Byron Dixon| BKD TV
Odell Beckham Jr. happened, the LSU rookie took over as the starting receiver and started to dominate. He began snatching mind-boggling one-handed catches, and the amazing thing is that he made it look routine. The opposition, meanwhile, had no answer for Beckham. They simply couldn’t cover him. Even the league’s best cornerback, Richard Sherman, was torched by Beckham. As a result, New York scored 28, 24, 36, 24, 37 and 26 points in its final six contests. Beckham’s numbers in those games looked like this: 60 receptions, 842 yards and nine touchdowns. Extrapolate that over a full 16-game slate, and it comes out to 160 catches, 2,245 yards and 24 scores. Beckham is for real, and he’s arguably the best receiver in the NFL already.
While We Were Away: New York is going to be difficult to stop unless Beckham is guilty of some sort of inexplicable sophomore slump. And even if his production does slip a bit, he’ll open up opportunities for Eli Manning’s other weapons, including Rueben Randle, Victor Cruz and Larry Donnell. Manning will also have a new toy to work with coming out of the backfield. Shane Vereen was signed over from the Patriots in a very promising move. Vereen isn’t much of a runner in between the tackles, but he’s a dynamic pass-catcher for a running back. The Giants used their first-round draft pick on an offensive tackle, but they focused on finding defensive help after that. They can’t be blamed for doing so; remember that six-game stretch at the end of the season in which they scored a ton of points? Well, they allowed 25 or more in four of those outings, which would explain why they were just 3-3 to close out the year.
New York actually traded up in the second round to obtain Landon Collins. The Alabama product was considered by many to be the top safety product in the class, but yet he still fell to the second frame because of some concerns about his ability in coverage. That’s not good news because the Giants just dealt with the same problem when they had Antrel Rolle in their secondary. Rolle struggled in 2014 and is no longer on the team as a consequence. Stevie Brown and Quintin Demps, who also saw plenty of action at safety, are gone as well. That leaves a pair of fifth-rounders – Cooper Taylor, chosen in 2013, and Mykkele Thompson, a rookie – to battle for the job next to Collins. It wouldn’t be a surprise if this position is a big problem area for New York. Rounding out the secondary, the Giants figure to be much better at corner. They return almost all of the same players, though they lost some depth with Walter Thurmond going to Philadelphia. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara performed well as the starters there last season, though the latter missed half the year with a torn bicep.
2015 Season Outlook: During their first Super Bowl run, the Giants won all of their playoff games on the road and boasted about how they were “road warriors.” They were 9-1 as visitors and 3-0 on neutral sites in 2007. History repeated itself, as New York was 8-3 outside of the Meadowlands and just 5-4 as hosts in 2011. Perhaps they should go back to that, because they’ve been 13-11 as hosts and 9-15 as visitors the past three years and have failed to qualify for the postseason. Josh Brown drilled 24-of-26 attempts last year, including a perfect 4-of-4 from beyond 50.
Steve Weatherford was just 24th in net punting in 2014, and he finished in the middle of the pack in terms of getting kicks inside the 20. The Giants had one of the worst special-teams units in 2013. They improved on kickoffs last season, but they still struggled to cover punts. Excluding two contests against the Cowboys, the Giants play just two teams that qualified for the playoffs in 2014: the Patriots at home in Week 10, and the Panthers at home in Week 15. It’s safe to say that they have an easy schedule.
The New York Football Giants are a team people are overlooking this upcoming season. This offense will be explosive and the offensive line will figure it out at some point and allow them to shine as one of the NFL’s best. Eli Manning will have a good season and this will keep this banged up defense off the field and allow them to play better as well. The NFC East will be interesting and entertaining and the Giants will be in the fold this season.