5 Underachievers the New York Giants Need to Get More From
New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin always likes to talk about having “all hands on deck” when it comes to roster strength.
In reality, what good is having full strength if some of the players available for the game just aren’t producing?
Clearly with the NFC East still very much wide open, the Giants are not only going to need the injury gods to smile upon them, they’re going to need every single player who gets a game-day uniform to really step up to the plate.
Many already have, but some are still lagging a bit behind either in terms of their production or their consistency.
So let’s look at five players or positions where the Giants really need to come through in both consistency and production if they are to have any chance at all at being in the postseason discussion down the stretch.
DE Damontre Moore
Coughlin made zero attempt to hide his frustration with 23-year-old Damontre Moore, the team’s sack leader with three, who in his youthful exuberance, sometimes doesn’t always play a smart game.
That’s of course what happened against the Eagles, when Moore inexplicably body slammed quarterback Sam Bradford to the ground well after the quarterback had released the ball. The penalty cost his team 15 yards and kept the defense on the field after it had stopped the Eagles on a 3rd-and-long.
Coughlin told reporters during a Tuesday conference call that it might be a while before he can trust the young man on the field again.
I can’t honestly really say that. He’s obviously of a high-energy, he does give outstanding effort, there’s no question about it. But with regard to that, there’s absolutely no excuse for anyone for the unnecessary roughness penalty that he committed.
Not knowing and being aware of the fact with what the down and distance was, and I realize he may not have known what’s going on behind him, but clearly, clearly to understand the way in which the quarterback is protected and rightfully so, and what can and can’t be done from a standpoint of his position, there’s no excuse for that. You used the word trust, I don’t know.
At some point, however, the Giants are going to need Moore if they’re to remain competitive. Coughlin also spoke of plans to sit with Moore to stress upon him the importance of preparing and knowing what he can and can’t do out there.
It’s up to Moore to regain his coach’s trust, a task that while steep, is not out of the question. And when he does regain that trust, it’s up to Moore to contribute with the same passion and enthusiasm he’s always shown, minus the bonehead moves that have landed him in hot water.
CB Jayron Hosley
Barring a rapid recovery, starting cornerback Prince Amukamara is going to miss at least another week, if not more with a slightly torn pectoral muscle.
In his absence, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has turned to Jayron Hosley, the fourth-year corner who has been given one final chance to turn around a disappointing NFL career and prove that he belongs out there with the big boys.
Hosley has certainly said all the right things and now realizes that he just can’t walk in the door, put his time in on the practice field and then go home to relax each day. However, he needs to find some consistency in his game if he’s to minimize the impact of Amukamara’s loss.
Per Pro Football Focus, Hosley missed two tackles last week. In coverage, he was targeted six times, allowing four completions for 66 yards while coming up with an interception.
In fact, Hosley has been solid this season in coverage, ranking sixth among cornerbacks who have taken at least 50 percent of their team’s snaps.
While Hosley isn’t in the same class as Amukamara, with some more consistent play and continued attention to detail, there’s no reason to think that the Giants defensive secondary will be any worse off with Hosley starting until Amukamara returns.
TE Larry Donnell
Tight end Larry Donnell has all the physical tools to be a solid tight end in this league.
The problem, though, is he’s been plagued by inconsistencies—dropped passes, whiffed blocks and mental errors—that have severely hampered his production.
The biggest negative in Donnell’s game has been his inability to pick up yards after the catch. Per Pro Football Focus, he’s averaging just 3.2 YAC, dead last among tight ends who have taken at least 75 percent of their team’s offensive snaps this year.
With receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle hurting and with the running game sputtering, the Giants need to get more out of Donnell at the tight end position.
WR Dwayne Harris
With Victor Cruz’s return date still unknown, the Giants have turned to receiver Dwayne Harris, whom they signed to a five-year, $17.5 million contract in the offseason, to add the slot duties to his list of contributions.
Thus far, Harris hasn’t had the kind of consistency the Giants were hoping to get from him. Per Pro Football Focus, he has been targeted 14 times from the slot, catching 10 passes with three drops.
He has also recorded just 97 yards on those catches from the slot with one touchdown, an average of 9.7 yards per reception against the opponent’s third-best corner, no less.
Compared to the other slot receivers who have taken at least 60 percent of their team’s snaps, Harris is ranked 16th out of 19 slot receivers.
The Giants offense needs to get more out of the slot receiver spot moving forward, as Harris’ 0.80 slot yards per route run average is just not getting it done.
RBs Andre Williams and Rashad Jennings
Last year, running back Andre Williams, who was tossed into the deep end head first, started to really come on strong toward the end of the season, finishing his last four games with two 100-yard performances despite the Giants’ woes on the offensive line.
Within his stats last year, Williams, who was a prolific runner at Boston College and a Heisman finalist, posted six runs of 15 or more yards, showing exceptional breakaway ability in each.
This year, the long runs haven’t come for Williams, who while supposedly running behind an improved offensive line, has struggled.
According to Pro Football Focus, out of the 50 running backs who have taken at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps, Williams is ranked 25th with a 27.6 breakaway percent thanks to his one long run of 35 yards this season.
To be fair, however, some of the issues have been on the blocking up front, as there have been times when here is just nothing in front of him to exploit.
It needs to be noted that starter Rashad Jennings has a worse breakaway percentage than Williams (11.1 percent).
Any way you slice it, the Giants running game, which started the season ranked 15th in the league but which has dropped every week since then, hitting 28th after Week 6, needs to step up to the plate to help take some of the stress off the passing game.
Patricia Traina covers the Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise sourced.
Follow me on Twitter @Patricia_Traina.