Well, New York Giants' fans, it's over. That was long. That was painful. The result of this 7-9 season will result in changes, certainly. We got a good grasp of who was succeeding and who struggled this year. As we've done all year, let's take a cumulative look at how the Giants were graded by PFF. We'll break it down by position group:
Only two players here to look at, Eli Manning and Curtis Painter. Both ended with negative grades. Manning ended the year with a -7.4 grade which is easily his worst since Pro Football Focus started keeping grades. If the Giants are to be competitive in 2014, first and foremost, Eli Manning needs to up his game. A lot. Painter should not be retained, as he reached almost half Manning's score in just 40 snaps.
The only running back with a positive grade, incidentally, was Brandon Jacobs with a strong performance running the ball in limited snaps. He was also perfect for the year in pass protection. The worst performer was Andre Brown, whose -5.4 was mostly due to his inability to break tackles. As a one-cut and go player, he isn't expected to make many people miss, but nonetheless the performance has not been up to standards.
Incidentally the highest graded wide receiver in this group is also the highest graded player on the Giants offense overall. Who might that be? Jerrel Jernigan, who's +8.6 tops the offensive output by a large margin. He went +7.3 in the final two games alone to pace the offense and is surely in line for a much bigger role in 2014. Victor Cruz comes in with a steady +6.5 as a reliable target for Eli Manning. He was not nearly as explosive, but his catch percentage was high enough. No other wide receiver stood out, and nobody was in the negatives except for Louis Murphy, whose -4.3 stems from multiple drops and a fumble against Carolina. Also has been a non-factor in any snaps he's taken.
John Conner will likely have a job next year because he was very good in what he did this year. Garnering a +8.5 grade, Conner was the second-highest graded player on the offense and finished the year as the fourth-best fullback in the NFL. It will be difficult to justify keeping Henry Hynoski over him unless the Giants decide to keep both. This will be an interesting position to watch going forward.
I know this may surprise you, but one tight end did indeed up with a positive score. Bear Pascoe ... yes, that Bear Pascoe, received a slightly positive grade despite being negatively graded in pass catching, pass blocking, and rushing. It's due to the fact that he never got called for a penalty all year and his run blocking was deemed 'decent.' Brandon Myers on the other hand, finished at an appropriately deemed -6.1 going an absurd -7.8 when run blocking. A far cry from the +2.6 that Martellus Bennett scored in run blocking in 2012.
This position was certainly a Jekyll and Hyde of sorts. We expected Will Beatty, who scored a +22.3 in 2012, to reprise his role as a dominant left tackle, especially in pass protection. That didn't happen. Beatty ended the year going -6.3. He never went into the red (grades below -1.0) during any game in 2012, this year, he went red in 5. Why? We won't know. He scored in the green five times and went red five times. Need way more consistency. He was dinged for allowing 13 sacks, seven hits, and 39 hurries.
Justin Pugh is a different story. We expected him to be awful because he has T-Rex arms and was thrown into the fire as a rookie. Not so. He ends the year at +6.6, easily the Giants highest-graded lineman. He did start out struggling, scoring a -5.5 against the Carolina Panthers as he was repeatedly whipped by Charles Johnson. He definitely turned it around, however. After Week 5, he finished the last 11 games by going a whopping +15.3. That's impressive.
Interior Offensive Line
To no surprise for anybody with a pair of eyes, no center or guard who played more than 100 snaps for the New York Giants went positively graded. The worst of the bunch was predictably David Diehl, who's -26.5 was the worst grade on the offense overall and seventh-worst for a guard in the NFL. This was still nothing compared to his historic (seriously historic, as PFF has never had a grade that low before) grade in 2011, where he scored a -47.2. He gave up two sacks, seven quarterback hits, and an extra 33 pressures in pass protection. Yeesh!
Kevin Boothe, unfortunately, did not fare much better, going -11.3, splitting the stink equally between two positions as he went -4.9 as a guard and -6.4 as a center. He will be a big decision for the Giants to make. As for the rest of the crowd, nobody really stood out between James Brewer, Chris Snee, Dallas Reynolds, and Jim Cordle as they all hung around the -5.0 to -8.0 range. Brandon Mosley did the best in 59 snaps, he came close to 0.
Much like at offensive tackle, this defensive end group was very Jekyll and Hyde. The low spot was, of course, Mathias Kiwanuka. His -28.1 was the worst grade on the Giants team overall (offense or defense) and was third-worst in the NFL for 4-3 DEs in front of only Daniel Te'o-Neisheim and Shea McClellin. He was credited for seven sacks, 15 quarterbackhits, and 21 hurries in 892 snaps. For comparison's sake, PFF's top rated pass rusher Robert Quinn of the St. Louis Rams had 19 sacks, 21 QB hits, and 51 hurries in 842 snaps. Yeah.
The bright spot was Justin Tuck, who had a true renaissance season. He was credited with 12 sacks ,12 QB hits, and 44 hurries en route to a +15.5 grade, which was good for seventh in the league among qualifying 4-3 defensive ends. His run defense was his biggest aid, and he was one of only two defensive ends (the other being Cincinnati's Michael Johnson) to grade positively in all four categories of pass rush, pass coverage, run defense, and penalty. He was ahead of such players as Demarcus Ware, Julius Peppers, Ezekiel Ansah, Cliff Avril, and Carlos Dunlap.
Damontre Moore, meanwhile, ended his season not contributing much. A positive run defense grade was canceled out by his penalty grade. Jason Pierre-Paul ended his season going slightly positive due to his run defense.
Individually, the tackles for the Giants were decent. Nobody stood out too much. As a group, however, you would be hard pressed to find many more teams with a better group. Not a single defensive tackle graded negatively (with the exception of Markus Kuhn's 10 snaps). The highest ranked tackle, Linval Joseph, was 21st among 4-3 defensive tackles with a + 10.5 grade. He was followed closely by Jonathan Hankins (+8.0) and Cullen Jenkins (+6.2). Mike Patterson and Shaun Rogers also chipped with decently positive grades. If Linval Joseph re-signs with the Giants, they could be looking at a very strong core of players to build around for the long term.
Especially heartening was the fact that both Joseph and Hankins were dominant in run defense. That had been a weakness in 2012, but they played it much better in 2013. I do admit that there needs to be more of an interior pass rush, as Jenkins was the only one to contribute significantly in that aspect.
Raise your hands if you think the Giants are going to have many positively graded players in this position group. Nope, didn't think so. Maybe you "Beezer Brigade" folks might be on to something. The highest-graded linebacker on the team was actually Keith Rivers, who graded slightly above 0. Something tells me that's not what you wanted to hear.
Jacquian Williams was somewhat of a bright spot. He had a negative grade in run defense (which lowered his grade overall into the negatives) but he had a top 10 coverage grade out of all 4-3 outside linebackers, which is certainly heartening. He and Spencer Paysinger hovered right around -1.5. So while they both weren't exactly stellar, it's not that they were boys among men. They certainly held their own at times.
The worst-graded player was Jon Beason, who graded at a terrible -13.4 for the season. Is he the answer for the Giants? I don't know. What I do know, however, is that while his leadership, instincts, fundamentals, and run defense cannot be discounted, his pass coverage is a big liability in the middle of that defense. He graded out as the fourth-worst inside linebacker in coverage this year.
A ragtag group of players to begin the season, they were a surprisingly strong component of this defense. No cornerback aside from Corey Webster dipped into the negatives. The best two players of the group were also the starters. Trumaine McBride led the way with a +7.1 grade, while Prince Amukamara was close behind with a +4.0.
How good were they? McBride was targeted 73 times and allowed 32 receptions for 369 yards and two TDs. He nabbed two INTs of his own and had eight passes defensed. His opposing quarterback rating against was 57.4. As for Amukamara, he was targeted 94 times, allowing 64 receptions for 651 yards and two TDs. He had an interception and eight passes defensed for an opposing QB rating of 87.7. Not bad.
Terrell Thomas, Jayron Hosley, and Aaron Ross all played decent enough as well. They certainly didn't provide many crucial mistakes for the team this year, and the position group as a whole could be considered a strength.
The star of the team according to Pro Football Focus was undoubtedly Will Hill, who's +15.7 not only is tops on the team as whole, but ranks second in the entire league for safeties. Opposing quarterbacks only had a 62.0 rating throwing at him as he allowed only 186 yards in coverage. He hit hard and he hit often. He was not a liability in any way shape or form, whether it be covering the deep ball, playing shallow rover, or while in run defense. A true star in the making. For comparison, the best grade Kenny Phillips ever got in a single season was +13.6 in 2011.
While Hill locked down his spot, let's not forget his teammate Antrel Rolle, who had a renaissance season of his own. His +7.4 grade puts him squarely in the top 10 of all safeties as well. Opposing QBs only had a 43.0 rating throwing at him, owing to his six INTs.
Not much to say here, really. Weatherford and Brown each did their jobs well enough to not be liablities for the team. Coincidentally, both players ranked 17th in the league when it came to their positions, so right around league average.
Overall, the Giants had a total grade of -72.8 on offense, placing them 25th in the league. They had a +27.4 grade on defense, placing them 16th in the league. They had a +15.1 grade on special teams, placing them 19th in the league.