Thursday, January 2, 2014
New York Giants season wrap-up
By Dan Graziano
Arrow indicates direction team is trending.
Final Power Ranking: 23
Preseason Power Ranking: 12
Biggest surprise: The 0-6 start. There appeared to be little shame in losing in Dallas and at home to Denver to start the season, but when the Giants gave up six sacks in the first 17 minutes of a 38-0 Week 3 loss in Carolina, alarm bells went off. They were still a month away from winning a game at that point, and by the time they started doing that, they were too far behind. Their season was buried under a mountain of turnovers, done in by an incompetent offense that couldn't keep its quarterback upright and never got on track for so much as a game.
Biggest disappointment: Eli Manning. Everything collapsed around the Giants' two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback. The line couldn't protect him. The running backs couldn't pick up the blitz or gain yards on their own. Former No. 1 wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was ineffective all year. And Manning responded to the adversity by playing as poorly as he has since his rookie season. He led the league and set a new career high with 27 interceptions. He finished with his lowest completion percentage in six years, his lowest passing yardage total in five and failed to reach 20 touchdown passes for the first time ever in a full season.
Biggest need: Offensive line. It was their biggest question mark heading into the season, and that was before starters David Baas and Chris Snee went down with injuries. The Giants will need at least three new starters on the line, and possibly four if left tackle Will Beatty's broken leg sets costs him 2014 time. They need a complete rebuild on the line, and it will require their attention in free agency and early in the draft. But if they want to avoid a repeat of this year's offensive meltdown, it's the most important place to start. Team owner John Mara said Monday he hoped the offensive line would be the top offseason priority, and when the owner says something like that there's a strong chance it happens.
Team MVP: Defensive end Justin Tuck. A critical part of the Giants' strong run defense all year, Tuck also ended up with 11 sacks thanks to the six he got against the Redskins in December. He's a defensive captain and a team leader who played hurt, set an example and produced at a high level, whether asked to play on the end of the line or in the middle of it, as he sometimes is in passing downs. He helped keep spirits up during the losing streak and epitomized a team that played hard when others might have shut it down. Safety Antrel Rolle deserves mention for many of the same reasons, and Jon Beason's contributions as a strong veteran presence at middle linebacker after the early-season trade that brought him were valuable as well.