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Blue Data: Important stats and analytics from Week 2 vs. Falcons

Week 2 is in the books, what do the numbers tell us about the Giants?

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Another week, another fourth quarter disaster. Statistically speaking, that's pretty rare, but it doesn't feel that way. The Elias Sports Bureau say that the New York Giants have never blown consecutive 10-point leads to open a season. In fact, their data says that no team has ever done that. I take that as somewhat of a comfort, because in my head they have not only done this before, but that maybe they've done it multiple times.

Selective perception based on an emotion will color your view of this sport, and that's why it's important to review raw numbers before you hand out favorites in the #FireTomCoughlin section on Twitter. I'm going to do my best to give you those numbers, and to hopefully give a little context to the heartbreaks and triumphs (if they ever come) of the 2015 season.

A couple of quick notes:

Football Outsiders hasa lot of great information right now, but the Giants rank pretty much middle of the pack in every category. There isn't much to highlight or learn after just two games. Rest assured, I'm keeping track of what's available and when something good shows up, I'll be all over that like Julian Edelman on rice.

Pro Football Focus has drastically changed its product. They're no longer giving you any statistics or even breakdowns of the grade; just simple overall grades and a depth chart. I don't seePFF begins discontinuing the old system in a week, so I've been avoiding PFF the past two weeks because I don't want to change the structure of my article midseason. Chris Pflum has been breaking down what's important from their final weeks of the the new product, so check that out if you still have a craving.

The Good


With 292 passing yards on Sunday, Eli Manning moved one yard ahead of Johnny Unitas (40,239 yards) and into 14th place on the NFL's career passing yardage list. There is a former Giants ahead of him in those rankings. Readers may roll their eyes at my ability to push this guy into any conversation, but Kerry Collins is 12th on this list (40,922) and should be eclipsed by Manning shortly. The current Giants QB needs 4,370 more yards to crack the top 10 by the end of the season, though this isn't likely given that he is currently on pace for around 3,880 yards.


Manning's 18-yard run on Sunday was his career long, which is a little sad when you think about it. That said, his 23 yards on the ground for the day is better than all Philadelphia Eagles running backs combined for Week 2. It really puts your problems in perspective.


From 2011 to 2013, Victor Cruz was the Giants' primary weapon in the passing game. They selected Odell Beckham Jr. in the first round of last year's draft to supplement the passing game. However, Beckham's injured hamstring put him out for the first four games of the season, and Cruz suffered a knee injury in Week 6 against the Eagles. With Cruz nursing himself back from a preseason calf injury this year, it means that the Giants have had only one single game with both of their top weapons on the field; the 2014 Week 5 game against the Atlanta Falcons; which occurred during the Ben McAdoo growing pains period, so it's very possible that we have yet to see what this offense is able to produce. Silver lining, I guess.

The Bad


Sunday's match-up against the Falcons was the 50th game since the Giants defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. In the 50 games since their win, Big Blue are 22-28 with zero playoff qualifications. On top of this, the Giants have started each of the last three seasons with a pair of losses. That's the first time that's happened in franchise history.


The Giants' pass defense has allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 66 of 91 attempted passes (72.5 percent) for a league high 702 yards. If you pro-rate this period over a 16 game season, opposing quarterbacks would generate 5,616 yards. This number isn't exactly accurate as it includes sack yardage lost, and the Giants have had none of that yet this year, but look at 2014 for comparison. Even with sack yardage lost, no team came close to the 5,000 yard mark. I'm careful not to use past data to project future events, but with a huge margin of error in play here, it doesn't look good for the Giants.


The Giants have lost their last 15 regular-season games in which they had no takeaways. It seems dumb to point out that takeaways are an important part of winning, but this stat emphasizes how dismal this team has been when they struggled in this area.


The Giants have had just 20 offensive drives through two games, which is second-fewest in the league. Only the San Francisco 49ers (19) have had less opportunities to see the field.

The Downright Confusing


Shortly into the second quarter of Sunday's game, Manning completed his first deep pass of 2015 when he connected with Beckham for 26 yards down the left sideline. This includes three preseason appearances by Manning. Generally speaking, McAdoo's offense is conservative, but what we've seen from 2015 has been categorically timid.


Some may think the team need to get the ball to Beckham a lot in order to win games, but bizarrely, the Giants are only 3-5 in games where Beckham has at least 100 yards receiving. This is a good example of the difference between causation and correlation. The reality is that Beckham has simply played on a bad team since he entered the league. The team record with him in the lineup is 4-10, which isn't dramatically different to the 100 yards receiving stat, so please ignore any talking heads touting Beckham as a distraction to this offense.


Let's look at the most important aspect of this chart. Entering the fourth quarter, the Giants have an 82.7 percent expected chance of winning according to Pro-Football-Reference's win probability model (read about the formula in place here).

By the time they begin their final possession, this has swung the other way and that number drops to about 24. percent, before eventually hitting zero after a failed fourth-down conversion. What happens in the fourth quarter that affects this number so much?

Despite the Falcons cutting their lead to just three points, the Giants were still in a good place until their penultimate drive began with 4:38 left in the game. They had the ball at their own 36-yard line and a chance to put the game away. This doesn't really happen for this team, though. We all know that. The ability to close out games -- even in their wins -- has been something that New York has struggled with in recent years.

The Giants didn't take advantage of that possession, punting after three downs and a costly delay of game penalty by Manning. Their win probability dropped 10 percent on that drive, which is pretty bad, but nothing compared to their poor showings on the other side of the ball.

Through two games, the Giants' defense has allowed 308 yards in the fourth quarter alone. Both the Falcons and the Cowboys seemed to move the ball at an accelerated pace towards the end of each game. In either loss, the Giants just needed one unit to perform properly to avoid a crushing loss, and neither side could step up. On the final Falcons drive, the win probability dropped by more than 45 percentage points, of which the Julio Jones deep catch accounted for 25 percent alone.