New York Giants: 2015 Outlook

 
 
 
 
Football > Teams > NFC East > Giants > Outlook

New York Giants

By Shawn Childs, Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Giants have been on the decline over the past two years and haven't made the playoff since 2011, when they won the Super Bowl. Their offense bounced back to finish 13th in scoring (380 points) and 10th in total yards (367.2 per game) after they ranked 28th in both categories in 2013. Tom Coughlin returns for his 12th season as the head coach. He is 96-80 with Giants and has claimed two Super Bowl titles. He has a career record of 164-140 through 19 seasons. Ben McAdoo returns for his second season as the offensive coordinator after helping improve the offense in 2014. Steve Spagnuolo has returned to be the defensive coordinator. He held the same position for the Giants in 2007 and 2008. New York won the Super Bowl in that latter year. Spagnuolo spent three years as the head coach of the St. Louis Rams. He was the defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints in 2012 and spent the past couple of campaigns with the Baltimore Ravens. Last year, the Giants allowed the fourth-most yards (375.8 per game) and the 10th-most points (400). New York has made the playoffs 15 times and has won four Super Bowls over the past 34 years.

Free Agency

Starting center J.D. Walton left to play for the Miami Dolphins. He struggled in run and pass blocking during his fifth season.

Safety Antrel Rolle signed with the Chicago Bears, and safety Stevie Brown moved on to the Houston Texans. Rolle is at the end of his career. Last year, he struggled in run support. Brown delivered below-league-average value as a part-time player. Cornerback Zackary Bowman, now with the Dolphins as well, struggled in pass coverage as a part-time player. Linebacker J.T. Thomas had no value against the run in his first season with starter snaps playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Defensive end George Selvie was brought aboard for depth on the D-line. Last year with the Dallas Cowboys, he registered just three sacks, but he was a solid force against the run.

Shane Vereen was added to upgrade the Giants' passing game out of the backfield. The change-of-pace back will have upside on third and long-distance downs. Dwayne Harris was signed for his dangerous kick return skills and to possibly be another receiving option for Eli Manning.

Draft

In the first round, the Giants drafted guard Ereck Flowers. He has high upside as a run blocker due to his quickness and plus strength. His pass-blocking skills will improve with better technique.

With their second pick, New York added safety Landon Collins, who will add a physical presence to the run defense; he is at his best attacking the line of scrimmage. He has decent speed, but Collins can't keep up with receivers who have deep speed, plus he needs to add some strength.

DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa was selected in the third. He showed plus athleticism, speed and quickness at this year's combine, but his talents don't always translate on to the field. He will have value against the run. His pass-rushing techniques need improvement.

The Giants drafted safety Mykkele Thompson in the fifth round. He'll add plus speed to the position but has questionable quickness and strength.

New York added wide receiver Geremy Davis in the sixth. He has plus strength and good route-running skills but not much speed. Davis, at 6 feet 2, 216 pounds, may add value at the goal line.

In the last round, the Giants went for guard Bobby Hart. He is slow-footed and must get stronger. His best contributions will come in the run game.



New York Giants OT Ereck Flowers

Offensive Line

The Giants finished 23rd in rushing with 1,603 yards. Their RBs averaged only 3.6 yards per carry and scored 13 touchdowns.

Left tackle Will Beatty was a much better pass protector in 2014 (three sacks, 10 QB hits and 19 QB hurries) than in 2013 (13 sacks, seven QB hits and 39 QB hurries). Will tends to be an asset in the run game. However, he will probably miss the first couple of months this season after tearing a pectoral muscle in May.

Left guard Justin Pugh showed growth in his pass protection last year after struggling as a rookie, but he still allowed six sacks. He offered negative value in run blocking after playing well in this area in 2013.

Center Weston Richburg didn't play well in his rookie season after the Giants took him in the second round. He showed weaknesses in run and pass blocking. Weston allowed two sacks, seven QB hits and 16 QB hurries.

Right guard Geoff Schwartz played in just two games last season due to toe and ankle injuries. In his career, Geoff has been a good run blocker with league-average value in pass protection.

Flowers is actually filling in for Beatty right now at left tackle. Marshall Newhouse has been kicked in at right tackle.

This line clearly has some risk. Manning's quick release helps minimize the sack count (only 30 last year), but he can't help the small running lanes this line creates. New York really needs Flowers to make an impact in his rookie season. Overall, this line has a couple of solid players and a few question marks.

Schedule: Offense

The above chart shows the Giants' 2015 offensive strength of schedule in terms of rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA) and passing touchdowns (TDS).

This information is based on 2014 stats, which we will work with as our starting point for 2015. We'll look at all the changes on offense for each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades each team has made on the defensive side. We'll update this table when we finish researching all 32 teams.

2014 Average: The league average of each stat from all 32 teams in 2014.

2014 Results: The results for each specific team in the NFL.

2015 Adjustment: The difference between a team's result and the league average in a certain statistic. This number will show if a team is above or below the league average in each stat and will serve as the basis for the strength of schedule.

The Giants will face one tough run defense -- the New York Jets -- and one weak run defense -- the New Orleans Saints. The most favorable matchups for their passing game will be the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles (twice). The toughest matchups in this area are the Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers.

Offense

Running backs accounted for 16.2 percent of Manning's completions. Tight ends accounted for 22.2 percent. The wide receivers caught 241 passes for 3,140 yards and 19 touchdowns.

There is one reason and one reason only why Manning had a bounce-back season in 2014. That reason goes by the name of Odell Beckham. Eli recorded the second-best season of his career (4,410 passing yards, 30 TDs). He set career highs in completions (379), pass attempts (601) and completion percentage (63.1). Manning had three 300-yard games and one 400-yarder. He had three games with at least three touchdowns. This season, he'll have Beckham for the entire year, but with Victor Cruz recovering from major knee surgery, Rueben Randle is his only other strong receiving option. Manning racked up the stats last year because the Giants couldn't run the ball and were brutal on defense. I'm sure the Giants would like for their offense to be more balanced, so don't expect a repeat from Eli. He should still reach 4,000 yards and at least 28 scores. He's a borderline top-10 Fantasy QB.


New York Giants QB Eli Manning

In Week 3, Jennings ran for 176 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries. That was the high point of his season. A bad ankle sprain cost him five games and limited him in two others. Rashad had six games with 20 touches or more. He averaged 3.8 yards per carry, which was a step back from 2013 (4.5 YPC). His lack of success was partly due to poor O-line play. He's a talented player but one with injury risk. Plus, Shane Vereen will cut into his receiving numbers. Jennings will even lose some carries at the goal line to Andre Williams. Even if healthy for a full season, I think Jennings will get only 225 touches, about 1,000 total yards, 30 catches and a small handful of TDs. That puts him in low-end RB2 territory.

Shane has high upside as a pass catcher and could very easily emerge as the Giants' third receiving option behind Beckham and Randle. Over the past two years, Vereen has caught 99 passes for 874 yards in 24 games with the New England Patriots. He won't provide much on the ground, especially with Jennings and Williams on the roster. He should be in line for about 100 touches, 550 yards and a few TDs. He'll have more production if injuries continue to get the best of Jennings.


New York Giants RB Shane Vereen

Andre's senior season at Boston College was impressive (2,177 yards on 355 carries with 18 TDs), but it was a huge step up from his previous resume, and he was helped by a powerful offensive line. Williams is pure power back with very little wiggle. He looks stiff while running upright, but he has surprising, 4.56 40 speed for a 230-pound back, especially when he breaks into the second level of the defense. Andre will break arm tackles and finishes his runs with power. He has excellent leg drive and good vision. His hands had no value in college (10 career catches for 60 yards). His hands were better than expected at the combine, but he's still not much of a receiver. His value could be hit or miss in the NFL. His style won't work behind a poor offensive line, but he could be electric in the right offense with a plus blocking scheme. There wasn't a lot excitement in the Williams' game during his rookie year. He finished with the most touches on the team (235), but Andre averaged only 3.3 yards per rush. Williams started to show growth in two of his last four games when he had a pair of 100-yard outings. New York gave him 20-plus carries in three of his 16 games. I expect growth in 2015, but he'll enter the year as the Giants' No. 2 early-down back behind Jennings. Andre has a chance to grab 150 touches, 600-plus yards and lead the team in rushing touchdowns. He has low upside, but he's a must-own handcuff if you draft Jennings.

After missing the first four games due to a hamstring injury, Beckham was eased into action in Weeks 5 and 6, catching six of his nine targets for 72 yards with a TD. Cruz's injury opened the door for Beckham, who was a starter in the final 10 games of the season. In those contests, Beckham caught 85 of 121 targets for 1,233 yards and 11 TDs. His projected 16-game line included a ridiculous 136 catches, 1,973 yards and 18 scores. As impressive as his entire rookie season was, Odell played at a level never seen in the NFL over his final four games (43 catches, 606 yards and seven touchdowns on 73 targets). A 16-game projection of that stretch would spit out insane stats. To me, he has the same skill set as Antonio Brown, but Beckham has more upside as Manning has fewer options than Ben Roethlisberger. Odell should be in position to catch 120-plus passes for 1500-plus yards and a dozen or more TDs. His value is just behind the top three-down RBs. Beckham will be a top-five pick this summer.


New York Giants WR Odell Beckham

Beckham's emergence was the best thing that happened to Randle. It took coverage away from him as the Giants' No. 2 WR. Over the past two years, Randle struggled to beat the top cornerbacks when he was asked to be the No. 1 guy. Rueben saw double-digit targets in seven weeks last season but scored just three times. Over his final seven games, Randle had three 100-yard games. As Beckham was tearing up defenses, Randle caught 12 of 19 targets for 290 yards and one TD over the last two games. His game has improved in each of his three seasons. I expect Rueben to catch 80 passes, score a half dozen TDs and reach 1,000 yards for the first time. He has an excellent chance of finishing 2015 as a top-25 WR.

Cruz's 2014 season ended abruptly in Week 6 when he tore the patellar tendon in his right knee. The early reports suggest Victor will be ready for Week 1, but I have a tough time believing he will play at a high level early in the year. His value faded over the final 10 games of 2013 when he caught 47 passes for 523 yards and no TDs on 79 targets. Cruz topped 100 yards in two of his six games last season but amassed just 12 catches and 122 yards in the four others. If/when he returns, Victor will need to earn his way up the pecking order in this passing game. As good as his resume looks, Cruz may be a trap for those who invest. His early ADP is 91 overall, making him the 36th WR off the board. I see him as nothing more than a flier with more risk than reward.


New York Giants WR Victor Cruz

In his four years with Dallas, Harris caught 33 of 57 targets for 418 yards and three touchdowns. Most of his value will come as a kick returner. Harris has returned 87 punts for 965 yards and two TDs in his career. He has returned 77 kickoffs for 2,040 and no scores. He'll have occasional value in four-receiver sets, but Harris has no upside in the Fantasy market.

Donnell was a nice surprise for Fantasy owners in 2014. He caught 63 of his 92 targets (68.4 percent) for 623 yards and six TDs. Over the first four weeks of the year, Larry was a big part of the Giants' game plan. He caught 25 of his 31 targets for 236 yards and four TDs. From that point on -- especially after his three-touchdown outburst in Week 4 -- defenses became aware of his presence. He caught only 38 passes for 387 yards and two TDs over the final 12 games. His final stat line will draw some interest in the Fantasy market, but his career path and college resume suggest his upside is limited. Overall, Donnell had only two games with more than 60 yards receiving and only four games with at least six catches. I don't see him as a top-12 TE this season. He should catch about 55 balls for 500-plus yards and a handful of touchdowns.


New York Giants TE Larry Donnell

Brown hasn't been a top-10 Fantasy kicker since 2010. Over his last three seasons, Josh has made 58 of 64 field goal tries (87.5 percent) while making six of eight from 50 yards or longer. His leg has been well above the league average from that long range in his career (34 for 51). Brown has high upside if given a lot of field goal chances. Last year, New York scored 44 TDs and 24 FGs on their 195 possessions. I respect his leg, and the Giants will stall in the red zone due to their so-so run blocking. Josh will have value as a matchup play.

The Giants will have seven matchups against above-average rushing offenses. They play three teams with weak rushing attacks -- the Falcons, Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But are expected to be improved with LeSean McCoy now on the roster. New York has four games against solid aerial offenses – the Saints, Falcons and two versus the Eagles. They have four games versus teams with weak passing attacks -- the 49ers, Bucs, Jets and Vikings.

New York allowed the third-most rushing yards last season (2,162) as opposing ball carriers gained 4.9 yards per rush and scored 15 TDs on the ground.

DE Jason Pierre-Paul regained his top form in 2014. He played at a high level against the run and recorded 13 sacks, nine QB hits and 38 QB hurries. DT Johnathan Hankins, a second-round pick in 2013 played well in his second year, notching eight sacks, six QB hits and 21 QB hurries. He was also strong against the run. The right side of the Giants' D-line has upside; their weakness lies on the left. New York doesn't have one player of value starting at the other defensive tackle position. DE Robert Ayers was playing at a high level as a pass rusher (five sacks, 12 QB hits and 29 QB hurries) before his season ended in Week 14 due to a torn pec. He was below average versus the run.

Linebacker Devon Kennard played well a a rookie after moving into the starting lineup in Week 11. Devon had five sacks through Weeks 13-15. Middle linebacker Jon Beason hasn't played well since 2010 because of myriad injuries. His 2014 season was marred by a toe ailment that required surgery. There is no player here who offers any real upside at the third linebacker spot.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie graded out as the Giants' best cover corner in 2014. He allowed 42 catches for 492 yards and five TDs on 74 passing attempts. Former first-rounder Prince Amukamara allowed 26 catches, 373 yards and no TDs on 44 targets. His season was ended by a torn biceps in Week 9. Landon Collins is expected to start at strong safety. He will add more value in run support than in coverage. Safety Cooper Taylor has played in only two games in his two-year career. He missed all of last season following foot surgery in August. Cooper has plus size and could be another asset in run defense.

The Giants had the fourth-most sacks in 2014 (47), but injuries and their lack of talent in the back seven led to them allowing 8 yards per pass attempt. They ranked 18th in pass defense and gave up 25 TDs. They were the third-worst team against the run.

This defensive line has three talented players who can get after the quarterback. The dearth of quality at the linebacker positions will create plenty of risk against the run and in pass coverage. The Giants have two respectable cornerbacks, so much of the damage against them through the air will be done by tight end and No. 3 wideouts. If the front line doesn't give opposing QBs much time to throw, that will cover up many flaws. New York's defense doesn't have top-10 upside; it will be playable against teams with weak passing attacks.