New York Giants: 1st Half Report Card
By Michael Stewart
Well, the Giants are almost halfway through the season and I figured it would be fitting to grade their 1st half performance. The Giants record is currently 4-3 with 9 games remaining; which puts them in last place in the NFC East. The Giants could easily be either 5-2 or 2-5 based on how you view the 1st half. Regardless; this team has had an up and down 1st half and if they have any thoughts of making the playoffs; they need to go at least 7-2 in the 2nd half…which doesn’t seem likely.
Quarterback: Eli Manning is having a sub-par season in my opinion and hasn’t shown a consistent play that one would expect from him. His Raw QBR is 59.7 and his total QBR is 58.5; which currently ranks 17th in the NFL. With 6 INTS and only 8 TD’s, Manning’s performance has been at best marginal and needs to improve if this team has any shot at the playoffs. Final Grade: C+
Offensive Line: Before the start of the season, the Giants OL was ranked at #20 by Pro Football Focus. I would think their ranking has slipped since then to the bottom 5. LT Ereck Flowers is still finding his way has been better thus far over last season (which is not saying much). Weston Richburg and Justin Pugh had solid seasons in 2015, yet have not equaled that production this season. The remaining two OL for the Giants; John Jerry and Marshall Newhouse have been the weak links. Final Grade: D
Wide Receivers: This is probably the best position in terms of talent and depth on the roster. OBJ leads this group and despite having a rough beginning (temper tandrums) has picked up his game and is on pace to match last season totals. The return of Victor Cruz and the addition of rookie Sterling Shepard have given the Giants a three-head monster at the WR position. As expected, all three rank in the top 3 in receptions and yardage. If only the Giants had a solid OL, their performance would be better. Final Grade: B-
Running Backs: I was tempted to not include the running backs because they have been basically a non-factor in the 1st half. Averaging only 70.3 yards per game and 3.3 per carry is embarrassing. A lot of this stems from the lack of talent on the OL, but the running backs still need to share some of the blame. Final Grade: D-
Tight Ends: The current Giant TE’s (Will Tye, Larry Donnell and Jerell Adams) have a total of 36 receptions for 183 yards. Understandably, the featured offensive weapons are the WR’s and rightly so. However; the Giants need to get this group going as opponent are focusing on the WR’s. There is some talent here, definitely not a Bavaro or Shockey type, but all three can contribute more than they have thus far. Final Grade: C
Defensive Line: The Giants GM Jerry Reese invested a ton of money in the off season to improve the talent level on defensive. The top 3 targets were CB Janoris Jenkins, DE Oliver Vernon & DT Damon Harrison. Currently the Giants rank 22nd overall on defense; which is a disappointment for the amount of money invested. If the Giants have any hope of reaching the playoffs for the 1st time since their last Super Bowl Championship (2011). The defense needs to play at a higher level and means more sacks & big plays; which hasn’t been the case in the 1st half of the season. Final Grade: C
Linebackers: Basically halfway through the 1st half the Giants LBers have played better than anyone had expected. Leading the way is Jonathan Casillas who is having a solid season and leads all LBers in tackles by a wide margin with 56. Keenan Robinson, Devon Kennard and Kelvin Sheppard have all contributed better than expected. Despite their surprising success, I’m not about to proclaim any Pro Bowlers among them, but for the most part this group has achieved more than disappoint in the 1st half. Final Grade: C+.
Cornerbacks: On paper, this group was considered the best group the Giants have had in past years with DRC, Jenkins, Hall and Apple. However; the Giants annual injury bug once again claimed it’s victim at the CB position and the Giants were forced to go with players off the practice squad over the last several games. Hopefully; the bye week will help with the healing process and give the Giants a full squad. Final Grade: C
Safeties: Included in the injury bug, the safety position has suffered as well with Nat Berhe and Darian Thompson as the top two casualties. However; 2nd year Safety Landon Collins is emerging as a force with an all Pro performance against the Rams with 2 INTs (one went for a 44 yard return) and 8 solo tackles. Collins has been solid in most of the games and leads the Giants in tackles with 57. If this group had remained healthy in the 1st half, they would have gotten the best grade, unfortunately this was not the case. Final Grade: C+
Special Teams: Dwayne Harris had a solid 1st half with a 28.7 average on kickoffs with a 6.4 average on punts. The Giants hope that Harris can extend his success and perhaps improve upon it with a couple of returns in the 2nd half. K Josh Brown was having a typical season with 11/12 on FG and 9/9 on extra points. However; the Giants with a little push from the NFL offices suspended Josh Brown indefinitely due to domestic violence; which they should have done much sooner. Now the kicking duties will be handled by Robbie Gould who is the Bears all-time leading scorer. Final Grade: B
Final Thoughts: With all three division rivals ahead of the Giants in the standings; the Giants margin of error is very narrow and with 4 games remaining within the division (Dallas-1/Eagles-2/Rekskins-1) The Giants need to win at least 3 to have any chance of making the playoffs. It certainly won’t be easy as they will face the Eagles after the bye. The same Eagles that beat the Vikings convincingly. Dallas is not the same team the Giants faced to open the season; especially rookies Prescott and Elliott. The Redskins already proved they can beat the Giants earlier in the season and will face them at home. So basically; all the pieces need to fall together perfectly in the 2nd half.
That’s a lot to ask from a team that plays for the most part inconsistently.