New York Giants Week 9 Stock Report
That win saw all three phases of the Giants team complement one another. The mistakes were minimized, and the team looked like one that may be a challenger for a playoff berth at the end of the season.
But then came the House of Horrors—Philadelphia and New Orleans to be exact. We were cruelly reminded that the Giants still have a long way to go before they’re ready to make a serious push for the playoffs.
Yes, the Giants are in first place after eight weeks of play, but their inability to separate from the division is rather disturbing.
Then again, when you look at performances such as their 52-49 loss to the New Orleans Saints, a game in which the offense was practically flawless, while the defense couldn’t get out of its own way, no one could blame you for wondering what Giants team is going to show up each week the rest of the way.
With all that said, there was quite a bit of good to come from the game just as there was bad. You can probably guess where this week’s stock report is going, but please read on anyway for some surprising statistics.
Stock Up: QB Eli Manning
In watching last week’s game unfold, you knew that one of the two quarterbacks pictured above was going to be the NFC Offensive Player of the Week winner.
Sure enough, Drew Brees of the Saints walked away with the honors, but that doesn’t mean that Eli Manning’s performance—30-of-41 for 350 yards and six touchdowns—was ignored.
In a rare instance—usually players on losing teams don’t get a nomination for POTW honors—Manning was indeed nominated for his performance, again falling short by the three points his team lost the game by.
Performance aside, it was nice to see Manning snap out of a two-week slump, which saw him go 38-of-62 (61.2 percent) for 359 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the last two weeks.
It also was nice to see the Manning-Odell Beckham Jr. connection firing on all cylinders. Per Pro Football Focus, Manning connected with Beckham on 11 of 14 pass targets for 96 yards and one touchdown over that two-week slump.
Against the Saints, they hooked up on eight of nine passes for 130 yards and three touchdowns, once again whetting the appetite of Giants fans regarding just how exciting this offense can be if everyone does his job.
Stock Down: CBs Jayron Hosley and Trevin Wade
Coaches and players like to say that injuries aren’t an excuse for a drop-off in performance and production, but let’s be realistic.
There is a reason why starters are starting and backups are coming off the bench. If for a minute you buy the hokum that everyone who’s on an NFL team is capable of starting in this league, then I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.
That’s the lesson the Giants found out Sunday when corners Trevin Wade and Jayron Hosley were victimized by Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
According to Pro Football Focus, Hosley and Wade allowed 100 percent of the pass targets (five a piece) against them to be completed, with Hosley allowing 107 yards and Wade 88. Further, Hosley and Wade combined to give up four of Brees’ seven touchdown passes.
The good news for Giants fans is that Prince Amukamara’s return could very well come this week. While there is a chance that Amukamara might be on a pitch count when he does return, having him for a portion of the defensive snaps certainly can’t be any worse than not having him at all.
Stock Up: WR Dwayne Harris
It’s not very often that a player gets carted off the field with a lower body injury only to return to the game and contribute in a big way.
That’s precisely what receiver Dwayne Harris did. Harris suffered a leg injury early in the game and was spotted exiting via a cart, a sight that created concern given how valuable he’s become.
Later on, there was Harris—not just back on the sideline in uniform but back in the game. If that’s not enough to make you appreciate just how worth his $17.5 million contract this multidimensional threat is, Harris chipped in with two touchdown passes after returning to the game.
Considering how injuries have decimated and derailed this team the last three seasons—and that’s not to say that some of the injuries suffered by guys haven’t warranted rest—in this case, it was inspirational to see a player who looked like he was done rub some dirt on his injury and get back out there.
Stock Down: The Pass Rush
At the end of the day, football is about one thing: winning the one-on-one battles against the man lined up across from you.
This season, the Giants pass rush just hasn’t had any kind of success, and it doesn’t seem to matter what scheme, tricks or personnel combinations defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo tries.
Part of the problem no doubt is due to injuries—Robert Ayers Jr. and Owa Odighizuwa, two of the pieces who were being counted on to provide the pass rush, have missed time while injured.
The other part has been the absence of Jason Pierre-Paul, whose reason for being absent is well-known at this point.
The good news, though, is that Pierre-Paul could be back as soon as this Sunday when the Giants visit the Bucs.
Pierre-Paul, who had a little fun with reporters when asked if he was going to play Sunday, finally turned serious to give a more accurate picture of where things stood.
“It’s up to the medical staff; they’re taking me slowly,” he said. “As of right now, I’m continuing to do the reps out there and getting the play calling.”
Head coach Tom Coughlin said that Pierre-Paul has made excellent progress, so much so that he told reporters that they advanced Pierre-Paul to team drills as well as scout-team work this week. However, Coughlin denied that they were rushing Pierre-Paul’s return because of the struggles by the pass rush.
“It has to do with him and whether he’s ready or not,” Coughlin said regarding Pierre-Paul’s rapid rounding into shape. “If he’s ready, we’ll play him. If he’s not ready, then we’ll take more time.”
It remains to be seen when Pierre-Paul does return if he is, as he claims to be, the “same JPP” before his accident.
Stock Up: RB Rashad Jennings
In Sunday’s game against the Saints, running back Rashad Jennings finished with 54 yards on 10 carries, with neither total a season high.
Yet those 54 yards on 10 carries were some of the most solid rushes to come from the running backs in a while.
If the Giants could get that kind of production from all of their running backs, the running game would probably be a lot better off than it’s been so far.
Let’s hope that Jennings, who in that game showed why he’s the starter, continues the pace and that others follow suit.
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.