ReFo: NYG @ NE, Preseason WK 4
With the roster bubble as big as ever, the New York Giants took a road trip to New England to take on the Patriots for the last preseason game of the season. Many of the starters got some last-minute reps while a number of young players made their case for inclusion on the opening day roster. While many fans brush off Preseason Week 4, this is where the bottom end of the roster is solidified, and as we’ve seen with recent Super Bowl winners, players 40 through 53 on the roster often find a way to play a key role once the injury bug hits.
Let’s take a look at Thursday’s key performances.
New York – Three Performances of Note
The Good and the Bad from Myers
After tight end Martellus Bennett made a one-year stop in New York, the Giants brought in TE Brandon Myers to start at the position for this season. While Myers did some nice things in the passing game last season, he graded as our lowest rated blocking tight end, while Bennett has been among the league’s best in recent years. Myers’ skillset was on display Thursday as he picked up first downs on all three of his targets to grade at +1.1 in the passing game but he struggled as a run blocker (-3.3). Patriots’ defensive ends Michael Buchanan and Jake Bequette had their way with Myers in the ground game. He also picked up two false start penalties that put his overall grade at -4.0 for the game. Thursday’s game was a good example of what to expect from Myers this season.
The Giants Cornerbacks
It was not a good night for Giants starting cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Corey Webster who each played 24 snaps and graded at -1.1 and -3.1 respectively. Webster was only officially targeted twice giving up a first down and benefitting from a drop on a would-be first down. He also picked up a pass interference penalty on a slant route to wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins and he lost the edge on one outside run that was a big reason for his -1.0 run grade. Amukamara only gave up one catch on his three targets but he was guilty of a pass interference penalty of his own and he whiffed on WR Aaron Dobson in the open field for a missed tackle. He did get his hands on an underthrown end zone fade, but was unable to stay in bounds for the interception.
It was a small sample, but the last tune-up was not a good one for the Giants’ starting cornerbacks.
Depth at Defensive Tackle
Though much of their time came against the Patriots’ second team offensive line, veteran defensive tackles Mike Patterson and Shaun Rogers showed well grading at +2.8 and +1.1 respectively. Patterson was extremely disruptive as a pass rusher as he notched two sacks on his 13 rushes. He beat Patriots center Matt Stankiewitch on both plays. Rogers also got into the pass rush game as he notched a sack and a hit of his own on 12 rushes. The Giants are deep at defensive tackle with starters Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins to go with young backups Marvin Austin and Johnathan Hankins, but Patterson and Rogers made a strong case to add some roster depth.
New England – Three Performances of Note
This preseason has been an important one for quarterback Ryan Mallett as he enters his third season in the league. The former third round pick has not showed a ton of development to this point, but Thursday night may have been his best game of his young career and certainly the best game this preseason. The +0.3 is not gaudy as there were still some issues, such as his near interception on the end zone fade. Yet, Mallett showed a lot of comfort in the pocket and unleashed the his cannon for an arm with some big time throws. His touchdown pass to WR Josh Boyce was well-placed and an encouraging sign given the recent issues he had on touch passes and he showed his elite velocity on a dig route to Thompkins with 12:30 to go in the second quarter. Perhaps most importantly for Mallett, he avoided the slow starts that have plagued him in recent games that often saw him firing the ball all over the field before settling into a groove. Mallett still has a ways to go, but Thursday night was a step in the right direction for Mallett and the Patriots.
Another player battling for a roster spot was seventh round defensive end Michael Buchanan and he certainly answered the bell, playing 70 snaps and pacing the Patriots with a +6.3 overall grade. Buchanan made his mark off the edge picking up three sacks, four hurries, and a batted pass on his 38 rushes. He beat LT James Brewer for his first two sacks, the second of which saw Buchanan strip QB David Carr. Buchanan did much of his damage in the fourth quarter against LT Selvish Capers as he beat him for four pressures and a sack, doing so to the inside, outside, and with a bull rush. Buchanan was also stout against the run as he graded at +1.9. This performance appears to have secured a roster spot for Buchanan and he may be in the mix for some pass rushing snaps heading into the season.
Linebackers Stout in Middle
Linebackers Dane Fletcher and Steve Beauharnais took advantage of the extended playing time as both graded positively for New England. Fletcher continued his strong showing as a blitzer this preseason as he hit the quarterback twice on his three rushes. He tied for the team lead with four stops on his way to a +1.3 run stop grade. Beauharnais played 61 of the Patriots’ 79 defensive snaps and graded at +2.1 including an identical +1.3 run grade. He got in on two stops of his own and he did fine work taking on fullbacks in the running game. Both Fletcher and Beauharnais should provide valuable depth for the Patriots who boast one of the deepest linebacker corps in the league.
– QB Tim Tebow was 0-for-4 on balls thrown beyond 20 yards but he completed all three in the 11-20 yard range.
– LB Mark Herzlich led the Giants defense with 52 snaps.
– Patriots CB Logan Ryan played all 79 snaps and played 91% of the Patriots’ defensive snaps during the preseason.
PFF Game Ball
No surprise, Michael Buchanan gets the game ball. He made plays against the pass and the run on his way to a +6.3 grade.
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