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New York Giants: Is 2015 roster worst of Tom Coughlin-Jerry Reese era?

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Some say it is. so, let's try to figure it out.

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Let's just acknowledge that the New York Giants 2015 roster in not a championship caliber one. Is it, however, the worst of the Tom Coughlin-Jerry Reese era? As the Giants struggle through what might be a third straight losing year, that is a view that you will see espoused anecdotally. To this point, though, I don't believe that has either been proven or disproven.

So, let's try to do that. What I am going to do is make a position-by-position comparison of the rosters from the past three seasons. One point will be given to the roster judged the best at that position, three points to the worst. At the end, we will total it up and see where we stand.

Two things before we start: I am skipping quarterback because we know that has always been Eli Manning, and while some years are better than others what is really the point? Also, while there is some statistical basis for my rankings it is largely subjective -- based on what I believe.

Running back

2013

Andre Brown -- 139 rushes for 492 yards, 3 TDs, 20 catches for 103 yards, 3.5 yards per carry

-- Peyton Hillis/Brandon Jacobs/David Wilson/Michael Cox and Da'Rel Scott all started games

2014

Rashad Jennings (9) -- 167/639/4 ... 3.8 per carry ... 30 receptions
Andre Williams (7) -- 217/721/7 ... 3.3 per carry

-- Peyton Hillis/Michael Cox/Orleans Darkwa

2015

Rashad Jennings -- 154/619/2 ... 4.0 per carry ... 25 receptions
Shane Vereen -- 56/245/0 ... 4.4 per carry ... 51 receptions
Andre Williams -- 80/226/1 ... 2.8 per carry ... 1 reception
Orleans Darkwa -- 35/144/1 ... 4.1 per carry ... 2 receptions

Rankings:

  1. 2015
  2. 2014
  3. 2013

As much as we have gnashed our teeth over the Giants' running back by committee approach, the 2015 group is the best and most versatile of the bunch. Three Giants' backs are averaging at least 4.0 yards per carry. Vereen gives them an element they haven't had in the passing game since Tiki Barber. Darkwa might be better than anybody they had in 2013.

Fullback

2013

Henry Hynoski/John Conner

2014

Henry Hynoski

2015

Nikita Whitlock

Rankings:

  1. 2015
  2. 2014
  3. 2013

The Giants have been good at this spot all three years. I could have easily made 2014 with Henry Hynoski the No. 1 spot. For me, though that goes to this year because of the versatility of Nikita Whitlock.

Wide receiver

2013

Victor Cruz 73/998 4 TD
Hakeem Nicks 56/896/0
Rueben Randle 41/611/6
Jerrel Jernigan 29/329/2
Louis Murphy 6/37/1

2014

Odell Beckham -- 91/1305
Rueben Randle -- 71 catches
Preston Parker -- 36 catches
Victor Cruz -- 23 catches

-- Corey Washington, Kevin Ogletree

2015

Odell Beckham
Rueben Randle
Dwayne Harris

-- Hakeem Nicks/Myles White/Preston Parker/Geremy Davis

Rankings:

  1. 2014
  2. 2015
  3. 2013

Look at these three receiving units and the common denominator is that in each of the three seasons the Giants expected more than they got  I have 2014 ranked No. 1 because of how spectacular Odell Beckham was as a rookie, and because Rueben Randle was much better a year ago than he has been this season.

Tight end

2013

Brandon Myers 47/522/4
Bear Pascoe 12/81/0
Adrien Robinson

2014

Larry Donnell (12) -- 63/623/6 ... 9.9
Daniel Fells -- 16/188/4
Adrien Robinson -- 5/50/1

2015

Will Tye -- 34 receptions
Larry Donnell -- 29 receptions

Jerome Cunningham/Daniel Fells

Rankings:

  1. 2014
  2. 2015
  3. 2013

This was an interesting choice for me. I think Will Tye has supplanted Larry Donnell as the tight end of the future for the Giants -- provided they don't draft one or pay big for someone in free agency. I think, though, that as a group the 2014 trio of Donnell, Daniel Fells, and Adrien Robinson was better. Why? Because of the sorely missed blocking ability of Fells. The 2013 group? Brandon Myers? Please.

Most common offensive line

2013

LT Will Beatty (16)
LG/C Kevin Boothe (16) ... started game sat both spots
LG James Brewer (8)
RG David Diehl (11)
RT Justin Pugh (16)

Key backups -- Jim Cordle, Dallas Reynolds, Brandon Mosley

2014

LT -- Will Beatty (16)
LG -- Weston Richburg (15)
C -- J.D. Walton (16)
RG -- John Jerry -- 16
RT -- Justin Pugh (14) ... Geoff Schwartz started two games here when Pugh was injured, the only two he played all season

Key backups -- Dallas Reynolds, James Brewer, Brandon Mosley, Charles Brown, Adam Snyder

2015

LT -- Ereck Flowers
LG -- Justin Pugh
C -- Weston Richburg
RG -- Geoff Schwartz/John Jerry
RT -- Marshall Newhouse

Key backups -- Dallas Reynolds, Bobby Hart

Rankings:

  1. 2015
  2. 2014
  3. 2013

You can point to any number mistakes GM Jerry Reese has made since succeeding Ernie Accorsi in 2007. One of those would be only using one high draft choice (Will Beatty, Round 2, 2009) on an offensive lineman in his first six drafts. That allowed a strength of the Giants to become a weakness, and it nearly got Manning decapitated during the 2013 season.

Since finally recognizing that error, though, Reese has done an excellent job trying to rectify it. Justin Pugh (Round 1, 2013), Weston Richburg (Round 2, 2014) and Ereck Flowers (Round 1, 2015) are cornerstones of what could be a very good Giants' offensive line for years to come provided the Giants add one or two more players to it.

What took you so long, Jerry?

Defensive line

2013

Justin Tuck (15 starts), Linval Joseph (15), Cullen Jenkins (15), Mathias Kiwanuka (10)
Jason Pierre-Paul (6 starts), Mike Patterson

-- Johnathan Hankins, Damontre Moore, Shaun Rogers (only 7 games), Markus Kuhn (5 games)

2014

Jason Pierre-Paul (16) .. 12 sacks
Johnathan Hankins (16) ... 7 sacks
Mathias Kiwanuka (11)
Cullen Jenkins (11)
Mike Patterson (8)

-- Robert Ayers (5 sacks), Damontre Moore (5 sacks), Jay Bromley

2015

Jason Pierre-Paul
Robert Ayers
Cullen Jenkins
Johnathan Hankins
Markus Kuhn
Jay Bromley
Kerry Wynn

-- Owa Odighizuwa, Damontre Moore, Montori Hughes, George Selvie

Rankings:

  1. 2013
  2. 2014
  3. 2015

I'm struck as I look at all three of these groups that none of them are up to the standard the Giants set during their championship years. In 2013, Justin Tuck didn't have enough help from an aging Mathias Kiwanuka and an injured Jason Pierre-Paul. In 2014, the Giants registered 47 sacks but played the run like that was an optional part of the job description. This season, the pass rush has been non-existent most of the season and the run defense middling at best. With a limited Pierre-Paul and Johnathan Hankins on IR there isn't a difference-maker in the group. In reality, I have ranked 2013 as the least-worst.

Linebackers

2013

Keith Rivers (8), Jacquian Williams (8), Jon Beason (11), Spencer Paysinger (10)

-- Mark Herzlich

2014

Jameel McClain (14), Mark Herzlich (8), Jacquian Williams (9), Devon Kennard (6)

-- Spencer Paysinger

2015

Devon Kennard, J.T. Thomas, Jasper Brinkley, Jonathan Casillas

-- Uani ‘Unga, Mark Herzlich, Jon Beason

Rankings:

  1. 2013
  2. 2014
  3. 2015

Ugh! This is just ugly, ugly, ugly! Look at these linebacker units and you see the haphazard try to make something workable out of everyone else's trash, approach the Giants have taken to the position. It's inexcusable, and the Giants won't really rectify their defensive deficiencies until they properly address this position group. I have 2013 ranked as No. 1 only because Jon Beason's body wasn't broken.

Cornerbacks

2013

Prince Amukamara (16), Trumaine McBride (10)

-- Terrell Thomas (7), Corey Webster (2), Aaron Ross, Jayron Hosley, Charles James

2014

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (15)
Prince Amukamara (8)

-- Walter Thurmond (2 games), Trumaine McBride, Jayron Hosley, Mike Harris. Chykie Brown

2015

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Prince Amukamara

-- Trevin Wade, Jayron Hosley, Trumaine McBride

Rankings:

  1. 2014
  2. 2015
  3. 2013

A tricky position to grade. I have 2014 ranked No. 1 because I think Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, overall, were better a year ago than they have been this season.

Safeties

2013

Antrel Rolle (16), Will Hill (10), Ryan Mundy (9)

-- Cooper Taylor

2014

Antrel Rolle (16)
Stevie Brown (8)
Quintin Demps (9)

-- Nat Berhe

2015

Landon Collins
Brandon Meriweather
Craig Dahl
Cooper Taylor

Rankings:

  1. 2013
  2. 2014
  3. 2015

The safety play by the New York Giants in 2014 was probably the worst in the league. Thus, looking at these rankings tells you a lot about the safety play in 2015. Some potential exists with second-round pick Landon Collins, and (hopefully) with Bennett Jackson, Nat Berhe and Mykkele Thompson healthy to start the 2016 season.

Kick return

2013

Rueben Randle/Michael Cox/Jerrel Jernigan

2014

Preston Parker/Michael Cox.Quintin Demps/Odell Beckham

2015

Dwayne Harris

Rankings:

  1. 2015
  2. 2014
  3. 2013

Dwayne Harris. Worth every penny. Enough said.

Placekicker

Josh Brown all three seasons

Rankings:

  1. 2014
  2. 2015
  3. 2013

Brown has been outstanding for all three seasons he has been with the Giants. Ranking his season is splitting hairs. Put them any way you want.

Punter

2013 & 14 -- Steve Weatherford
2015 -- Brad Wing

Rankings:

  1. 2015
  2. 2013
  3. 2014

Love Steve Weatherford. Big part of Giants' history, great guy, deserves all the accolades he has received. Brad Wing is a better punter.

Totals

With one point going to the best at each position and three to the worst, that means the highest point total would equal the worst roster. Pretty clear below that my subjective look would tell you that the 2013 roster was clearly the worst of the three.

  1. 2013 -- 29
  2. 2015 -- 22
  3. 2014 -- 21

Final thoughts

The Giants do have a core of young players they have brought in over the last three seasons around whom they can build, and whom Giants fans should be excited about. In my eyes, and looking at the rankings above, I think it's clear to see the roster overall is better than it was in 2013. That's not saying much, though. That was a horrible team that started 0-6 and only because of Tom Coughlin's ability to continue to get effort from them and fortuitous scheduling that saw them play a string of awful quarterbacks were they able to go 7-9.

The Giants have a looooooong way to go, though, before they field a roster that you would consider to be championship worthy. I believe they have had two good drafts in a row. I also believe, however, that two good drafts cannot make up for what is largely a personnel black hole from 2009 to 2013 that saw them get far too little from the draft and make far too many mistakes in figuring what do with many of their aging veterans.

No matter what happens over the final two games, there is no doubt the Giants have a lot of work to do to get back amongst the NFL's elite teams.