Friday Notes: Eagles ride Sanchez 2.0 into first place

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

The Friday after Thanksgiving is always a laid-back day with very little excitement. This year, there is no excitement in the land of the Giants. They are officially out of the play off picture at 3-8 and are headed into NFL obscurity in a season where most teams are talking about how they can still grab a playoff spot.

The Giants will be practicing today in preparation for their trip to Jacksonville. They will head down to Florida tomorrow to play perhaps one of the NFL’s most meaningless games of the year. FOX is only televising the game in the Jacksonville and New York markets, with former Giant David Diehl providing color commentary alongside a play-by-play man that I’m sure most Giant fans have never heard of, Justin Kutcher.

While the Giants try to find some redeemable elements in this lost season, two of their division rivals – Dallas and Philadelphia – are headed for the playoffs and the other, Washington, is dealing with a quarterback fiasco in their own forgettable season.

On Thursday, New York football fans were treated like turkeys as former Jet whipping boy Mark Sanchez and the Eagles trounced the Dallas Cowboys at Jerry World in a surreal romp.

Philadelphia is all alone in first place in the NFC East this morning, which in itself is no surprise. But the fact that Sanchez is at the helm of the ship is somewhat of a surprise. And this could be just the beginning of Sanchez 2.0 should he continue to lead the Eagles down the winning path.

Jet fans, who are clamoring for any semblance of order at the quarterback position, are finding more than just their turkey dinners hard to digest today.

Sanchez outplayed Tony Romo in Dallas on national television, ringing up a 102.2 QBR in the process. Giant fans probably don’t see this as much of a big deal having lost two close games to the Cowboys and getting squashed by the Eagles in their first meeting this season, but still, it was something to see. The Eagles walloped Dallas on both sides of the ball.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly said after the game, it’s all about playing meaningful games late in the season. That’s something we completely understand but haven’t seen around these parts for some time now. It’s ironic that Sanchez, last seen getting flattened by his own lineman with the Jets, is at the center of a playoff run and the New York fans are the laughingstock now.

Rex to the Giants? Hmmm…

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Would the Giants entertain hiring Rex Ryan as their defensive coordinator next season?

NFL: CombineAn interesting question that many have asked me over the past few weeks and, truthfully, I have not thought too deeply about. There are many variables and hurdles that have to be resolved and cleared before such an event could happen.

First, Rex would have to be relieved of his duties as head coach of the Jets. That’s already a foregone conclusion according to our Jets friends.

Second, the Giants would have to replace their head coach, Tom Coughlin, because it’s doubtful he – or the current Giants front office infrastructure – would consider bringing a media ringleader such as Ryan in the door. They like things quiet.

Thirdly, the Giants would have to break away from their current 4-3 defensive philosophy and mold their defense into the 3-4 alignment that Rex favors. That means major changes to their front seven. I know, big deal.

If they want to create a stir, a move like this would certainly do the trick. They need to change radically on defense. Their pass rush is no longer effective and the fire on the defensive side of the ball is all but gone.

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In competitive week of NFL games, Giants face Jags in Basement Bowl

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Week 13 arrives with a whopping 16 teams with seven or more wins, the most ever in NFL history through 11 games. Unfortunately, the Giants (3-8) and their Week 13 opponent, the 1-10 Jacksonville Jaguars, are not in that group.

The Giants began the season with two quick losses but then won three straight, only to lose the next six. The Jags came out of the gate 0-5 before getting in the win column with a Week 6 victory at home against Cleveland. They have not won since.

That doesn’t mean this game isn’t worth watching. Both teams are at crossroads. The Jags are building around rookie QB Blake Bortles and a young group of receivers. The Giants are probably in the last year of the Tom Coughlin era and are poised for major changes in the upcoming offseason.

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Giants Week 12 defensive report card, presented by Long Island University

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Overview: After last season, CEO John Mara said the team wasn’t quite ready to be blown up. They made sweeping changes on offense and decided to augment the defense with upgrades to their back seven. Injuries robbed us from seeing what that defense could have done this year, so it’s unfair to say they didn’t try to make the necessary moves to better the team. That being said, the product on the field right now is not cutting the mustard. They should blow this up.

Long Island UniversityI understand they play with heart and effort and are probably overachieving even if they are one of the worst defenses statistically in the league. The way the Cowboys whisked through them to score the winning TD in the final minutes was perhaps one of the worst attempts to hold a lead I’ve seen in quite some time.

Overall Grade: D


 

DL: The Cowboys didn’t light up the stat sheet like some of the Giants most recent opponents, gaining 385 total yards and 119 yards rushing. The defensive line has been trying to hold it together and has basically failed in big spots. They were only on the field 24 minutes, but looked worn out on that final drive. DEs Mathias Kiwanuka and Damontre Moore had sacks and Jon Hankins had five tackles. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they applied little pressure on QB Tony Romo, hitting him a total of five times (including the two sacks).  Grade: D

LB: Jameel McClain, filling in at MLB for Jon Beason, went down with a knee injury and was replaced by Mark Herzlich. That pretty much tells you where this team is at. No Beason, no Jacquian and no McClain, well, you get the picture. Spencer Paysinger and Devon Kennard actually played fairly well as did Herzlich (six tackles) but not much can be expected from these backups against one of the league’s top offenses.  They’re not out there making a difference, they’re just trying to survive. Grade: C 

DB: Antrel Rolle always comes to play. I’m sure the others do, too, but they allowed way too many big plays down the field. GM Jerry Reese told us years ago this was a major problem with Perry Fewell’s defense and it still is. A backup receiver named Cole Beasley beat them for two big plays and Dez Bryant continued his mastery over the Giants’ defensive backfield with two more TD catches. Injuries have reduced them to a subpar unit and what’s left isn’t getting it done.  Grade: D

OBJ setting new standard for NFL receivers

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

With another loss prompting all types of suggestions on how the Giants can win going forward, Giant fans (and just about everyone else, it seems) have turned to the positives from Sunday’s game vs Dallas.

And by now you all know what that is.

WR Odell Beckham, Jr., the Giants’ top selection in last April’s draft and his practically impossible, one-handed TD catch on national TV on Sunday. It is the culmination of several spectacular plays by Beckham in his seven-game NFL career.

But was it the best catch in NFL history? Or even New York Giants’ history?

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Giants Week 12 offensive report card, presented by Long Island University

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Overview: The Giants scored touchdowns on their first three possessions and led the ball game, 21-10, at the half.

QB Eli Manning was hot (14/16 for 191 yards and 2 TDs) and rookie WR Odell Beckham was putting on a show, reeling in all eight of his targets for 125 yards, including a one-handed TD grab for the ages. But in the second half, they came out flat, like they’ve done so many games this season.

Long Island UniversityAfter two three-and-outs, they drove the ball down to the Dallas 18 and were in position to score. Manning had WR Preston Parker in the clear, but threw the pass a tad too high. Parker got a hand on it, deflecting it to Dallas safety Barry Church for an INT. They would only get the ball back three more times, scoring once, but the opportunity to put the game away had already past.

Efficiency-wise, they went 11-16 (69%) on third downs, 0-1 on fourth down and 3-for-4 in the red zone.

Overall Grade: B


QB: Manning had a stellar first half, hitting his targets with precision. He was almost as good in the second. Sans the pass to Parker, and a missed opportunity to a wide open Beckham down the left sideline, he played winning football.  The Giants actually passed the ball more in the second half, but with not the same success. Beckham left the game with a back bruise for a stretch and many of the passes were of the short variety to the backs and the tight ends. Grade: A

RB: Only 2.8 YPC on the ground is usually a losing stat, but in the Giants case that wasn’t the smoking gun in this game. They held the football for 35 minutes and sustained drives through short passes. They had 27 first downs to the Cowboys’ 18 and ran 74 plays to Dallas’ 53. The RBs were held in check on the ground, gaining only 89 yards and one TD. Rashad Jennings caught eight passes for 68 yards and Andre Williams had a 12-yard catch. Good, but not quite good enough. Grade: B To read more of this story, click here

NFL Week 12 GameDay: Dallas at Giants, 8:30

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

The Giants (3-7) hope to stop a five-game losing streak when they face one of their top rivals, the 7-3 Dallas Cowboys in front of a nationally-televised audience.

Kickoff: 8:30PM Eastern
Site: MetLife Stadium
Surface: Field Turf
Weather: Cloudy, Mid 40’s
TV: NBC Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
Radio: WFAN 660AM and 101.9FM Bob Papa, Carl Banks and Howard Cross Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, James Lofton, Ross Tucker SIRIUS: 88 (WW1) 93 (Dal), 92 (NYG) XM: 88 (WW1), 225 (Dal), 226 (NYG)
Referee: Bill Vinovich
The Line: Dallas by 3 1/2; OU 47 1/2
The Series: Cowboys lead, 60-42-2, and have won past three.

Last Game: 10/19/14: Giants 21 at Cowboys 31. Dallas RB DeMarco Murray rushes 28 times for 128 yards & TD. Cowboys TE Gavin Escobar adds two TD catches.
Last Game at Site: 11/24/13: Cowboys 24, Giants 21. Dallas QB Tony Romo passes for 234 yards & 2 TDs, both to TE Jason Witten. Cowboys S Jeff Heath records 50-yard FR-TD.

The Latest: The Cowboys are coming off a bye. In their last game (Week 10), they defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars, 31-17, in London. The Giants lost at home last Sunday to the San Francisco 49ers, 16-10.

Injuries

Cowboys: OUT: CB Tyler Patmon (knee, ankle) PROBABLE: DE Tyrone Crawford (knee), T Doug Free (foot), DT Nick Hayden (shoulder), LB Rolando McClain (knee), DT Josh Price-Brent (groin), QB Tony Romo (back)

Giants: OUT: DT Cullen Jenkins (calf), T Justin Pugh (quadricep), LB Jacquian Williams (concussion) PROBABLE: DE Mathias Kiwanuka (knee), CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back, hamstring), G Geoff Schwartz (toe) To read more of this story, click here