Chargers Preview: Getting To Know The New York Giants

Giants Prep
Photos: Chargers Continue Week 14 Prep

Getting To Know The New York Giants

The Los Angeles Chargers are coming off their best defensive performance of the season, which included six sacks, two interceptions, and two forced and recovered fumbles in a 41-22 thumping of the Cincinnati Bengals. Those who read this article series last week know that I was less than optimistic about the Chargers’ chances in Paul Brown Stadium heading into the game. Despite the early lead, when word got out that Joey Bosa was headed to the locker room for a possible concussion, the seed of doubt returned. But Justin Herbert was excellent all day and the defense continued to make plays, and the Chargers were able to weather the storm and ultimately come out victorious.

This week, the Chargers face a far less daunting task against a bad 4-8 Giants team that will be starting a backup quarterback of sorts. Head Coach Joe Judge said this morning that he expects veteran journeyman Mike Glennon to be cleared from concussion protocol in time to start on Sunday. If he does not, former Bills practice squad quarterback Jake Fromm will get the nod. That being said, let’s dive into the Giants from a broader standpoint.

2020 Season In Review

There wasn’t a ton of excitement surrounding the Giants heading into the 2020 season. The general consensus around the young Daniel Jones was still (and remains as such) skeptical. However, the thought was that if they paired him with a young offensive mind that maybe that coach could mold the former Duke Blue Devil into a high-level starting-caliber quarterback. Despite that thought process, the Giants went in other directions. Along with Judge, they interviewed former Packers and current Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy, former Cowboys defensive assistant Kris Richard, Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, and Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy

Ultimately they decided to hire Judge, in part because of his connections to Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. He had risen through the ranks of those two coaching staffs by coaching special teams and the hope was that he would bring that kind of culture to the Giants program and be more of a CEO coach than a savant play-caller. Things seemed to be trending up when the Giants were 5-7 after beating the Seahawks on December 6th, but then they finished the season by losing three of their last four games and finished 6-10. 

The jury (pun intended) is still out on Judge, although his first two seasons aren’t exactly painting a great picture. Yes, they were a game out of the playoff picture all the way to the end of the 2020 season, but that says more about how truly awful the NFC Least was last season. The two most important things for the 2020 Giants were for Judge to imprint his culture on the team, and for Jones to show real progress heading into year three. Neither of those things seemed to happen. It didn’t help things when Judge reportedly got into a physical altercation with his offensive line coach halfway through his first year. In particular for Jones, there wasn’t any real growth. He nearly threw more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (11) in his second year as the starter and he still hasn’t ditched the fumbling issue. He fumbled a whopping 19 times last year and has already fumbled 10 times this year in 10 starts. 

The Giants had to have hoped that those questions would be answered during the 2020 season, and instead, they had to wait for another year (and are still waiting).

Key Additions And Departures

The 2021 Giants offseason will forever serve as a warning sign to young teams with cap space. It is paramount that NFL teams are honest with themselves when it comes to spending money in free agency. The Giants were a bad football team in 2020 and absolutely went wild in free agency. They started off by signing defensive lineman Leonard Williams to a three-year, $63 million extension to stay with the team. That by itself is a fine move, but they followed that up by signing wide receiver Kenny Golladay to a massive four-year, $72 million deal to bring him over from the Lions – despite a team-friendly wide receiver market. That deal tied him with Tyreek Hill as the sixth highest-paid wideout in the entire league. Golladay is currently 59th in the league in receiving yards. Then their last big deal came after the Titans surprisingly cut cornerback Adoree Jackson. The cornerback market had been set pretty low at the time and they still signed Jackson to a three-year, $39 million deal. The new contract tied him with former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gillmore as the 12th highest paid corner in the league. 

The timing and subsequent framing of the Jackson deal, in particular, was that he was the missing piece for the Giants to contend for the playoffs, and he’s been solid for them but the absolute last thing this team needed was a very highly paid second cornerback. As a result of their recent spending sprees, the Giants are slated to have 50% of their 2020 cap space taken up by Williams, Golladay, Jackson, cornerback James Bradberry, linebacker Blake Martinez, and wide receiver Sterling Shepard. That’s all fine and dandy IF all of those players are playing like stars AND you have a young stud quarterback on a rookie contract. Neither of those things are happening. 

Outside of their free agency additions, the Giants added some nice pieces through last April’s draft even after trading down with the Chicago Bears. The two key picks were wide receiver Kadarius Toney and outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari, out of Florida and Georgia respectively. Toney has been their most electric playmaker on offense and has flashed some really high level potential. Ojulari has been their best outside pass rusher and actually broke the Giants rookie record for sacks last week. After that they drafted slot corner Aaron Robinson out of Central Florida, outside linebacker Elerson Smith out of Northern Iowa, running back Gary Brightwell out of Arizona, cornerback Rodarius Williams out of Oklahoma State, and picked up outside linebacker Quincy Roche after the Steelers cut him in the final round of roster cuts. Robinson and Roche are the only other rookies from their class that are playing significant snaps.

2021 Outlook

As I mentioned above, the Giants sit at 4-8 and that seems about right with where the consensus was about their season. The injuries to the skill players and Jones have certainly impacted their offensive success. The ineptitude of Jason Garrett and subsequent firing as an offensive coordinator haven’t helped much either. Generally speaking the combination of low-end quarterback play, an incompetent offensive coordinator, and consistent injuries at the skill positions does not make up a recipe for offensive success. 

Their defense has managed to mitigate the damage to a degree and keep them semi-competitive, and they do have some dudes on that side of the ball. Bradberry, Williams, Martinez, and safety Logan Ryan is a really good veteran core. It’s just that in the modern NFL you need to be able to score points and the Giants have scored 20 points or less in eight of their twelve games this season, and that includes four of their last five games. After they play the Chargers this week, they’ll finish the season facing each of their NFC Least foes as well as a matchup with the Bears on January second.

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History Against The Chargers

These two franchises have only matched up twelve times throughout their histories’. The Chargers lead the all-time series 7-5, largely due to the fact that they’ve won the last four matchups. Despite their intertwined histories, Philip Rivers (happy birthday king!) and Eli Manning were only able to play each other three times: 2009, 2013, and most recently in 2017. The most notable one coming in 2013, when the Chargers smacked the Giants 37-17 in a Week 14 matchup (foreshadowing?). On that day, the Chargers roared out to a 24-0 halftime lead behind the excellence of Rivers and Keenan Allen, who scored twice in the first half. Allen didn’t do much in the second half as the early lead allowed the team to lean on Ryan Mathews and the run game. The defense also intercepted Manning twice which only furthered the Chargers’ dominant performance that day. 

Ultimately, this is a game a team like the Chargers should win and should win big. The Giants are not a good football team, and the Chargers get them at home. I realize that Allen probably won’t play and the Giants defense is good enough to keep things close-ish for a while, but the Chargers defense is coming off their best performance of the season and while I don’t expect four turnovers again I do expect them to give Herbert plenty of short fields. I think the Chargers will pull away in the third quarter and win 31-17. 

Giants Prep

Photos: Chargers Continue Week 14 Prep – Mike Nowak