New York Giants: 4 Key Stats To Watch In 2016
By Jake Diamond
The 2015 New York Giants struggled to excel in some key statistics that, if done better, easily could’ve propelled Big Blue into the playoffs for the first time since the 2011 season. The biggest issues were on the defensive side of the football where the Giants ranked as the worst defense in the entire league. The offense was pretty good, listed as the 8th best in the NFL last year, but there’s still room for improvement going into the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
While the 2015 Giants had plenty of positives to build on, there are four key stats to conquer if a dark horse Super Bowl run is in the cards.
1. RED ZONE EFFICIENCY
The new offensive coordinator, Mike Sullivan, was focused on two important statistics right from the beginning of offseason workouts: red zone offense and third down conversions. Giants fans are, unfortunately, getting used to the horrid red zone offense. Around here it’s been called the “green zone” but that made no difference as the Giants were unable to cash in, finishing 29th only scoring 24 touchdowns out of the 54 chances. That’s 44%, just to put this in perspective, New York scored 59% in 2014.
2. THIRD DOWN EFFICIENCY
The second offensive stat that could make or break the season is the third down offense. Now, a lot of the terrible conversion percentage is due to the lack of talent on the offensive line over the past few seasons, which also relates to the lack of a consistent running game. Every time you looked up, it seemed as if the Giants were stuck in a 3rd and very, very long. Last season, they only converted 37.8%, which was 22nd in the NFL. One of the best and easiest ways to resolve this is fixing the running attack on first and second down. But, at the same time, don’t be surprised to see the Giants pass the ball even more than they did last year.
3. POINTS ALLOWED AT END OF HALF, END OF GAME
Now, defensively, the offseason created a major overhaul. We all know how much money the Giants spent this offseason on players like Janoris Jenkins, Damon Harrison, and Olivier Vernon. The Giants are hoping that all three of these playmakers will help with the last-minute collapses and also bring the dreadful sack total up from last season.
The Giants lost a handful of games in 2015 within the last 75 seconds of the game, which was the most frustrating problem area to watch out of all the issues the Giants had. If the game were shortened by just 2 minutes, New York would have finished with double-digit wins and easily clinched the division.
Five of the ten losses were decided by a field goal or less, and eight out of ten were decided by a touchdown or less. The Giants tied with New Orleans for most points allowed in the league with 140 in the fourth quarter. On 25 drives at the end of either half, Giants opponents scored 29 points.
With the additions of the free agents, and guys like Eli Apple and Darian Thompson — who may win the starting safety job across from Landon Collins — the Giants are hoping the revamped defense can toughen up in key moments. This issue was mainly because of the lack of ability to get to the quarterback.
Big Blue finished with just 23 sacks, 30th in the league. Defensive Coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, has always loved his pass rush and he has usually been pretty spoiled with talent. The Giants may finally have the playmakers on the defensive line to bring back the beloved “NASCAR” package. The real question is, who will be that third pass rusher behind JPP and Vernon?
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The guy to keep an eye on is second year defensive end, Owa Odighizuwa, who was hurt most of last season. Of course, there are many important factors to a winning season in the NFL, but if the Giants would like to taste the playoffs for the first time in 5 years, these statistics must improve or else it will be yet another long season in the Big Apple.