Grading the Giants’ 31-16 loss to the Dolphins on Sunday afternoon.
Daniel Jones (14 of 20, 119 yards) knows what it is like to be the piñata logo. He was battered and beaten and knocked from the game early in the fourth quarter with a neck injury. He was sacked six times and had no chance. The line is pathetic. Josh Ezeudu had to be taken off the field — that is how bad he was. Ezeudu is being asked to play left tackle and it is not going well, at all. He was called for three penalties during one series. Injured left tackle Andrew Thomas cannot get back soon enough. Rookie Eric Gray (12-25, one fumble) got his most extensive look as a ball carrier and it was not a successful showing. Darren Waller (8-86) was more involved but averaging only 3.6 yards on his five catches is not what was envisioned for Wan’Dale Robinson. So much for getting Sterling Shepard (1-13) more involved.
Big plays killed this unit. There was a 76-yard TD run by De’Von Achane, a 28-yard TD catch and run by Tyreek Hill, a 64-yard Tua Tagovailoa-to-Hill connection and a 69-yard Hill TD past badly-chasing Tre Hawkins. These are called chunk plays. It added up to a big rushing game for Achane (11-151) and a big receiving game for Hill (9 catches for 181 yards). The Dolphins amassed 524 total yards — that is not a misprint. Get this: The Giants forced three turnovers — their first three of the season — and at times made Tagovailoa (22 of 30, 308 yards) look a bit shaky. How about that 102-yard interception return for a TD by Jason Pinnock? He was fortunate that LB Bobby Okereke did not pick off the pass first. Okereke got his interception in the third quarter. There was a fumble forced by Xavier McKinney and recovered by Kayvon Thibodeaux. There was also a sack by Thibodeaux. We know Achane is fast but perhaps McKinney could have taken a better angle on Achane’s 76-yard TD sprint.
This team asks too much of Graham Gano. He was wide left on a 55-yard field-goal attempt on the first play of the second quarter. Gano later hit from 49 yards and another from 51 yards. Jamie Gillan did not over-hit his first punt and it pushed Miami back to the 11-yard line. His next punt rolled to the 6-yard line and he forced a fair catch on the 10. There were no penalties by this unit, a marked improvement from a week ago.
This was bad on both sides of the ball. At least the special teams weren’t a disaster. The offense is a pop-gun attack and it is clear Brian Daboll does not trust the offensive line, which is why Mike Kafka calls so many plays designed to get the ball out of the hands of the quarterback. Daboll sensed this was not going to be a low-scoring affair and went for a 55-yard field goal early in the second quarter. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said preparing for the Dolphins’ speed kept him up at night. Well, he probably won’t get much sleep after his guys gave up big play after big play.