Giants @ Cardinals
Final Score: Giants 31, Cardinals 28
Writer: Chuck Twohig (@Chuck2E on Twitter)
This. Was. A. Crazy. Game. Wow, what did I just watch?! The Arizona Cardinals came out firing on all cylinders, running the ball tough with James Conner. They enjoyed a surprisingly strong start from quarterback Joshua Dobbs, and benefitted from solid defensive play, including an interception to end a developing New York Giants drive. The Cardinals looked to be running away with this one by taking a 20-0 lead into the half. Finally, after a combined score of 60-0 through six quarters against their opponents, the Giants remembered that the 2023 NFL season was underway. Daniel Jones pulled it together and stood strong for his troops, and Saquon Barkley did Saquon things in a very Saquon way. Darren Waller reminded everyone why the Giants traded for him, and the defense finally began to look like the Wink Martindale defenses that teams have always feared. It was quite literally like watching a lightbulb turn on, or like watching a heavyweight boxer come back to Earth after being knocked unconscious and barely beating the standing 8 count. The Giants took over all facets of the game for the second half and outscored the Cardinals 31-8 in the final two quarters to secure an improbable comeback win on enemy soil.
- One given coming into this game is that Joshua Dobbs is not a serious threat at quarterback. For at least 30 minutes of football today, he proved that to be an incorrect assessment. He definitely laid the foundation for something to build on today and showed some good chemistry with Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. I’m interested to see how he progresses as the season unfolds.
- If you watched the first half of this game, you would say there was a zero percent chance that Daniel Jones would be considered an “Up” player today. If you watched only the second half you would say there was a zero percent chance he wouldn’t be. During his Tale of Two Halves, he was able to lean on Barkley and Waller, but he peppered a few other receivers and used his legs as well to secure a huge comeback win as the leader of this Giants team.
- Hollywood Brown was someone Dobbs could trust early on, and Dobbs leveraged this connection. The final state line wasn’t overly impressive, but to be fair, most of the numbers came from a strong first half of football that preceded a meek second half.
- Speed Kills! Rookie Jalin Hyatt came into the game for the first time at the start of the 3rd quarter and caught a 58-yarder from Jones, showing he was ready for the NFL. He tacked on another nice catch later in the game as his immersion into this offense continued. He will always be one of the fastest people on the field no matter who the Giants are playing, and I’m willing to bet that he’ll often present a mismatch problem to opposing defenses going forward.
- For the second straight week no one heard a peep from Kayvon Thibodeaux during the game nor found a trace of him on the scoresheet. Someone drafted as high as Kayvon cannot be this quiet against a team that this defense was expected to control easily. Life doesn’t get any easier for him heading into San Francisco on short rest so he needs a way to make sure he’s a factor early and often or Giants fans will start revolting.
- This is the part where we acknowledge that the Entire Giants Offensive Line is basically a dumpster fire right now. Ben Bredeson went down during this one which ended up being a bigger deal than that statement should be. Evan Neal looked awful again, and guys like Joshua Ezudu and Mark Glowinski simply cannot be trusted.
New York Giants
Daniel Jones: 26/37 321 yards, 2 TD/1 INT. 9 carries, 59 yards, 1 TD
Jones started slow again this week and again had abysmal blocking in front of him but managed to come out as a man on a mission in the second half. First Half Jones and Second Half Jones may have genuinely been different people out there. In the first half, he looked lost, sluggish, and indecisive. In the second, he was making decisions, firing the ball into tight spots, and made plays with his legs when it was sensible to do so.
- Jones did have an interception in this one, but it was a pass that hit Saquon Barkley right in the hands and turned into an easy airball pick for the defense. That one’s not on Jones at all.
- This offensive line is barely held together by duct tape and hopeless dreams, but Arizona only rushed three on the last play of the first half and still managed to sack Jones. That simply cannot happen when you have five men blocking three with a mobile quarterback at the helm.
Saquon Barkley: 17 carries, 63 yards, TD | 7 targets, 6 receptions, 29 yards, TD
Saquon did not post a signature Saquon day, but he did enough to help the team get into the win column. After basically gifting the Arizona with an interception off his hands early (for the second time in two weeks), he settled in and was able to make things happen on the ground as well as through the air. Saquon scored while diving for the pylon after reeling in a pass from Jones; that play really swung the momentum of the game hard in the Giants’ favor. All eyes will be on the injury report in the coming week, as Barkley left the game late in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury.
Matt Breida: 1 carry, 5 yards
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Jalin Hyatt: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 89 yards
Hyatt’s huge catch to start the 3rd quarter showed exactly what the Giants need to do more regularly: get separation so Jones can drop those dimes! “Speed can’t be taught” isn’t just a cliché, and Hyatt is starting to show that route-running criticism thrown at him during the NFL Draft process was misguided.
Darren Waller: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 76 yards
Waller continues to look like Jones’ favorite target as he accumulated the most targets of any Giants player in Week 2. He and Jones connected on quite a few nice third down conversions to move the chains, and I suspect that will become a trend given how Waller creates mismatches nearly anytime he’s running routes given his size, speed, and strong hands.
Darius Slayton: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 62 yards
- Slayton posted a big play or two, but also dropped three passes that were all catchable. This unfortunately is not something new when it comes to Slayton and is one of the main reasons that he has never developed into a viable number one option in this passing offense.
Isaiah Hodgins: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 40 yards, 1 TD
- Not a huge day for Hodgins, but he did score the game-tying touchdown. Hodgins is clutch, as he always seems to be good for a key catch or two in most games in which the Giants are competitive.
Parris Campbell: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 21 yards
- It was a pretty quiet day for Campbell, but he saw a handful of screen passes and short yardage tosses. Given his speed, I expect the playbook to expand during the season to offer more downfield plays for Parris.
Sterling Shepard: 1 target, 1 reception, 4 yards
Joshua Dobbs: 21/31 228 yards, 1 TD. 3 carries, 41 yards, 1 TD
Dobbs was a man possessed in the first half of this game, but whether it was the Giants defense stiffening up or Dobbs losing steam, he was not the same player throughout most of the second half. There were a lot of positives to take away from this game for Dobbs to build on, however.
- On the first drive of the game, Dobbs slightly overthrew a wide-open Zach Ertz that would have been an easy six points. This led to a missed field goal and zero points for the Cardinals in a game they lost by three.
James Conner: 23 carries, 106 yards, 1 TD | 1 target, 0 receptions
Conner looked like Conner out there. He wasn’t flashy or dangerously explosive, but did his job and made a lot of defenders miss, especially in the first half. Conner eclipsed 100 yards but was a complete non-factor in the passing game.
Keaontay Ingram: 2 carries, 6 yards
Emari Demercado: 1 carry, -2 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 7 yards
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Michael Wilson: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 56 yards
Zach Ertz: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 56 yards
Even though they haven’t worked together for long, Ertz became a safety net for Dobbs early. When the Cardinals needed a chunk or a first down, Dobbs was honing in on Ertz. Their chemistry should grow as the season goes on and Ertz gains even more confidence in his surgically-repaired knee.
Marquise (Hollywood) Brown: 10 targets, 6 receptions, 54 yards, 1 TD
It wasn’t a huge day on the stat sheet, but Brown was statistically Dobbs’ favorite target through the air today. He posted a very low ypc (5.4) but came away with a touchdown to show for his efforts. One of Brown’s best assets is his utility as a downfield weapon, but the ability to chuck it deep is unfortunately not one of Dobbs’ strengths. This is unfortunate for Brown’s fantasy managers, who may not reap the draft capital they invested in him when expecting the same version of the player on the receiving end of many deep balls from Lamar Jackson as a former member of the Baltimore Ravens.
Trey McBride: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 32 yards
Rondale Moore: 1 target, 1 reception, 14 yards
Zach Pascal: 1 target, 1 reception, 9 yards