Statistics and numbers, analytics and metrics, yards and points. In today's NFL, we are bombarded with figures from every possible direction, but what does any of it mean? We have reached peak-data for football, and it's becoming increasingly difficult to determine which information is worth your attention. Several major companies will sell you their packages, and these products can cost you a pretty penny.
This is a new article aimed to outline the important numbers each week, the ones you need to pay attention to, and the reasons why. Using a host of services, "Blue Data" is our effort to process the vast ocean of digitized material about the New York Giants and turn it into a digestible weekly portion.
Right now, it looks as though this will replace the Pro Football Focus review column written by 'Invictus.' The idea here is to expand our range outside of just one company's numbers. By opening up the article to include other areas and other metrics, we can give you a more dynamic view of the Giants performances, but PFF grades will still play a big part in this article, especially when the regular season rolls around and they actually mean something. For the moment, we're going to try open up towards more contextual and specific stats, rather than telling you about a whole lot of 0.3 and -0.7 grades.
This is a new thing we're trying out, and we will refine the style as things progress, but we need your help. Any feedback about what you liked or disliked is extremely valuable. For example, maybe you want to hear more about those PFF grades, or you don't like the format, or hell, it's possible you don't even like the name. We will find a good balance over time, but it's the preseason for us too, and we need the practice to get things right for September and onward. Help us to help you!
Cornerback Trevin Wade played 42 snaps in the preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, the most of any Giants player. In part, this was due to the injuries sustained in the secondary. With Jayron Hosley and Trumaine McBride both leaving early, and Prince Amukamara as a no-go right from the start, the team got to see Wade much earlier in the game than may have been planned, though the extra snaps worked in Wade's favor. His PFF grade of 3.1 was second-best for the team and third-highest for cornerbacks league-wide in the preseason so far.
Eli Manning's QB rating of 56.3 was lower than backup Ryan Nassib's 57.4. Notoriously, the QB rating system has systematic flaws and fail to take into account important areas such as fumbles, or yards after the catch. The formula for calculating these numbers involves completion percentage, average yards per attempt, touchdowns per attempt, and interceptions per attempt. It's not entirely useless and a high score does generally give an idea of a good game, but crowning one player over another with a similar lower score is problematic. ESPN's Total QBR metric is a more reliable figure, but it's formula remains private and scores aren't available for the preseason.
The Giants quarterback group were under pressure on an astonishing 31.5 percent of passing snaps. This number isn't solely credited to the porous offensive line, though a rough performance from the unit didn't help. Pressure can result from a number of areas other than bad blocking, such as overload blitzing or a quarterback navigating his own way into trouble.
The defense may have only notched a single interception against the Bengals, but their five passes defensed was more than they achieved in any game in 2014 season. This was helped by Wade's superb individual effort, which saw him create the lone turnover as well as adding two pass defenses to the team total. We won't know for a while whether this is an outlier or the start of a promising new trend for Steve Spagnuolo's defense.
No running back was as successful as Orleans Darkwa. The sophomore -- who is currently on the roster bubble -- racked up 52 yards on nine rushing attempts. His big success came when he ran between the center and left guard and scampered off for a 20-yard gain. On the night, he gained 30 yards after contact, which is notable as no other Giant managed to get more than four yards after initial engagement.
Manning did not attempt a deep pass (anything more than 20 yards in the air). While it is only the preseason, and Manning didn't play a ton of snaps, this is still indicative of Ben McAdoo's influence on the offense. In Kevin Gilbride's old system, there were drives when Manning didn't attempt anything under 20 yards. His unwillingness to try a deep shot may stem from a need to get rid of the ball quickly amidst Swiss cheese blocking.
Much maligned defensive tackle Markus Kuhn got his shot to start, but failed to impress. His backup, Jay Bromley, is gunning for his job and the gap between the two players shrunk after Friday's game. Bromley played 28 snaps, and made the most of his time on the field, sneaking through for a QB hit and two run stops, and earning a team-high +3.4 grade from PFF. Kuhn is not only on the verge of losing his starting position, he's close to the roster bubble. If Bromley keeps up at his current pace, the Giants should feel confident moving on from the German entirely.
The first-string offensive line stayed in for the first 25 snaps, long after other starters left the game. It would be fair to speculate that they disappointed Coach Coughlin. This line was missing Will Beatty and Geoff Schwartz, and while the latter is expected to return soon, it's clear they needed to build experience working as a unit. First-round rookie Ereck Flowers could have been better, yet held up well in his first NFL competition. A face-mask penalty was a costly 15 yards, but he didn't surrender a single QB pressure and was decent in the run game. If Flowers can build on what he showed against Cincinnati -- which admittedly, has one of the better lines in the league -- then Beatty's absence won't be so noticeable.