New York Giants 2013 Team Review: Going the Wrong Way

What happened to the Giants in 2013?

The group of numberFire football writers have been writing these team reviews for about two months now, ever since the NFL’s regular season concluded. They’ve been great resources to go through, as each recap tends to prepare you, the reader, for what’s to come with each NFL team throughout the offseason.

I was prepared today to publish the final one, looking back at the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl season. But when looking through my notes, I realized something was missing – it was like the moment Kevin McCallister’s mother realizes her son is missing in the movie Home Alone.

But instead of “Kevin!”, I’m left shouting, “Eli!”

I forgot about the New York Giants.

So while the plan was to publish the Seattle article – the final one in this 32 article series – today, it looks as though you’re all stuck with the polar opposite of the Seahawks on this Monday. That’s right, you get to read about everyone’s favorite 2013 dumpster fire, the New York Giants.

The Good

Was there anything good to take away from the Giants’ 2013 campaign? I suppose you could call a Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis resurgence a good thing – coming back from the dead and playing football is no easy task, after all.

But yes – there was some good to the Giants 2013 season. It just didn’t come on the offensive side of the ball.

The Giants finished this past season with the sixth-best pass defense. No, I’m not kidding. I don’t really care that they finished 10th in passing yards against, either. In terms of Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP), which looks at the number of real points a team surrenders fixed for strength of schedule, New York was ranked sixth.

It actually was an impressive feat, and one of the main reasons the team started winning (kind of) after their 0-6 start. Once Week 6 concluded, the G-Men ranked 28th in the league against the pass, having allowed over 52 points more than they should have. At the end of the season, that number 52 (52.52 to be exact) turned into -27.27, a difference of 79.79. In other words, from Weeks 7 through 17, the Giants were playing about 7.79 points above expectation in the secondary, which was just as good as anyone in the league.

The run defense actually wasn’t all that bad, either, finishing 11th in the NFL in Adjusted Defensive Rushing Net Expected Points. Combine that with the pass defense, and you get a squad that, when adjusted for strength of schedule, was sixth-best in the NFL.

See, New York? It wasn’t all that bad.

The Bad

On second thought, maybe it was. The Giants defense was very underrated in 2013, playing with horrible field position throughout the year. Why horrible field position? Because the offense was like watching E. Honda from Street Fighter continuously slap his helpless opponent against the wall. And yes, in this analogy, the Giants are getting slapped.

Let’s get it over quickly and first look at everyone's favorite fantasy football failure, David Wilson. Entering the season, Wilson was a breakout candidate for many (not us), but easily failed to live up to expectations. And when I say easily, I mean he needed just 44 carries to become the eighth-worst running back in the league in terms of Rushing Net Expected Points this season.

Let me put David Wilson’s unbelievably awful season into perspective for you guys. Since the year 2000, there have been 1,139 running back seasons where a runner received between 1 and 50 carries. Of all of those instances, no running back was more of a detriment to his team than David Wilson was in 2013.

That’s right – 1,139 running backs, and David Wilson was the absolute worst. His -18.03 Rushing NEP on 44 carries was about 2.5 points worse than Mike Bell’s 2010 campaign, where Bell rushed 47 times for a -15.31 score.

Alright, now I'm way too depressed. And I haven’t even started talking about Hakeem Nicks.

Actually, let’s just skip Hakeem Nicks and ignore the fact that Vincent Brown had a better Target Net Expected Points total than he did. That’s just too much to handle.

Instead, let’s focus on the real problem the Giants had in 2013, which was Eli Manning. Our own Leo Howell already wrote about Eli’s tremendously bad year, but I’ll give you some highlights.

Manning finished with the fourth-worst Passing NEP in the league, behind two rookie passers and Blaine Gabbert. He effectively lost 43.56 points for the Giants over the course of the season, which was 322.08 points fewer than his big brother’s mark. He also had a Pass Success Rate (percentage of passes that contribute positively towards his team’s NEP) that was lower than Terrelle Pryor’s.

Manning’s season can be described as one to forget. While you want to see progression no matter the age of the quarterback, Eli Manning was just simply going the wrong way in 2013.

As a result of a poor passing and random fill-ins to run the football, the Giants finished 2013 with the second-worst offense in the league, ahead of only the Jacksonville Jaguars.

What Should They Do?

There are plenty of players I didn't even mention in the bad section above, but it's more or less the same story: The Giants need help on the offensive side of the ball. Hakeem Nicks won't be with the team in 2014 (which is fine), and the running back position has a ton of uncertainty as well. When you factor in an offensive line that Football Outsiders ranked as 30th in run blocking and 19th in pass blocking, you've got yourself a full-blown mess.

Expect the Giants to address the offense. We could see an entirely different type of unit in 2014.

As noted, the defense is a lot better than people probably think. Perhaps a corner opposite of Prince Amukamura could help, but I'd expect more to be done this offseason on the offensive side of the ball.

The future isn't necessarily dim for the Giants, as we've seen Eli Manning turn this team around in the past. But having nothing but optimism wouldn't be smart - the Giants are not the same team they were when they won the Super Bowl just three seasons ago.