New York Giants 2014 Season Recap
The New York Football Giants finished the 2014 season with a 6-10 record. For the third straight year, Big Blue missed the playoffs and finished the season with a losing record for the second year in a row. Owner John Mara called finishing 6-10, “an embarrassment”. New York has seen that winning a Super Bowl is not easy, but you need to qualify for the playoffs before you win a Super Bowl. The playoff drought has fans and management searching for answers. However, one answer that the Giants believe they have figured out is at head coach.
Tom Coughlin was brought back by the team for the 2015 season. John Mara and general manager Jerry Reese, agreed that Coughlin gives the team the best chance to win in the future. However, if the Giants don’t make the playoffs next year, Mara indicated that the possibility of letting Coughlin go, “wouldn’t be an unfair statement”. The pressure is certainly on the 68 year old head coach who said he, “doesn’t want to be associated with losing”, when asked about his legacy. Coach Coughlin knows that he and his staff need to do a better job of finding ways to win. Winning games against their rivals in the NFC East would be a place to start. New York finished just 2-4 in the division this year, and both wins were against the 4-12 Washington Redskins.
The defense was an area of great concern as well this season. New York finished ranked 29th in total defense under defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. There was some speculation that Fewell would be fired due to the defense’s poor performance this season. John Mara made clear that the coaching decisions would be left up to Tom Coughlin, but he would give his input before the head coach made his decision.
Big Blue was also decimated to injuries this season, putting a league high twenty players on injured reserve. Cornerbacks Prince Amukamara, who was having a breakout season, Walter Thurmond III, and Trumaine McBride were all lost due to season-ending injuries. Fewell may get a pass for this season and blame the unit’s struggles on the massive number of injuries the team suffered. Safety Antrel Rolle has been supportive of Fewell and wants him to come back. However, Giants fans are wondering if he and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul will be back. The way things are looking, New York will most likely use the franchise tag on Pierre-Paul, which Mara indicated was “an option”. Rolle will most likely be the subject of free agent talks with the team. I believe that both will be back in a Giants uniform next season.
On the other side of the ball, a star was born. Odell Beckham Jr. took the league by storm in the twelve games that he played this season. Beckham finished with 91 catches, 1,305 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns. He is the overwhelming favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year and has been selected as the first alternate receiver in the Pro Bowl. The offense was struggling mightily in Philadelphia during Big Blue’s Week 6 showdown and was held scoreless in that contest. To make matters worse, Victor Cruz suffered a season-ending knee injury in that game and Giants fans everywhere were wondering who the offense would rely on to generate its playmaking ability. Beckham stepped up to the plate and produced numbers that are unheard of for a rookie. He was generating the kind of buzz that Randy Moss did when he was a rookie back in 1998. Moss finished that season with 69 catches, for 1,313 yards and 17 touchdowns. However, Moss played all 16 games and Beckham Jr. only played 12.
Eli Manning also flourished this season, his first in the new system installed by offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. Manning finished the season completing a career high 63.1 percent of his passes, throwing for 4,410 yards and 30 touchdowns. Manning eclipsed the 4,000 yard mark for the fourth time in his career and the 30 touchdown mark for the second time. He continued to show that he is the franchise QB that teams so desperately crave in the NFL. Look for Manning’s numbers to increase if he has a healthy Victor Cruz to work with, a solid offensive line, and a reliable running game with Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams. Adding depth to the offense at all positions, will only benefit Eli and give Big Blue a better shot at returning to the playoffs. We’ve all seen twice what Eli can do in the playoffs with solid weapons around him.
There’s reason for hope and optimism for the Giants next season. Victor Cruz will be back to provide the offense with another weapon. Prince Amukamara among others will come back and give the Giants more of a spark on defense. New York will pick 9th in the 2015 Draft and will most likely use that pick on an offensive lineman. Adding depth to that position will help Big Blue keep Eli Manning upright. Upgrading the defensive line and linebackers will also be a priority going into next season. If Jerry Reese can draft another player with the similar immediate impact of Odell Beckham, New York will be on the road back to earning a spot in the postseason. For now, the Giants are on the clock.