NYG-BUF Grades: Manning struggles, Kennard posts career game
Here are the top takeaways from Sunday’s New York-Buffalo game, including the highest-graded players from each team:
New York Giants
– Despite the struggles of QB Eli Manning (-5.4), the Giants controlled this game from start to finish. Ben McAdoo opted for a short passing game to negate Buffalo’s dangerous pass rush. Manning was clearly instructed to get the ball out of his hands quickly, as illustrated by an average time to throw of just 1.82 seconds (no QB averages lower than 2.10 through the first four weeks of the season).
Despite the simplified game plan, Manning played poorly. Of his 212 passing yards, just 88 came through the air. Rashard Jennings’ long touchdown where he broke three tackles is one example where Manning’s receivers generated numbers for him. He also threw an ugly interception in the redzone late in the game, giving the Bills a glimmer of hope for a comeback. Overall, it’s the Giants’ coaching staff that deserves the credit for their offensive success against Buffalo.
– There were a lot of concerns going into the season about the Giants’ offensive line but the interior looks like it might turn out to be pretty good. LG Justin Pugh (+3.3) has adjusted well to being shifted inside. He followed three positively graded games with a dominant performance, recording a +1.9 grade on the ground and finishing with a blank stat sheet. On the other side, RG Geoff Schwartz (+2.2) also performed well. He allowed just the solitary hurry and finished with a better run-blocking grade than Pugh (+2.3). Only an ineligible player downfield penalty prevented him from grading even higher.
– Another potential area of concern coming into 2015 was the linebacker position. However, 2014 fifth-round pick Devon Kennard (+3.7) has alleviated some of those concerns. After finishing with a +6.0 grade in six starts at the end of 2014, Kennard has a +3.5 overall grade through four weeks this season. Even if his numbers didn’t reflect it, he had the best game of his young career against the Bills. Despite making just one stop against the run, he was disruptive throughout, standing up a number of blockers at the point of attack. The highlight of the game came when Kennard ripped a pass from Charles Clay’s arms, making a good throw an interception. Only the touchdown he allowed on a wheel route prevented Kennard from strolling to the game ball. Despite that mistake, he still finished with a +1.4 grade in coverage, allowing three of four targets for 27 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
SLB Devon Kennard (+3.7)
LG Justin Pugh (+3.3)
FS Landon Collins (+2.5)
RG Geoff Schwartz (+2.2)
MLB Jon Beason (+2.1)
– The major positive for the Bills offense against the Giants was the performance of LT Cordy Glenn (+4.1). He was perfect in pass protection in 45 drop backs, finishing with a team-high +2.2 grade in that department. Only once was he beaten throughout the game (by Damontre Moore), and the ball came out quickly on that play anyway. Overall he’s just outside the top ten in pass blocking efficiency this season having given up five combined pressures. Glenn also led the Bills with a +1.7 grade against the run. As the only Buffalo offensive lineman to grade positively in pass protection in 2014, Glenn’s continued excellence stands in contrast to the rest of the group.
– It’s hard to underestimate the impact losing Sammy Watkins had on the Bills’ offense. Percy Harvin and Robert Woods combined for -6.7 grades and that drops to -6.9 when considering receiving alone. The stat lines for both are pretty ugly. Harvin caught just three of seven targets for 26 yards with a drop and seemed to lose sight of a deep ball Tyrod Taylor threw with good location. Woods meanwhile caught just three of five targets for 33 yards and a drop. The sooner Watkins returns the better, because Buffalo can’t just rely on Charles Clay’s production.
– One of the most surprising performers of the season is undoubtedly rookie second-rounder Ronald Darby. The former Florida State product is now second in coverage grade amongst corners, allowing a QB rating of just 31.2. Against the Giants Darby (+3.3) allowed just two of seven targets to be complete for six yards with a pair of pass deflections. Against Odell Beckham specifically he allowed just one catch on four targets for eight yards and a pass deflection.
While Darby was outstanding, Stephon Gilmore (+2.3) also played an excellent game. He allowed four of ten targets to be complete for 49 yards, one touchdown, an interception and a pass defense. He also won his matchup against OBJ, allowing just two of six targets to be complete for eight yards. Gilmore has all the talent but he’s never been able to put it together consistently — could this be the year?
LT Cordy Glenn (+4.1)
CB Ronald Darby (+3.3)
QB Tyrod Taylor (+2.8)
CB Stephon Gilmore (+2.3)
SS Corey Graham (+1.0)