ReFo: NYG @ PIT, Preseason Wk 1

Gordon McGuinness examines the noteworthy performances from the Giants-Steelers Week 1 preseason game.

| 4 years ago

ReFo: NYG @ PIT, Preseason Wk 1

Preseason football is back and finally we get the opportunity to see the 2013 versions of all 32 franchises. Now, preseason has its limitations, with some players who will go on to carve out long-term careers currently going up against players who will be out of football come September.

However, it does give us a glimpse at which players we should be keeping an eye on and a very early, and I can’t stress the emphasis on early enough, indication on which rookies can make an impact this year.

It’s preseason, so the 18-13 score line is neither important nor memorable, but when the New York Giants headed to Heinz Field to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers, there were a few players who made us take note.

Giants — Three Performances of Note

Backup Quarterbacks Fail to Impress

Unlike the nearby Bills and Jets, the Giants come into this season, like many before it, with a settled starting quarterback. That’s good news for Giants fans, because what we got to see from the players below Eli Manning on the depth chart on Saturday night was certainly not pretty viewing. David Carr’s (-1.2) first throw was a half-step away from being picked off and returned for a touchdown by Steelers defensive back Richard Golden and, while he didn’t make another throw as bad as that, there was little to be impressed by. Rookie Ryan Nassib (-2.4) had a poor throw himself, forcing the ball across the middle on 3rd-and-10 with 4:43 left to go in the game. That left Curtis Painter (-0.9), who didn’t have any scary throws like Nassib and Carr, but he threw just one catchable ball beyond nine yards, which was subsequently dropped.

More Damontre Moore Please

There wasn’t a player in the game who jumped out more than Giants third-round draft pick Damontre Moore (+6.0), with the former Texas A&M student showing up all over the field. His blocked punt with 11:27 left in the first quarter was the opening highlight but he added some impressive work as a pass rusher. Beating a selection of Steelers blockers to record a hit and four hurries, he did so in a variety of different ways with pressure coming on rushes inside, outside, and once on a stunt.

It wasn’t just as a pass rusher where he impressed though, with him finding success against tight end Michael Palmer and backup offensive tackle Guy Whimper in the running game. Topping it all off he showed nice awareness on a couple of screens, preventing any positive yardage on either of them. His best work came against weaker competition but the Giants have to be excited by what they saw on Saturday night. Hopefully that means we’ll see even more of him as the preseason progresses.

A Tale of Two Young Right Guards

The Giants took a long look at second-year right guard Brandon Mosley (+1.7) in this one, keeping him on the field for 35 snaps. While there wasn’t a lot to write home about when it came to his work as a run blocker, where he had two positively graded blocks and just one negative, he was perfect in pass protection. Giving up zero pressure from 23 pass-blocking snaps isn’t something to be overlooked, even if the Steelers did keep things fairly vanilla from a defensive standpoint.

While Mosley put on a solid show, the same cannot be said for rookie seventh-rounder Eric Herman (-3.2) who, based on this showing, will need to improve in a hurry to avoid the wrath of head coach Tom Coughlin. It’s quite startling that he graded out so low on just 17 snaps, but then it was obvious during the game that he was out of his depth. Beaten for two sacks and pushed around in the running game, this is a rookie with a lot of work to do.

Steelers — Three Performances of Note

Jones Gets Beaten Outside

While Moore produced as an edge defender for the Giants, the Steelers first-round draft pick Jarvis Jones (-1.9) had his struggles in the preseason opener. A quick glance at the highlights would show you him recovering a fumble and perhaps the impressive play to beat backup left tackle Chris DeGeare for a hit on 1st-and-10 with 21 seconds left in the first half. Both noteworthy plays, but not the whole story.

Twice he was beaten to the outside on runs, once losing contain and the second time taking a bad angle to the ball carrier and, outside of that hit, he failed to make an impact as a pass rusher. Add to that his missed tackle in coverage on 3rd-and-10 with 2:25 to go in the third quarter and there were just too many mistakes in his debut game at Heinz Field. Thankfully it’s only preseason, but there’s some work to be done still to get this first-rounder ready for a prominent role it seems.

Backup Lineman Shine

We have been frequent detractors of one member in particular of the Steelers’ starting defensive line, though it must be said Ziggy Hood (+0.7) played solidly in just nine snaps, so it’s nice to be able to report some impressive play from elsewhere on the line. Alameda Ta’amu (+1.6) put in some solid work at nose tackle, an encouraging sign given that he’ll likely be the primary backup at the position while Brian Arnfelt (+2.2) got the better of the Giants’ backup offensive lineman on more than one occasion.

The star of the show for the Steelers, however, was left end Al Woods. Problematic for both the aforementioned right guard Herman and fellow depth player Matt McCants, he finished the game with a Run Stop Percentage of 17.9%, with all five of his tackles resulting in a defensive stop. Proof that playing left end in the Steelers’ defensive scheme doesn’t prevent a player from making plays.

The Hyphen Impresses

While we didn’t get a chance to see rookie running back Le’Veon Bell in the preseason opener, fellow new addition LaRod Stephens-Howling (+1.2) put in some solid runs on his eight carries. With a positive grade on five of those runs, all for a good cut on the run, they included forcing a missed tackle from Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich on 1st-and-10 with 7:47 left in the first quarter. Two of his runs went for first downs and, while we’re all looking forward to seeing Bell on the field, Steelers fans will be happy to know that “The Hyphen” looks perfectly capable of contributing to the offense on at least a limited level.

Game Notes

–  Pittsburgh quarterbacks were under pressure on 43.6% of their 39 drop-backs, compared with just 33.3 % for the Giants’ signal-callers.

–  The Giants had two high shotgun snaps in the game, the first resulting in the Steelers’ defensive touchdown, and the second almost resulting in a turnover.

–  The Giants averaged just 1.8 yards per carry on four runs off right tackle.

PFF Game Ball

Barely putting a foot wrong all game, Damontre Moore set the tone with his blocked punt early, following it up with some good all-around work on defense.

Follow Gordon on Twitter.

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • Taylor A.

    Can you explain why Marcus Gilbert was given a -1.4 run blocking grade? I have watched the game several times over and do not come away with that conclusion. I was impressed by Gilbert.

    Also why Pouncey was given a -2.3 run blocking grade? I’ll agree he didn’t look impressive in run blocking but he didn’t do much bad. I’d argue for a grade of zero or just under zero but -2.3 implies he was down right awful which was not the case.

    • MaineSkin

      i think the small samples can really damage the ratings bc they have no time to makeup for a terrible play

      • Taylor A.

        My point is neither had a terrible play in the run game especially not Gilbert. Pouncey had I believe two bad blocks. Gilbert in fact had quite a few good blocks which was one of the reason LSH had such good runs on the right side. I am asking than what plays was Gilbert graded negatively and positively on? I have access to the game and would like to know because I came out with a completely different feeling of Gilbert’s play and a less extreme view on Pouncey.

        • Ryan m

          Taylor, I watched the game in depth but I was mostly paying attention to the Giants players and noticed some scores that seemed a little reversed with some of our defensive linemen and linebackers. There were a couple players that I thought should have been graded higher and there were a couple that I thought should have been a little lower. I love how pff grades on a lot of different aspects of the game that no other stat company gets even close to but when it comes to offensive and defensive line and linebackers(especially on run plays) they don’t really seem to account for the overall result of the play. It’s tough to fully understand their their grading system sometimes

          • sgtrobo

            agreed Ryan. In several areas, PFF is outstnading. I find some of the coverage grading and the “trenches” grading puzzling though. I do think the biggest problem with the grading is as someone mentioned, the end result of the play. You can get a – grade on a play that isn’t coming anywhere near you and has very little impact on the final result, and it counts as much as a play where you are responsible for giving up (or helping to create) a massive positive yardage play. It’s just an issue with the overall grading system, where “all plays are created equal”. It frequently evens out in the end, but especially in a game of low-snap count like the preseason, it can create some stilted plays.
            It also doesn’t account for opposition. If I hold Geno Atkins to no impact on a play, or I block JJ Watt so well that he gets no QB pressure, then should that “count” more in the grading system than if I do the same thing to some schmuck 3rd stringer?

    • sgtrobo

      the inexplicably low Pouncey grade is fairly typical for PFF. No idea why. They’re not “anti-Steelers” or anything, but they’ve been riding the kid since he came into the league with some consistently low grades.

  • Ryan m

    Not to take anything away from my enthusiasm or knock the kid in his first preseason game but it looked to me like Moore missed containment on a couple running plays that got bounced outside for decent gains. I’m stoked about his performance and I cant wait for the rest of his career but I was wondering if he over pursued towards the middle as our ends have has tendencies to do in the past? He played a little bit like the way Osi use to play on his good days except better. A little reminiscent of LT although I don’t want to set expectations too high. A few things he can be coached on and our line can be ridiculous. Nobody else really seemed to notice but Trattou I thought had the second best day of the DL. He had a sack and a tfl I think but he was super solid in his assignments. He played with awesome power like the way Strahan use to play. Nothin too fancy or fast but pretty pretty much immovable and didn’t give up anything to his side except one play I noticed where he tripped and got push into the backfield costing the Giants a 3 yard run. By judging how he played in the first game I got to watch him I think he’d make a great backup and rotational player that has potential to slide inside. We have some work to do on both lines and the LBs but I’m juiced about this season and can’t wait to kick some ass.

  • Ryan M

    This question is for the PFF crew. How exactly are the players graded? I know they get so many points for hurries, hits and sacks. Then they get so much or making a tackle on run defense but do they lose points for missing assignments or just for missing tackles? So many factors. I love what you guys are doing for tha game and the fans and would appreciate it if you could shed some light for us excited yet confused souls