The New York Giants' 2-6 start hasn't given their fan base much to smile about, but there have been a few individual performances that are worthy of MVP consideration at the halfway point in the 2013 season.
As the Giants return to work this week to prepare for the Oakland Raiders in what will be the first of three consecutive home games, we take one last look back at some of the players whose individual performances in the first half of the season have made a positive impact.
Read the nominees' profiles and then be sure to vote for your pick for the Giants 2013 Midseason MVP.
Cornerback Prince Amukamara
Amukamara is currently second on the team with 45 tackles and is tied for second in interceptions with one (along with three other teammates).
He leads the Giants with two forced fumbles, and, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he has missed just two tackles.
In coverage, he has allowed 33 passes (out of 51) to be completed for 309 yards (9.4 yards per completion).
He’s also allowed just 97 yards after the catch and one touchdown, the latter of which is the best mark this season of any of the Giants' active cornerbacks.
"This year was the first time that he was able to go through all the OTAs, all of minicamp, all of training camp and everything without any setbacks injury-wise, and that’s a huge plus for a young player to be able to go out there and play and practice," said Giants cornerbacks coach Peter Giunta.
"Every game he is getting better and better."
Cornerback Terrell Thomas
The fourth-rated cornerback per Pro Football Focus, Thomas, who has put together an inspiring season after missing the last two years due to consecutive ACL surgeries on the same knee, has 33 tackles (fourth-best on the team), one sack and one tackle for a loss in the 320 defensive snaps played to date.
In coverage, he’s allowed just 29 out of 43 pass targets to be completed for 293 yards, 127 of which have come after the catch. He’s also given up four touchdowns, broken up three passes and forced a fumble.
“Terrell does a great job in his preparation and knows what’s going on and is a great communicator on the field,” said Giunta. “So having him out there with (safeties) Antrel (Rolle) and Will (Hill) and all the other guys has been a tremendous plus for us.”
Linebacker Jon Beason
Is it a coincidence that since Jon Beason was acquired by the Giants in a trade with the Carolina Panthers, New York’s defense hasn't allowed an offensive score in its last eight quarters played, or an offensive touchdown in its last 10 quarters of action?
That's up for debate, but one thing that isn't up for debate is that the Giants' run defense, which was solid even before Beason came to the team, has improved, as per the statistics shown below:
|NY Giants Run Defense: Before and After Jon Beason|
|Category||Before Beason||After Beason|
|Avg. Yards Per Carry||3.9||3.6|
|Avg. Rushing Yards per Game||122.5||102.3|
|Source: NFL Weekly Media Stat Pack|
As for Beason's individual stats since joining the Giants, he’s recorded 25 tackles in three games as the new middle linebacker, which is tied for eighth-best on the team.
He’s also been the tackles leader in two of his first three games for New York and has done a nice job of filling holes to help take away the inside rushes while also chasing down ball carriers from sideline to sideline when they attempt to threaten the edges.
One of the biggest things Beason has brought to the Giants has been leadership.
"I've always been a firm believer that there has to be one voice on the field," said linebackers coach Jim Herrmann.
"Coaches are on the sideline, somebody has to be the voice on the field. When you have a guy like that, that one voice resonates to everyone on the field, and the results are you have 11 guys on the same page, which is good."
Receiver Victor Cruz
For whatever the reason, the Giants passing game has yet to get fully on track.
Quarterback Eli Manning entered Week 9 as the league leader in interceptions with 15. He's also been sacked 19 times. Both of those midseason stats match his 2012 season totals.
Receiver Hakeem Nicks, meanwhile, has yet to record a touchdown reception, while Rueben Randle has been the target on six of his quarterback’s 15 interceptions.
Through the mess that is the Giants passing game, though, has been Cruz, who in the first year of his new contract continues to play as though he’s one step away from being tossed onto the street.
Entering Week 9, Cruz’s 677 receiving yards ranked him fourth in the NFL. Perhaps most impressive, though, is that Cruz, who posted back-to-back seasons with double digit drops per the data provided by Pro Football Focus, has only been charged with two drops through eight games this season.
Also, Cruz’s 14.4 yards per reception is seventh-best in the NFL among receivers with at least 40 receptions as of Week 8.
Receiving stats aside, Cruz’s position coach, Sean Ryan, said that Cruz has taken his game to a completely new level.
“He has been tremendous, and I’m not just talking about the passing game,” said Ryan.
“In the running game, he is blocking his butt off and coming down and blocking safeties to the point where he never used to do these things last season for me. Now he’s been very competitive and tough getting his nose dirty in there, and it has helped our team.”
Safety Antrel Rolle
The Giants defensive co-captain doesn't get much credit, but his versatility and his selflessness in playing multiple positions, even at the expense of his personal statistics, are deeply appreciated and admired by the coaching staff.
“Antrel is everywhere," said Giants safeties coach David Merritt. "He has played corner, he’s played strong safety, he’s played free safety, he’s played nickel, and he’s done that from day one since he arrived and it’s no different this year.”
“I (once) asked him, ‘You know what position you’re playing?’ He said, ‘I have no clue.’ I said, ‘You’re playing the strong safety position,’ and he said, ‘OK, wherever you tell me to go, that’s where I’m going to go.’”
Rolle, whose 595 snaps are the most among Giants safeties, leads his team with three interceptions.
Per Pro Football Focus' data, he’s tied with Thomas for most sacks (1.0) among members of the defensive secondary and is the only member of the defensive backfield to post a quarterback hurry.
“That young man studies more than any safety I have in the sense that he comes to me all the time and he’s asking about certain plays and we sit and we chat about the plays that he asks about and it’s tremendous to have a kid that way,” Merritt said.
Don't forget to go back to the top of this article and cast your vote for the Giants' midseason MVP. If you have another candidate that's not listed, be sure to cast a “write-in” vote in the comments below.
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