisely in line with his previous season totals of 57, 59, 51, 56, 54. He has been able to turn more of those pressures into sacks this season.

* Dexter Lawrence is second on the team with 19 pressures (three sacks, four quarterback hits, 12 hurries). Dalvin Tomlinson and Kyler Fackrell each have 16 and BJ Hill has 13. It has been a pass rush by committee. Most of the Giants' pressure has come from the middle of the line, which can very disruptive to opposing quarterbacks. 14 different Giants have recorded sacks this year.

* Blake Martinez is tied with Roquan Smith for the NFL lead in tackles with 96. He also had three passes defended, an interception, a forced fumble, fumble recovery, a sack and seven quarterback pressures. He also has 25 run stops, which leads the team and five tackles for loss or no gain. He has been very disciplined as a zone defender in the middle of the field, a sure tackler, and an effective blitzer. PFF has him graded as the league's 10th-best inside linebacker (min. 50 snaps).

* The Giants' run defense has been excellent all season, allowing 101 yards per game (seventh in the NFL) and 3.96 rushing yards per play (sixth). They have done while standing 20th in the number of times they played eight or more in the box. The Giants' rush defense on first down has allowed only 3.7 yards per carry (fifth) and yielded four rushes of 20+ yards (tied for seventh-best).

* James Bradberry has been the Giants' standout at cornerback, with a league-leading 14 forced incompletions. He has allowed only 31 catches on 59 targets this season for 328 yards and three touchdowns. He also has three interceptions. His ability to track the opposing team's best player in man-to-man has been vital and he has thrived playing off the line, driving on throws in front of him to knock them away.

* The Giants have been a "bend but don't break" defense for most of the season. They rank in the middle of the league in yards allowed per play and yards allowed per game. In the passing game, they have given up 257.7 yards per game (23rd) and 7.12 yards per play (21st), but the yardage has not turned into points (23.6 per game – 12th) because they have done well in the red zone. Giants' opponents are scoring touchdowns on 54% of their red zone trips (fifth-lowest).

* The Giants have also prevented big pass plays. Opponents have only 27 completions of 20+ yards (tied for 12th). On passes traveling further than 20 yards in the air, opposing quarterbacks have a 81.4 quarterback rating (ninth-best).

* The Giants are holding opponents to a 44.3% third-down conversion rate (21st). The unit has limited teams to a 7.4% conversion rate on 3rd-and-10+ yards.

* The Giants have adopted a zone-heavy scheme in the secondary. They run "Cover 1" only 14.4% of the time, which is the fourth-lowest rate in the league. Meanwhile, they rank second in the percent of the time they run "Cover 2" (23.6%) and fourth in "Cover 3" (39.1%). Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham often disguises his coverages before the snap, making it hard to tell what his players will employ; keeping two safeties deep makes it easier to disguise. The Giants, for example, have run "2-deep, man-under" (two safeties deep with man defense underneath) more than any other team – this provides a deceptive look to a quarterback expecting to see a standard "Cover 2" zone.

* The Giants have made extensive use of their secondary's versatility. James Bradberry can play zone, man and safety formations. Logan Ryan has been all over the field, lining up in the box (148 times), on the defensive line (27), in the slot (171), at outside corner (24), and at free safety (278). He has allowed only 27 catches for 282 yards and a touchdown in coverage. Jabrill Peppers has been very effective around the line of scrimmage as a run stopper and blitzer. He has lined up at free safety 83 times as opposed to 234 snaps in the box, 130 in the slot, and 39 on the defensive line. He has also drawn assignments on tight ends and running backs in 1-on-1 coverage.

View some of the best photos of the Giants' rookies through the first 10 weeks of the 2020 season.

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