What Positives Can We Take Away From the Giants' Surprising Win Over the Broncos?
Heading into Week 6, there hadn't been many bright spots in the New York Giants' season.
Their franchise player, Odell Beckham, was out for the year, as was their number-two receiver, Brandon Marshall. Their rushing attack was among the worst in the league, and one of their best corners, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, was suspended for one game by coach Ben McAdoo.
Worst of all -- they were 0-5 heading into Week 6.
Then, just when everyone was ready to write off Big Blue, they punched the big, bad Denver Broncos on the nose and dominated in shocking fashion -- on the road at Mile High Stadium, no less -- to get their first win of the season.
This game might have had more bright spots for the Giants than the previous five games combined. Let's look at a few of those positives, starting with the biggest development of all.
The Giants Have a Run Game
It's hard to say which was more shocking -- that the Giants had a 100-yard rusher or that it came against a team who had given up the fewest rushing yards and the fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. This was the same Broncos' defense which held Ezekiel Elliott to 8 rushing yards and Melvin Gordon to 52.
Orleans Darkwa put those performances to shame with a career-best outing of 117 yards on 21 carries, providing the majority of the Giants' offense on the night. For a little perspective, if you include his one catch for 13 yards, Darkwa had more total yards of offense than Eli Manning, who recorded a mere 128 passing yards on the night. Darkwa's biggest run of the night was a 47-yard scamper to set up a touchdown.
After not eclipsing the 100-yard rushing mark as a team in the first four games, the Giants have now strung together two straight games with more than 100 rushing yards, with a committee approach producing 148 yards rushing against the Los Angeles Chargers the previous week.
If the development of a solid ground game is real and not a mirage, it would take pressure off of Manning and be a huge boost to the entire offense.
Ben McAdoo Is No Longer Calling Plays
The only difference between this week and last week (besides the Giants losing their best player), was the switch in play calling duties from the McAdoo to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.
One game is a small sample, obviously, but the move paid off in the early going. The Giants' opening drive went 69 yards and marked the first time this season the Broncos' defense has given up a touchdown on the opening possession. The switch was kept secret by the Giants all week and is something of a surprise, considering McAdoo's reputation in the NFL was made as a play caller.
Sullivan may have won the job for the rest of the season after Sunday.
Giants rookie tight end Evan Engram is making mincemeat out of the theory that rookie tight ends can't contribute in their first season. Engram posted 82 yards and a touchdown, showing that he is more than capable of stepping up as the Giants' top pass catcher in the absence of Beckham and Marshall.
Engram's yardage total was the best of his career, and he also picked up his second touchdown of the season.
We have our first TD! Evan Engram just paid out +1000 for that touchdown.ðŸ¤‘ðŸ’°ðŸ¤‘ pic.twitter.com/2tUbRftWDz
â€” i likes to playtedie (@Karvalegoff) October 16, 2017
Through six weeks, Engram has now scored more points in PPR leagues than all but four tight ends.
In addition to the fantasy goodness, Engram has been one of the NFL's best real-life tight ends this season, as well. We can peep that using Net Expected Points (NEP), our in-house metric. NEP measures the value added or lost on each play relative to the historical expectation level. You can read more about NEP in our glossary.
Among tight ends with at least 10 targets in 2017, Engram ranks fourth in Reception NEP per target.
|Player||Receptions||Targets||Reception NEP per Target|
Engram is going to have to carry a heavy load if the Giants hope to have any prayer of vaulting themselves back into the playoff hunt. So far, he's shown he can handle it.
New York will need another unlikely upset victory against the Seattle Seahawks next week to keep their playoff dream alive. Admittedly, they don't have much of a chance, with our models giving the G-Men a mere 2.1% chance of making the postseason.