What Does the Addition of Shane Vereen Mean for the New York Giants' Offense?
According to a report from NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, former Patriots running back Shane Vereen is going to be joining the New York Giants for the 2015 season.
Adding a New Dimension
Vereen is one the best in the league catching the ball out of the backfield, something that both Jennings and Williams struggle with. Looking at numbers from the 2014 season, it's clear that Vereen's efficiency as a receiver is on an entirely different level than the others in terms of our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric. NEP is our way of quantifying a player's production in terms of points added above or below expectation level and accounts for in-game variables such as down-and-distance to paint a more accurate picture than box scores alone.
|Player||Receptions||Reception NEP||Reception NEP/Target|
Jennings has never posted a single-season Reception NEP higher than even Vereen's worst year (excluding his rookie season in which he played 26 snaps). Vereen's worst Reception NEP (11.69) came in 2012, and Jennings' best (10.71) was in 2013.
For more context, Vereen has been in the top 10 among receiving backs in each of the last two seasons. Among backs who saw 40 or more targets, Vereen was the fourth-most efficient receiver, posting a Reception NEP per target of 0.52. The number fell to 0.42 in 2014, but that was still good for eighth in the league.
Vereen's Impact on the Ground
While Vereen is set to be the best receiving threat in the Giants' backfield, he doesn’t stand to add much in terms of their rushing attack.
Vereen finished the 2013 season 26th among backs with 40 or more carries with a Rushing NEP of 1.54. In 2014, he finished 30th with a Rushing NEP of -3.08. While those numbers aren't terrible, Jennings posted a Rushing NEP of 11.80 and -0.51 in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
Vereen is clearly best utilized in the passing game, and it would be no surprise to see his usage come mostly on third downs and, like it was in New England, fairly dependent on the game plan from week to week.
Effect on the Offense
So what does the addition of a dangerous pass-catching back mean for the Giants' offense?
In 2014, Giants' backs combined for 97 targets, recording 60 receptions for 460 yards and 0 touchdowns.
Vereen's numbers in 2014 were quite similar. He caught 52 passes for 447 yards and 3 touchdowns. The biggest difference being that Vereen did it on 20 fewer targets, seeing 77.
With a more dangerous receiving threat accounting for these targets out of the backfield, these numbers should not only improve but also help draw some attention away from the Giants' receivers.
Whether the Giants can get it together on the defensive side of the ball -- they ranked 25th in the league in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play, our schedule-adjusted metric to determine a defense's efficiency -- will have a big impact on their success, but loaded with weapons heading into 2015, their offense should put up impressive numbers, likely building on their 16th-ranked offense in terms of Adjusted NEP per play.