Midseason Report: New York Giants
If you're the sort of New York Giants fan who likes to think only positive thoughts about the team and believe things are better than they seem to be ... well, you may want to read this post sitting down. The Giants went 2-6 in the first half of their season, losing the first six and then winning the last two against Vikings and Eagles teams that were effectively playing without quarterbacks. It has been grim, to say the least.
What's worse is that there hasn't been just one problem to which the Giants can point. Their failure is systemwide -- offense, defense and special teams -- with nearly every position group contributing in a significant way to the disappointing start. They have been outscored by an average of 10.25 points per game -- a higher figure than any team in the league but the historically dreadful Jaguars.
So as we go through, position by position, and assign grades based on 2013 performance to date, the best thing you can say is that there's plenty of room for improvement. For pretty much everybody.
GRADING THE NEW YORK GIANTS
|Quarterbacks||Sure, Eli Manning is 12th in the league in passing yards. But he's also 31st in passer rating, 27th in Total QBR and still first in interceptions with 15 even though he hasn't thrown one since Oct. 10. He also has been called for five intentional grounding penalties, and if that sounds like a lot, it's because no one else in the league has more than two. A lot has gone wrong around Manning, but he hasn't made the best of his bad situations. And because of the turnovers, you have to say he has done more to contribute to the losses than he has to help the Giants win.|
|Running Backs||What running backs? Andre Brown got hurt in the preseason and hasn't played. David Wilson got benched in the opener for fumbling and is now out with a neck injury. Da'Rel Scott was no help. Brandon Jacobs had a 100-yard game, hurt his hamstring and hasn't played since. Peyton Hillis and Michael Cox have handled things the past two games and it has been a little bit better. At least Hillis can catch the ball a bit. And Brown is due back next week. But all in all, this unit has contributed nearly nothing. The Giants rank 30th in the league in rush yards per game and 30th in yards per rush attempt, and they haven't found anyone who's much of a help in pass protection.|
|Wide Receivers||Victor Cruz is the reason this grade is as high as it is. He ranks 14th in the league in catches, 11th in receiving yards and has caught four of Manning's 10 touchdown passes. Rueben Randle, who also has caught four touchdowns, has been hit or miss, and several of his mistakes have contributed to Manning's high interception total. Hakeem Nicks has yet to catch a touchdown and ranks 43rd in the league in catches and 27th in receiving yards in his contract year. Jerrel Jernigan and Louis Murphy are non-factors.|
|Tight Ends||Brandon Myers, signed in the offseason to replace Martellus Bennett as the team's No. 1 tight end, has been a liability as a receiver, a pass-blocker and a run-blocker. Bear Pascoe is a bit better as a blocker but no threat in the passing game. Adrien Robinson can't get on the field due to a preseason foot injury. Larry Donnell is a special-teamer who gets opportunities because he hustles and because Myers has been so disappointing. The Giants so far have had nothing at tight end.|
|Offensive Line||They are one of the worst pass-blocking teams in the league. They are one of the worst run-blocking teams in the league. Left tackle Will Beatty is among the league leaders in holding penalties. Starting center David Baas and right guard Chris Snee are out for the year with injuries. Right tackle Justin Pugh is a rookie. The Giants have a lot of problems, but the mess on the offensive line has been the biggest and most damaging. It has infected everything.|
|Defensive Line||This has actually been a strength, especially against the run, where the Giants' added depth at defensive tackle has paid off and defensive end Justin Tuck has been superb. What holds this unit back from a better grade is the lack of sacks from a team that has always relied on its front four to pressure the quarterback. The Giants are 31st in the league with just 10 sacks, four of which came in the last game and only seven of which have come from defensive linemen.|
|Linebackers||Much better since Jon Beason joined the group as the man in the middle, but that's only been three games. Jacquian Williams looks like an asset in pass coverage now that he seems healthier, so this group has a chance to improve in the second half. Spencer Paysinger has offered more good than bad. Dan Connor is out for the year, and Mark Herzlich was a disappointment. Keith Rivers hasn't factored. Better than expected so far, maybe, but that doesn't make them great.|
|Secondary||Another case in which an in-season addition has helped the grade. Will Hill looks like a legitimate player at safety, and his return from a four-game drug suspension in Week 5 has definitely helped. Prince Amukamara has been solid all year at one of the corner spots, and they've managed to plug-and-play with some success with Terrell Thomas, Trumaine McBride and (earlier in the year, before he was hurt) Aaron Ross as replacements for the injured Corey Webster.|
|Special Teams||Kicker Josh Brown and punter Steve Weatherford have been much better lately after rough starts, but that's where the good news ends. The Giants are 26th in kick return yardage, 26th in punt return yardage, 30th in net punting average and have allowed the most punt return yards of any team in the league, mainly because of the three that have been run back for touchdowns against them. Their return units are not helpful and their coverage units have been harmful.|
|Coaching||Former Giants coach Bill Parcells famously said, "You are what your record says you are," and the Giants' record says they're the fourth-worst team in the league. Tom Coughlin and his coaches deserve credit for holding the team together and keeping it focused during the 0-6 start, but they also deserve blame (as they themselves would admit) for the 0-6 start itself. Coughlin's game management has been off at times, his handling of David Wilson was questionable and the fact that they're a top-10 penalty team speaks to a surprising lack of in-game discipline.|
New York Giants, Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks, Andre Brown, Justin Tuck, Peyton Hillis, Jon Beason, Will Beatty, Corey Webster, Tom Coughlin, Brandon Myers, Terrell Thomas, Brandon Jacobs, Victor Cruz, Prince Amukamara, Jacquian Williams, David Wilson, Rueben Randle, Will Hill, Justin Pugh, 2013 NFL Midseason Report, 2013 NFL Midseason Report NFC, 2013 NFL Midseason Report NFC East