There it is, the last game of the 2014 season. It unfortunately ends on a loss, as the Eagles defeat the Giants, 34-26. There were a few things to go over as the Giants season ends, many of which were symbolic of the season itself.
Here's our final "five things we've learned" for the 2014 season (a small tear rolls down my face):
Odell Beckham and Rueben Randle Have Games That Represent Themselves Perfectly
The performances of these two players very well were microcosms of how they perform from the macro perspective. Randle had an excellent game from a statistical perspective, with six catches for 158 yards. However, a closer look at his game shows you exactly what he is. There are plays, like both of his two long gains, in which he absolutely dazzles you. He made a monstrous catch in double coverage and then an incredible body control catch later in the game. He also had several drops, which he derped his way to hurting the team. He was targeted on Eli's interception if I am correct.Then there are plays like the 34-yard touchdown strike that got called back due to penalty that seem to follow Randle around. He could be a tremendous third wide receiver for this team if he ever becomes consistent.
Meanwhile Odell Beckham had a "just in a day's work" line of 12 catches, 185 yards, and a TD. He did it with speed, he did it with toughness, and he did it with swagger. He also should've been penalized for throwing his helmet off after yet another dirty hit on him while he was defenseless. He's become the "Desean Jackson" for a lot of teams out there, so he's going to be a marked man. That's a gift and a curse.
It's Clear Fewell Needs To Go
Okay, so it was clear much earlier than just now, but I'm running out of ideas here! The defense was pathetic. More mis-communications, wide open receivers running around, and just a general embarrassment at the hands of Mark Sanchez.
Some of this is not Fewell's fault. Some of it just falls on the dearth of talent on the field as well as pure discipline issues. You have some terrible play calls, though. Mark Herzlich cannot be allowed to be the cover guy on Darren Sproles. You cannot overload to one side and lose contain to LeSean McCoy. You cannot let Jordan Matthews run uncontested. It's one thing to get beat if you're in coverage, it's a whole 'nother thing to not cover at all. I want a more aggressive defense from the get go next year.
This Team Needs A Safety... Or Two
One of the issues with personnel that was absolutely glaring today is safety. With Antrel Rolle set to be a free agent, and not playing well regardless, safety has probably jumped up to my number one need for this team. It was a pathetic showing by the back end.
Mis-communications are one thing, but consistently having them is a whole 'nother story. Tackling has been poor. Stevie Brown doesn't know what angles are, and they bite on fakes more than a rabid dog. In my "Fixing the Giants" series, I made it a point to sign a high-level free safety. I hope the Giants agree, or we're going to be giving up a lot of big plays next season.
The Offensive Line Goes Out On a High Note
This marks probably the fifth game or so where the offensive line had a good game. They didn't do a great job as run blockers, but they certainly made their mark in pass protection. Eli Manning had time to go deep multiple times and was allowed to go through his progressions.
The credit needs to go to both guards. John Jerry and Weston Richburg have played out of their minds the last few games and made Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton virtually invisible for most of the game. Richburg finally has found his stride and is understanding how to handle players much bigger than himself through leverage. Jerry, meanwhile, finally has seemed to figure out how to put his massive girth to good use.
There Is Reason To Hope In 2015
Odell Beckham is a superstar.
Eli Manning has not looked "done" to me this season.
Andre Williams found his contacts over the last few weeks.
Weston Richburg and the rest of the offensive line have found their groove.
Jason Pierre-Paul is a monster. This game was against Jason Peters, by the way, the excuse of playing trash teams doesn't count in this case.
Victor Cruz, Geoff Schwartz, and Prince Amukamara look to be coming back.
Johnathan Hankins can only get better.
There is talent on this roster. This season was lost, but we're building towards the future. There is hope on the horizon. We're going to get a new set of talented players in the off-season. Now, maybe, how about a little bit of luck?