Stats & Info: New York Giants

Offensive rookie of the year candidates

December, 16, 2014

Al Bello/Getty Images
Odell Beckham Jr. has made a case of NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in just 10 games.
As the NFL season closes in on the end of the regular season, ESPN Stats & Information looks at some of the leading candidates for offensive rookie of the year.

RB Jeremy Hill, Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals have a rookie running back in contention for offensive rookie of the year for the second year in a row.

This year it is Hill, a second-round pick out of LSU, who played behind Giovani Bernard early in the season. He leads all rookies with 1,082 yards from scrimmage, which accounts for 22 percent of the first-place Bengals’ team total. That is the highest percentage of team offense among rookies and 11th among all running backs.

Signature play: A 60-yard touchdown rush in Week 9 against the Jaguars with 8:13 left in the fourth quarter. Hill made one cut, broke free down the left sideline, shed a tackle inside the 10 and found the end zone.

WR Odell Beckham Jr., Giants
The New York Giants wide receiver is second behind Hill in yards from scrimmage among rookies with 1,007, despite missing the first four games of the season due to a hamstring injury. Beckham’s 101 yards from scrimmage per game leads the next closest rookie (RB Tre Mason) by more than 23 yards.

Beckham, a teammate of Hill's at LSU, is averaging 7.1 receptions, 97.2 receiving yards and 0.9 touchdowns in the 10 games he has played. All three of those averages are the highest among rookies in a season dating to the start of 2001.

Signature play: What else can it be? The incredible, one-handed touchdown grab that took over social media in Week 12 against the Dallas Cowboys (pictured above) was a catch for the ages. And Beckham believes his best has yet to come.

WR Mike Evans, Buccaneers
Evans, the seventh overall pick, has 11 receiving touchdowns for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season. That is tied with former Bucs receiver Mike Williams for the most by a rookie receiver since Randy Moss had 17 in 1998.

Evans, out of Texas A&M, is the only rookie to top 200 receiving yards in a game this year. His 209-yard performance against the Washington Redskins in Week 11 is tied for the sixth-highest total in a game for any receiver this season and second-highest in a game by a rookie wide receiver in the past 10 years (Justin Blackmon in 2012).

The quarterback play in Tampa has been poor, but that has not stopped Evans from being one of the best deep threats in the NFL. On passes thrown at least 20 yards from the line of scrimmage, Evans ranks first in receptions (18) and yards (579) and second in touchdowns (six).

Signature play: It’s tough to choose just one for Evans. His over-the-shoulder grab on his second touchdown against the Browns showed some impressive concentration, and the touchdown against the Falcons showed how tough it is to cover a 6-foot-5 receiver who has a 37-inch vertical leap. Both passes were thrown more than 20 yards downfield, showing off Evans’ ability to stretch the field.

Honorable Mentions
WR Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers (third in scrimmage yards, tied for second in touchdowns among rookies)
G Zack Martin, Cowboys (played all 892 Cowboys snaps)
WR Sammy Watkins, Bills (72 percent of plays have gained a first down, highest among rookies)

Luck channels inner Peyton Manning

November, 4, 2014
AP Photo/Bill KostrounAndrew Luck has 300 passing yards in seven straight games.

It seems that every week Andrew Luck matches or surpasses his predecessor Peyton Manning in some regard.

On Monday, Luck had his seventh straight 300-yard passing game, setting a new Colts franchise record and tying Manning for the third-longest streak in NFL history.

Luck now has 3,085 passing yards this season. Only once in history has a player had more through the first nine games of a season -- Manning (3,249) last season.

Luck joined Manning as the only quarterbacks with 23 passing touchdowns in each of their first three seasons.

Luck now has a career-high 26 passing touchdowns this season, passing Manning (24) for the most in the NFL.

Luck is the first player in NFL history with at least 350 passing yards in five straight road games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

It was a different Manning -- Eli -- who went up against Luck on Monday. Eli fell to 0-3 in his career against the Colts (first two were against Peyton), while his head coach Tom Coughlin fell to 0-7 in his career against the Colts.

Eli and Luck made history together -- it was the first Monday Night Football game in history in which both quarterbacks had at least 350 passing yards with no interceptions.

But Eli left plenty of opportunities on the field.

Eli couldn't beat blitz
Eli Manning was 0-for-7 on throws at least 20 yards downfield. This season, he has completed four of 26 attempts thrown at least 20 yards downfield. Only Geno Smith has a lower completion percentage on those throws.

Manning overthrew his intended receiver on 10 attempts, matching the most overthrows he's had in a game since 2006. Four of Manning’s overthrows came on attempts thrown at least 20 yards downfield.

The Colts blitzed on 29 Manning dropbacks, the most by any team this season.

Manning was limited to 13-of-29 passing against the Colts blitz, including his fumble while being sacked in the third quarter.

The Colts limited Manning to 2-of-8 passing when under duress.

It was the Giants’ 24th straight game with a turnover, the longest active streak in the NFL.

The Colts are now 12-1 following a loss since Luck entered the league.

Top stats to know: 2014 New York Giants

July, 22, 2014

Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports
Eli Manning and the New York Giants look to avoid missing the playoffs for the third straight season
SportsCenter is at Giants training camp Tuesday. Here are the top things to know leading up to the 2014 season.

1. The New York Giants rebounded from an 0-6 start to go 7-3 over their final 10 games last season, tied for the fourth best record in the NFL over that span. But a 7-9 record wasn’t good enough to reach the postseason, meaning that the Giants have now missed the playoffs in two straight and four of the last five seasons. The Giants haven’t missed the playoffs in 3 straight seasons since 1994-96.

2. Eli Manning threw a career-high and an NFL-high 27 interceptions in 2013, his third time leading the league in interceptions. It was the most interceptions thrown by any player in a season since Brett Favre in 2005 and also the most interceptions thrown by a QB in Giants history, breaking Charlie Conerly’s record from 1953. Manning’s 37 Total QBR last season (0-100 scale) ranked 33rd among 39 qualified quarterbacks.

Manning's numbers took a significant hit on his deep throws, as the image below notes.

3. Manning was sacked a career-high 39 times last season, more than doubling Manning’s sack total from 2012 (19). Manning was sacked on 6.5 percent of his dropbacks last year after being sacked on just 3.6 percent of his dropbacks from 2010-12 (second lowest in the NFL behind his brother Peyton Manning). No Giants offensive line combination played more than 40 percent of the team’s offensive snaps in 2013. The hits took a toll on Eli, who is coming off offseason ankle surgery. He could have as many as four new starters on the offensive line this year.

4. The offensive line’s struggles also carried over to the rushing game. Only the Baltimore Ravens (3.1) and Jacksonville Jaguars (3.3) averaged fewer yards per rush than the Giants last season (3.5). The Giants gained only 1,332 rushing yards in 2013. During the first nine seasons of Tom Coughlin’s tenure with the Giants, the team averaged 2,029 rushing yards a season, sixth best in the NFL. The team’s leading rusher in 2013, Andre Brown, signed with the Houston Texans this offseason.

5. Eli Manning also didn’t receive much help from his receivers. Hakeem Nicks, who signed with the Indianapolis Colts in the offseason, posted no touchdowns despite 896 receiving yards, the second most receiving yards without a touchdown in NFL history. Victor Cruz, tied for third in the NFL with 18 30-yard receptions from 2011-12, recorded just four 30-yard receptions last season. Manning was intercepted on 10 percent of his passes to Rueben Randle, the highest interception percentage to any one receiver in the NFL last season (min. 50 attempts). To help at wideout, the Giants drafted Odell Beckham Jr. 12th overall, the second highest draft pick they have ever used on a wide receiver (Ike Hilliard – 7th in 1997).

6. For the first time since 2006, the Giants will open training camp without Kevin Gilbride at offensive coordinator. Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo was hired to replace Gilbride and is installing a new offense. The Giants ranked 28th in both points and yards last season, the first time they’ve finished outside the top 25 in both categories since 1996.

7. The Giants’ once vaunted four-man pass rush produced just 18 sacks last season, tied for 26th in the NFL. When the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2011, they had 34 sacks with four or fewer rushers, second most in the NFL. Justin Tuck, whose 11 sacks were five more than anyone else on the Giants team last season, signed with the Oakland Raiders in free agency. The team is counting on Jason Pierre-Paul, who had 16.5 sacks in 2011, to return to form after an injury-plagued 2013.

8. The best competition in camp could be at the cornerback spot, where the Giants signed two coveted free agents this offseason. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie signed a five-year deal with $14M in guaranteed money and Walter Thurmond signed a one-year deal that includes $2M guaranteed. The duo, who faced each other in Super Bowl 48, will compete with former first-round pick Prince Amukamara for a starting job.

9. Head coach Tom Coughlin signed a 1-year contract extension in February, tying him to the team through the 2015 season. Coughlin, who will turn 68 on August 31st, is the NFL’s oldest active head coach. He’s been with the team since 2004, making him the third-longest tenured head coach behind Bill Belichick (with the Patriots since 2000) and Marvin Lewis (with the Bengals since 2003).

10. Giants Top Transactions This Offseason

Draft picks: WR Odell Beckham Jr., C Weston Richburg, DT Jay Bromley, RB Andre Williams

Additions: RB Rashad Jennings, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB Walter Thurmond, CB Zack Bowman, DE Robert Ayers, S Quintin Demps, G John Jerry, OT Charles Brown, G Geoff Schwartz

Departures: WR Hakeem Nicks, C Kevin Boothe, G David Diehl, DE Justin Tuck, DT Linval Joseph, S Ryan Mundy, S, Will Hill, TE Brandon Myers, LB Keith Rivers, CB Terrell Thomas

Keys to not losing: Giants 23, Vikings 7

October, 22, 2013

Joe Caporeale/USA TODAY SportsAdrian Peterson could not get going against the Giants.

What were the keys to the New York Giants win over the Minnesota Vikings on "Monday Night Football"?

This game was more about what the Vikings couldn’t do then what the Giants could do.

Josh Freeman was all over the place
Josh Freeman had a rough go of it in his first start with the Vikings, completing only 20 of 53 passes. His 37.7 percent completion percentage was the lowest in a game by a quarterback with at least 50 attempts since Eli Manning completed only 34 percent of his throws against the Redskins in Week 15 in 2007 and tied for the fourth-lowest of all-time among quarterbacks with at least 50 attempts.

Our video-review crew charted Freeman with 16 overthrows. That’s the most overthrows by a quarterback in a game in the eight years in which we have data on the statistic.

Freeman has overthrown his receivers on 24 percent of his pass attempts in 2013. No other quarterback has a percentage of higher than 18 percent.

Freeman's 18 total off-target throws are the second most in a game since 2006. Tony Romo had 19 in Week 8 of last season, also against the Giants.

Freeman has also thrown an interception in seven straight games, tied with Carson Palmer for the longest active streak in the NFL.

Peterson kept in check again
The Giants limited Adrian Peterson to 28 rushing yards, his fewest in a game since Week 11 of 2011 against the Raiders (a game in which he was injured and had only six carries).

The Giants have held Peterson to 54, 26 and 28 rushing yards in his past three games against them. He has averaged 53 yards against them in four games. The only team against which he has had less success is the Redskins, against whom he's averaged 45 yards in four games.

The Vikings entered Monday's game averaging 338.4 total yards a game, but only finished with 206 vs. Giants. That's their lowest offensive output since Week 1 of 2011 (187 yards vs. Chargers).

Did You Know: Manning brothers always win
The win by the Giants not only was their first of the season, but it kept alive a personal streak for the Manning brothers.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Eli and Peyton Manning have now won at least once in each of the past 28 weekends in which both started.

That’s one shy of their best streak, a 29-week run spanning 2008 and 2009.

Eli Manning entered Monday’s game with an NFL-high 17 turnovers, but did not have any in this contest. He snapped a streak of six straight games with an interception.

Top stats to know: Vikings at Giants

October, 21, 2013

Rob Grabowski/USA TODAY SportsEli Manning leads the NFL in turnovers this season (17).
The Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants meet tonight on "Monday Night Football" (8:25 ET/ESPN). Here are six stats Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden might touch on tonight:

1. The Giants lead the NFL with 23 turnovers -- six more than any other team and two more than they had all of last season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, they’re the first team to have a turnover differential of -16 through six games since 1989, when the Lions and Cardinals were each -17 at that point.

Eli Manning leads all players with 17 turnovers, including 15 interceptions, already matching his interception total from all of 2012. He’s the first player to throw 15 interceptions in the first six games of a season since Dan Fouts in 1986.

His Total QBR of 3.0 in the fourth quarter is the lowest in the NFL this season. But he needs just 215 passing yards to pass Phil Simms for the most in franchise history.

2. Josh Freeman is expected to make his debut with the Vikings. Only three players (out of 37 qualified quarterbacks) have a lower Total QBR than Freeman this season (26.8).

Since going 10-6 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2010, Freeman is 11-23 (.324) as a starter. Blaine Gabbert is the only quarterback with a lower winning percentage since the start of 2011 (min. 20 starts).

3. Adrian Peterson is fourth in the NFL with 483 rushing yards. He'll need to pick up the pace to approach his 2012 total of 2,097 yards, which was the second-highest season total in NFL history.

He’s 75 yards shy of tying Earl Campbell for 31st on the league's all-time rushing list and 121 from tying Shaun Alexander for 30th.

4. This game features teams that rank last and next-to-last in the NFL in opponents’ third-down conversions, and are 30th and 32nd in the league in opponents’ points per game.

5. The Giants are 0-6 for the second time in franchise history (started 0-9 in 1976). According to Elias, they're the first team in NFL history to allow at least 25 points and commit at least three turnovers in each of its first six games.

6. Neither team has won a game in North America this season. The Vikings' only win came in London against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 4.

Keys to victory: Bears defeat Giants, 27-21

October, 11, 2013
What were the three biggest keys to the Chicago Bears win over the New York Giants on Thursday night?

The short passes worked
Jay Cutler was 20-of-27 for 187 yards and two touchdowns on throws that traveled 10 yards or fewer. Cutler's 27 attempts and 6.9 yards per attempt were both season highs.

This was the fifth time this season that Cutler had multiple touchdown passes in a game, matching the total he had for the entire season in both 2011 and 2012.

Cutler was 9-for-10 when targeting Brandon Marshall, matching the best completion rate to Marshall in any game since Marshall joined the Bears.

DB blitzes scared Manning
The Bears brought a defensive back as a pass rusher on three Eli Manning dropbacks. Two of those blitzes resulted in an interception.

Manning has thrown five interceptions this season when facing a defensive back as a pass rusher, more than any quarterback had in all of 2012.

Manning has thrown an interception once every 7.2 dropbacks when facing a defensive back who was a pass rusher compared with one every 24.5 dropbacks not facing one.

Manning is the first player to throw 15 interceptions in the first six games of a season since Dan Fouts did so for the San Diego Chargers in 1986.

Unsung key: Podlesh's punts
Bears punter Adam Podlesh might not have had the most impressive day on the stat sheet, but his punting definitely played a role in the Bears win.

Adam Podlesh
Podlesh averaged only 36.7 yards per punt on his three kicks, but the Giants did not return any of those boots. That resulted in their starting field position being on their own 9, 8, and 10. They were able to score on the first of those, but did not score on either of the last two.

The Giants average starting field position after punts was their own 9. That's the worst starting field position for a team against a punter in any game in which that punter punted multiple times all season.

Top things to know: Giants at Bears

October, 10, 2013

Elsa/Getty ImagesEli Manning has already thrown 12 INT this season, three fewer than he had all of 2012.
Week Six of the NFL season begins tonight as the New York Giants take on the Chicago Bears from Soldier Field.

Through five weeks, every NFC East team has a losing record and the division is a combined 5-14, worst in the NFL.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the only time an entire division has been under .500 through five weeks since the merger in 1970.

Let’s take a look at some storylines for this game.

1. The Giants are 0-5 for the first time since 1987. The only time the Giants lost their first six games of a season was in 1976, when they opened 0-9.

One reason for the Giants rough start has been their defense. They are the second team in NFL history along with the 1954 Chicago Cardinals to allow MORE than 30 points in their first five games of a season. No team has ever allowed MORE than 30 points in each of its first 6 games.

2. Through five games, Eli Manning has been sacked 15 times and has thrown 12 interceptions. He’s already approaching his 2012 season totals in both categories (19 sacks and 15 interceptions).

In addition, his QBR (34.2) is less than half of what it was in 2012 (68.9).

Of the league-high 20 turnovers the Giants have this season, Manning has been responsible for 14, tied for the second most by a player through five games since realignment in 2002.

With two turnovers tonight, he’ll tie Daunte Culpepper in 2002 for the most turnovers through six games.

Manning is one of three starting quarterbacks this season completing under half of his attempts thrown at or behind the line of scrimmage. Both of the other quarterbacks (Brandon Weeden and Josh Freeman) were removed from their starting jobs.

3. Jay Cutler has been sacked three times in each of the last two games (both losses) after being sacked a total of three times in the Bears' 3-0 start.

In addition, he has thrown for 300 yards in back-to-back games for the first time since 2009. He’s never thrown for 300 yards in three straight games. Cutler has also thrown a TD pass in 11 straight games, tying a career high.

4. Brandon Marshall expressed frustration with the Bears offense after their Week 5 loss. He was targeted five times last week after averaging more than 10 targets in his first four games.

Marshall leads the Bears with 46 targets this season, but has just one more than the next highest receiver (Alshon Jeffery, 45).

Marshall finished with 131 more targets than the next highest Bear last season.

The Giants are last in the NFL in rushing at 56.8 YPG. They’ve rushed for under 100 yards in all five games this season.

The Bears have lost two straight following a 3-0 start. They’re 3-4 in their last seven home games since starting 2012 4-0 at home.

Despite forcing no turnovers last week, the Bears still lead the NFL with 58 takeaways since the start of 2012. Last week snapped Chicago’s streak of six straight games with at least three takeaways, the longest in the NFL since the Bills from 2004-05.

The Bears have lost four straight home games against the Giants since beating New York at Soldier Field in 1991.

Line struggles hurt Steelers, Giants

October, 4, 2013

Getty ImagesPoor line play has contributed to the Steelers and Giants starting 0-4 this season.
There have been some surprising starts to the NFL season, both good and bad. We take a look at issues that have contributed to 0-4 starts by the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants.

Check out Dean Oliver's in-depth analysis of the specific problems the Steelers and Giants face with their offensive lines.

The Steelers and Giants have combined to win four of the last eight Super Bowls but are off to their worst starts since 1968 and 1987, respectively.

Pittsburgh is the first team since the 2005 Houston Texans to fail to record a takeaway in their first four games. New York has been outscored by 85 points, the worst mark in team history through a season's first four games.

The bad news for the Steelers and Giants -- in addition to the 0-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars -- is that since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, only one team has started 0-4 and made the playoffs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That would be the 1992 San Diego Chargers.

Let’s take a look at some numbers to support why the Steelers and Giants are off to such bad starts.

The Steelers' offensive line struggles have been evident all season, especially after losing Maurkice Pouncey for the season in Week 1 when he tore two ligaments in his right knee.

Pittsburgh is averaging 58 yards per game on the ground, fourth fewest in the league. The Steelers' 232 total rush yards are their fewest through their first four games since 1935.

Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 15 times this year and has fumbled three times on sacks. Both totals are the most in the NFL.

The Steelers are allowing 27.5 points per game, which would be their most in a season since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. They are tied with the Giants for the fewest sacks in the NFL (four).

New York
Eli Manning is off to arguably the worst start of his career. He has thrown a league-high nine interceptions, most in his first four starts of a season.

His Total QBR of 30.0 ranks 29th in the league, worst in his first four starts to a season since 2006.

The Giants can’t stay on or get off the field, a recipe for a bad team. They have converted a league-low 23 percent of third-down plays, and they have allowed opponents to convert a league-high 50 percent on third down. That includes allowing the Chiefs to convert 9-of-16 third downs in Week 4.

The Giants' pass rush has been running on fumes all season. In fact, it extends into last season as New York has gone nine straight games without sacking the quarterback more than twice.

The last time the Giants had more than two sacks was Nov. 25, 2012, when they got to Aaron Rodgers five times in a 38-10 win.

Two of the four sacks they have this year have come with four or fewer pass rushers, or a sack on 1.9 percent of opposing QB dropbacks.

As recently as their 2011 Super Bowl season, the Giants' four-man pass rush sacked opposing quarterbacks on 7.3 percent of their dropbacks, tied for second in the league.

Giants ineffective on both sides of the ball

September, 17, 2013

Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesEli Manning has thrown a league-high seven interceptions this season.
The New York Giants dropped eight spots in the NFL Power Rankings after two games, sitting at No. 20 after starting the season at No. 12.

The drop was warranted from a statistical standpoint, as the Giants rate as one of the worst teams in the league.

With 14 games remaining though, there’s still plenty of time to turn the season around. But to do so, the Giants will need to fix some pretty glaring problems.

The Giants have committed a league-worst 10 turnovers through the first two weeks of the season, including seven interceptions by Eli Manning. No other quarterback has more than four interceptions this season.

Manning’s success has varied by targeted receiver. He has thrown one interception when targeting Victor Cruz, Brandon Myers and Hakeem Nicks this season, his three most targeted receivers so far.

That leaves Manning with six interceptions when throwing to all other Giants, including four when targeting Rueben Randle (three in Week 2).

Manning’s interceptions have even come on the simplest of plays. Two of Manning’s Week 1 interceptions came on screen passes. Only four quarterbacks have had multiple interceptions on screens in the last five seasons combined.

No run game
The Giants have run the ball 33 times this season for a league-low 73 yards (2.2 yards per rush, also the lowest).

Although the offensive line has struggled, the running back situation hasn’t helped. The Giants are one of three teams in the NFL to average less than one yard after contact on rushes this season.

David Wilson was supposed to be the answer for the Giants' running game, but with two fumbles on 14 rushes, he’s seen the field on only 34 percent of the Giants’ snaps.

No pass rush
New York allowed 77 points in their first two games this season, worst in the NFL. Last season, the Giants didn't allow their 77th point until their fifth game.

A big reason for the defensive struggles is a lack of pass rush, once the calling card of the Giants' defense.

They have relied heavily on a four-man pass rush in recent years. In the last three seasons, nearly 70 percent of their pass rushes have come on such pressure.

This season, the Giants have recorded a sack 2.9 percent of the time when sending four or fewer rushers. In the 2011 Super Bowl season that rate was 7.3 percent.

Manning brothers are statistical opposites

September, 15, 2013

Ron Antonelli/Getty ImagesPeyton Manning got the better of his younger brother, again.

Peyton Manning improved to 3-0 all-time against his younger brother Eli and the two quarterbacks have begun the season by taking their teams in opposite directions.

The Denver Broncos are 2-0 for the first time since 2009, the New York Giants 0-2 for the first time since 2007 (when they won the Super Bowl).

At game’s end on Sunday, Peyton Manning had the NFL lead in touchdowns and Eli Manning was at the top of the list in interceptions.

The best of starts for Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning has 769 passing yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions through two games.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that is the most passing yards and most touchdown throws without an interception through two games in NFL history.

The nine touchdowns are tied for the most through the first two games of a season for any NFL quarterback, matching the mark set by Charley Johnson in 1965 and tied by Drew Brees in 2009.

Peyton Manning finished 25-of-32 for 205 yards and two touchdowns on throws 10 yards downfield or fewer. Broncos receivers gained 116 yards after the catch on those short throws, their second-straight game with more than 115 yards after catch. Broncos receivers exceeded 115 yards after catch on short throws in only three games last year.

The Broncos are the sixth team in NFL history to score at least 90 points through two games, the first since the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in 2009.

The worst of starts for Eli Manning
Eli Manning is the first player to throw at least seven interceptions in his team's first two games of a season since Daunte Culpepper for the Minnesota Vikings in 2005 and the first with at least three interceptions in each of the first two games of the season since Chris Simms in 2006.

Manning’s deep ball was a big problem, as he completed 1-of-7 passes deeper than 20 yards downfield for 51 yards and two interceptions. Manning threw two interceptions all of last year on those throws, completing 41 percent of them.

Elias notes that the Giants 10 turnovers are their most through two games in team history.

Stat your case: Better receivers, Eli/Peyton?

September, 13, 2013

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesThe Mannings can both throw it, but which has the better teammates for catching it?

The Manning brothers take center stage Sunday when the Denver Broncos visit the New York Giants.

Which of the two has the better receiving corps to work with in 2013? Read our debate and cast your vote.

The case for Eli
The combination of Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, along with the emergence of Rueben Randle, gives Eli the best receiving corps in the family, and maybe the best in the NFL.

Since the start of the 2011 season, Eli Manning has thrown for the fifth-most yards in the NFL, and his ability to find Victor Cruz for big plays is a major reason for his success. Cruz has eight touchdowns of at least 50 yards in the last three seasons, two more than the next closest receiver in the league.

Which Manning brother has the better receiving corps in 2013?


Discuss (Total votes: 1,428)

While Cruz excels with big plays, his ability to put pressure on defenses from the slot position makes him a tough cover. Wes Welker is widely regarded as the best slot receiver in the NFL, but Cruz has six more touchdowns when lined up in the slot since the start of the 2011 season.

Hakeem Nicks was once Eli’s go-to-guy, but injuries have hampered him in the last few seasons. He caught 18 touchdowns between the start of the 2010 season and the end of 2011, tied for the fifth most in the league.

After catching a career-low three touchdowns in 2012, Nicks had 114 receiving yards in Week 1, his most since Week 2 of last season. His 22.8 yards per reception against the Cowboys was tied for the highest in his career, minimum five receptions.

The final reason why Eli has the better receivers is the emergence of Rueben Randle. He had one touchdown catch in his first 15 career games, but caught two in Week 16 last season and had his first career 100-yard receiving game in Week 1 this year.

Eli knows Randle can be the big-play threat to compliment Cruz and Nicks; 22 of Randle’s 38 career targets have come on throws of 10 or yards downfield.

The case for Peyton
Peyton Manning may have the best receiving corps in the league, let alone compared to Eli’s.

With the offseason acquisition of Wes Welker, Peyton has three receivers coming off of 1,000-yard seasons: Demaryius Thomas (1,434), Eric Decker (1,064) and Welker (1,354).

The last team to start a season with three receivers who had over 1,000 yards in the previous season was the 2009 Arizona Cardinals.

With his ability to rack up yards after the catch, Welker may end up being the big-play catalyst for the Broncos this season. His 4,098 yards after the catch is the most for any player since he joined the league in 2004 and he has the five highest single-season totals in yards after the catch since the beginning of 2001.

Last season, his 669 total yards after the catch were just ahead of his new teammate Thomas, who was second among receivers with 543.

Last season the Peyton-to-Demaryius combo was deadly on the deep ball. Peyton hit Thomas 11 times on balls thrown 25 yards or more downfield, tied with Drew Brees and Lance Moore for the most in the league.

Thomas was also one of three Broncos players to catch two touchdown passes from Peyton on the opening night of the season, along with Welker and Julius Thomas. According to Elias, it’s only the second time in NFL history that three teammates have each had two touchdown receptions in the same game.

There’s also Eric Decker, who has been a stalwart for the Denver receiving corps since joining the team in 2010. Decker’s 13 receiving touchdowns last season were second only to James Jones’ 14 among wide receivers, and were the most by a Broncos player in a single season since the beginning of 2001.

Giants questions may preclude step forward

July, 27, 2013

On Saturday, New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese said this before the team's first practice:

"All I know is that we've been in the playoffs one time in the last four years and that's really not acceptable for us."

SportsCenter is at Giants training camp on Sunday and will try to answer some of their most important offseason questions. Here are some of the topics they'll touch on:

Can Manning move past his poor 2012?
After seemingly cementing himself as one of the NFL’s “elite” QBs in the 2011 playoffs, Eli Manning's production slumped significantly in 2012, with his biggest issue being the inability to be successful on third down.

Manning's Total QBR of 34.6 on third down ranked 27th among NFL quarterbacks.

There were questions last year as to whether Manning got tired as games went on. He completed only 54 percent of his fourth-quarter passes in 2012, a decline of 13 percentage points from 2011.

Manning has thrown at least 15 interceptions in three straight seasons. He has an NFL-worst 56 interceptions over the last three seasons.

Will Cruz justify his new contract?
Victor Cruz, who entered this offseason as a restricted free agent, signed a five-year deal (with $15.6 million guaranteed) on July 9.

Cruz will earn $9 million annually over the first three years of the deal, making it tied for the 12th richest active contract for a WR.

Cruz had 2,628 receiving yards the last two seasons, fifth-most in the NFL. He leads the NFL in touchdown catches as a slot receiver in that span with 15.

Will Nicks earn a new deal
Cruz's receiving mate Hakeem Nicks is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Nicks' yards per game declined from 86.1 in 2011 to 53.2 last season.

Nicks has had to battle injuries. He's missed seven games over the last three seasons.

Cruz and Nicks are vital to the Giants success. Seventy percent of Manning's passes have been targeted at them over the last two seasons.

Can David Wilson replace Ahmad Bradshaw?
David Wilson should make the transition to full-time running back, replacing Ahmad Bradshaw.

Wilson led rookie running backs with an average of 5.0 yards per rush last season. He'll be trying to replace Bradshaw, who ranked ninth in the NFL in rushing touchdowns over the last three seasons with 23.

One thing to keep in mind: The Giants have won without a great rushing game. The 2011 Super Bowl champs ranked last in the NFL in rushing.

Will the pass rush return?
When the Giants won Super Bowl in 2011, they registered 34 sacks with four or fewer rushers, the second most in the NFL, a total that plunged to 21 sacks in 2012.

Their sack rate dropped from sixth-best in the league two seasons ago to 21st last season.

Osi Umenyiora, who had 75 sacks in 10 seasons with the Giants from 2003-12, signed with the Falcons in the offseason. He's one of three Giants with at least three sacks in 2012 who are no longer on the Giants roster.

Cruz's big plays warrant big payday

July, 8, 2013

Elsa/Getty Images Victor Cruz has the skill set to do a lot of damage.

On July 1, we told you what Victor Cruz needs to improve in his game in order to earn a new contract with the New York Giants.

Now that he's signed the deal (for a reported 6-years and $48 million), we tell you what Cruz has done well and should continue to do in order to again be one of the most productive receivers in the NFL.

In just three seasons, Cruz has made his mark on both the New York Giants and NFL record book. In 2011, he set the single season Giants receiving record with 1,536 yards.

Despite missing the 2010 season, Cruz has compiled the most receiving yards (2,628) in his first three seasons by an undrafted free agent since the AFL-NFL Merger in 1970.

Deep Threat
Cruz holds the record for the longest reception in Giants franchise history (99 yards, Dec. 24, 2011 vs. the Jets), and has made a habit of routinely breaking big gains on his opponents.

Cruz is known for his ability to tack on yardage after the catch. His 924 yards after the catch since 2011 lead the Giants and rank fourth-most among all NFC players. He’s also converted long gains into touchdowns with great success.

Over the last two seasons, Cruz has seven touchdown receptions of 40 yards or more. Only Jordy Nelson has more such receptions in that span with eight. In that same time span, Cruz is tied with Nelson for the most touchdown receptions of 25 yards or more.

Slot Machine
Of anywhere on the field, Cruz has really made the most of his talents out of the slot position, where he has been among the very best in the NFL since 2011.

This is evidenced by his league-leading 15 touchdowns out of the slot in that time span.

Looking at last season, Cruz led the NFL in TD receptions out of the slot, while also ranking first in slot receptions and total yards.

Since 2011, Cruz trails only the well-established slot-receiving threat Wes Welker in first-down receptions and yards after catch from the slot.

As far as being a deep threat out of the slot, Cruz was the NFL’s very best on plays of 20 or more yards downfield from that position over the last two seasons. No player has more receptions, touchdowns or yards on 20-plus yard plays from the slot than Cruz.

It’s safe to say the Giants hope the slot machine is open for business for many years to come.

Cruz has room for improvement

July, 1, 2013

Geoff Burke/USA Today SportsVictor Cruz provides lots of reasons to celebrate, but he's got some flaws to work on too.

Wide receiver Victor Cruz calmed the nerves of New York Giants fans when he signed a restricted free agent tender this summer and now reports are that he and the Giants will have a deal done before training camp begins.

Though Cruz has performed well the last few seasons, The Giants may be looking for something more from him.

It would be silly to deny Cruz is one of the most productive wideouts in the NFL. He is top ten in receptions, touchdowns and yards since 2011, not to mention he has a championship ring to his name already.

Cruz has a few faults, but the difference between production and efficiency shows that he has left opportunities on the field.

Here are some areas in which there is room for Cruz to get better.


Cruz had some trouble hanging on to the football last season.

In 2012, Cruz had the most dropped passes and the second-highest drop percentage among Giants with at least 10 targets. Only now-departed tight end Martellus Bennett dropped the ball at a higher rate than Cruz.

In the NFL, Cruz ranked 37th in drop percentage among 44 receivers with 100 targets.

Stretching the Field
With Hakeem Nicks on the roster, Victor Cruz has not needed to be a consistent deep threat.
Hakeem Nicks
Nicks led the Giants with an average target depth of 12.4 yards downfield last year. In fact, of the five Giant wide receivers with at least 10 targets, Cruz stretched the field the least with a 10.4-yard average target depth.

Along with being targeted closer to the line of scrimmage, Cruz struggled to create yards after contact, a helpful skill in the slot.

Of the nine Giants with at least 10 targets, Cruz finished last on the team in yards gained after contact per reception. He averaged 0.7 yards after contact per reception which tied for 37th in the NFL last season among 44 receivers with 100 targets.

Looking ahead
Cruz struggled down the stretch last season, with 88 combined yards in the final three games, the worst stretch of his career

The Giants traveled a similar road in 2011 with Steve Smith. Like Cruz, Smith was a Pro Bowl receiver that won a ring in New York. He eventually signed a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles where he caught just 11 passes in 2011, struggled with injuries, and retired from professional football after spending 2012 with the St. Louis Rams.

The Giants appear to have elected to stick it out with Cruz. We'll see if this proves to be a smart decision.

Impacts of Crabtree, Pierre-Paul injuries

June, 6, 2013

Harry How/Getty ImagesWith Crabtree out for six months due to injury, Colin Kaepernick will be without his favorite target.
The San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants both have high expectations for the 2013 season. However, both teams will face a difficult road at the start of the season as they deal with offseason injuries to two key players.

49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree tore his Achilles tendon in May and is expected to miss six months. Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants star defensive end, underwent back surgery this week and will be out at least 12 weeks.

Let’s take a look at how each injury affect the team.

Michael Crabtree
One of the big concerns for the 49ers following the loss of Crabtree is how it will affect the play of Colin Kaepernick, who loses his favorite target.

Including the playoffs, Kaepernick threw eight touchdowns and zero interceptions when targeting Crabtree last season. When targeting all other wide receivers, he threw just one touchdown and had four picks.

Crabtree was targeted on 40 percent of his pass routes with Kaepernick as a starter last season during Weeks 11-17. Over that span, only Brandon Marshall was targeted on a higher percentage of his pass routes.

Kaepernick targeted Crabtree more than twice as much as any other 49ers player last season.

The difference was even more pronounced in the red zone, where Kaepernick passed to Crabtree 13 times. No other 49ers player had more than four red zone targets from Kaepernick.

One of Crabtree’s best skills was his ability to work underneath and extend plays with his legs.

His average target depth decreased from 10.8 yards in 2009 to 7.6 yards in 2012, while his average yards after catch per reception has increased from 4.1 in 2009 to 6.2 last season.

Crabtree had 451 receiving yards on throws within five yards of the line of scrimmage last season, sixth most in the NFL.

With Crabtree drawing attention underneath, Kaepernick was among the NFL’s most effective quarterbacks on deep passes last season, ranking among the top three in Total QBR (99.5), completion percentage (53.7) and yards per attempt (14.8) on throws of 15 or more yards downfield.

Jason Pierre-Paul
After a breakout 2011 season with 16.5 sacks, fourth in the league, Pierre-Paul struggled to get to the quarterback last year with just 6.5 sacks. Five of those came with four or fewer pass rushers, compared to 11.5 in 2012.

Pierre-Paul was part of a Giants defense that failed to pressure the quarterback with any consistency last year. That squad had only 21 sacks when sending four or fewer rushers in 2012 after posting 34 with such pressure in 2011.

Even before JPP’s injury, the Giants took steps this spring to address their defensive issues. Although they lost Osi Umenyiora, Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard, New York added Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson at defensive tackle as well as projected pass-rusher Aaron Curry at linebacker.

The Giants also hope that draft picks Johnathan Hankins (defensive tackle from Ohio State) and Damontre Moore (defensive end from Texas A&M) can produce, though both have questions about whether they can contribute this season.