Film Room: Darnay Holmes

by Spiro Kasabian @nyspawtsguy_spi

New York Giant fans were very high on fourth-round pick, Darnay Holmes to begin the 2020 NFL season.  After a very solid Training Camp, Holmes was going to be counted on to man the Nickelback position and finally shore up a position that has been exposed in the Giant defense for several years now.  Through three games, Holmes adjustment to life as a Nickelback in the NFL has not gone smoothly.

It’s hard to blame a fourth-round pick, who didn’t have a real offseason, for not being up to snuff during the first three games of his career.  In an ideal situation, Holmes would have not seen the field until halfway through the 2020 season to allow him to get his feet underneath him.  Patrick Graham and Joe Judge saw enough to stick Holmes out there and let him have a trial by fire.  Unfortunately, Holmes is getting burned.

2020 Stats

*Games Played: 3

*Completions Against: 9

*Yards Allowed: 108

*Passer Rating Against: 87.8

PFF Grade: 32.1

The completion numbers don’t look too bad, right? When you dig deeper, you realize that Holmes has only played 48% of the defensive snaps, so those numbers look a lot worse when given that information.  Juju Smith-Shuster was getting open at-will in week One. 

One of the brightest offensive minds in the game, Kyle Shanahan identified Holmes as a weakness and attacked him mercilessly last Sunday.  Again, these things can be forgiven for a rookie who has only three career games under his belt.

Sunday vs. The San Francisco 49ers

What can’t be forgiven are terrible mental mistakes that change the outcomes of games.  With the score tied at 6 late in the first half, the 49ers had the football at midfield.  After Leonard Williams’ 2nd sack of the season, the 49ers were backed up facing a 3rd and 22.  A stop there, and the Giants are getting the ball back with a chance to take the lead into Half Time.

Darnay Holmes was manning the slot in a deep cover defense that was set up to prevent the big play.  The Giants defense did just that, but instead of getting off the field, a flag was thrown.  A penalty was called on Darnay Holes for Illegal Contact, which provided the 49ers with a first down and allowed the drive to continue. 

Holmes simply lost track of where he was on the field, and even though the penalty was a ticky-tack call, it is something that simply cannot happen on that down and distance.  The Giants were playing a prevent defense and there was zero need to bump the guy there.

 Throughout the game, Holmes was also being picked on by Shanahan, especially on 3rd downs.  Holmes let up several first downs and was nowhere particularly close to making plays on any of them.

The drive culminated with a Touchdown several plays later, and it was yet another late touchdown (3rd in 3 games) right before halftime. The 49ers never looked back after that.

 Daniel Jones subsequently followed this up with a terrible interception deep in his own territory which stretched the lead out to 16-6 before the half.  Had the penalty not occurred, there is a chance the momentum of the game swings a different way.

Spi’s Take:

Has Darnay Holmes struggled in his first three games? Absolutely.  Does that change my long-term outlook on him as a player? No.  You can see flashes of good play out of Holmes, and he is learning on the job what it’s like to play as a Nickelback at the highest level (played as an outside Cornerback for UCLA). 

The guy has had the unfortunate task of going against one of the best slot receivers in the game in Smith-Shuster and, in my opinion, the best offensive mind in the game in Shanahan.  Having said all that, the 3rd and 22 play simply cannot happen. 

Holmes is a smart kid and he will learn from it.

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