It wasn’t pretty on the field, and neither are the numbers
That much was clear to anyone who actually watched the game — let alone those brave and hardy souls who sat out in the elements to watch the disaster unfold in person. This was arguably their worst performance under Pat Shurmur, and the Giants were bullied in all three phases of the game.
This won’t be pretty, but let’s take a look at the numbers from the Giants’ sorry display Sunday.
Eli Manning played poorly, no two ways about it.
Manning attempted completed just 21 passes on 44 attempts (with 47 drop backs). He was sacked three times, hit eight more, threw one interception, and probably could have thrown a couple more.
Some might criticize the number of passes thrown, but Pat Shurmur had little choice but to lean on the passing game — more on that in a bit.
But as bad as he played, Manning was put in a tough position. His offensive line reverted back to its form from the first half of 2018, leaking pressure and preventing Manning from finding any kind of consistent comfort. The weather conditions were terrible, and its possible that the slick conditions interfered with his grip on the ball. That might have lead to him sailing a screen pass to Evan Engram early in the game, then missing an open Engram in the endzone and instead hitting the back of a defensive back on the final play.
But regardless of the weather, this was just a no good, rotten, very bad game from Manning. The Titans took away the Giants’ running game and dared New York to beat them through the air, and the Giants were utterly unable to do so.
So, about the number of passes to runs, 14 to 44.
Head coach Pat Shurmur said after the game that it made absolutely no sense to run the ball when running plays were simply wasted downs. Saquon Barkley only picked up 31 yards on those 14 rushes (2.2 yards per attempt). Even though Manning was only averaging 5.2 yards per attempt, that was still three yards better than the running game. The Giants’ offensive line never opened up a running lane for Barkley, and his best run of the game (a 17-yard scamper) only happened because the right side of the line was beaten so quickly and soundly that the Titans were unable to keep their gap discipline.
The fact that Shurmur abandoned the run game in the face of its utter ineptitude is actually a positive sign that they can adjust to reality when faced with it.
Unfortunately, the passing game just wasn’t there for them. Without Odell Beckham Jr. the Giants just didn’t have a consistent threat down the field to force Tennessee’s hand in coverage. Sterling Shepard (65 snaps) should have been that player, but he had his worst game as a pro, dropping nearly every one of his nine targets.
For the second week in a row, Evan Engram emerged as the Giants top receiving threat. He played 45 of the Giants’ 65 offensive snaps (69 percent), catching eight of twelve targets for 75 yards. But while that was a good day for him, a look at his targets chart shows that the Giants still want to use him on shallow routes and count on his yards after the catch ability to turn short passes into long gains.
As with their counterparts on the offensive line, the Giants’ defensive front was largely shoved around by the Titans’ offensive line. As we have come to expect by now, Alec Ogletree played each of the Giants’ 70 defensive snaps. Unlike the Giants’ match-ups against back-up quarterbacks, Ogletree was unable to capitalize on a mistake from Marcus Mariota and finished with seven tackles and a tackle for loss, but no turnovers (or defensive touchdowns).
The Giants spent most of the game in nickel sets, but rotated a number of defensive linemen and linebackers trying to find a combination which would slow down Derrick Henry. B.J. Goodson had the second most snaps among the linebackers with 46 (66 percent), and was probably the Giants’ most reliable tackler with 9 solo tackles on the day.
None of the combinations proved effective at stopping Tennessee’s rushing attack, with Henry piling up 170 yards and 2 touchdowns on 33 runs. He was particularly deadly running off the left tackle, where he racked up 69 yards and a touchdown on just 9 touches.
Simply put, the Giants’ front was shoved around by the Tennessee offensive line, then couldn’t bring down Henry at first contact.
The Giants starting secondary of Janoris Jenkins, B.W. Webb, Michael Thomas, and Curtis Riley each played all of the Giants’ 70 defensive snaps. Nickel corner Grant Haley played 48 snaps (69 percent).
It was somewhat confusing that the Giants spent nearly three quarters of the game in their nickel packages, considering that the Titans are built on the running game and the weather conditions made throwing the ball problematic at best.
All told, the secondary didn’t play poorly in pass coverage, though they gave up several long third down conversions. They held Mariota to just 88 yards on 12 completions (out of 20 attempts).
It didn’t matter, however, because the Titans simply did not have to throw the ball. The Giants’ inability to stop the run made any coverage or pass rush irrelevant. In that regard, however, the secondary was particularly bad. Curtis Riley was probably the biggest offender, but every one of the Giants’ defensive backs suffered from atrocious tackling and gave up far, far to many yards after first contact.
If the Giants want any hope of ending the season on a positive note, they have a lot to tighten up before they face an even better team in the Indianapolis Colts.