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Mid-season 'Kudos & Wet Willies': Grading the Giants' offense

Let's assess the Giants offense thus far with a mid-season 'Kudos & Wet Willies.'

Eli Manning
Eli Manning
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Technically, seven games is not the mid-point of a 16-game season. The New York Giants are on their bye week, however, so for all intents and purposes they have reached the halfway point of their 2014 NFL season. With that in mind, let's hand out some mid-term grades for the Giants.

Around here, of course, we do that with 'Kudos & Wet Willies.' Today's 'K&WW' will focus entirely on the offense. We will get to the defense and the special teams in subsequent 'K&WW' posts.


Entering the season the big question was whether or not Eli Manning, a famed gunslinger who was never afraid of risky throws and coming off a career-worst 27-interception season, could play in the rhythm-based, get the ball out quickly and safely West Coast-based offense bring installed by first-year coordinator Ben McAdoo.

After seven games, question answered.

Manning has a career-best 64.9 percent completion percentage and a career-high 96.8 passer rating. His interception rate of 2.2 percent is better than every year of his career except 2008, when he was at 2.1 percent. Manning has thrown only one interception since Week 2 while tossing 11 touchdowns. For his career, Manning has been intercepted on 3.4 percent of his throws.

Giants quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf was actually asked on Monday if Manning and the Giants were being too conservative with the ball -- a question no one probably ever thought would be asked with Manning behind center.

"I wouldn't accuse him of being too conservative, but we certainly want him taking care of the ball," Langsdorf said. "I think that is a big part of his decision-making, is knowing whether it is a risky throw, or it is a calculated risk. Whether it is something he can make, and only give the receiver a chance to catch the ball. As opposed to the possibility of a tipped ball, or an interception."

Manning certainly has not been the problem for the Giants offense. What the Giants need is for the personnel around him to match the level at which the veteran quarterback is performing.

Grade: 'Kudos'

Rashad Jennings

Rashad Jennings [Brad Penner -- USA Today Sports]

Running Back

The injury to Rashad Jennings, who has missed the last two games with an MCL sprain, has no doubt hurt the Giants on offense. Rookie Andre Williams was thrust into the starting role and, whether Williams shares in the blame or not, the Giants did not run the ball well in either contest.

The Giants signed the 29-year-old Jennings to be their featured back, something he had never been in his career. He has been up to the task, gaining 396 yards on 91 carries (4.4 yards per carry) and catching 11 passes. The only thing he did wrong was get hurt. Grade: 'Kudos'

Williams, the rookie fourth-round pick, has had his moments, running with power. Without Jennings, though, Williams and the run game have struggled. In his two starts, he has carried 35 times for 110 yards. for the season, he has 280 yards on 89 carries (3.1 per carry). Grade: 'Kwillie'

Peyton Hillis has done decent work filling the role of No. 2 back with Jennings out. Henry Hynoski has been adeqaute at fullback, but has played only 89 snaps in seven games.

Overall Grade: 'Kwillie'


Larry Donnell [Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports]

Tight End

Larry Donnell seemingly came from nowhere to catch 25 passes in the Giants' first four games. He looked like an All-Pro during an incredible three-touchdown performance against the Washington Redskins. Donnell has come back to earth in the last three weeks, catching eight passes and fumbling twice Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Donnell has done far more than was expected, but not as much as he could have. Or as the Giants need.

Veteran Daniel Fells, out of the league a year ago, has emerged as a solid second tight end. Four of his nine catches have been for touchdowns. Without doubt, Fells has exceeded expectations.

Adrien Robinson, the 2012 fourth-round pick, is still lagging behind as the No. 3 tight end. He has three receptions.

Overall Grade: 'Kwillie'

odell beckham

Odell Beckham Jr. [Matthew Emmons - USA Today Sports]

Wide Receiver

The wide receiver position has been in flux for the Giants pretty much since training camp began. The Giants drafted Odell Beckham, hoping to put him on the outside and team him with Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle. Beckham's balky hamstring made the Giants wait until Week 5 to see that pairing, and less than two games later Cruz's season-ending injury means the Giants will have to wait until next year to see it again. The Giants also lost Jerrel Jernigan to a season-ending foot injury.

Through all of that, though, the receivers have been relatively productive. Randle has a team-high 34 catches. He isn't a No. 1 receiver, but he can be productive and is will on his way to a career-best season. Beckham has 10 catches in his limited time, three for touchdowns, and has made it clear why the Giants the drafted him 12th overall. Preston Parker, now the slot receiver, has 13 catches.

The biggest issue has been the lack of big plays. The Giants have only four completions of 20 yards or more to wide receivers so far this season. They hope a healthy Beckham can get them more.

Grade: 'Kwillie'

Justin Pugh

Justin Pugh [Brad Penner -- USA Today Sports]

Offensive Line

'Confounding' might be the best way to describe the work of the offensive line so far this season. First, it was bad. Then, it was good. Then, it was awful. Then, it was good in pass protection and awful trying to block for the run.

"I see some real good things out of the offensive line, and then I see some things that are head-scratchers," said offensive line coach Pat Flaherty. "We have to eliminate the head-scratchers. We have to be able to be more consistent."

Head-scratchers like Will Beatty playing as well as any left tackle in the league through the first six weeks, then having an awful game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Head-scratchers like Justin Pugh surrendering four sacks vs. the Philadelphia Eagles in the worst game of the 2013 first-round pick's career.

Head scratchers like surrendering three sacks total during a three-game winning streak, then giving up eight in a loss to the Eagles.

Head-scratchers like the 17 penalties the offensive line has committed in seven games, many of those coming at critical times.

Head-scratchers like the recent inability to run block effectively.

Beatty has bounced back well from an awful 2013, allowing just one sack. Pugh was solid the first five weeks, not so much the last two. John Jerry has been as advertised, a quality pass protector but not a great run blocker. Rookie second-round pick Weston Richburg, drafted as a center, has had ups and downs while learning to play guard. Center J.D. Walton has performed adequately.

The line will eventually be bolstered by the return of Geoff Schwartz, the high-priced free agent who has been on short-term IR with a dislocated toe. Schwartz is eligible to return when the Giants face the Indianapolis Colts after the bye, although it is uncertain that he will.

Individual Grades: 'Kudos' -- Beatty; 'Kwillie' -- Richburg, Walton, Jerry, Pugh

Overal Grade: 'Kwillie'