…this is long, so apologies ahead of time.
The general view, which many -- if not all BBIers -- share is that by Coach Coughlin’s last year (the 2015 Season), the Giants roster from 1 – 53 was a Bottom Five (or very close to Bottom Five) NFL roster. And it wasn’t much better the year before.
And when your roster is bottom tier, no big surprise that in Coach Coughlin’s last two seasons (2014 and 2015), the Giants had identical records of 6 – 10.
After the 2015 Season (with Ben McAdoo now as Head Coach), Giants Management decided to go all-in on trying to fix a totally messed up defense. And no wonder! Check out these defensive stats from 2014 and 2015:
2014: 22 Rank
2015: 32 Rank
Total Yards Allowed:
2014: 29 Rank
2015: 30 Rank
Rushing Yards per Carry Allowed:
2014: 32 Rank
2015: 24 Rank
Clearly, the defense needed a bigtime fix and the infusion of Olivier Vernon, Snacks Harrison and Janoris Jenkins helped tremendously last season (not to mention JPP’s full-time return and the Year Two development of Landon Collins!)
But we all know that the roster problems for the Giants were not just confined to the defense! They had significant issues on offense, which were masked by the combination of Eli Manning to Odell Beckham Jr.
Thus, in points scored, the Giants were a “respectable” 13th in 2014 (Ben McAdoo’s first year as Offensive Coordinator) and a very respectable 6th in 2015. And total offensive yards gained looked good as well: Ranked 10th in 2014 and Ranked 8th in 2015.
But there were huge termites under the wood veneer of Eli-to-OBJ (if you’ll forgive the pun)! Our rushing game was bad – in Coach Coughlin’s second to last season (2014), the Giants were ranked 30th in yards per carry and 18th in 2015. In addition to a weak offensive line that was really poor at run blocking, the offense had other significant holes, including a weak-to-mediocre stable of running backs and tight ends, and no real receiving threats after OBJ.
Thus, was it really such a surprise that the Giants offense crashed in 2016? We had a lot of missing pieces going into that season and the rankings reveal that:
Points For: 26th
Total Yards Gained: 25th
Rushing Yards per Carry: 30th
I've heard on BBI countless times how teams can turn things around quickly... and how quickly fortunes can change. And I suppose one can point to last season's record as just such a case!
But a longer view, and perhaps more realistic one, may be this:
(1) The Giants were so structurally flawed after the 2014 and 2015 Seasons that it was impossible to re-make their entire roster in one or two years;
(2) The Giants did not have the cap space to re-make both the defense AND offense in one fell swoop;
(3) They swung for the fences on defense and succeeded; they tried to draft their way to a better offense, and that takes time (and it takes even more time when your draft picks don't all hit);
(4) I doubt Giants management was under any delusion about the quality of their O-line... it has been very weak in the run game for at least 4 straight years (NOTE: it was ranked 30th in Yards per Carry in 2013);
(5) Perhaps the Giants most serious miscalculation was that -- even though the NFL is now a passing league --
it is the unsung running game that can control the tempo and rhythm of the game;
(6) And despite this basic fact, the Giants tried to shield and bolster their Eli-to-OBJ weapon by spending precious resources for Sterling Shepard (#40 Pick); Evan Engram (#23 Pick) and Brandon Marshall (Priority Free Agent signing).
(7) In other words, Giants management may have a faulty priority list, emphasizing the passing game (even with an established OBJ) over the running game;
(8) Compounding the problem was they didn't fully realize that the Eli-to-OBJ connection was taking a fearful toll on our QB who, despite the gaudy passing yards, has lived in an ever-shrinking, dangerous pocket which he has lost faith in.
Bottom line: Have no clue as to where this season is going, but from a longer term perspective, the Giants are still in the process of re-building (and re-shaping) a roster that was seriously degraded just two years ago!
That takes time.