By Curt Macysyn
The assumption this weekend might be that the New York Giants (3-8) break their six game losing streak against a rebuilding Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10) in Florida on Sunday. While the reasoning behind that assumption makes sense, the reality is that the Giants will likely struggle against any NFL opponent for the rest of the season.
While New York has seen deficiencies in their offensive, defensive and special teams units all season, some deficiencies become more pronounced because of their opponent that week. For example, three weeks ago, Big Blue’s porous run defense was embarrassed by the Seattle Seahawks, who ran through the G-men like a hot knife slicing through butter. A week later, the San Francisco 49ers bullied their way past an over-matched offensive line on their way to a 16-10 victory at the New Jersey Meadowlands.
This past week, the Giants’ defensive front four could not get a hand on, or near, Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo, who rallied his troops to a 31-28 victory on Sunday Night Football. This week, the otherwise weak Jacksonville Jaguars team has a pass rush that could give the unsettled Giants’ offensive line difficulty in the team’s quest to end its prolonged losing streak.
New York Giants
Last week, the Giants inserted Geoff Schwartz at right tackle for the injured Justin Pugh (quad), and it was Schwartz’s first action of the season since suffering a dislocated toe against the New York Jets in the preseason. Schwartz played well with a (+2.8) grade via Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Additionally, Big Blue started Adam Snyder at left guard in place of rookie Weston Richburg, but with negative results, as Snyder was graded (-1.9) before he left with a knee injury. Snyder is out this week against Jacksonville, so Richburg goes back into the starting line-up.
Starting right tackle Justin Pugh initially injured himself againt the Seattle Seahawks and aggravated the injury against the San Francisco 49ers. After missing last week, Pugh has been ruled as questionable for the Jaguars contest. It would seem likely that the Giants move cautiously with Pugh, so look for Schwartz to remain at right tackle this week, and John Jerry to remain at guard.
Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins missed last week’s game with a calf injury, and he was again ruled out this week. Rookie Jay Bromley played six snaps last week, and he showed nothing. Bromley is another in a long line of Jerry Reese projects that litter the roster.
Linebacker Jameel McClain did not practice on Thursday, and his injury is impactful to a thinning linebacking corps. Mark Herzlich has played well on the outside, but the idea that Spencer Paysinger is an everyday player is not backed up statistically. Paysinger graded (-1.5) for his work against the Cowboys. Jacquian Williams did not play against the 49ers and Cowboys, after suffering a concussion against the Seattle Seahawks, and he will miss his third straight game against the Jaguars.
Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka has been dealing with a sore knee, and he is questionable for Sunday. But Kiwanuka has been suffering through a poor season, exemplified by his (-18.3) grade via Pro Football Focus. Regardless of whether or not Kiwanuka can play on Sunday, and he is listed as probable, logic dictates that Robert Ayers and Damontre Moore both get more snaps for Big Blue.
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Hamstring/Back) has been dealing with nagging injuries for several weeks, but he is likely to out on the field on Sunday. Odell Beckham, Jr. took a knee to the back on Sunday night, and missed some time, but he appears ready to go on Sunday. He represents one of the only weapons on offense for Big Blue.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are third in the league with 33.0 sacks on the season, and they look to get defensive end Andre Branch back from a groin injury. “The third-year veteran has missed the last four games (all losses) recovering from a groin injury suffered in a 24-6 win over Cleveland on Oct. 19. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Branch (who sports an 82-inch wingspan) recorded three sacks in seven games prior to getting hurt,” according to Hays Carlyon of The Florida Times-Union.
Fellow defensive end, Chris Clemons, has a knee injury, and did not practice on Thursday. Clemons leads the squad in quarterback sacks with 7.0 sacks on the season. The Jaguars ruled that Clemons was probable for the game against the Giants. Starting safety Josh Evans could not practice on Thursday with an elbow injury, which would lead to more playing time for Sherrod Martin if Evans is limited in the game.
The Jaguars lost leading receiver Allen Robinson for the rest of the season to a foot injury two weeks ago, so Cecil Shorts III becomes an important player for the Jags. Shorts missed practice on Wednesday, but did practice of Thursday and Friday after an undisclosed illness, and he is probable for Sunday.
Both LaRoy Reynolds and Jeremiah George are reserve linebackers for Jacksonville, and the two players are listed as questionable for Sunday. If either or both cannot go for the Jaguars, at least the starting line-up would be unaffected.
NEW YORK GIANTS
LB Jameel McClain (Knee)
CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Back/Hamstring)
WR Odell Beckham (Back)
OT Geoff Schwartz (Toe)
DE Mathias Kiwanuka (Knee)
OT Justin Pugh (Quad)
DT Cullen Jenkins (Calf)
OG Adam Snyder (Knee)
LB Jacquian Williams (Concussion/Shoulder)
DE Andre Branch (Groin)
DE Chris Clemons (Knee)
S Josh Evans (Elbow)
CB Demetrius McCray (Ankle)
WR Cecil Shorts III (Illness)
LB Jeremiah George (Ankle)
LB LaRoy Reynolds (Neck)
For more Giants news and updates, visit Giants Central.
Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past two seasons for Examiner.com. Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Curt has followed and covered the New York Metropolitan sports scene for 35 years. He attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, NJ and is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His work can be found on Examiner.com.