New York Giants 2014-15 Team Preview
The New York Giants had one of the busiest and most productive offseasons. After winning seven of its final 10 contests, the team erased the worries that followed an 0-6 start to the season. The team missed the playoffs for the fourth year in five seasons, and the offense was a flop last season.
Coach Tom Coughlin has three new assistants and a lot of new roster additions. QB Eli Manning has fallen into a lot of criticism, and his Superbowl victories seem like ages ago. Can the Giants turn it around before all faith is lost?
Odds to win Superbowl: 40/1
Odds to win NFC: 25/1
Odds to win NFC East: +350
Betting Odds courtesy of Bovada
The Giants will implement a new offensive playbook this season, as a result of last season’s disappointments. Former Green Bay assistant Ben McAdoo is the new coordinator and the Giants have new QB and RB coaches, as well. The Giants ranked 28th in scoring last season, and the ever-popular West Coast offense will find its home in New York, as well. Manning will look to more short passes and the receivers will have a reduction in the number of routes they run. The changes can only help.
Manning is now 33 years of age and he had the worst season of his career last year. He threw 27 INTs and was sacked 39 times. His 57 percent completion ratio is un-Manning-like and his QB rating was woefully low, as well (69.4). Learning an entirely new offense is going to throw Manning for a loop, but he should be good enough to adjust. The operational phrase there is “should be.” Many are wondering if Manning has any of the skills he had during his heyday. Manning had arthroscopic surgery on his ankle over the offseason and this is a very important chance for him to prove he is still an elite QB.
The RB position is very dependent on David Wilson bouncing back after suffering a pretty horrific injury to his neck. Even before his injury, he wasn’t great at protecting the football nor was he consistent, which has to be worrisome since he’s the best hope at running back. Rashad Jennings ran for 773 yards last season, and he’ll be a good fit for the new offense. 4th round pick Andre Williams led the NCAA in rushing in 2013 and he’ll have chances to move up the depth chart from the get go. Jennings and Wiliams could be an effective tandem with Wilson, but Wilson’s health is imperative for this group.
The Giants spent a 1st round pick on WR Odell Beckham of LSU. He’ll get time immediately and help Victor Cruz, who had 73 receptions last season, but just four TDs. Jerrel Jernigan had a nice second half to last season, and that bodes well since he had disappointed his first two seasons in the NFL. Mario Manningham was signed for depth, and his knee has to hold up for the Giants to gain anything from this signing. TE Kellen Davis was signed from the Seahawks this offseason, but it would help more if the Giants had a pass catcher at this position.
The OL was largely to blame for last season’s failures. Four of the starters are gone from last year’s team. The OL lacks depth and experience and will strive to be just average. That’s not a winning formula for a team that needs its OL to be far better in a fluid offense.
The Giants finished 8th in the league in total defense. Coordinator Perry Fewell is great at preventing big plays. He’s also known for using three safeties at the same time. The DEs are depended upon for a lot of pass rushing in Fewell’s schemes.
The DL fell apart last season largely in part due to the fact that Jason Pierre Paul was a shadow of his pre-surgery self. He had just two sacks last season. The Giants lost last year’s team sack leader, Justin Tuck, to the Raiders. The Giants are typically loaded with pass rushers, but that’s just not the case at this point. Mathias Kiwanuka is a solid player and had six sacks last season, but the Giants just don’t have those premier pass rushers anymore.
The LBs received a big boost when Jon Beason re-signed. He’s a strong defender of the run and appears to be over the knee issues that plagued him while with the Carolina Panthers. Jameel McCain was also added from the Ravens, and he’ll bring some good experience to a group strongly in need of it. The biggest downfall of the Giants here isn’t a lack of talent, but experience. Spencer Paysinger, Jacquian Williams and Mark Herzlich all bring valuable talents, but none seem to be up to the role of starter.
The secondary is the Giants’ strength. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a huge addition and will be able to cover the top receivers on every team. Pro Bowler Walter Thurmond is a great slot corner and Antrel Rolle will be much better playing safety. Prince Amukamara adds further depth at CB; and McBride, Hosley, Demps, and Bowman complete a very strong secondary for New York.
Trindon Holliday and Quintin Demps were signed to improve the return game. Beckham may take Demps’ job, though. Josh Brown hit 23-of-26 last season, which was good enough to be re-signed. Punter Steve Weatherford found himself in action more than he wanted to be last season, given the crappy offense. The fact that he had three returned for touchdowns is bound to happen when 91 are shot off the foot. It was not due to poor punting; the coverage was awful. It should be improved with Damontre Moore and Herzlich on coverage units.
The Giants are not legitimate contenders, as evidenced by Bovada’s odds for its Super Bowl chances. The team has too many newcomers to peak yet, and the free agent acquisitions aren’t all going to be home runs, of course. Eli Manning is at a critical juncture in his career and if he can’t return to his former level of play, the Giants are pretty much doomed.
The elements that once made the Giants a Super Bowl team have entirely dissipated and further changes are likely coming next offseason, too. It’s difficult to imagine this year’s squad winning more than nine games as an absolute ceiling.