By the Numbers: The Good and Bad of the New York Giants' 1st 10 Games
Statistics might not tell the entire story, but much like the eyes, they’re a mirror into a team’s soul.
So as the New York Giants coaching staff concludes its annual bye-week self-scouting process, let’s chime in with some statistics, both good and bad, that have thus far helped define the Giants’ 5-5 season.
The Bad: 18
There’s nothing worse than those little yellow flags that come flying in from the striped-shirt men and woman tasked with officiating games every week.
When those yellow flags kill an otherwise productive drive, it’s no wonder there’s a spike in television-repair requests from frustrated Giants fans who, in a fit of anger, hurl the remote at the poor TV, the mere messenger of the bad news.
This year, the Giants have committed 82 penalties, with the top three infractions being offensive holding (14, 10th-most in the NFL), false starts (12, 21st-most) and defensive holding (nine, 27th-most), per NFL GSIS.
Of the 82 penalties (good for 554 yards, by the way), 11 were declined, but in the process, 18 of those penalties caused a scoring drive to stall.
Curious to know who the top offenders are? Start with the two offensive tackles, Ereck Flowers (seven) and Marshall Newhouse (six). They’re followed by defensive end Damontre Moore (five) and quarterback Eli Manning, both with five apiece, with guard Geoff Schwartz (four) coming in fourth.
For those who are keeping score at home, that’s four offensive players—and three offensive linemen—in the top five most-penalized Giants.
Not good at all.
If the Giants want to win these last six games, it goes without saying that they cannot continue to self-inflict wounds that hurt their chances, especially on offense.
The Good: +13
The Giants might have the league’s second-worst defense thanks to allowing opponents an average of 420.9 yards per game, but they’re crushing the league when it comes to the turnover ratio with a plus-13 mark.
The Giants defense has a league-leading 23 takeaways—14 interceptions and nine fumble recoveries.
Leading the way in the interception department are cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Trumaine McBride, who are tied for the team lead with three picks apiece, the total of which accounts for 42.8 percent of the Giants interceptions thus far this season.
On the ground, there is a four-way tie for most forced fumbles (two) between linebackers Uani ‘Unga and Jasper Brinkley, defensive end Robert Ayers and Rodgers-Cromartie. Cornerback Trevin Wade (two) leads the team in fumble recoveries.
Of course, this league-best ranking wouldn’t be possible without the help of the offense, which has done a much better job of taking care of the ball. The Giants have 10 turnovers—six interceptions and four lost fumbles—averaging one per game.
That’s a significant improvement for the offense, which last year had 28 turnovers—an average of 1.75 per game.
The Bad: 2.0
This statistic represents the average point differential in games played thus far, of which the Giants are actually the last of 15 teams to have a positive number in this category, per the NFL rankings on NFL GSIS.
That, however, isn’t good news, because if the season were to end today and the playoff fields were to be set, the fourth-seeded Giants would be the last in a playoff field that would include Carolina, Arizona, Minnesota, Green Bay and Atlanta.
That’s not to say the Giants, if they get into the playoffs, wouldn’t make it interesting, but wouldn’t it be nice if just for once their games weren't of the back-and-forth variety?
The Good: 23
With all the problems that a team has to worry about, isn’t it nice to know that the field-goal kicker isn’t one of them?
That’s right, 36-year-old Josh Brown has been Mr. Automatic for the Giants, nailing 23 of his field-goal attempts (best in the league through 10 weeks) while adding onto his franchise-record-setting performance of 27 straight field-goal conversions.
Mike Eisen of Giants.com notes that Brown, who is two points behind New England’s Stephen Gostkowski for the league lead among scorers, also has the second-longest active streak among field-goal kickers, trailing Gostkowski.
Brown has been money on his long-distance field goals as well, hitting 7-of-7 from 40-49 yards and 3-of-3 from 50 yards or more.
Only Gostkowski and Steven Hauschka of Seattle can lay claim to being perfect in their attempts from those distances.
Brown's 100 percent conversion rate, by the way, puts the Giants way above the league average of 85.4 percent, according to NFL GSIS.
The Bad: 44.4 Percent
What do the Giants' losses to Dallas, Atlanta and New England all have in common?
The answer, besides the outcome being decided by four points or fewer, is that the team’s performance in the red zone was terrible.
In the first two games (Dallas and Atlanta), the Giants had four red-zone trips; against the Patriots, they had five. And in each of those three games, the Giants converted just one red-zone trip into a touchdown, which means they went 3-of-13 in games where the margin of defeat was razor-thin.
So it’s no surprise that the Giants’ current red-zone percentage of 44.4 percent is below the league average of 55.09 percent, per NFL GSIS.
It’s also not surprising that performing better in the red zone over the final six games is a priority, according to quarterback Eli Manning.
“We have been close; we move the ball when we get down there [but] we have to do better in the red zone,” he said. “We have to find ways to get more touchdowns there. You look at the game and you see opportunities, you see close plays and a lot of ‘almosts,’ but almost is not cutting it, so we have to step it up down there.”
He’s right; this team isn’t good enough to squander opportunities, which is something the Giants will hope to fix moving forward.
The Bad: 28:31
The Giants are ranked fourth in the league in average points per game with 27.3 despite being ranked 27th in average time of possession, 28:31.
Given that disparity, one can’t help but wonder just how dangerous the Giants offense would really be if it were to take advantage of some of the opportunities it has squandered in the red zone, or if it found a way to extend even half of its 27 three-and-out series this season.
The Good: 3.91 Percent
The Giants' revamped offensive line has done a good job this year in terms of pass protection, despite having five brand-new starters at each position—one of which is a rookie (Ereck Flowers) at the all-important left tackle spot.
The offensive line has allowed 15 sacks thus far this season, a rate of 3.91 percent per pass attempt. That’s good enough for the fourth-best mark in the league, behind the Jets, Raiders and Washington.
However, per Pro Football Focus, the Giants' pass blocking is actually ranked 15th, because PFF takes into consideration hits and hurries in addition to sacks.
PFF has the Giants offensive line as having surrendered 116 total pressures, the ninth-most allowed in the league.
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.