Football Outsiders: The New York Giants’ Big Money Offseason Didn’t Buy Wins
After spending over $200 million in the offseason on improving an embattled defense, ESPN’s Football Outsiders predicts the New York Giants will end up with just six wins in 2016, right where they ended 2015.
FO uses a fairly complicated analytical approach to predicting wins, but Aaron Schatz explains their breakdown of the Giants like this:
“There are a lot of reasons to believe the Giants will improve on defense: overall trends suggest a rebound after two straight years of decline, and the defensive line in particular should improve with the additions of Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison. But the offense has to overcome an inexperienced line with questionable depth and the loss of starting receiver Rueben Randle. A lot depends on whether Victor Cruz is finally healthy enough to play and what the Giants can expect out of him.”
There’s a fundamental flaw with that argument. Cruz hasn’t seen the field in 18 months and the Giants had the seventh-best passing offense in the league in 2015. FO must believe that the loss of Randle will have an astronomically negative effect on Eli Manning and the Giants. Most Giants fans would tend to disagree with that sentiment.
Randle did finish 2015 with eight touchdowns and nearly 800 yards, but his inconsistency and perceived lack of effort crushed the offense on numerous occasions. Playing alongside Odell Beckham Jr. should create favorable matchups all season long and Randle should have had better consistent productivity.
Jerry Reese is certainly hoping for a healthy Cruz, but he drafted his contingency plan in Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard. Manning calls Shepard “shifty and athletic” and hopes he will be a younger, and healthier, version of Cruz.
It’s also hard to believe that a significantly improved defense will not lead to at least one additional win in 2016. In 2015, the Giants finished last in the NFL in total yards and passing yards allowed, and in opponent’s third-down conversion percentage. It’s hard to believe the addition of Vernon, Harrison and Jenkins can’t improve on those stats. If the Giants can get to the middle of the pack on defense, it should certainly translate to wins.
The Giants also are tied for 30th in strength of schedule for 2016 and it’s Manning’s third year in McAdoo’s offense. Obviously, both should favor the G-Men this season.
FO has the Dallas Cowboys and Tony Romo finishing first in the NFC East with ten wins while the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins finish tied with the Giants at the bottom with six wins.