By Michael Stewart @golferbad
The Report Card: Mid Season
Introduction: The New York Giants are 1-7 entering their bye week and this midseason report card will shed some light on who’s to blame. There’s a lot of blame to go around with many players underperforming; here’s a look at the New York Giants midseason grades for each position:
Quarterback: There’s no denying that Eli Manning is not the same quarterback that won the last two Super Bowls for the Giants. However; placing the blame totally on his shoulders and stating that he’s done is not a fair assessment. Manning is on pace for 4000 yards; which he has accomplished six times and last in 2016.
The problem is that Manning’s mobility has gotten worse and it’s really coming into play this season; along with his inability to extend the field when he does have time in the pocket. Manning’s short outlet passes are fine, but he is going to the well too much; which is making the Giants passing game very predictable for opposing teams.
The offensive line has played a major role in the final results of Manning’s overall performance, and I’ll get to them soon. Manning certainly doesn’t get a free pass as he has had many moments of freezing in the pocket; which is a result of watching the rush instead of the receivers. Also, he missed some wide open receivers this season as well.Grade: C-
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: This group is led by Odell Beckham who had a slow start, but has picked up over the last several games. Sterling Shepard is on pace for a 1000 yard season (along with Beckham), however; Evan Engram has been a disappointment thus far and needs to pick it up in the second half. Aside from these players, there’s really not much to add regarding the rest of the receiving unit. Grade: C+
Running Backs: Saquon Barkley is on pace to collect 2000 total yards and 15 touchdowns, despite the poor play of the offensive line (more on them later). He is the first running back in Giants history to be a threat on every play; whether it’s on the ground or through the air.
Barkley has half of the Giants total touchdowns with 7 and is also on pace to have 100 receptions; which has never been accomplished by a Giants running back. Although I haven’t been counting, I would say that Barkley leads the league in yards after first contact and making more tacklers miss. He is on pace to do all this playing behind an offensive line that has struggled all season. Grade A
Offensive Line: This was a concern before the start of the season. All of the Giants offensive problems can be found right here. This unit is a mess and to be honest, they need to replace everyone with the exception of rookie Will Hernandez. The Nate Solder signing started out fine, but even the reliable left tackle has struggled lately.
Not being able to win the battles in the trenches has affected the Giants inability to stretch the field. Let’s not forget the lack of running lanes for Barkley who seems to be running for his life on every touch. The rest of the group is not even worth mentioning, so expect Gettleman to continue this daunting task of rebuilding the offensive line. Grade D
Defensive Line: The departure of Damon Harrison will likely affect the Giants against the run as Harrison was arguably the best run stopper among the tackles in the NFL. The Giants have only 11 sacks at the halfway point, compared to surrendering 27. The Giants are led by two rookies in sacks with 2 (Lorenzo Carter & B.J Hill); which is nice to see production from your rookies, but it also shows lack of production from players that were expected to perform such as Olivier Vernon. Grade C
Linebackers: This season was supposed to be the return of the Giants linebackers; which was lacking during former GM Jerry Reese’s tenure. Instead, this group has played marginal and at times inconsistent. They are not making big plays and sometimes…they don’t make plays at all. Ogletree, Goodson, Martin and Vernon have not lived up to expectations. Changes will be made if they don’t turn it around in the 2nd half. Grade C
Secondary: This was also a concern I had in the offseason and unfortunately this unit has played as I expected. Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple (before being traded) were inconsistent and played soft at the corner position. Neither is solid in man to man coverage; which forces the Giants to play too much zone. Landon Collins may not be playing at Pro Bowl caliber, but he has done a good job overall for the Giants. Unfortunately; this can not be said for Curtis Riley who won the job out of training camp and has looked lost at times and his tackling skills resembles former safety Darian Thompson. Grade D
Special Teams: Before the season if you asked me if the Giants kicking/punting game would rank as one of their top 3 in performance this season; I would have most likely said “no”. However; kicker Aldrick Rosas and Riley Dixon have been bright spots on an otherwise dismal first half. Rosas is 17/18 in field goals, missing only a 50+ yarder. Dixon is averaging 47 yards per punt with a net of 41.7; which means he has some serious hang time. He also already has eight inside the 20 yard line and teams are only averaging 7.6 per return. Grade A
It’s not pretty and it’s not a surprise why the Giants are in last place with a 1-7 record. The second half will feature some new faces auditioning for more playing time not only for this season but also in 2019.
Gettleman has his work cut out for him as he tears down the current roster and rebuilds through free agency and mostly through the draft. Gettleman is stockpiling draft picks and expect him to add more before the 2019 draft. Currently, the Giants have roughly $33M in cap space and that total will certainly increase in the offseason. I understand his decision was to win now with Manning at quarterback and drafting Saquon Barkley in the 1st round.
Unfortunately; it hasn’t worked out regardless of who is to blame, so get ready Giant fans and keep your pencil sharpened. Change is coming, there will be a lot of new faces on the Giants 53 man roster in 2019.