2013 New York Football Giants Season Recap
The New York Football Giants wrapped up their 2013 season with a disappointing 7-9 record, amassing a ghastly 44 turnovers and a paltry 18.3 points per game with a rather offensive display of offense all season. The Giants never seemed to be on the same page with each other offensively after the BYE week in the 2012 season, with three shutout losses in the past 24 games, which is almost unheard of, considering this general core of players has been scoring about 26 points per game on average over the past five seasons. Although the offense turned over the football at a historically-bad rate, and there were key injuries on both sides of the football (particularly the defense, which still performed admirably well despite being put into tough situations all season due to the offense’s turnovers), the Giants still found themselves in a position to potentially make a push to win the division in Week 17, had they defeated the Dallas Cowboys in Week 12 (which would have pulled the Giants even with Dallas, and a half game behind the Philadelphia Eagles for the division lead).
As it turned out, nine wins would have won the division, and the Giants, despite beginning the season in historically bad fashion, with a galling 0-6 record — despite having a talented set of wide receivers and a beefed-up defense — were still in position to potentially win the division. Here is the breakdown of the season from a statistically, unit and individual standpoint, with some offseason suggestions included in the end.
NEW YORK GIANTS 2013 FINAL STATISTICS
4,920 Net Yards (28th; 307.5 Yards Per Game).
3,588 Net Passing Yards (19th; 224.5 Passing Yards Per Game).
1,332 Net Rush Yards (29th; 83.3 Rushing Yards Per Game).
294 Total Points (28th; 18.4 Points Per Game).
44 Turnovers (-15 Giveaway/Takeaway).
Yes, the offense was broken.
933 Net Kickoff Return Yards (17th; 21.2 per return — No Returns for Touchdowns).
246 Net Punt Return Yards (22nd; 7.2 per return — No Returns for Touchdowns).
David Wilson’s absence was felt.
34 Sacks (T-25th).
17 Interceptions (T-12th; 2 Returned for Touchdowns).
17 Forced Fumbles (T-8th; 12 Recovered).
5,316 Total Yards (8th; 332.3 Total Yards Per Game).
3,573 Passing Yards (10th; 223.3 Passing Yards Per Game).
1,743 Rushing Yards (14th; 108.9 Rushing Yards Per Game).
383 Total Points (18th; 23.9 Points Per Game).
The Giants began the season with a seemingly blasé attitude, as evidenced by CB Terrell Thomas’ comments the day before the Giants headed to Arlington, Texas to face the Dallas Cowboys (http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/09/04/terrell-thomas-were-not-worrying-about-week-one/).
As it turned it out, Thomas’ attitude toward Week 1 and the season in general turned out to be a precursor for things to come. The Giants were sloppy the entire season offensively, while the defense was put into precarious positions for most of the season due to the offense’s turnovers. Considering that FS Stevie Brown was lost to a torn ACL during preseason, CB Corey Webster missed virtually the entire season with leg issues, and DE Jason Pierre-Paul struggled coming off June 2013 back surgery, the Giants played admirably well with a beefed-up rotation at defensive tackle. The acquisition of MLB Jon Beason further bolstered the Giants’ run defense, although pass defense yielded more yardage (albeit fewer points on average, as the turnovers declined following the BYE week, until a late barrage of turnovers to finish the season) once Beason was acquired, as well.
As is the case with all statistics, the numbers must be crunched and viewed from several angles, instead of being viewed myopically and one-sided. In an average season with average numbers of turnovers, the Giants would have had about 23-25 turnovers, and been good for about 25 PPG on offense, which would have alleviated the defense of about 4-5 PPG and about 75-80 yards on defense per game. Given that the Giants lost three games by fewer than 7 points, and lost another due to three turnovers in the 4th quarter in a game where they had been leading prior to the successive turnovers (vs. Philadelphia in Week 5), the metrics would indicate that the Giants would have finished 10-6 or 11-5. However, you are what your record says you are, and when you turn over the football 44 times, you are fortunate to even win 7 games, regardless of the strength of the opponent.
Head Coach: Tom Coughlin
Tom Coughlin has banked a ton of benefit of the doubt in New York. With two Super Bowl wins in 2007 and 2011, and a consistent approach to the game as a head coach, he will return as Head Coach in 2014. The team will want to eventually revisit the situation, as Coughlin will be 70 years old when the 2015 season begins. Despite everything, Coughlin is as energetic as the youngest head coaches in the NFL, and the game has not passed him by. However, the game had indeed passed by former offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, who retired 20 years to the day that former Houston Oilers defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan stealthily punched Gilbride on the sidelines of a game versus the New York Jets on January 2, 1994. Gilbride was the offensive coordinator, and Houston’s offense was on its way to shutting down completely in the playoffs for the fourth straight season under Gilbride. In 1992, the Oilers blew the biggest lead in NFL playoff history. In 2010, the Football Giants blew the biggest regular season lead in NFL history. Both under Gilbride. In the past 24 games, the Giants have been shut out three times. It was time for a change.
Offensive Coordinator: Vacant
Gilbride’s retirement on January 2, 2014 created a void in the position. There is talk that former Giants QB coach Mike Sullivan would return. The fanbase is split on this, because it would represent “more of the same” with the offensive philosophy, rather than a couple of major tweaks and adjustments to what had been largely successful over the decade under Coughlin. If there is indeed continuity in mind, Sullivan would be the pick. However, Norv Turner, Jay Gruden and Gary Kubiak are likely going to be available, despite claims that Turner would not be a good fit. The Giants have had too many issues with their offensive line over the past three seasons, particularly with the inability to run the football, and in the past season and a half, pass protection, as Eli Manning was sacked more (39) in 2013 as he had been in his previous 9 NFL seasons.
Defensive Coordinator: Perry Fewell
Fewell was short his best pass rusher for all but truly two or three games where he (Pierre-Paul) flashed signs of his old self, his ballhawking free safety (Stevie Brown), starting CB Corey Webster, and a lack of depth at linebacker. All things considered, with all the short fields that his defense began with, the Giants still finished 8th overall in total defense; including in the Top 6 after Beason was acquired. Fewell is the least of the Giants’ concerns. The Giants will need to replenish the corner position, add a Sam LB and another pass rusher. If Fewell does not land the Washington Redskins head coaching position, that’s the extent of what the Giants need to do in terms of adding personnel. Whether they decide to retain Linval Joseph, Justin Tuck and Jon Beason is another story.
Eli Manning had his worst season since his 7-game initiation into the NFL in 2004. Considering the state of affairs along the offensive line (which affects the ability to run, pass protect, and as a by-product, the defense against an opposing offense’s time of possession), this was no shock. With 27 interceptions and 7 fumbles, Manning was good for 34 of the 44 turnovers. The offensive line went through seven different lineups, shuffling Will Beatty, Kevin Boothe, Jim Cordle, David Baas, Chris Snee, Brandon Mosley, James Brewer and Justin Pugh at various intervals. The Giants even had to sign Dallas Reynolds off the street late in the season. David Diehl may have played his last game with the Giants. Chris Snee has an arthritic hip which may force him to retire. Mosley and Brewer don’t appear to be dependable. Beatty regressed horribly in both run and pass protection. Boothe was solid and versatile (playing both guard and center), but not spectacular, as he had been in 2011 and 2012, and Pugh — a rookie — may have been the most consistent of all of the offensive linemen, which is an indictment. Half of the available linemen ended up on injured reserve (Diehl, Baas, Snee and Cordle). That did not bode well for the offense in both rushing the football and pass protection for Manning, who ended up forcing passes in order to make plays that were normally available in previous seasons. Gilbride was not the sole reason for the offensive woes (as he pointed out that the offensive line was shoddy even in training camp 2013), but his job was to maximize the potential with what he had. What worked in 2007-2010 no longer worked for the linemen on this team. Gilbride failed to do this, therefore, ownership conveniently made him the scapegoat in order to initiate changes.
The run game was obviously negatively affected as a result. David Wilson went down with a potentially career-ending neck injury. Andre Brown missed the first half of the season coming off a broken leg suffered in the preseason. Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis were brought in as stop-gaps, but Jacobs was injured and has now retired, and Hillis is not nearly the same player he was in his big season in Cleveland a few years ago. Only Michael Cox, a rookie, was left at one point. The Giants also had to replace FB Henry Hynoski, who had two freak injuries — one in the offseason, and one in his first game back in the regular season — with Jon Conner, as the season wore on. The offense was in shambles even in preseason. With the injuries suffered as the season went on, the team never had a chance. Victor Cruz was electric until he went down with an injury in Wee 15. Hakeem Nicks still managed nearly 900 yards, but no touchdowns, and was clearly preoccupied with remaining healthy in time to cash in for a big contract extension in the offseason. Rueben Randle only made incremental progress coming off his 2012 season.
As previously stated, the defense was solid, never electric or exceptional, but did its job. The defensive tackle positions were bolstered in the offseason, and it showed, as the Giants stuffed the run very well all season. The edge rushers were banged up or slowed, but came on late. The outside linebacker positions were sorely lacking, and the middle linebacker position was just a body until Jon Beason was acquired via trade with Carolina, and his rangy ability to make plays from sideline to sideline greatly helped the run defense.
The secondary was beaten up early and often. Prince Amukamara was steady, but only managed one interception in 2013. Antrel Rolle had a Pro Bowl season with 6 interceptions and a forced fumble, with tons of run support and very good coverage ability. Stevie Brown’s injury handicapped the coverage ability for the defense, and Pierre-Paul’s back injury truly hindered the pass rush. Considering everything, the Giants defense played decently.
Trumaine McBride filled in admirably in Webster’s absence. Will Hill came on — but unbeknownst to people who don’t follow college football — he was a very good player at the University of Florida. Ryan Mundy played well when he
Josh Brown was solid on kickoffs and field goals, and Steve Weatherford (outside of a couple of games) was his normal steady self. Coverage teams regressed to 2010 levels, and it may cost Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn his job. Rueben Randle is not cutting it on punt returns, and the kickoff returns have not been nearly as explosive as they were in 2012 with David Wilson returning kicks. Special teams in coverage were poor on both punts and kickoffs, which also killed the Giants in several games, including Kansas City (most abhorrently).
Giants finished 7-9, with 44 turnovers, rank with a D+ grade. The personnel was there to win 10 games and the division. The reality is, the Giants didn’t beat a winning team (at the time that they played them) other than Philadelphia, and lost to every winning/playoff team that they played. You are what your record says you are.
The Giants need to revamp their offensive line, plain and simple. There are pieces present. What will they do with Beatty, coming off a broken leg? Does Boothe go back to left guard? Who will be center? Drafting a center such as Bryan Stork out of Florida State in the 2nd Round? Who mans right guard? Pugh maybe moves to right guard? Who plays right tackle? Beatty? Will the Giants draft a tackle to play Eli’s blind side, or sign a free agent? There are a few ways to go here, but the Giants will have to be smart with the cap space. They may have upwards of $30 Million clear, but some of that has to be attributed to existing roster players, not solely for external free agents.
The running back position needs attention, particularly if David Wilson cannot resume his career. Andre Brown fumbles just as much as Wilson, so what is the recourse — particularly if Brown is injured again — if Wilson cannot go?
The Giants will attempt to retain Hakeem Nicks, but other teams will almost certainly offer him more money than the Giants. Does he truly want to stay? What does the “stability” that he claims to want, consist of? Victor Cruz and Eli Manning are constants. So is Pugh. Randle will be in the mix, but outside of those four, who can truly be a guarantee to return and contribute heavily in 2014? What’s Jerrel Jernigan’s stature going forward within the Giants offense?
Defensively, the questions are all about the health of Pierre-Paul going forward. Back surgery is no light-hearted matter. Some guys never return to their pre-injury form. The fortunate ones, do. Pierre-Paul is lucky that he is only 25. Will Justin Tuck return? Beason? Stevie Brown? Antrel Rolle is entering the final year of his initial deal with the Giants. The bottom line issue is addressing the lack of speed at both OLB positions, while adding another corner, since the Giants will be stacked at safety with Rolle, Brown, Hill and Mundy. The emergence of Johnathan Hankins, Damontre Moore and Markus Kuhn will be pivotal going forward.
Ultimately, the Giants are not far away from contending. Shuffling and stabilizing the offensive line, restoring the pass rush, and plugging the other holes at LB and DB are the main foci this offseason. Managing the cap and drafting for need as opposed to “best available” has to be the philosophy in 2014 for General Manager Jerry Reese. If Reese plays his cards properly, the Giants will be the favorites to win the NFC East.