Hello Giants fans! As soon as the Giants season ended and it was clear we would miss the playoffs, one of the most discussed topics on Big Blue View was the lack of creativity used by the Giants coaching staff and their lack of trust in some of the younger players on our roster. As a matter of fact these topics have been heavily discussed long before we missed the playoffs this year. The following piece discusses the season's most underused players on our offense and how they could have affected the outcome of our unsuccessful season. Of course hindsight is 20/20 but I know not everyone is as obsessed with the draft as some of us, so it's something else to discuss. I was going to try to combine the offense and defense in one post, but there were too many players on either side of the ball that I found deserving to be on this list. Isn't that sad?
There were times this year where the Giants offense looked absolutely anemic. Was it due to Eli having a bad year? Nicks being injured in almost every game he played? Cruz seeing a lot more double coverage for other team's defenses? A lack of creativity from Gilbride? Well I'd venture to say it was all of the above. Unfortunately the Giants failed to see that there were many players on the sidelines that could have sparked our offense throughout the season.
The face mask penalties should cancel out, right?
Barden gets the title of "Most Underused" in my book. This fourth year man hasn't been able to really break out and solidify his spot in the Giants receiving rotation, and many label him a bust. After his pre-season game against the Bears starters (mainly Charles Tillman) and his regular season game against the Panthers I've formed a very different opinion of Mr. Barden. What I saw was a big, physical Wide Receiver who is being wasted on the Giants sidelines. This year Barden had only 14 receptions, 9 of them coming in the aforementioned Panthers game. And Barden only got a chance in that game due to Nicks missing time due to injury. But in this game we saw what Barden should have been from the start of his career. He was able to not only stretch the field and use his size to go over the middle, but was also able to run slant routes and use his size to block out the corner from making a play on the ball. This is something we should have seen a lot more of, especially since Nicks was supposedly supposed to be resting for a good 6-8 weeks.
I'm not sure exactly what Barden did to get on the coaches bad side. I'm not in practice, I'm not watching him every day and seeing how he preforms. But I refuse to believe that he regressed so much after this Panthers game that he didn't deserve more significant snaps in games throughout the season. With Nicks being gimpy and Cruz taking a lot of heat in coverage, Barden could have been a key piece in our receiving game. Eli seemed to enjoy throwing to him against Carolina so I don't see why that wouldn't continue in other games, especially since his only other big target was Martellus Bennett. I have to believe this was a gross misuse of a potentially talented player, especially since it came at the expense of an injured Hakeem Nicks.
Ha. The Patriots.
This is another Wide Receiver who never really got to see the light of day in Gilbride's offensive system. Many compare him to Randall Cobb, who is from the same draft class and has about the same skill set. Jernigan offers extreme speed and quickness and is ideally a slot receiver that works the interior of defenses and picks up a lot of Yards After Catch. In Green Bay's spread offense Cobb has thrived, and McCarthy has designed many different packages and plays to make him an effective player. If you watch Green Bay you will see Cobb line up all over the field. In the slot, sometimes on the outside, and every once in a while will even line up as a Running Back. Compare that to Jernigan, who gets a handful of snaps at the Wide Receiver position if he's lucky. In fact Jernigan only had 3 receptions out of 5 total targets during the 2012 season. I don't see how this makes sense. You have a guy who can run around a 4.4 40 yard dash and you keep him holstered on the sidelines while Nicks is limping all over the field. Even if Nicks wasn't hurt there is potential to work him into the offense as an extra weapon. There's no rule anywhere that says you can only give the ball to a certain amount of players Mr. Gilbride.
I will say that there is hope for Jernigan though. He's entering into his third year, and he did see more snaps towards the end of the 2012 season. As a matter of fact Gilbride even ran an end around to him, which went for six yards. Amazing. Of course this was in the final game of the year, and Gilbride may or may not have been coaching for job security. Hopefully we see more plays designed to use Jernigan's speed and quickness to tear up opposing defenses and provide a spark to our offensive game. Now that Cruz is seeing hefty coverage, next year may be the perfect time to the Jernigan play some significant snaps in the slot position. With little attention thrown his way Jernigan may be able to exploit the middle of a defense and pick up some serious chunks of yards in the future. That is, if he's not on this list next year.
No matter how many times I see this picture, I always end up laughing.
Brewer is a guy who I believe will end up being a future starter somewhere along the New York Giants Offensive Line. Reports say he doesn't have the quickest feet in the world, and maybe that's why there are casual rumors about Brewer possibly making the move to Guard. A move which one BBV member pointed out (I forget which one) seems very similar to what San Fransisco did with Alex Boone, and has been pretty successful with overall. Either way, I thought that once Sean Locklear went down with an ACL tear it would be better to put Brewer in as Right Tackle instead of David Diehl. Diehl has been more or less awful in the past couple seasons with the Giants, and the loyalty to him has set the team (or at least the Offensive Line) back in terms of being successful. Sure Brewer may have slow feet, but lets not pretend that Diehl is the epitome of blazing speed either. While it was pretty much a forgone conclusion that Diehl would be the starter, it still didn't stop me from being pissed about it.
That being said, Brewer did see the occasional snaps in Jumbo packages or goalline drives. In all of these occasions he did his job very well, clearing out and ends or Linebackers who tried coming off the edge. This is progress, and hopefully it means that the coaches are slowly working Brewer into the offensive system in a way similar to what they did with Will Beatty. Brewer not seeing much playing time is slightly more acceptable to me because I know that they want to make sure he knows what he's doing since he'll be in the role of Eli's bodyguard. But still, when your other option is Diehl.....well I cringe a bit at that.
I can't imagine anyone will ever let Robinson block them like that, but oh well.
Here is the first rookie on this list, and probably the least upsetting player to be left off the field during the 2012 season. Still, the "JPP of Tight Ends" is a guy who should have seen more of the field than what he did. He was only active for two games, the first game against Dallas and the game against Cleavland. He had no receptions or targets in either game. Now being that he only had nine receptions his senior year in Cincinnati it is understandable that he wasn't a big pass catching target during the course of the year, especially with how Bennett was playing. But why not even a pass or two in his direction? Maybe get his feet wet? It's extremely unlikely that Robinson would be the cause of a huge turnover in a mere one or two targets, so I don't see the harm in allowing the guy to make a few plays. Jernigan didn't have any receptions in his first year either. I don't see why we have to wait until they aren't rookies to throw towards them. It's not like rookies taken in the mid rounds can't catch the ball. Now if Robinson was catching the ball and then trotting over to Will Hill and handing him the ball in practice, well then I rescind my statement.
The final player on this list, David Wilson saw much more action than anyone else mentioned above. But being that he was our first round pick and seemed to possess the explosiveness of C4, it's distressing how little we used him in our offensive schemes. Especially considering Ahmad Bradshaw and his injured feet can hardly carry out the role of feature back at this point in his career. There were even occasions where Wilson lost carrying opportunities to.....Kregg Lumpkin of all people. Wilson ended up with 71 rushing attempts for a total of 358 yards and 4 touchdowns during the 2012 season, and he also racked up 1533 kick return yards and a Touchdown for our Special Teams unit.
It seemed that Wilson was going to see a good chunk of time in the Giants backfield from day one of the season, that is until he made the crucial mistake of fumbling the ball in the Dallas game. From then on his snaps were extremely limited until the New Orleans game, where he had 13 touches for 100 yards on the ground. I was talking to my dad right before that game, and I remember telling him "Every time they put Wilson on the field, Gilbride always runs a toss to him. There are no other running plays designed for him, no pass plays, and there aren't even plays where he's meant to be a decoy or a blocker. With that type of predictability he'll never be able to be successful this year". Sure enough Gilbride decides to prove me completely wrong and run a plethora of different plays to Wilson. And sure enough the young guy puts up a 100 yard game. Imagine that. All I can really say is that I hope David Wilson sees a lot more snaps as a Giants Running Back in the 2013 season.
The good news is that all of these guys listed (except for Barden) are very young, and in their first or second year of the league. There is a chance for these guys to develop and become key pieces of our offense. But this is going to require opening up the playbook and creating ways for these guys to make plays. Enough with trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, lets adapt some plays to the players for once. Now I'm not saying throw out the playbook and go all Chip Kelly on our offense, but I'm sure we could find a happy medium somewhere.
Now if there is anyone else that I forgot to mention, please bring them up in the comments. Or if you disagree with someone on this list (I'm expecting Barden to be the biggest point of dissension) then let me know. I'll try getting one on the defense up soon, but Winter Break is almost over for me and I'm going to have to go back to school soon. So that means learning and all that "fun stuff" instead of being on BBV all the time. Which is unfortunate but I guess that's just how life is. Anyway, let me know what yall think!