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Kyler Murray: Cardinals’ rookie quarterback developing ability to anticipate throwsby Mark Schofield on October 16, 2019 at 8:58 pm
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Let’s break down Murray’s passing Two organizations that turned the keys to the franchise over to rookie passers will square off this weekend, as the New York Giants host the Arizona Cardinals. This game will feature two passers drafted in the top ten of last year’s draft, as Daniel Jones squares off with the first overall selection, Kyler Murray. Coming out of the University of Oklahoma, there were various areas scouts identified where Murray would need to show improvement as an NFL passer. Anticipation was one area commonly identified as a trait where Murray would need to grow and develop. From my evaluation, however, I felt that this was an area where Murray was being undersold. I thought his ability as a pocket passer - including throwing with anticipation - was more advanced than he was given credit for. Even with that in place, anticipation throws are still difficult for younger quarterbacks to execute. This is something that Giants fans have seen with Jones over the past few weeks. When you are entering the league it takes time for your mind to speed up to the point where you are getting throws out ahead of the receiver’s break, or you start throwing receivers open in the midst of coverage. Let’s look first at this play from Murray’s Week 4 game against the Seattle Seahawks. Very early in the game the Cardinals have a first-and-10 on their own 38-yard line. The offense lines up with Murray in the shotgun and a slot formation to the right and a single receiver split to the left: The Seahawks show the rookie quarterback a two-high safety look prior to the snap of the football. This is the route concept that Kliff Kingsbury calls for his quarterback to execute: The route design in play here is a variation of the Y-Cross concept that is a staple of Air Raid offenses. The primary receiver here is Larry Fitzgerald (11) on the crossing route from right to left, but Murray first will look to the deep curl route along the left sideline. In the standard Y-Cross design, the curl route is instead a vertical route. Seattle spins their defense into a combination coverage here: One of the safeties drops down in a buzz technique, and that helps to take away the crosser to Fitzgerald. There are zone elements underneath as well, in addition to MEG (man everywhere he goes) technique on the boundary to the right. Murray indeed opens to the left here and the curl route. But he comes off that pattern and then looks at the crosser, which is taken away due to a combination of underneath coverage and the buzz safety. By this time, the pressure runs out, and the rookie takes a sack: The issue here that I have with this play is there is a window for Murray to throw the initial read, that curl route to the left. If Murray makes an anticipation throw to the left side, he can get this out and complete this for a decent play. But he is wary of the coverage to the inside and wants to confirm that the receiver breaks open. By the time the wide receiver gets his separation — which would have been present even with an anticipation throw -- Murray has moved on and eventually runs out of time. Now we can examine two plays from Murray’s game against the Atlanta Falcons last week. We can be honest here, friends, and admit that the Falcons’ are struggling defensively this season. Against Atlanta this year opposing passers have completed 71.4 percent of their passes for 1,627 yards and 15 touchdowns, and have posted an Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (ANY/A) of 9.3. That ANY/A would place “Generic Atlanta Opponent Quarterback” second in the league behind only Patrick Mahomes. That being said, players still need to execute the plays against this defense. Last week Murray showed growth in the anticipation realm. On this third-and-8 play late in the first half, watch the timing and anticipation on this curl route to Fitzgerald: As Murray hits his drop depth he hitches up in the pocket and gets the ball out to the curl route. The ball is coming out right on time and as Fitzgerald is making his cut on the route. The defender closes quickly, but he cannot prevent the Cardinals from moving the chains on this third-and-long. Then there is my favorite throw from Murray from the game, and perhaps his rookie year. With a first-and-10 midway through the third quarter, the Cardinals line up with Murray in the shotgun and Fitzgerald again in the slot, this time on the route. Here is the route concept Arizona calls: The Cardinals run “pout” here, or post/out. The outside receiver runs a post pattern while Fitzgerald runs a deep out route. Atlanta drops into a Cover 3 scheme here: Murray does not hesitate here at all. As soon as he hits his drop depth in the pocket the ball is coming out of his hands, in the direction of Fitzgerald on the out pattern: Here is what I love about this play. Murray confirms that the cornerback is carrying the vertical route over the top, so the QB knows that there is a window to throw the out pattern. But he also needs to be wary of the defender in the flat perhaps poaching this route, so the ball has to come out quickly, and before Fitzgerald gets close to that area of the field. So Murray not only makes an anticipation throw, but he puts this ball in a spot where only Fitzgerald can get it, and prevents the flat defender from breaking on the ball. This is advanced passing from a rookie quarterback. Murray’s growth this season has been slow, but steady. He seems to be improving each week, and as we saw here over just a few weeks there is demonstrated growth in anticipation, a critical trait to playing the position. As we know development at the quarterback position is not linear, but Murray seems to be on a solid track.
Giants vs. Cardinals: When the Giants have the ballby Ed Valentine on October 16, 2019 at 7:31 pm
Patrick Peterson | Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images Let’s break down the matchup between the Giants’ offense and the Arizona defense What will the matchup look like on Sunday when the New York Giants offense faces the Arizona Cardinals defense? Let’s look at some of the factors that could determine that. Locked and loaded The Giants could have star running back Saquon Barkley leading receiver Evan Engram back in the lineup this weekend. Barkley, the 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, has missed three games with a high ankle sprain. Engram, who leads the Giants with 33 receptions and 373 receiving yards, missed Thursday’s game against the New England Patriots with a sprained MCL. Both were listed as full practice participants on Wednesday and seem to be on track to play vs. Arizona. Shurmur indicated that if Barkley plays he doesn’t expect him to be on any type of pitch count. “It’s the middle of October and we’re playing ball, so we’ll just see how that plays out,” Shurmur said. “Players that are deemed healthy, you try to use them to the best of their ability and maximize what they can do to help impact the game.” Barkley, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018 after gaining 2,028 total yards fro scrimmage (1,307 rushing, 721 receiving) was averaging 6.4 yards per carry (37 rushes, 237 yards) before being injured. In his absence, Jon Hilliman, Wayne Gallman and Elijhaa Penny combined for 201 yards on 59 carries (3.4 yards per carry). “If a quarterback was going to pick two friends one would be the offensive line and then the other is a running back,” Shurmur said. “The ability to be protected so they can make throws and then a runner you can hand the ball to and gain yards. I think, obviously, Saquon being back — if he is — will be a big boost not only for the quarterback but for our whole team.” Engram is tied for fourth in the league among tight ends in receptions and os is third in receiving yards despite missing a game. Per Inside Edge, Engram is second among tight ends in Yards Per Target (11.2), fourth in Yards After Catch (6.6 per reception), third in Receiving Yards Per Game (74.6) and first in Targets Per Game (9.6). He has, obviously, been both a play maker for the Giants and a huge security blanket for the team’s rookie quarterback. It’s all about the ball Well, at least that is what Pat Shurmur always says. Unfortunately, the Giants have been more cavalier with the football than any team in the NFL through six games. The Giants have a league-worst 15 turnovers — eight interceptions and seven lost fumbles. They are 31st in takeaway/giveaway ratio at -7 (thank you, Miami Dolphins!). Part of the turnover issue is simply the reality of life with a rookie quarterback. In four games, Daniel Jones has thrown six interceptions. Only five quarterbacks, all of whom have attempted more than the 140 passes Jones attempted, have thrown the ball more than the Giants’ rookie. Jones’ interception rate of 4.3 percent is fourth-worst in the league. Jones has also lost three fumbles, making the quarterback responsible for nine of the 15 turnovers. Shurmur was asked last Friday if turnovers were more palatable when they come from a rookie learning the NFL ropes. “I think, regardless of whether you’re in your first year in the league or you’ve been doing it for a very long time, what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. I think it’s fair to say that some of the things that Daniel’s going through, he’s going through for the first time,” Shurmur said. “... It’s a fine line between being aggressive and putting the ball in harm’s way. I think each play and each time he goes through it, he’ll learn something from it.” Recently-released running back Jon Hilliman fumbled twice in 33 touches. The return of Barkley, who has one fumble in 400 NFL touches should help. Newly-signed running back Buck Allen has just three fumbles in 469 career touches, only one since 2015. Whatever it takes, the Giants need to do a better job of taking care of the ball. They aren’t good enough on defense to give opposing offenses short fields, and aren’t good enough overall to overcome giving away points or missing opportunities by giving the ball away. Dealing with Patrick Peterson The good news for Jones and the Giants is that the Cardinals are the only team in the NFL that has not intercepted a pass this season. The Cardinals are 30th in passing yards allowed (1,687) , 31st passing touchdowns allowed (16) and, per Inside Edge, 31st in the league with a passer rating against of 121.8. The bad news is that three-time All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson, who has 23 interceptions in eight seasons, will be back in the lineup after serving a six-game PED suspension. There is speculation that the Cardinals might deal Peterson prior to the Oct. 29 trade deadline. Unless that happens before Sunday, though, the Giants are going to hav e to handle the player Arizona defensive coordinator Vance Joseph calls the Cardinals “best player” on defense. “He’s a special player, a lockdown corner,” Joseph said. “When you have a guy like Patrick, you don’t have to worry about one side of the field. If they decide to attack Patrick, shame on them, but you can make them attack Patrick by helping the other corner. When you have two young corners, it’s tough to help one and leave one by himself. A guy like Pat P makes it easy to call defenses because he can take away one side of the field.” Just a guess, but Peterson probably gets Golden Tate all over the field on Sunday. “Playing against Patrick in the same division when I was in Seattle, he’s a lock down corner. We expect him to follow if needed, his knowledge of the game is strong. He is one of the most athletic humans I have ever been around, he plays hard. You just have to be aware of where he is, he takes the right chances,” Tate said this week. “The thing you will probably hear me say a lot is it’s never about who we are playing or who they have, it’s always about how we perform when we pay attention to details and what we do. If we go out there and handle our business, it doesn’t matter who we go against.” Last week vs. the New England Patriots Jones and the Giants made the mistake of not respecting All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore. He burned them with an interception and five passes defensed. He allowed one reception in six targets for 9 yards. The Giants would be well advised to learn from that and find someone other that Peterson to pick on this time around. Edge pressure EDGE rushers Chandler Jones (4.5) and Terrell Suggs (4.0) have 8.5 of Arizona’s 14 quarterback sacks and nine of the team’s 30 quarterback hits. Left tackle Nate Solder, who has been charged with 3.5 of the 12 sacks the Giants have allowed, and right tackle Mike Remmers (1.0) will be largely responsible for slowing them down. Whatever the reason, the mobile Jones has been sacked on 6.7 percent of his drop backs in four games while Eli Manning was sacked only 2.2 percent of the time in his two games as the starter. With three fumbles to go along with his six interceptions, Jones knows he is going to have to be aware of the Cardinals’ EDGE rushers. “They are good players. I think from my standpoint, I need to be good at stepping up in the pocket and holding onto the ball. I think those things are always important,” Jones said. “They’ve got two good ones, but I’m confident we’ll do a good job. We’ve done a good job this season and I’m confident with our guys to protect. I have to make sure I’m doing my job stepping up and getting time.”
Giants’ injury report, 10/16: Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram practice fullyby Ed Valentine on October 16, 2019 at 4:48 pm
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Offensive stars appear on track to play Sunday The clearest sign that Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram will return to action for the New York Giants on Sunday is that both players were listed as full participants in Wednesday’s practice. The Giants face the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Coach Pat Shurmur would not commit to either playing, saying only “we’ll see what the week holds.” Barkley has missed three games with a high ankle sprain. Without Barkley and Wayne Gallman (concussion) the Giants rushed for only 64 and 52 yards the past two weeks. Engram leads the Giants with 33 catches and 373 receiving yards. A new name on the Giants’ injury list is cornerback/kick returner Corey Ballentine. He was held out of practice on Wednesday with a concussion. Ballentine has played sparingly on defense, but has averaged 26.3 yards on nine kickoff returns this season. Gallman, wide receiver Sterling Shepard and defensive lineman Olsen Pierre were all listed as limited in practice. All also are in the concussion protocol.
Giants designate CB Sam Beal for return from IRby Emily Iannaconi on October 16, 2019 at 3:05 pm
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports The Giants have 21 days to make a decision about adding Beal to the 53-man roster The New York Giants added a new, but familiar face to Wednesday’s practice. Cornerback Sam Beal has been designated for return. The Giants opened a 21-day window today during which he will be able to practice but will not be considered part of the 53-man roster. New York now has three weeks to decide whether to add Beal to the roster or to send him back to the injured reserve list. During that time, Beal will be allowed to continue practicing. The earliest Beal can play is week nine against the Dallas Cowboys. Beal has not been on the practice field since training camp. He was included in the team’s first 53-man roster but was placed on IR with a hamstring injury the next day. For this reason, he is eligible for the designation. If Beal does play against the Cowboys, it would be the first game of his NFL career as he missed all of last year with a shoulder injury. The Giants originally selected him in the third round of the 2018 supplemental draft. While in college at Western Michigan, Beal played as a wide receiver and defensive back. During his two years at the defensive back position, Beal played 24 games, recording 77 tackles, including 53 solo and two interceptions. There is no guarantee that Beal stays healthy in the upcoming week, especially for a player who’s professional career has been dominated by injuries. But a 6-foot-1, 177-pound back could add some much-needed depth for the Giants who currently rank 30 amongst all NFL teams in passing defense, allowing 285 yards per game.
NFL power rankings 2019, Week 7: At No. 26, Giants are falling behindby Emily Iannaconi on October 16, 2019 at 3:00 pm
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images Here are this week’s power rankings Where are the 2-4 Giants in Week 7 NFL Power Rankings after a loss to the New England Patriots? They have dropped a couple of spots this week, now falling between 25 and 30 in most weekly rankings. Combine the seven rankings we have listed below, and the Giants sit at No. 26 in our aggregated rankings. USA Today – No. 25 Even while severely undermanned, they gave Pats all they could handle for three quarters. One game back, don’t count G-Men out of NFC East race. Yahoo! Sports – No. 27 Daniel Jones had the best possible turnover-filled start a rookie could have against a tough Patriots defense, given he was operating without his top running back, wide receiver and tight end. This team isn’t sniffing the playoffs, but it can play pesky spoiler in the second half of the season. Sporting News – No. 27 Daniel Jones had the best possible turnover-filled start a rookie could have against a tough Patriots defense, given he was operating without his top running back, wide receiver and tight end. This team isn’t sniffing the playoffs, but it can play pesky spoiler in the second half of the season. CBS Sports (Prisco) – No. 25 The injuries have decimated the offense, and that showed up against the Pats. But when you look at the NFC East, they are far from dead. And now they will be getting some of those injured guys back. ESPN – No. 24 The Big Lead – No. 29 Daniel Jones looked as expected against Bill Belichick in Foxboro. There’s a lot of optimism, but in regards to this year, wins will be hard to come by. The Athletic (Lindsay Jones) – No. 25 If only last Thursday’s game in New England had been just three quarters long, we’d be feeling a lot better about Danny Dimes and the Giants. Of course, it wasn’t, and the Giants dismissed all talk of moral victories (a game that was close in the second half, despite being played without the Giants’ top running back, wide receiver and tight end) after losing to the Patriots by 21 points. But the good news for the Giants is that they’ll get those weapons back for Daniel Jones relatively soon, and somehow they’re just one game out of first place in the NFC East.