A lot of things went wrong for the New York Giants in 2014. The defense was at fault for quite a bit of it, but the offense had its own struggles as well. The questions leading up to this season were:
1) How would the Giants acclimate to the new Ben McAdoo hybrid west coast offense?
2) How would the maligned offensive line hold up?
3) Would Eli Manning bounce back?
4) How would new free agent signings and draft picks impact this team's offense?
There were definitely a few questions that were answered, but not all. However, the season is over and done with, and so we've got our composite Pro Football Focus scores to look at and analyze. We begin with the offense, and I will be going through this review by position group:
Eli Manning played all but 19 snaps this season at the quarterback position, compiling an average PFF grade of +0.9 on the year, good for right around average in the league. PFF accounted for four sacks, a hit, and a hurry that should be attributed to Manning. I'd wager that his grade is a bit low, but I don't know that I'd actually complain too much about it.
His numbers on the surface are indicative of great play, and there's zero question he was several hundred times better than in 2013, however, he did have some struggles. His deep ball accuracy wavered this year, and several of those caught were either bad decisions by Manning (ex. heaving it up into double coverage in season finale to Rueben Randle, who caught the ball) or were bad throws that were caught by the receivers. His play under pressure is what torpedoed his grade from getting a very good one. He carried a -23.1 grade when under pressure, completed 43.1 percent of his passes on 5.8 yards per attempt with 9 TDs to 6 INTs. This is in stark contrast to the Eli of old and makes it quite clear that the priority now should probably be putting Eli in situations where pressure is minimized.
Ryan Nassib meanwhile, played 19 snaps, so there's not much worth talking about in terms of his grade.
PFF made it clear that the Giants need some help at running back. They try and delineate the differences in success of a running play based off what the RB and the offensive line does. Andre Williams got more snaps than Rashad Jennings did, 530 to 427. Williams carried a grade of -7.3, while Jennings was -3.3. Both were heavily negative as pass catchers, with Williams have a poor catch rate and low elusiveness, while Jennings had some fumbling issues.
As runners, Williams' grade was even further negative, while Jennings' was slightly positive. No complaints there, as for most of the season, Williams was a poor runner with an admitted lack of patience and vision. One bright spot for Williams is a +1.6 pass block grade, allowing one sack (in the finale) and three hurries on 73 pass blocking attempts. It's a good look for his playing time as the Giants should not be worried about playing Williams in passing situations or versus a blitz. He's picked it up well.
The star is, of course, Odell Beckham Jr. His +20.4 grade is fantastic for a wide receiver, ranking fourth among the entire NFL barely behind only Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, and Jordy Nelson. Odell's +20.4 receiving grade, by the way, ranks second in the league behind Brown. He was dinged for some penalties, a few of which I don't see as fair. Manning had the third-best QBR when targeting Beckham at 127.6 and Beckham also had the fourth lowest drop rate among all receivers. This is all while having the third-best yards per route run in the league, which means that all the damage he did wasn't just dink and dunk. He ran some pretty deep routes as well. We already knew Odell was a star, but he's already one of the five best receivers in the NFL. Oh, and lest we forget, that's with missing four games and all of training camp as a rookie.
Now for the contributing cast, the inconsistent Rueben Randle had strong +6.4 grade, good for being the 19th best WR in the NFL. He was the definition of inconsistent, having 8 games below zero and 8 games above, but found a rhythm late in the season, garnering a +8.0 grade over the final seven games.
Preston Parker was the other big contributor for most of the year, and he had a -6.6 grade overall. He was definitely the bully of the team, nabbing a sweet -3.4 penalty grade that really tanked his overall score. He was up and down in terms of his receiving grade, but his disappearance in the last few games of the season really dipped him into the negatives.
Oh, boy. Larry Donnell. He ends the season at a -9.4 grade for the season. It wasn't really for his work in the passing game, but oh my goodness, he received a -13.1 grade as a run blocker. What? I don't know if that's possible but here we are. It's clear that he needs a ton of work on that part of his game. He doesn't have the strength or the requisite speed to get on his blocks and stick with them to help spring Andre Williams or Rashad Jennings.
Daniel Fells, meanwhile, was one of Jerry Reese's best offseason acquisitions. He graded out at +6.3 and graded positively in every single category. He wasn't targeted all that much but he made the most of every opportunity, which is all you can ask for of a veteran minimum free agent. Adrien Robinson got a grand total of 77 snaps (compared to Donnell's 889 and Fells' 434) and scored a +2.1.
Will Beatty completed his season on a high note and finished the season with a +13.0 grade, 10th-highest among all left tackles. He allowed three sacks, 10 QB hits, and 19 hurries, finished with a pass blocking efficiency of 18th among 78 qualifying tackles. That's not bad at all and certainly fits what I'd deem a strong season that was dotted with some inconsistencies.
Much was made of his penalties, but most came in bunches towards the end of the season. He otherwise held his own well enough. Justin Pugh, meanwhile, had a mediocre year, scoring a -2.6 for the season. It should be noted that he was okay to very good for most of the year, but he had three VERY bad games, against Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles (first matchup), and the Seattle Seahawks. In those three games, he had a -13.2 score. He was +11.6 for the rest of the year. I'm not sure where these inconsistencies are coming from. While Philadelphia had Connor Barwin and Seattle had Michael Bennett, Pugh handled other good pass rushers pretty well on a consistent basis, so I'm not sure why he tanks in some games, but shines in others. For example, going up against Ryan Kerrigan, Chris Long, and Connor Barwin (2nd time), he only allowed 4 pressures TOTAL.
I just don't understand but it is what it is. I'm of the opinion that Pugh is a good enough right tackle to be a starter for the team and not worry about it, but I want to know why the consistency isn't there for these few games every year.
You might want to avert your eyes. This is going to get ugly. Weston Richburg ended up with a grade of -14.3. He clearly was not ready to play at left guard to start the season. He had a few good games early on, but tanked for much of the Giants seven-game losing streak (and contributed to it, as well). He allowed two sacks, seven hits, and 16 QB pressures, which is not all that terrible, and he wasn't graded all that negatively as a pass blocker. He was really hit for his run blocking, though, and it's easy to see why. At less than 300 pounds, he was overmatched against 1 techniques that lined up on his assignment at guard. He's best suited at center where he can get in space or help on double teams. There is some good news, however, as he flattened out the curve to end the season with a +0.6 over the last 4 games.
The uglier side is John Jerry, who gained a -16.3 grade on the season. Woof. He's renowned as a good pass protector, and indeed, his pass block score ended up only slightly negative, but he still allowed four sacks, two QB hits, and 23 QB pressures, so it wasn't like the Rock of Gibraltar was at right guard. He managed an astonishing -16.4 grade against the run, which led to many in the BBV community dubbing him "the Pillow." He won't let you past him (much) but he won't really move you either. Yeesh.
By the way, Geoff Schwartz played 93 snaps, and accumulated a +3.9 score. Please stay healthy! Please!
We saved the worst for last. First of all, props to J.D. Walton for staying healthy through the entire season. He played all but seven snaps for the offense, which is pretty sweet. Unfortunately, he nabbed an incredible -19.4 grade. I'm not sure how he did so, but here we are. Centers rarely ever are charged with giving up pressures since they are more support guys that help guards with double teams and take on any stunts and what not. Yet, Walton is charged with giving up one sack, three hits, and 16 hurries. He was somehow not the worst-rated center, there were three guys worse than him this year. It's clear things need to change, though.
I don't see how he comes into the 2015 season as the starting center over Richburg, but hey, I didn't think there was any chance of Perry Fewell coming back, so how much do I know really?
The overall grade for the Giants offense is an ugly -44.8 (16th in the NFL), and the only saving grace comes from their +9.2 pass grade off the strength of Beckham and Randle. Here is the breakdown for you.
Pass: +9.2 (11th in the NFL - reasons as stated before)
Rush: -5.4 (27th in the NFL - no issues here, we were terrible)
Pass Block: -9.6 (9th in the NFL - most teams were really bad in this area)
Run Block: -34.8 (26th in the NFL - yeah, again, they were really bad)
Penalty: -4.3 (17th in the NFL - very middle of the road)
It's no surprise and I think Pro Football Focus nailed it. The Giants were exactly middle of the road this year, and it makes sense. They were pathetic early on, but as the season progressed and the offense was fully installed and understood by the players, along with the emergence of a superstar, the Giants suddenly became an offensive juggernaut, averaging over 29 points per game over their final 6 games.
It's also no surprise that they ranked close to the bottom in terms of running offense. Anybody with functioning eyes could see that they struggled to not only open holes but also find them in the run game. It was pathetic at times. With Beckham and Randle, they were a top 10 team in passing as Eli Manning started taking more (and connecting more) deep strikes.
I think it's clear that the Giants need to add an interior lineman (whether that be Pugh or someone else, take your pick). They also need to pray for two more things: the health of Schwartz and that Richburg can make a successful transition to center next year. If those three things can happen (and I certainly think the chances are decent), you could see this offense really take off and become a true threat in the NFC.
Stay tuned for our Pro Football Focus review of the defense!