LAST year…The giants went 4-2 in the division and improved from 6-10, to 11-5 and a playoff appearance. The 284 points they allowed were the lowest in the division, but they also posted the fewest scored with only 310. Still, rookie head coach Ben McAdoo seemed to hit the ground running.
That was last year. The following is how the team looks today, prior to the Draft….
Eli Manning is the unquestioned starter for this team. Last year, (for the seven millionth year in a row) he started all 16 games and threw for 4,000 yards. His 2015 numbers were so close to his 2014 numbers that it borders on creepy. After two consistent years in Ben McAdoo’s offense, it’s safe to assume 4,400 yards, 30 TD’s and 14 Ints from Manning. Behind Manning sits Maytag repairman, Ryan Nassib. (+)
I wrote that about this position last year, and in 2016 Manning posted 4,027 yards. 26 TD, and 16 picks. He’s clockwork. Geno Smith crossed the hallway to what has to be a better situation for both him and the giants That is, provided that Smith doesn’t owe any teammates any money. (+)
Okay so at the moment Paul Perkins looks like the guy they’re going with in 2017. They can’t be serious about that because not only is Perkins not built to be a primary back (208lbs), but his longest run in 112 carries last year, was for 22 yards. In 127 touches he didn’t manage to find paydirt even once. Shane Vereen is returning from injuring the same triceps twice in one season. That has to raise concerns about his ability to catch passes, if he can’t reliably extend his arm. FYI: Vereen has more receiving yards and scores, than rushing yards and scores, to this point in his career. Catching passes is the cornerstone of his game. The remaining RB’s are just guys at this point. The departure of Rashad Jennings seems to indicate that at some point N.Y. will draft a RB high this year. (-)
Last year it was Odell Beckham and whatever was left of Victor Cruz. This year it’s Beckham and whatever is left of Brandon Marshall. Beckham is talented, but is a headcase. Given Marshall’s diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, you have to wonder if working closely with someone like Beckham is the right thing for him. When you add the pressure of playing in a tougher division, and for the team that New York fans and media actually care about… Given the obvious decline in his durability and skills, it doesn’t seem like a good look for Marshall at all. Slot receiver Sterling Shepard gives Manning a nifty place to go with the ball in the red zone, but he’s less of an every down threat and far more of a situational player. This group can be explosive in one of two ways, and one way could wreck the entire team, not just the offense. (-)
Last year I said that Will Tye would be a disappointment and that’s exactly what happened. So the giants went out and upgraded, right? Wrong. Well maybe. It depends on what their plan is. They added former Viking, Rhett Ellison. He isn’t exactly a weapon as a receiver, but is an accomplished blocker. His signing may signal that the team is tweaking their expectation of the position. If that’s true then my evaluation of this position may be suspect this year. (Yeah, I can admit that.) I can’t give a position that may be in flux a passing grade, but I am by no means taking a hard line on this overall grade. (-)
Pass protection improved again as last year Manning was sacked just 21 times, as opposed to 27 the year before. The downside was the yards per rush dropping from 4 yards per crack to just 3.5. To address that, former Charger RT D.J. Fluker was signed. Fluker can be exposed in pass pro, but can be an absolute mauler in the run game. (+)
In a nutshell:
The right side of the offensive line is screaming that something fundamental just shifted in the New York offense. The addition of Fluker and Ellison more than hint at the giants looking to be more physical. One of the last things the NFC East needs is Eli Manning behind a power running game. Currently the giants lack the RB needed to pull this all together, but this Draft is loaded with guys who’d easily fit that role. While this offense is full of holes, it could be patched enough for another playoff berth, despite a tougher schedule this year. That being said, due to a host of personality conflicts, getting this unit on one page may be the hardest part of McAdoo’s job. (-)
Jason Pierre-Paul (7.0 sacks) and Olivier Vernon (8.5) are the giants pass rush. I said they would be competent but not great, and that’s what happened. There are a few bodies here, but not much that you would call depth in the event that JPP or Vernon were out for a game or three. (+)
This position was a pillar for this team last year but without Johnathan Hankins in the middle, they are gonna have problems. It will be easier to consistently double-team Damon Harrison, as Jay Bromely lacks the power to assist there. Not only will they find it harder to defend the run, but the pass rush is likely going to suffer. At the moment Hankins is a Free Agent so he could very well end up back on the team. However if it were that easy, he likely wouldn’t have tested Free Agency to begin with. (-)
Jonathan Casillas was his usual, consistent self last year. He made tackles. Devon Kennard also made a few tackles. In fact, you might say that Kennard made too few (61), given that he started 9 of the 16 games he played. Remember Pepper Johnson and Carl Banks? Even today, if you say “LT” everyone knows who you’re talking about. Today if you mention the words “giants linebacker” or one by name, no one even shrugs. (-)
Unani Unga, Keenan Robinson and Kelvin Sheppard. Last year they were all chasing the starting job. Today only Robinson (who just re-signed) is on the roster. He made 6 starts last year, so odds are that he’ll get the nod over Deontae Skinner. However, the lack of interest Robinson generated as a Free Agent is not to be overlooked. (-)
In 2016 SS Landon Collins had 125 tackles, 5 picks and 4 sacks. Jesus! If they had a second Safety to go with him, this position would be scary. FS Andrew Adams has to be graded on curve due to having been a rookie. They also added a couple guys whose resumes seem to only consist of being cut by Seattle. Other than Collins, there doesn’t seem like much to be excited over. It literally is an “avoid this one, pick on the rest” situation here. Until that changes, there is no way even ardent fans of this team can sign-off on this position. (-)
The giants started 3 corners for much of 2016 and it seemed to work well for them. “Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a total flake, but he’ll hurt you if you get careless with the ball around him”. I said that last year, and DRC proved my point with 6 picks in 2016. Janoris Jenkins chipped in with 3 thefts. Native Philadelphian and lifelong Eagles fan, Eli Apple started 11 games as a rookie. This trio gives the giants a measure of depth that they lacked going into last season. This position has come up. (+)
In a nutshell:
In spite of an appalling lack of depth on this side of the ball, the giants defense played pretty well last year. They established things to build on. Then they lost some key starters to compound a still existing depth issue. They lost their key DT and there is no MLB. You can’t see it, but there is a huge sucking wound in the middle of this defense. Like a black hole, it will negatively impact everything surrounding it. Barring a Draft miracle, a surprise trade, or Johnathan Hankins caving on his salary demands, you can expect this to be a bottom ranked unit in 2017. (-)
For a second straight year Brad Wing made improvements in both his punting average and his net average. His Fair Caught to Returned Punts ratio gives reason for concern though. In 2015 it was 21 : 30, in 2016 it skyrocketed to 16 : 37. That may be why so many of his punts were finding their way out of bounds. Last year he put 12 OOB, which his more than twice what his career total was (5) until last year. He’s still getting the job done, but he looks like he may have been rattled on some level. (+)
Tom Obarski. An untested, 177 pound Kicker, cutting his NFL teeth kicking against NY/NJ ocean wind, in front of NY fans and their rivals. He may one day be a household name, but as of today, he’s a liability. (-)
I wrote that last year, but Obarski didn’t kick for N.Y. last year. Instead that job was split between Josh Brown and Robbie Gould. Neither is a giant today. Today the only Kicker on the roster is Aldrick Rosas. An untested, 195 pound Kicker, cutting his NFL teeth kicking against NY/NJ ocean wind, in front of NY fans and their rivals. He may one day be a household name, but as of today, he’s a liability. (-)
In 2015 WR Dwayne Harris brought back both a punt and a kickoff for TD’s, while averaging 10.0 and 28.7 yards per return, respectively. Beyond Harris there isn’t much help in either category, and with him also entertaining fantasies of being a real WR, you have to wonder how effective Pinocchio will continue to be as a returner. I have to give this a plus grade now, but that could (and likely will) go off a cliff real fast if Harris splits time as the #2 WR.
I said that last year, and the result was that Harris sucked both as a WR and as RS. Then again so did anyone else they let do the job. (-)
In a nutshell:
The giants clearly don’t think much of special teams and that will likely cost them not only the hidden yardage game, but some games outright next year. There has been no change to their Special Teams coaching since 2007 (Tom Quinn) nor a player brought in to help with a weak unit. (-)
The giants went to the playoffs last year, and were quickly shown THE DOOR. They had no business being there and everyone knew it. All indications are that they will fall back to Earth in 2017. They have some pieces on offense, but their defense and special teams are a mess. I always say about the giants, that they will be as good as the rest of the division lets them be. This year it seems every team in the division besides N.Y. has something to prove. So I wouldn’t count on the level of generosity that the giants benefited from last year.