What We Saw: Giants at Football Team

The Washington Football Team escape some late-game drama to win their first game of the 2021 season at the expense of the 0-2 New York Giants.

Giants @ Football Team

Final Score: Football Team 30, Giants 29

Writer: Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)

 

After the excitement and drama of the season-opener between the Bucs and the Cowboys, you could be forgiven for being a little underwhelmed by the prospect of the New York Giants traveling to the Washington Football Team for the second Thursday Night Football game of the season. However, what we got was a thriller that came down to the final seconds of the game with a splash of controversy and drama sprinkled on top.

The AFC East rivals played out an entertaining tug-of-war for the entire contest as the lead changed six times, with Daniel Jones excelling through the air and on the ground to keep the Giants in the running against Taylor Heinicke and his flourishing connection with one of the game’s best wide receivers, “Scary” Terry McLaurin.

There were a number of miscues from the officials in this game which ultimately affected the final scoreline. In particular, the call to nullify a 58-yard touchdown run from Jones midway through the second quarter because of an apparent hold by C.J. Board, with the flag coming in extremely late!

 

 

Still, the Giants had their opportunities to win this but pre-snap penalties, drops, and poor offensive playcalling from Jason Garrett allowed Washington to put themselves in a position to win the game. A silly offside penalty in the final seconds allowed Dustin Hopkins to attempt a 48-yard game-winning field goal. Unbelievably, Hopkins missed but Dexter Lawrence had jumped offside and so the kicker got another bite at the cherry. The result…

 

 

The Giants start 0-2 for the fifth straight season and there is some early pressure on Joe Judge in New York – Judge cut a frustrated figure in the post-game press conference.

 

New York Giants

 

Quarterback

 

Daniel Jones: 22/32, 249 yards, TD, 4 sacks | 9 carries, 95 yards, TD

 

The Giants lost this game but it wasn’t because of Daniel Jones. The third-year quarterback was impressive despite the game called by his offensive coordinator. He did most of his damage on the ground, using his legs to run for 95 yards and a score – the most yards rushing by a Giants QB since at least 1950. He opened the scoring in the first quarter, capping an 11-play, 71 yard drive with this rushing touchdown.

 

 

It could have been a monster day on the ground for Jones if the long touchdown run that was called back by a dubious penalty had stood. Jones’ ability to use his feet, especially around the red zone makes him a solid streaming option going forward on the back of this performance. He also did not turn the ball over, something that has been his biggest flaw since entering the league. This is impressive considering he was going up against a talented Washington defensive front with a banged-up offensive line that also lost guard Nick Gates early in this game. Jones was sacked four times.

 

 

Through the air, the questions about Jones are still out for serious debate. It is clear he has issues when going through his progressions, which led to a couple of sacks yesterday and is something that he needs to show immediate improvement on. He’s too slow and sometimes receivers are giving up on routes when the ball is thrown. However, when he can go to his first read and push the ball downfield, he looks sensational – they don’t call him “Danny Dimes” for nothing, as this beautiful deep ball to Darius Slayton for his only passing TD shows.

 

 

Slayton should have put the game beyond Washington late in the fourth quarter but dropped a wide-open deep ball from Jones. The receiver needs to be laying out for this quarterback here.

 

 

Jones got the ball back after an interception deep in Washington territory from James Bradberry. Jason Garrett called the most cowardly, conservative three plays he could have to settle for a field goal. Jones should have been given the opportunity to be aggressive and hit the endzone. There was clear anger from Kenny Golladay after that series. Jones seems to be reacting in a way that says, “what else can I do?” and he’s right, he didn’t make those calls. He needs a more creative OC than Garrett to succeed in New York.

 

 

Running Back

 

Saquon Barkley: 13 carries, 57 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 12 yards

Devonte Booker: 2 carries, 9 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 2 yards

Elijhaa Penny: 2 carries, 5 yards

 

There were more positives signs for Saquon Barkley in his second game from his ACL recovery. The electric running back logged an increase in snaps to 58 out of a possible 69 plays and saw four more touches than Week 1 as he recorded 4.4 yds/carry in 13 touches out of the backfield. This cut and acceleration upfield made us sit up and smile.

 

 

It looks like Jones will remain in a Josh Allen-type role around the red zone which could hurt Barkley’s role this season. He is not looking like a top 10 pick right now and expectations should be tempered as the Giants may not see a positive game script most weeks. Seeing only 3 targets out of the backfield is not encouraging.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Sterling Shepard: 10 targets, 9 receptions, 94 yards

Darius Slayton: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 56 yards, TD

Kenny Golladay: 8 targets, 3 receptions, 38 yards

Kyle Rudolph: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 25 yards

Kaden Smith: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 24 yards

C.J. Board: 1 carry, 6 yards

 

Outside of Sterling Shepard, the Giants receivers will go away thinking about the points they left on the field tonight. Shepard was his usual busy self, his intelligent route running and speed off the line was too much for Washington’s secondary between the hashes. Shepard is a PPR darling and Jones’ go-to option on third down. This cannot be underestimated for fantasy production.

 

 

Big-money free-agent acquisition Kenny Golladay is yet to find that connection with his quarterback and we have already seen the frustration on the sidelines. I think that is only a good thing for this offense. They have lacked that determined, competitive presence in the room and Golladay is a WR1 type that won’t like losing after his exploits in Detroit. He had two drops in this one that he will want back and there are better days ahead for Golladay in this offense – he has been dealing with injuries all offseason too. The target share is healthy. Don’t write Golladay off at all, give it some time. He did draw a pass interference penalty in the red zone, he would have caught an easy touchdown if he wasn’t held.

The touchdown that wasn’t will haunt this team for the next week. It will haunt Darius Slayton more. The fifth-round pick has been a bright spot for this offense in the past two seasons and if anything he has been underused, especially when you consider Jones’ strength throwing the ball deep. Slayton is a nice FLEX position option because of his ability to make plays downfield. He had a nice night but it could have been so much better.

 

 

The loss of Evan Engram hasn’t spiked Kyle Rudolph‘s usage, with the majority of the target share being split between the three main receivers. There was also no plan in place for first-round selection Kadarious Toney either – he played just 19 snaps and wasn’t targeted. Puzzling.

 

Washington Football Team

 

Quarterback

 

Taylor Heinicke: 34/46, 336 yards, 2 TD, INT, sack | 4 carries, 6 yards

 

Undrafted journeyman Taylor Heinicke brushed off a late interception to lead his team down the field for a game-winning field goal to cap a determined performance from the unlikely hero. On a night when the Washington defense was supposed to propel them into a winning position, Heinicke consistently delivered when he needed to to get his team over the line. The worry after last week’s defeat was whether Scott Turner could ensure Heinicke produced the best out of star receiver Terry McLaurin. He put that to bed early, hitting McLaurin for the score to bring Washington level in the second quarter.

 

 

What really stood out was Heinicke’s ability to creatively move the ball downfield using all his weapons – Turner’s playcalling should also receive credit here. Unlike Garrett with Jones, Turner dialed up an eclectic game plan that gave Heinicke options all over the field. This was highlighted by Washington’s final drive before the half – Heinicke went 7-for- 7 in a 12-play, 84-yard sequence that ended with J.D. McKissic running the ball in from inside the 5-yard line on third down. Heinicke connected with five different players for receptions on the drive.

 

 

Those worried about this Washington offense without Ryan Fitzpatrick (including myself) were calmed tonight thanks to this performance. It wasn’t without a blemish, however as Heinicke threw a pick inside his own half with only 2:16 remaining that could have resulted in the Giants putting the game beyond Washington. Garrett’s pathetic playcalling let Heinicke off the hook.

 

 

Those in two-quarterback leagues that gambled on Heinicke this week will be delighted by his showing, however, he has limited appeal in standard and redraft leagues at this point. He could thrust himself into the conversation by the bye weeks if this form repeats itself. The supporting cast certainly gives him reason to be relevant.

 

Running Back

 

Antonio Gibson: 13 carries, 69 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 4 yards

J.D. McKissic: 4 carries, 10 yards, TD | 6 targets, 5 receptions, 83 yards

 

Scott Turner used both his key running backs perfectly in this contest but Antonio Gibson fans will be displeased with the decision to give the ball to J.D. McKissic to run the ball in down at the goal line. This is the second week in a row that Gibson hasn’t really been in the mix to hit paydirt and that is alarming. McKissic was always going to dent his production in PPR leagues but many thought Gibson to be the goalline back. In 2-minute drills, McKissic out-snapped Gibson 19-1 in this game. Put a watch on this for future weeks.

The bulk of McKissic’s yards through the air came off of this fantastic pass down the sideline from Heinicke late in the game. After a disappointing Week 1, McKissic is back in play for a FLEX spot in fantasy lineups.

 

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Terry McLaurin: 14 targets, 11 receptions, 107 yards, TD

Logan Thomas: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 45 yards

Adam Humphries: 8 targets, 7 receptions, 45 yards

Dyami Brown: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 34 yards

Ricky Seals-Jones: 1 target, 1 reception, 19 yards, TD

DeAndre Carter: 1 carry, 2 yards

 

All is well with the fantasy outlook for the Washington Football Team and Terry McLaurin once again. “Scary Terry” lit up Pro Bowl cornerback James Bradberry to the tune of 11 receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown. McLaurin displayed his exceptional route running abilities all night long, making a fool out of Bradberry on nearly every target.

 

 

Heinicke showed the trust in his number one receiver that was sorely lacking in last week’s defeat to the Chargers. The only mistake did lead to the turnover, however, with Bradberry demanding some respect and saving face somewhat by jumping in front of a forced pass from Heinicke into traffic. McLaurin couldn’t really do much to help his quarterback out.

There are good times ahead for Washington’s WR1. The same can be said for rookie wide receiver Dyami Brown, who flashed his potential last week but made much more of his opportunities this week with a couple of outstanding grabs, including this grab to set up Washington’s first scoring drive.

 

 

Fun statistic of the night – the completion probability of Heinicke’s touchdown pass to Ricky Seals-Jones, his first target, was just 13.7%. RSJ was well covered by Adoree’ Jackson in the back of the end zone. The air distance on the throw was 40.2 yards. It was the second-most improbable completion by Washington in the Next Gen Stats era. It was a hell of a grab!

 

 

Logan Thomas fans will be disappointed that the big tight end failed to make the most of a plus matchup by recording just five catches on seven targets for 45 yards. He was mainly targeted on secondary reads and the fact that backup TE RSJ nabbed the score will gripe fantasy managers in the same way as McKissic has vulturing a TD from Gibson. Adam Humphries also took targets away from Thomas, who was a focal point of this offense last season. The impending return of Curtis Samuel also complicates matters going forward.

The good news is that under Heinicke, who threw the ball 46 times, there seems to be plenty of opportunities to go around.

 

Photo by All-Pro Reels (https://www.flickr.com/photos/joeglo/) | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

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