Just How Bad Are the New York Giants?
The New York Giants are one of seven teams to open the year at 0-2. Both of the Giants losses have been by double-digit margins, and as their game against the Texans this week approaches, they sit as two-point underdogs according to Vegas odds-makers despite playing at home.
A couple of early-season losses can merely be a blip on the radar, but they can also be the sign of much worse things to come. So let's take a quick look at how the Giants have performed so far from an advanced analytics perspective, and see if there are better things to come.
Breaking Down the G-Men
Here at numberFire, we have a metric called Net Expected Points (NEP), which tracks whether a player - or team - is playing above or below expectation given how they perform on every play. When looking at total team numbers, we use Adjusted Net Expected Points, which fixed NEP for strength of schedule.
The Giants have ranked terribly, both offensively and defensively, through both weeks this season according to the Adjusted NEP metrics. In Week 1, the Giants’ Adjusted NEP on offense ranked 27th in the league, and their Adjusted Defensive NEP was 31st in the league. Week 2 was barely an improvement, finishing 28th offensively and 26th defensively.
As it stands in the NFC East, a division full of question marks, the Giants have the lowest ranked offense and defense.
As you may have guessed, New York doesn’t look much better on an individual level, either. Eli Manning currently sits 28th among quarterbacks in terms of Passing NEP per drop back. With the poor quarterback play, there have also been no receivers helping to bail Manning out. The Giants top receiver in terms of Reception NEP per target (minimum 10 targets) is Victor Cruz, who sits 42nd in the league.
This is pretty similar to 2013, where Manning was the third-worst quarterback in terms of Passing Net Expected Points among passers with over 100 drop backs. When you factored in rushing, the two signal-callers ranked behind him - Geno Smith and E.J. Manuel - actually moved ahead of Manning, meaning Eli was the worst quarterback in the entire NFL a season ago.
The upside with the Giants offense comes with new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, who runs more of a West Coast style offense, hopefully limiting Eli Manning's mistakes. But so far this season, Eli is tied for the lead in interceptions, which is strongly contributing to his low Passing NEP. His receivers aren't exactly helping him though, especially top guys Victor Cruz, who has five drops through two games.
Rashad Jennings sits at a more respectable 23rd among running backs in Rushing NEP per carry (minimum 15 carries), but that number, especially combined with his 3.2 yards per carry, is far from good enough to carry the team. As a whole, the Giants rank third-to-last in schedule-adjusted Rushing NEP, only ahead of Carolina and San Diego.
Defensively, an improved Giants secondary still sits 27th in the league according to our NEP data, while the rush defense is 18th. Last season, the Giants ranked 11th when it came to stopping the run, and 6th against the pass. So while many will point the finger at Eli for the team's struggles, let's not forget that the Giants defense - especially the secondary - is playing far worse than it did a season ago.
So what does this all mean? Well, our power rankings have the Giants projected to finish the season with the fourth-lowest win total, and also as the fourth-least likely team to make the playoffs. Their 7.3% playoff chance only tops Tampa Bay, Oakland and Jacksonville. With all of these factors working against them, it would be no surprise if they were looking at a top pick in next year's draft.