Preseason statistics for the New York Giants, and all other NFL teams, ultimately don’t count. They don’t go into the record books and won’t be the fuel to start an engaging football-focused conversation. Nobody ever reminisces about the time a fringe-roster player ran for 100-plus yards in a preseason game or scored multiple touchdowns.
Stats in the preseason, however, can sometimes be a good indicator of things to come in the regular season. Victor Cruz had 145 yards and three touchdowns against the New York Jets in a 2010 preseason game and now he is one of the better receivers in the NFL. The Baltimore Ravens led the NFL in offensive yards from scrimmage in the 2012 preseason and five months later they were Super Bowl champions, mainly due to a strong offensive attack that averaged 31 points and 410 yards per game in the playoffs.
Also, the numbers a player on the roster-bubble accumulates in a preseason game, or even during training camp practices, can go a long way towards determining if that player will make the team.
Below are five notable statistics from the Giants preseason to-date.
This stat belongs to defensive end Adewale Ojomo, from last Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, as he continues to show an ability to bring down the quarterback in the preseason. The second year player out of Miami now has five-and-a-half sacks in five career preseason games.
His strong 2012 preseason was good enough for the then-undrafted rookie to make Big Blue’s 53-man roster. A hamstring injury suffered in early September, however, slowed down his momentum and he ended up only appearing in one regular season game.
Another stellar August performance for Ojomo won’t assure him a spot on the roster this year. Big Blue lost Osi Umenyiora to the Atlanta Falcons in free agency but gained two defensive ends who are a lock to make the team, rookie Damontre Moore and Mathias Kiwanuka, who is moving over from linebacker. Therefore, the unit is deeper and Ojomo was already playing catch-up before the Steelers game.
If he keeps getting sacks, though, it will be tough to send him into free agency or over to the practice squad later this month.
1.2 Yards Per Carry
Da’Rel Scott definitely received an opportunity in the first preseason game to show why he deserves to be on the 2013 Giants, topping the team with 10 carries. Unfortunately for him, he was only able to muster 12 yards on those totes, which computes out to, you guessed it, 1.2 yards per carry.
Scott’s main problem, as correctly noted several times by analyst Carl Banks, doing color commentary during the game for NBC New York, was an inability to break through arm and ankle tackles.
To be fair, Scott did have 29 yards receiving on two catches, including a nifty 20-yard catch-and-run in the third quarter. Still, his propensity to get tackled too easily by the Steelers defense was troublesome. Also, it didn’t help him that one of his main competitors for a job, Michael Cox, showed burst and quickness in leading Big Blue with 33 yards rushing on nine carries.
Scott’s other threat to steal a roster spot, Ryan Torain, didn’t play in the game due to a concussion. Torain, however, has recovered and is back at practice while Scott is currently nursing a shoulder injury.
The Giants will likely enter the season with four running backs. Scott is, as of now, looking like the odd-man out.
While preseason games are the main showcase for a player trying to make an NFL squad, the performance in the day-in-day-out grind of training camp practices should not be discounted.
Cornerback Laron Scott has made the most of his time on the field at the newly-named Quest Diagnostics Training Center, grabbing three interceptions in practice through August 14, according to Dan Salomone at Giants.com. He also played well against the Steelers, despite not getting any picks, allowing only two completions for 22 yards on four throws at him.
The Georgia Southern product was on the Giants practice squad all of last season after being signed as an undrafted free-agent rookie. If Big Blue keeps five cornerbacks coming out of camp (as they did last year) then Scott has a real chance to make the team.
The only established player he is competing against is Terrell Thomas, who will attempt to play in a game for the first time in two years this Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. Thomas is coming off two consecutive ACL tears, so there is no guarantee he will rediscover his speed and quickness or remain healthy. He also could move to safety, a position that requires less cutting and, therefore, less stress on the knees.
New York’s defense was stingy against Pittsburgh and their net yardage allowed proves it. They also didn’t surrender an offensive touchdown, with the Steelers only voyage into the end zone coming on a fumble recovery by linebacker Adrian Robinson.
This performance was largely turned in by second, third and fourth stringers but it still carries some significance. Big Blue allowed a porous 383 yards per game last year, placing them 31st in the NFL. In order to make a serious run at a third Super Bowl title in six years, their defense needs to improve dramatically.
Getting into the habit of stopping opposing offenses, even in the preseason, is important. Their effort last Saturday night was a very encouraging start.
The Giants number of penalty yards against the Steelers, on three flags, continued a trend from 2012 of not giving away yardage. New York surrendered 578 yards via the penalty last season, second only to the Falcons.
NFL head coaches almost universally hate when their players get flagged. The number of penalty yards a team allows in a given season, however, is not necessarily a good indicator of winning and losing. For instance, the two teams with the most penalty yards in 2012 were the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, who, of course, met in the Super Bowl. In 2011 the Giants won it all while racking up the eighth-most penalty yards in the league during the regular season.
Maybe a few more false starts and offsides wouldn’t be a bad idea for Big Blue in 2013.