New York Giants: Midseason Report Card
It's officially the midway point of the 2013 NFL season, and the Giants have a nice little one-week vacation to rest their weary legs, ACLs, MCLs, quads and hamstrings before the second semester — I mean the second half — of the season begins on Nov. 10. While the offense left for break a little early and decided to skip the last class on Sunday in Philadelphia, the defense managed to stick it out, and for that, we're grateful.
But despite the current two-game winning streak that the Giants are enjoying, not everything is roses around Giants Nation. In fact, report cards are being handed out today, and I would bet that most of the players receiving one would not be proud to show it to their parents. I better not catch anyone trying to pull the old White-Out trick and fudging the grades, though. Anyway, on to the report card...
Considering the way the offense has looked for long stretches of time this season, a C+ is an extremely generous grade. As far as points per game goes, the Giants are currently ranked 29th in the league, averaging 17.6 points a game, with only the Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars averaging fewer.
The red-zone troubles have been a big part of the offensive ineptitude, as well as the lack of an effective running game, poor play by Eli Manning and far too many turnovers. All of that contributes to this grade, and the only reason why it isn't a C- or a D is because of the potential that is there. With Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks healthy and lining up at wide receiver every Sunday, there is always the potential that the offense will break out of its funk and get back to business, and with RBs Andre Brown and David Wilson likely returning from injury soon, their presence can be the spark that ignites the offense again.
The only reason why this grade isn't an F is because of the way the defense has performed the last two weeks. Despite the fact that Josh Freeman and Matt Barkley barely qualify as NFL quarterbacks at this point, you can't ignore the fact that the Giants defense has allowed a total of zero points over the last two games, and are starting to force more turnovers and put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Justin Tuck has awoken from his hundred-year slumber, Antrel Rolle is playing some of the best football of his career and Terrell Thomas looks better than ever coming off two consecutive ACL injuries.
The defense held both the Vikings and Eagles to below 250 yards of total offense, and they've done an excellent job of compensating for the offense's deficiencies. It's almost a complete 180 from the defense that gave up 30 or more points in five straight games to start the year, and one can only hope this new defensive intensity continues when they actually start to play real teams with real offenses again.
One slip-up and this grade can drop pretty quickly.
Special Teams: F
F — a big, fat F. The special teams have been atrocious this season, and have been directly responsible for four touchdowns being scored by opponents this season. Steve Weatherford and Josh Brown had their best outings of the season on Sunday against the Eagles, with Brown going a perfect 5-for-5 on field goal attempts and Weatherford having several punts downed inside the Eagles' 10-yard-line, including one 68-yard monster of a punt in the second half. Still, that effort wasn't enough to salvage what has been a disastrous first half of the season for the special teams unit.
They've already surrendered three punt-return touchdowns in the first eight weeks, which is inexcusable. The tackling and punt coverage has to improve, and they might also want to aim for the sidelines when punting to dangerous returners instead of serving them up a line-drive punt on a platter directly between the hashmarks.
Overall Grade: D
Any way you slice it, the 2013 Giants are still vastly underachieving and are among the worst teams in the league right now. Until they can prove otherwise by stringing together a few more wins against some quality opponents (and maybe scoring a touchdown or two), I can't bring myself to give them anything higher than a D.
But this isn't the end of the world! There's still an entire half of a season left to play, and things can change pretty quickly in the National Football League. Maybe if they can hit the books during their bye week and spend some extra time studying game film they can ace their next few exams and squeak out a C+ by the time the season is over.