Naughty Nurse: Giants powerful but inefficient

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Apr 23, 2011



(Our Russian mail-order Naughty Nurse checks the statistical vital signs of the Giants below. Click here to see our pre-draft reviews of other NFL teams.)
 
By Jeff Goldberg
Cold, Hard Football Facts Miracle Worker
 
If you're going to have a New Meadowlands, then you have to have a new Miracle.
 
Joe Pisarcik, meet Matt Dodge. Herm Edwards, say hello to DeSean Jackson.
 
It was the moment that defined the season for the New York Giants, the final failure in an epic meltdown that ultimately cost the Giants a playoff berth in 2010. Having already gagged away a 21-point fourth quarter lead, punter Dodge did not dodge the Eagles' devastating return man Jackson, allowing a 65-yard touchdown return as time agonizingly expired on a Week 15 loss just before Christmas.
 
Miracle, indeed.
 
Like that, a season dominated by defense went belly-up. Big Blue became black & blue the next week in a do-or-die game against the Packers, allowing 45 points to be mathematically eliminated. The Giants, along with the Buccaneers became the rare 10-win team to not make the postseason, giving the new arena, and a new generation of Giants fans, a new moment of infamy.
 
NEW YORK GIANTS
The 2010 Storyline: The best team not to make the playoffs.
 
The Vital Signs
2010 record: 10-6 (24.6 PPG – 21.7 PPG)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 1-4 (19.2 – 30.2)
Last five seasons overall: 48-32 (.600)
Best Quality Stat in 2010: Defensive Hog Index (3rd)
Worst Quality Stat in 2010: Bendability (20th)
 
All Quality Stats   
Defensive Passing YPA: 6th
Quarterback Rating: 16th
Defensive Quarterback Rating: 4th
Relativity Index: 12th
 
 
Statistical curiosity of 2010
Maybe it really was the punter's fault: The Giants were the only team in the league to allow more than one punt return for a touchdown (2).
 
Best game of 2010
17-3 victory vs, Bears (Week 4). This was Big Blue at its finest. After a pregame pep talk from the greatest sack-master of them all, Michael Strahan, the Giants destroyed Jay Cutler, sacking him nine times in the first half for an NFL record and sending him to the sidelines with a concussion. Then they knocked backup Todd Collins out of the game, too, totaling 10 sacks for the game, two shy of the franchise record. The Bears, who would go on to reach the NFC championship game, were limited to 110 yards of offense.
 
Worst game of 2010
38-31 loss vs. Eagles (Week 15). The lasting images are Jackson tip-toeing the goal-line before scoring the final, fatal points to ensure the clock expired, and Giants coach Tom Coughlin nearly strangling Dodge in the middle of the postgame confusion, stark-raving furious that Dodge didn't punt the ball out of bounds. But just like Bill Buckner in 1986, the game was lost way before Dodge booted it. It certainly wasn't Dodge's fault that, after allowing the Eagles 72 yards of offense in the first half, the Giants defense let Michael Vick and the Eagles amass 220 yards in three TD drives over a seven-minute span to turn a 31-10 deficit with 8:17 left into a 31-31 tie with 1:16 on the clock.
 
Strength
Deeee-fense. The Giants reached back to their roots in 2010, playing the kind of defense that won Super Bowls under Bill Pacells and Bill Belichick in the 1980s. The Giants ranked in the top 6 in Defensive Passing YPA, Defensive Passer Rating and Defensive Hog Index, holding four opponents under 200 total yards of offense and forcing a league-leading 39 turnovers. They appeared to have reached their zenith in the Week 15 Eagles game, entering the final quarter having allowed just 20 total points and two touchdowns over the previous 11 quarters, before Vick and Jackson undressed them and killed their season.  
 
Weakness
Turnovers. The Giants led the league in forcing turnovers, but were last in the league in giving them away, committing 42 turnovers themselves, including a season-high six in the 45-17 loss to the Packers in Week 16 that mortally wounded their postseason chances. All their giveaways resulted in the Giants possessing mediocre rankings in Bendability and Scoreability, as the failed to effectively convert their 380 yards-per-game into points, while allowing opponents cheap scores to sabotage an otherwise stout defense.
 
General off-season strategy/overview
As strong as the defense was in 2010, the Giants could use help at the linebacker position, particularly on the outside. Keith Bulluck was not much of a factor and Jonathan Goff and Michael Boley could use an impact player beside them. Shoring up the offensive line, especially at left tackle, is another area of need. 
 
Totally premature 2011 diagnosis
There is no reason to think the Giants can't repeat, let alone improve on their 10-6 record, especially if Eli Manning has a healthy group of receivers to throw to and the running backs can hold onto the football. The team displayed plenty of firepower in 2010, but struggled with efficiency on both sides of the ball. Merely cutting back on turnovers could be worth a victory or two in 2011, and an NFC East title is definitely within reach.

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