NYG-DAL grades: Giants’ free-agent additions shine on D-line

Top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Giants' 20-19 Week 1 win over the Cowboys.

| 3 months ago
Giants defense

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

NYG-DAL grades: Giants’ free-agent additions shine on D-line


New York Giants 20, Dallas Cowboys 19

Here are the highest-graded players and top storylines from the New York Giants’ Week 1 win over the Dallas Cowboys.

New York Giants

Quarterback grade: Eli Manning, 46.5

Poor decision-making by Eli Manning leads to below-average mark

It was looking like a fairly average game for the veteran Giants’ signal caller—until he threw an inexcusable interception to Dallas’ Brandon Carr. Manning has never excelled at protecting the football (also highlighted by a forced backwards pass under heavy pressure that luckily didn’t lead to disaster), but blindly throwing the ball into the waiting arms of a defender who had so clearly beaten the receiver takes things to a whole new level. One area where Manning did shine on Sunday, though, was throwing the ball deep, where he completed all four of his attempts for 103 yards and a touchdown.

Top offensive grades:

RT Marshall Newhouse, 83.3

LG Justin Pugh, 78.3

WR Sterling Shepard, 75.1

WR Odell Beckham Jr., 74.1

RG John Jerry, 73.2

O-line leads the offense 

It was a great start to the season on Sunday for the Giants’ offensive line, as a unit they allowed just five total pressures and didn’t give up a hit or a sack (Manning got himself into trouble a couple of times, but the line kept him clean). RT Marshall Newhouse lead both the line and the offense as a whole, allowing just one hurry in pass protection while also posting a team-high 84.0 run-blocking grade. Rookie WR Sterling Shepard made his presence felt in Week 1, catching three of four targets for 43 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Top defensive grades:

S Landon Collins, 82.7

ED Olivier Vernon, 81.1

ED Jason Pierre-Paul, 78.4 

DI Jonathan Hankins, 77.1

DI Damon Harrison, 75.6

Giants’ newcomers shine on defense 

Giants fans quickly warmed up to the idea of having Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison team up with Jason Pierre-Paul and Jonathan Hankins on what should be—if Week 1 was any indication—an extremely productive defensive line. Those four combined to create 15 QB pressures and 10 defensive stops. Vernon tied for the team lead with six pressures (with Pierre-Paul), and also tied with Hankins to lead the team with four stops. On the back end of the defense, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie allowed just five of nine targets to be caught for a total of 46 yards; he also notched two pass defenses.

Dallas Cowboys

Quarterback grade: Dak Prescott, 64.3 

Conservative first outing for rookie QB Dak Prescott

After playing brilliantly this preseason, the hype surrounding Dak Prescott’s regular-season debut was massive; on Sunday, though, he had a fairly uneventful first showing. The rookie QB was inconsistent in terms of accuracy, often times finding the open receiver but putting the ball just out of reach. He protected the ball, however, and the Cowboys were in it with a shot to win at the end. Outside of some deep shots to Dez Bryant, the gameplan was pretty conservative for Prescott, with 27 of his 41 attempts traveling no more than 9 yards in the air.

Dak Prescott under pressure versus Giants

Dak Prescott under pressure versus Giants

Top offensive grades: 

LT Tyron Smith, 81.1

C Travis Frederick, 79.3 

RG Zack Martin, 78.2

TE Geoff Swaim, 70.0 

WR Brice Butler, 65.8

Jeckyll-and-Hyde performance from Cowboys’ offensive line

Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin combined to give up just two total pressures on Sunday (Smith and Martin each gave up a hurry), while La’el Collins and Doug Free combined to give up nine, including four hits. Collins also had a miserable day run blocking, where Olivier Vernon just continuously blew him up at the line of scrimmage. The Cowboys were unable to get anything going on the ground, evident by their 3.4 yards per carry, which greatly hampered their ability to sustain anything on offense.

Top defensive grades:

CB Brandon Carr, 84.7 

S Byron Jones, 80.0

ED Benson Mayowa, 78.0 

DI Terrell McClain, 76.5

S Barry Church, 73.9

Secondary leads the way for Dallas defense 

Benson Mayowa led the defense with five total pressures (including a sack), while Terrell McClain tied Sean Lee for the team lead with five stops, but outside of them, the only real standout performances from the defensive side of the football came from the secondary. Barry Church accumulated six tackles while allowing just 10 yards on two receptions in pass coverage; Byron Jones allowed just one of two targets to be caught, and he also had a pass defense; Brandon Carr (although he did get beat for a TD in the red zone) allowed just three of six targets to be caught for 31 yards, while also snagging an interception.

Get access to grades for every player, complete with positional rankings, in our Player Grades tool.

  • Nunya Biz

    This site and it’s Eli Manning hate….so weird. Shepard was running a timing route, Eli threw the ball before the break. For some odd reason, Shepard just ran past the spot and never broke back. That INT was on Shepard. Meanwhile, the TD throws to Cruz, Donnell and Shepard were all good to excellent. Jesus.

    • Will

      As a longtime giants fan, I am all to familiar with the old game of
      debating if a pick was Eli’s fault or the WR (shout out to Rueben
      Randle). I agree Shepard deserves blame for not playing hard to the
      whistle, but Eli deserves way more blame for attempting that pass. Even
      if Shepard finished the route and worked back towards his QB, best case
      scenario he might have been able to swat at the ball to try and break it
      up. Watching the replay, it looks to me like he aborted his route when
      he turned around and saw how totally beat he was based on positioning.
      The CB was squatted down straight underneath the break of the
      curl/comeback – his hips are turned to the QB and he is standing
      directly between the WR and QB. That route was smothered dead, and I
      have no idea what Eli was thinking.
      Overall I thought Eli looked
      better than his grade for the game. Lots of good plays here to make up for the bad, including the ones you mentioned. Also, I seriously disagree with the
      “cheat sheet” ranking that called him the #20 QB in the league going
      into the season, so I get why you feel like PFF is hating on Eli…. but that was a terrible, terrible play by Eli. No Excuses

      • David Artis

        McAdoo said it was Shepards fault. Said he failed to drive the corner back and he turned the wrong way. Called it a rookie mistake and said it wont happen again. I’ll take his explanation over PFF analysis.

        • AC2

          What PFF does is analysis?

        • nonono

          All PFF has to do is call the Giants and ask them the assignment on the play if they are unsure. They are a PFF client.

      • AC2

        Wrong. McAdoo said it was Shepard’s fault. Shepard himself said it was his fault. AND YET you mouthbreathers especially PFF still INSIST it was all and or mostly Eli’s fault. Don’t you people ever get sick of looking foolish just because you just can’t admit you’re wrong?

  • GiantsFan11357

    Moy, I don’t understand the Eli Manning hate on this site?? How is the INT today on Eli and not on his WR who completely stopped running his route? What bad decisions did he make? Manning was 4-of-4 for 103 yards on passes more than 15 yards downfield? The only criticisms I can find for Eli today was the few misses passes he had in the flat to his RBs?

    • AC2

      Manning was the leader he always is with some beautiful throws and savvy checks. PFF only continuing to prove how flawed their analysis is.

      • Jack Casey

        Then why do you keep coming to their site?

        • JThomp187

          To try to figure out how they score? I mean, the man had a 110 rating to Dak’s 69 rating, and yet here at PFF he was making “terrible decisions” and looked “average” all day. They still can’t explain how Eli could possibly score lower than Dak, other than the fact they hate Eli.

    • T

      This is what happens when a bitter ex-OC (Gilbride) gets in bed with what’s supposed to be unbiased grading — even the coaching staff yelling at the WR on the sidelines and then the HC explicitly stating it was on the WR after the game no longer matters.

  • Blaze Gunn

    Dak Prescott had a few missed throws alot of high balls and 1 throw to Dez that should’ve went to the outside shoulder instead of inside. Dak Prescott should’ve also had 2 TDs that were dropped by Dez Bryant & Cole Beasely something the scoreboard & PFF didn’t mention

    • AC2

      Guess no one saw or wants to see the way Prescott couldn’t handle any semblance of a defender in his face. Much like how he was in college and why he dropped in the draft so far down.

      • Blaze Gunn

        That wasn’t the only reason he dropped but things like that can be fixed over time

        • al4000

          Don’t be so sure. There’s a reason Dak fell so far in the draft. With Romo they probably go right down the field and hit that field goal yesterday.

          • Blaze Gunn

            Probably or throw a Interception you never know with Romo

  • AC2

    Guys, don’t listen to these turds on PFF. Listen to the head coach at the post game. He’ll explain what happened on the Eli Manning interception. Shepard’s fault there.

    PFF is being willfully clueless again. Lol.

  • GreenBay100

    Whoa. Wait a minute. Isn’t PFF supposed to be informed of the X’s and O’s? Who wrote this? These guys are way off on that Eli Manning int. I’m a little surprised they don’t understand what happened there. It’s almost like they’re getting their info off of Twitter.

    It wasn’t a perfect game by Manning, but I thought he played really well. Dallas offense played good ball control and so the Giants time of possession was low. But then Eli comes out and goes right down the field in 90 seconds. He was 3 for 3 in the red zone. His throws to Shepard, the beautiful long ball to OBJ, capped off by the TD to Donnell, all great throws.

    What is with PFF? They’re not just baffling about criticism of Eli Manning (which has gone off the rails btw). It’s getting silly all around for lots of other players. Talk about being a slave to their own system. Smh.

  • al4000

    It’s getting harder and harder to look at PFF as any kind of legit informative football site. And their writers have a clear agenda against Eli Manning for all the trash that got thrown on them for their poorly analyzed articles on Eli recently. He’s not in decline much to their writers chagrin.

    67.9% comp, 110 passer rating. 3tds, int. 3 for 3 in the red zone. But he was below average. Lol. An interception explanation that would make most football people roll their eyes and laugh at PFF.

    Eli played well in the first game of the season with his crew, on the road. It was incredible to watch the Cowboys try to play ball control with their rookie QB and pretty much succeed. Only to watch Eli come on and slice through the field with his trio of weapons (OBJ, Cruz, Shepard) who look like they might do some damage on the league this season. And when he HAD to have a game winning fourth quarter drive, he delivered. Again.

    Not sure what PFF’s deal is, but not a good look for them. Stats without context and or common sense are pretty worthless.

  • KMax

    LMAO!!! Dak Prescott grades out higher than Eli Manning! LMAO. Can’t even get mad. It’s hilarious. PFF, you guys have an issue here: your metrics are garbage.

    Wait that was unfair. Your interpretation of your numbers are garbage. NO ONE and I mean NO ONE watching that game yesterday came away thinking Dak outplayed Eli. Context, context, context.

    Newhouse grades out on top? Oh goody. That Oline was a disaster in the preseason. Giants fans jumping off cliffs left and right. Newhouse basically came out in the preseason and says, they NEED Eli for his…DECISION MAKING. His checks. Need game planning. Guess McAdoo and Eli game planned the heck out of this game because Newhouse graded out on top. Lmao. CONTEXT.

    Dak, the preseason darling, had zero tds once the real bullets started flying. His throws, whenever the Giants came within an inch of sneezing on him, was a revelation. Revelation for how this future star fell to the fourth round. Lol. Oh boy.

    PFF, get better writers if you’re determined to keep these metrics. We’re all laughing at you.

    Nate Burleson, a wide receiver and now NFLN analyst, simply and succinctly explained exactly what happened on that int. It was on Shepard. No big deal. Explained how Eli put the ball exactly where it needed to be all game long, showed patience, easily could have come out of there with zero ints.

    Meanwhile, Schrager who never played the game and doesn’t seem to know what he’s watching either, goes into Good Eli, Bad Eli. Lmao. That’s all he’s got? Pretty much what PFF did here. Pure comedy.

    Can we fans get some better analysis? It’s not hard to do.

    • http://www.leadpointe.com Inferno2ss

      If it wasn’t for 2 dropped passes in the red zone Dak would of had a damn good game. If you can’t see that, maybe you should try a new sport.

  • anonCamb

    Erm, how does Eli grade out at 46.5 and for comparison sake, Russell Wilson graded out at 76.5? Wilson was awful. They try to justify the grade by saying Wilson was very accurate and had a game winning drive. You mean like Eli? Eli getting praised all over the place from those who play the game, for placing throws where only the receiver could get them. The int was a rookie mistake by Shep but PFF insists on placing all the blame on Eli and lowering his score way down. Even though their head coach and Shep said it was NOT on Eli.

    The disparity of PFF and their write ups is getting very odd to the point of absurd. Anyone who watched Eli and Wilson play yesterday, cannot come away with the conclusion that Wilson played better than Eli. And the excuses for why Wilson played like he did are most bizarre when you consider how Eli got afforded no excuses whatsoever.

    Eli Manning: 19-28, 67.9%, 207 yards (long of 45), avg of 7.4 yards/pass, 3 TD’s, 1
    INT, 2 sacks for a loss of 4 yards, QBR 110.3

    Russell Wilson: 27-43, 62.8%, 258 yards (long of 24), avg of 6.0 yards/pass, 1 TD, 1 INT, 3 sacks for a loss of 18 yards, 77.5 QBR.

    Did Eli Manning sleep with someone’s wife around here?

  • nonono

    So much hate yet people forget that the Giants have been a long time client of PFF (along with about half the league) so they must be on to something. However, I do agree that numbers without context can be pretty useless.

  • Jake Sokol

    So Eli gains basically same amount of yards as Prescott on 17 less throws, throws 3 TDs and 1 pick that was a receivers fault and grades out much worse? Thanks PFF for an unbiased grade there. Did Dak complete one pass beyond 20 yards? Did he make any plays in the red zone? Stop it.

  • Paul

    On Eli Manning, forced backwards pass? Is PFF serious? If the Giants needed to challenge that, they would have won. Video shows it clearly. Lots of speculation here from PFF which is what they claim not to do lol. The int was also on Shepard. Been explained everywhere. How do you claim to be experts if you have no idea what a team’s playbook is and what the assignments are? There is no context here whatsoever.

    On Dak Prescott, how does he get graded higher than Eli Manning? Lol. He is a terrible thrower of the ball. Just terrible. Cowboys better pray Romo can come back.

    Never knew this, but PFF was started by a bunch of Brits who never played football. That. Explains. A. Lot. I don’t think they’re being biased against Eli Manning or anyone anymore. I think they’re just Fking lost.

  • Mark Michaels

    Manning threw three TDs. Wake the frek up.

  • Justin

    Your anti eli bias is absurd. Coach blamed the interception on the receiver. You guys refuse to let up

  • Anon

    LOL all these haters on here saying PFF sucks? lol get off the site then dumbasses. And I love how a bunch of think you know more than professional football scouts. Go back to your couch and relive your glory years lol. Just stupid

    • T

      Moy isn’t a professional scout and neither are the majority of people who work for PFF. Most of the newer staff are, in fact, very much armchair analysts.

      And a bunch will take the very clear and specific explanation for a play/outcome from the HC and play caller (along with the WR himself and the positional coaches) than paying credence to someone who can’t even actually recall how the play broke down properly. The arrogance of PFF to think they know better and put out something like this that runs blatantly contrary to the guys with direct first hand knowledge of what was supposed to happen is alarming, considering how things used to be done here.

  • Brian O’Neill

    I’ve said it before and this single game analysis is just more evidence: Your rating system for quarterbacks sucks.

    I like to use your numbers for non-skill positions – because frankly, we already have many different ways to measure the abilities of skill position players. They’re called “stats.” And I guess it’s useful for things that are tough to measure such as running backs picking up a blitz or receivers blocking downfield.

    It’s tough though, When you continue to trot out laughable numbers regarding quarterbacking, I can’t help but wonder if your other numbers are equally bad, we just don’t have anything to compare them to.

  • SchoOne

    The best example of what the Eli pick would look like if Shephard had identified the blitz, driven the CB and turned, is on the very first sdeive when Prescott rolled right an threw it to a space but Dez Bryant recognized it and came back on the ball. The rookie played great but didn’t make a good play there. The best part of this is that the one pick takes away his 3 tds and game winning drive, and passing to 7 different guys, with most incompletions coming on difficult outside long passes and fade routes in the endzone.

    Eli haters…..say it with me….

    Halllll Of Fammmmmerr.

  • crosseyedlemon

    I’m guessing PFF is even more convinced Elliot is a ROY lock after that impressive performance in which he managed to average 2.5 per rush.

  • Jeff Shull

    Ben McAdoo stated pretty clearly that the INT was Shepard’s fault. I don’t understand, I’m showing a 65.9 rating in the NFL Player Grades section yet this is showing me 46?

  • http://mightywhig.blogspot.com/ Mighty Whig

    Guys, guys, don’t you see? PPF is the Onion of football analysis. The joke’s been on us. Eli throws for three TDs and wins the game–but whoopsie!–he throw an INT so he sucks. Who you gonna believe, PPF, or your lying eyes?!?

    Oh, btw, just to add to your comedic enjoyment, Swaim was the 4th ranked offensive player for the ‘Boys. (One catch). Not Witten or Beasley, because they obviously were terrible! Who gonna believe…?

  • Jeff H

    Coach said the INT was Shepherd’s fault. Shepherd says it was his own fault. But somehow PFF is going to just ignore the whole thing and leave this bogus article and grade. If you pride yourself on accurate grading, you need to make adjustments when you find out that the WR jacked up– as you should have noticed immediately.. and somehow a guy throws 35TD-14INT last year by sheer “coincidence” and gets an awful grade.

  • Jack Casey

    All I see is post after post bashing PFF… If they are so bad, why do you continue to rate them?

  • crosseyedlemon

    Looks like PFF caught Giant fans on a good day….and I’m afraid to speculate how deep the ocean of tears will be after a loss.

  • Reagan

    Dear PFF, Can I please have my money back? Your grades are a joke.
    I mean, you graded Dak Prescott significantly higher than Eli Manning?!! How in the world can you possibly justify that? How anybody could watch that game and come to the conclusion that Eli Manning was inferior to Prescott is mind boggling. It makes me wonder if your new contributor (Kevin Gilbride) is responsible for this garbage.
    It’s shame b/c you guys used to provide unbiased and invaluable insight.
    It appears that’s no longer the case.
    Anyway, please reimburse me for my subscription. I don’t want to pay for crap.
    …and FYI – The Giants Offensive Line gave up 2 sacks in the game, not 0.
    Christ Sake, did you guys even watch the game??!!!