It's the Golladay Season

So things might be looking up. After the dejection of the fanbase around the bye, the team has done a D:ream and things have got better. We're winning, the Packers and Bears are losing, the Rams are losing, and FSU are bowl-eligible (I had to say it, I'm sorry Ant).


This week, both our Lions and our very own Ryan McCluskey head to New Jersey and MetLife Stadium for the first time this season to play the New York Giants. So let's follow our usual procedure for these previews, and cross our fingers for another Lions victory.


New York Giants:

7-2, 2nd in NFC East

Expected W/L: 4.9-4.1

Strength of Schedule: .534


Offence:

Danny Dimes has thrown the ball 26.3 times a game so far, completing 65.8% of his passes for 177.3 yards, 0.89 TDs and 0.22 interceptions. Jones averages 6.7 yards an attempt, with a long of 65 yards. 53% of his passing yards come after the catch, meaning his receivers do the work for him. PFR credits 15 of his incompletions as drops, giving them a 6.7% drop rate. They do however class 28 (roughly 12%) of Jones' throws as "bad". Jones has a passer rating of 92.7, and a QBR of 60.3. Overall, the Giants scheme has simplified things and taken the weight of the offence off his shoulders, allowing him to make easy completions and not put the ball in harm's way.


The Giants OL gives up 9.44 pressures a game, or a pressure on 28.5% of dropbacks. Of these, 3.11 are sacks for 17.6 yards a game. They give up 3.22 QB hits and 3.11 hurries a game. The line gives their QBs (since Tyrod has also taken snaps under center this season) on average 2.6 seconds in the pocket. In the run game, the offence averages 3.0 yards before contact per rush. Outside of Thomas' emergence to live up to his first-round stock, the Giants offensive line has been poor, and hopefully our front seven can exploit this to shut down their offence.


Talking of the run game, Barkley gets handed the ball 22 times a game, carrying it for 103.4 yards (4.7 yards an attempt), 4.33 first downs, 0.78 broken tackles, 0.11 fumbles and 0.67 TDs. His backup Breida carries the ball 3.22 times a game for 10.3 yards (3.2 Y/A), 0.67 first downs, and 0.11 broken tackles. Jones himself runs the ball 7.67 times a game, getting 43 yards (5.6 Y/A), 3.44 first downs, 0.11 broken tackles, 0.33 fumbles and 0.33 TDs. Breida is almost a non-factor but given our weakness against scrambling QBs, Jones is a worry. So we need to contain him. This will also help keep Barkley in check, which should be the main focus of game planning this week.


This is especially true as one could argue that Barkley is also their leading receiver. He is targeted 4 times a game. He catches roughly 81% of these targets for 21.9 yards (6.8 yards per reception), 0.22 dropped passes (5.6% drop rate), 0.44 first downs and a 77.9 passer rating when targeted. Their next leading receiver is Robinson, who operates out of the slot. He catches 77.8% of his 3.6 targets a game, for 25.4 yards (9.1 Y/R), 1.6 first downs, 0.2 TDs and a 114.6 passer rating. On the outside, Slayton catches 67.9% of his targets. On average, he is thrown at 3.5 times a game, getting 40.9 yards (17.2 Y/R), 0.25 dropped passes (7.1%), 2 first downs, 0.25 TDs and a 116.2 rating when targeted. On the other side, new addition Hodgins catches both of his 2 targets a game for 41 yards (20.5 Y/R), 2 first downs and a 118.7 passer rating when targeted.


Since he's the title, we also have to look at how our friend Kenny is doing. He is thrown at 1.6 times a game, but only catches 0.4 of these. He averages 4.4 yards a game, and only has created a new set of downs once in his 5 games.

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Hodgins is a good deep threat, Robinson is semi-reliable in the slot and Slayton can have his moments. But our focus should be stopping Barkley at all costs.


The Giants run 11 personnel on 64% of their offensive plays, passing the ball 67% of the time from this formation, generating 0.06 EPA/p. They use 12 personnel on 18% of plays, passing the ball on 42% of these plays, creating 0.04 EPA/p. On 5% of plays, they use 13 personnel, running the ball on half of these plays, generating 0.12 EPA/p. Overall, they pass the ball 61% of the time on offence and create 0.06 EPA/p.


As I've said above, stopping Barkley is priority number one for the defence. He is the freight train to which the rest of the Giants offence is attached and is pulled along by. Jones doesn't scare me, Robinson doesn't scare me, and Golladay is so unscary he now reads bedtime stories for children. 'Nuff said.


Defence:

There is one place that we could start our look at the Giants defence, and that is the pass rush and former Oregon Duck Kayvon Thibodeaux. In the seven games he's appeared in so far, Thibs has averaged a pressure a game. This further breaks down to 0.14 sacks, 0.43 hurries and 0/43 QB hits. The Giants leading pass rusher is Lawrence, who gets 2.11 pressures, made up of 0.56 sacks, 1.11 QB hits and 0.33 hurries. Williams creates 1.6 pressures a game. 0.25 of these are sacks, 0.83 are QB hits and 0.5 are hurries. Ward gets 0.78 pressures a game, 0.22 of which are sacks, 0.44 are QB hits, and 0.11 are hurries. Given how this defensive line shakes out, it is important that Ragnow is active because having a weak interior would be playing into Lawrence's hands. Watching Sewell shut down Thibs will be entertaining as well.


Against the run, their leading tackler is former Cowboy Jaylon Smith. He makes 2.83 solo tackles, 2.33 assisted tackles, and 0.17 TFLs a game. Alongside him, Crowder makes 2.56 solo and 1.89 assisted tackles a game, while also getting 0.22 TFLs and missing a further 0.89 tackles a game (16.7% miss rate). Thibodeaux makes 2.57 solo and 0.86 assisted tackles on average per game. Along the line, Williams makes 4.33 combined tackles a game (2.67 solo), and 0.17 TFLs. Ward makes 2.89 combined tackles (2.11 solo), 0.78 TFLs and 0.22 missed tackles (7.1%). Lawrence makes 1.78 solo and 1.89 combined tackles a game, along with 0.44 TFLs and 0.11 missed tackles (2.9%). This suggests that if runs break the DL or miss it entirely by going outside, they can easily reach the second level and create explosive plays, which is something I think Johnson is poised to exploit on Sunday.


As per usual when looking at their secondary, we shall look at their slot corner since this is whom the Sun God shall likely be matched up against the most in the game. This week's unfortunate victim is Darnay Holmes. He is thrown at 3.89 times a game, of which he allows 2.22 catches (57.1% completion rate) for 24.2 yards (10.9 yards per completion), and a 75.7 passer rating in coverage. On the outside, Jackson is targeted 6.44 times a game, allowing 3.44 catches (53.4%), 44.2 yards (12.8 Y/C), 0.22 TDs and an 86.7 rating when targeted. On the other side, Moreau allows 2.88 catches a game, on 5.75 targets (50%), for 32.8 yards (11.4 Y/C), 0.25 TDs and an 82.0 passer rating. On the backend, Love is thrown at thrice a game, allowing 1.89 catches (63%) for 22.1 yards (11.7 Y/C), 0.22 TDs and a 94.5 passer rating in coverage. Belton is targeted 2.63 times a game for 2 catches (76.2%), 29.1 yards (14.6 Y/C), and a 92.0 passer rating. This secondary on paper is pretty strong, so hopefully both Chark and Reynolds are active so coverage cannot be shifted to nullify St. Brown. If not, it could be a long day through the air.


They run 343 base on 29% of defensive plays, allowing -0.01 EPA/p out of this formation. The Giants use 245 nickel on 26% of plays, giving up 0.18 EPA/p. They run 335 nickel on 12% of plays, surrendering 0.05 EPA/p. The Giants also use 236 dime on 10% of plays, giving up -0.11 EPA/p. They also run 137 dollar defence on 6% of plays, allowing -0.54 EPA/p. Overall, the Giants defence gives up 0.02 EPA/p.


As per usual, our offensive game plan should be to run the ball, both to exploit their weakness and also to set up the play-action game so Goff can take shots when they're available. St. Brown could again be a reliable safety blanket but perhaps won't get many explosive plays. The tight ends could be a good weapon in the passing game, as Belton has allowed a lot of receptions for yards, so maybe Mitchell could begin his rookie emergence.


Special Teams:

The Scottish Hammer is good.

Gano is really good.

We could get some joy stopping them in the punt return game.


Keys to Victory:

  1. Run the ball- You know why I say this. Keep the game out of Goff's hands where possible, grind out the clock, they're weak against the run, get Swift's confidence back (or at least give fans of other teams who have Swift in fantasy more proof of why they shouldn't be bemoaning his gradual fading from the offence).

  2. Stop Saquon- Simple as that really. If we nullify him, their offence grinds to a halt like England after an inch of snow.

  3. Use the tight ends- Partly this is to stick one up at Hockenson, but we should be looking to see what the ceilings of Wright and Mitchell really are so we can assess whether we nee d to go out and get a TE1 in FA or the draft. This game against a strong safety who isn't too hot in coverage could be a good time to do that.

  4. Don't play bad- This isn't eve for me, I just want Ry to have a good time because he deserves it.


Predictions:

  • Goff- 21/32, 265 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 88.7 passer rating

  • Williams- 17 carries, 80 yards, 2 TDs, 2 targets, 1 catch, 10 yards

  • Wright- 9 targets, 8 catches, 75 yards, 1 TD

  • Hutchinson- 3 tackles (2 solo), 0.5 TFLs, 2 pressures, 0.5 sacks

  • Rodrigo- 9 tackles (7 solo), 1 TFL, 1 pressure, 2 ST tackles

  • Elliott- 8 tackles (7 solo), 0.5 TFLs, 1 PD


  • Jones- 18/28, 185 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 80.2 passer rating

  • Barkley- 23 carries, 95 yards, 1 TD, 5 targets, 3 catches, 25 yards

  • Golladay- 0 targets, 0 catches, 0 yards, 0 TD

  • Thibs- 3 tackles (2 solo), 0.5 TFLs, 1 pressure

  • Crowder- 7 tackles (4 solo), 0.5 TFLs

  • Belton- 4 tackles (3 solo)

Hot take: Brock Wright has more catches than any of the Giants receivers


Score: Lions 27, Giants 24


(Non-) Obvious Ranked College Games to Keep an Eye On:

Georgia Tech at (13) UNC- WR Josh Downs

Boston College at (18) Notre Dame- TE Michael Mayer, DE Isaiah Foskey

(11) Penn State at Rutgers- CB Joey Porter Jr.

Louisiana at (19) FSU- QB Jordan Travis, RB Trey Benson, WR Johnny Wilson, TE Cameron McDonald, IOL Dillan Gibbons, DT Fabien Lovatt, DE Jared Verse, LB Tatum Bethune, S Jammie Robinson


How do you think the game will go? Can our Lions do a David, or will the New York Goliath be too much for us? Who do you think will be the stat leaders, and what will the final score be?

 

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