The Giants are back home for their first afternoon home game of the 2023 season. NFC East foe Washington will be the opponent with the line currently in favor of Washington by 3 points. Kickoff is slated for 1:00pm EST from MetLife Stadium.
Daniel Jones to miss another week
Jones practiced in a limited capacity throughout the week while dealing with a neck injury similar to the one that cost him the final six games of the 2021 season. The Giants are certainly being cautious with their $160 million dollar man and easing him back into the swing of things. Brian Daboll spoke with the media on Friday, and although he didn't rule him out then, noting that he had yet to be cleared for contact was a bit concerning to hear two days out from gameday.
The Commanders have long been a team that the Giants have taken care of at home. They bring a 56-30-3 record all-time at home against Washington into this game. It doesn't surprise me that Jones has been ruled out this week. I think all Giants fans would rather this outcome so he can fully heal and be ready for next week's matchup against the Jets. That said, Tyrod Taylor will then again be thrust into a starting role for the second straight week.
Taylor is a capable backup and stepped up against all odds in Buffalo last week. I was encouraged by his play as he completed 24/36 pass attempts, threw for 200 yards and ran the ball five times for 24 yards. The Commanders defense is nowhere near Buffalo's in terms of strength, so Taylor may have a better opportunity to let loose and make some plays this week. The Commanders are giving up 248.2 Yards/G against the pass through six weeks, good for sixth worst in the league. This could be the game in which we see Taylor really make some noise and help get this offensive attack going. Giants fans would love to see more of the below from Taylor where he fit the ball in a very tight window two separate times for Darius Slayton in the Buffalo game.
Stingy Giants D
Frankly, the Giants defense was nowhere near serviceable through the first couple weeks of the season. They took that awful beating against Dallas at home in week 1, gave up 28 points against a weaker Cardinals team in week 2, pretty much didn't have a chance against Super Bowl favorite San Francisco in week 3, and weren't very competitive in their 24-3 home loss against Seattle in week 4. However, something seemed to click in week 5 against Miami. The defense was able to force 3 turnovers in that game, with one being a pick 6 that Jason Pinnock took 102 yards to the house. They gave up a good chunk of yardage, but Miami picked up most of those yards on explosive plays:
De'Von Achane ripped a 76 yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter
On the first drive of the second half, Tyreek Hill burned the defense for a 69 yard touchdown reception
The Giants then forced two more turnovers against Buffalo last week and gave up just 14 points. They currently rank 16th against the pass, a mark that by all means is very encouraging from a secondary that is filled with youth. The young guys have been stepping up, the most notable being Deonte Banks at the corner position. He has been awesome in coverage and has locked up some of the best wide receivers in the NFL. This cool graphic from Fireside Giants on X tells it all.
Bobby Okereke is without a question the leader of the defense and has proven his worth early on in the season. A big performance last week from Okereke only took his resume as an elite player to an even greater level. Here are his stats from last week at Buffalo:
11 solo tackles | 8 combined
2 tackles for loss
2 pass deflections - One resulting in a Micah McFadden interception
1 forced fumble
The guy can play and all he needed was a bit of time to get adjusted to Wink Martindale's scheme.
The pass rush could be a bit better, but Dexter Lawrence and Kayvon Thibodeaux are managing to find ways to effect games early on in the season. After Thibodeaux failed to register a sack in the first two games, he has now picked up four sacks in his last four games. Lawrence, on the other hand, has tallied 21 quarterback pressures and five quarterback hits earning him the fourth highest-graded pass-rushing defensive tackle honors from Pro Football Focus.
Something has got to give, and to be completely blunt, the Giants defense is not the root of their problems at all at the moment. If this defense keeps playing like they have of late and the offensive side of the football gets going, then this team has the capability to win some ball games.
Jalin Hyatt is free
The Giants have listened!! He is free!!
I wrote about Jalin Hyatt prior to week 5 against Miami and how the Giants needed to get him on the field and get the ball in his hands more. Well it seems that the Giants took a liking to that blog post and have started to give Hyatt more snaps over the past couple of weeks. Along with Wan'Dale Robinson, the Giants seem to be shifting to the younger guys at the wide receiver position. This is a very encouraging sign from an offense that has been mediocre through the first six weeks of the season. Brian Daboll and co. realized that something needed to change and they made adjustments. Parris Campbell and Isaiah Hodgins are no longer starters, and are now listed behind Jalin Hyatt and Wan'Dale Robinson on the depth chart.
Depth chart courtesy of Ed Valentine of Big Blue View
Hyatt was targeted four times last week and was on the field for 73% of the Giants' offensive snaps. That is the highest percentage of time he has been on the field so far in any game this season. Again, a very encouraging sign and the hope is that he continues to see a high percentage of playing time because he is such a dynamic playmaker when given the opportunity.
After that almost win against a tough Buffalo team last week, the Giants come into this game feeling a bit better about themselves. The Commanders are by no means a walk in the park, but they aren't the Bills, Dolphins or 49ers. This game is very evenly matched and I expect there to be points scored and turnovers galore on each side of the ball. Both team's respective offensive lines are in shambles, ranking 31st and 32nd in sacks allowed so far this year. Sam Howell can definitely throw the ball though, and I wouldn't let his six interceptions mask the fact that he has already thrown for 1,500 yards this year ranking him 11th amongst all quarterbacks. The Giants secondary will have to play tight and the pass rush will need to pressure him effectively, because the Commanders have Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Logan Thomas, and Antonio Gibson catching passes.
This is the most winnable game the Giants have had on their schedule probably the whole year. It took seven arduous weeks, but they are finally in a position for people to not be surprised if they win this game. A win would also end a four game losing streak where they have lost by a combined 59 points. This should be a fun matchup between two teams that leave it all on the field each time they face off.