The bye week is always an important time for teams to take a step back, evaluate what might need fixing, and hit the ground running when it’s time to return. That’s what the Giants and head coach Joe Judge are doing this week, as they are fresh and ready for the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
During the break, a coaching change was made with Judge firing OL coach Marc Colombo and bringing in former Patriots assistant Dave DeGuglielmo to replace him. It was a well-publicized situation that Judge addressed on Monday, saying that all the reports out there aren’t all true. However, he made the change in the best interest of the team and will continue moving forward.
And Judge’s Giants will continue to look at the NFC East standings and see that the title is still up for grabs. Currently on a two-game win streak, the Giants are looking to pull away from the rest of the competition and it will start by cleaning up or improving on things that should’ve be discussed between the coaches and players over the bye.
Here are a few things that should’ve been addressed:
Stop the Drops
Daniel Jones has been in a rhythm during these past two games – not turning the ball over in two straight contests for the first time in his career. But what isn’t helping that rhythm are the dropped passes from his receivers.
The Giants have 23 drops as a team, according to Pro Football Focus, which is one of the highest totals in the league. That’s not going to fly against some tough competition down the road like the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals, who are on the schedule after the Bengals.
We also know there have been some crucial drops this season, like Evan Engram – who leads the team with six drops – failing to catch a perfectly-placed ball from Jones to ice the game against the Philadelphia Eagles a few weeks back. It went right through his hands.
Of course, receivers can’t make every single target turn into a completion. But when balls find hands with no defenders around, right in between the numbers, it hurts the offense when that can’t be hauled in. That should be a statistic the receiver room looked at during the bye.
Continue Working the Read Options
You might be surprised to see that Jones has 7.8 yards per rushing attempt and leads the Giants with 384 rushing yards on the season. But he’s racked up some big plays – his near 80-yard run against the Eagles that should’ve been a touchdown had he not tripped – and has proven to be able to gain some serious yardage with his legs.
Well, Jason Garrett, keep it coming!
If teams don’t know by now that Jones can get going when he sees an opening to run, then they aren’t watching the film hard enough. That’s why the read option in the run game should continue. Think about what Garrett was able to do with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott during his time in Dallas. Dak proved he can run, so defenses had to spy the quarterback. Jones has been running well in those situations, and the combination of Wayne Gallman and Alfred Morris has been solid in the backfield.
The Giants have used that read option sparingly, but it’s time to change that. It’s working and Jones is making that happen.
Find Ways to Utilize McKinney, Ximines
The team announced that rookie S Xavier McKinney and DE Oshane Ximines are fit to return to practice, and Judge didn’t shut the door on them being available for Sunday. And since they’ve been on track to return from IR at this point, DC Patrick Graham should’ve been working even before the bye to find ways to utilize their talents.
First of all, this defense is clicking on all cylinders. They’ve looked great against the run and the pass defense, though shaky at first, is improving by the game. Having these two available would just add more depth that Graham can get creative with. McKinney is a ballhawk that the Giants believe can quarterback their defense in the future. His tackling skills are also elite coming out of Alabama, so getting some time for him among the solid safety group is a must.
Also, since Lorenzo Carter is out for the season and Markus Golden was traded, Ximines should get his shot at getting to the quarterback. Kyler Fackrell can’t do it all off the edge. Find ways to get Ximines working and maybe he can provide more pressure.
Take More Shots
How are you going to beat teams like the Seahawks, Cardinals and Ravens? Taking risks.
It really hasn’t been Jones’ thing this season, but in his rookie campaign, he was trusting of his receivers to go up and get the deep ball. We haven’t seen that a lot from him because Garrett wants to set the pace with the run game and kill clock. While that’s a good strategy, better teams will find a way to adapt to what the Giants are bringing and stop that.
Jones hasn’t broken 300 yards at all this season, while eclipsing that mark five times last year. Against Cincy, who allows 254.7 passing yards per game, it might be the time to let Jones loose and switch up the dink and dunk mentality that he’s had.