IN 2014 the G-men went 2-4 in the division and 6-10 overall. Both of these are regressions from 2013. The team started out cold at 0-2, battled back to 3-2, and then went cold again finishing 3-8 including a nationally televised, 27-0 dismantling, at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles. A game in which they lose WR Victor Cruz for the remaining 10 games.
The lone bright spot of the season was the emergence of WR Odell Beckham, who was pressed into more duty when Cruz went down.
This is where they were at seasons end. What follows is where they are as of 4/14/15.
QB: He’s not elite, but reports of Eli Manning’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Aside from a nightmarish 5 pick game vs. the 49ers, he really was much better at not turning the ball over last year. He doesn’t handle pressure well, but when his line gives him 3-4 seconds, he’s as accurate as ANY QB in the business. Oh yeah, and he started every game again, which is to say he hasn’t missed a game in a decade. (+)
RB: Rashad Jennings didn’t pan out like many expected, but with the poor run blocking up front, no Giants back looked very good last year. Jennings however didn’t help his case with being unable to stay healthy. This year they made a FA pick-up of former Patriot Shane Vereen. Vereen is a good pass catcher, but isn’t all that great as a rusher. Andre Williams is a workhorse type, but he’s completely unremarkable. So at this point their best rusher is the guy who they can’t count on to play. (-)
WR: When last season ended and we still had Jeremy Maclin, I still admitted that the Giants 2015 WR corps would the cream of the division. Today with Maclin gone, I eye the Giants group the way a Somalian would eye a cheesesteak: Big eyes filled with shimmering tears and boiling envy. While I don’t expect Victor Cruz to be back to his old self just yet, with Rueben Randle working the slot (which he prefers and is MUCH better at than playing outside) and Odell Beckham out there on the opposite side, this trio could be as dangerous a grouping as this division has seen since Monk, Clark and Sanders. (+)
TE: Manning loves to look for his TE’s in the red zone and last year the Giants top two caught 10 TD’s between them. While starter Larry Donnell is a gifted athlete, you know he drives an automatic, because he doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘clutch’. As a result he doesn’t “clutch the ball” and he fumbles in “clutch situations”. The back-up Daniel Fells is a one dimensional blocker type. He makes sneaky red TD grabs because teams don’t think to cover him, but outside of that he’s no threat. This is a productive position due to things around it, but don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s great. (+)
OL: Last year I said this group was a minus due to all of the turnover and the new system they installed. Well they didn’t prove me wrong as they allowed 30 sacks, and only managed to block for 3.6 yards per tote in the run game. Things don’t look any better for 2015, at least from a stability perspective, as last year’s 16 game starting C is now in Miami. Things may improve, but at this point, this unit is still a question mark. (-)
In a nutshell: The Giants Offense is built to play up top, but unlike the top offenses in this sport, they don’t possess the ability to “gear down”, and slug it out. It’s flashy and will sell a ton of tickets, but it won’t hold a lead against good teams. (-)
DE: This position is Jason Pierre-Paul and some guys. I’m sure some analyst somewhere thinks the George Selvie signing is a solid one, but he adds nothing they didn’t already have in Robert Ayers, and if Selvie sees serious playing time, that could stunt the development of a guy like Kerry Wynn. At present this is half of a position. (-)
DT: This position is 3 maybe 4 quality players deep. Eagles fans know what Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson bring to the table. On the other hand, the Giants have young gun Johnathan Hankins and just added man-mountain Kenrick Ellis a 4 year vet from the Jets, so they should be a problem inside if they can muster decent MLB play. (+)
OLB: When looking at this group all I can think is “They’re kidding, right?” (-)
MLB: Beyond Jameel McClain who had a career year last year, is Jon Beason. Beason has played all of 24 games in the last 5 years. There’s no depth here if McClain goes down. (-)
S: The Giants cleaned house here and now they have a bunch of young and already well-traveled DB’s. They did however keep SS Nate Berhe, who I think will pan out. (-)
CB: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a bit of a flake, but he’s a solid NFL player. Prince Amukamara had a biceps tear that cost him 8 games last year, but he should be back to full strength by camp. Besides those two, the position is a question mark in terms of talent, but there are a few guys there who have not only started NFL games, but have done so as Giants. (+)
In a nutshell: Most people may want to give the Giants a pass with them hiring a new DC in Steve Spagnuolo. Not me. This team may be good against the run, but it lacks the ability to step on the gas and get after anybody. Let’s see if they get a pass rusher or a FS in this year’s Draft. However with this many holes right now, I gotta say (-)
P: Steve Weatherford should be back next season. He has some competition in Rob Malone, but it would be a surprise if Weatherford were unseated. (+)
K: Josh Brown is 35 but he’s coming off of a solid season. Meanwhile his only competition is as pale green as celery. (+)
RS: My guess is that Giants coaches will be itching to give Preston Parker’s roster spot away to pretty much anyone. Enter former Cowboy Dwayne Harris. (-)
Bottom Line: This is a team that was built from the outside/in. They’re simply not built for a 16 week fight. They aren’t physically or mentally tough enough, and the NFC East is no place for the weak. I’m thinking 5-6 wins here.