A Giant Season of Blunders

The New York Giants 2015 season was full of potential – until they blew nearly every game.
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It’s been a frustrating season for the Giants. The team has allowed numerous fourth quarter leads to falter.
Image courtesy of Skyscrapper Sports

They were down 35-7 vs. the undefeated Panthers, but let’s be honest: they should have been winning. It seemed like such an unlikely story for Big Blue. The Giants don’t usually lose until the last two minutes of the game.

It is a few days before Christmas, and I suppose New York was in the giving spirit. Odell Beckham, Jr. dropped a for-sure touchdown in the early minutes of the game, which would have put the Giants ahead 7-0. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Giants best playmaking corner, let an interception that would have likely been returned for a touchdown slip through his hands in the 2nd quarter. Then, Rashad Jennings fumbled on a promising 2nd quarter drive – leading to a quick Panthers score.

Despite the opportunities, the Giants did what they have all season long – they couldn’t seem to make the necessary plays at the necessary times to pull away from their opponents. All of a sudden, they found themselves trailing 35-7. Then, amazingly, New York made an incredible comeback, albeit with some luck granted by Carolina. Tying the game at 35 – I sat there thinking, what did this comeback really mean? With 1:45 left on the clock, Giants fans have seen this act before. They left their opponent way too much time.

Newton and the Panthers marched down the field, setting up a 43-yard field goal try by Graham Gano. He split the uprights, and the Giants slipped to 6-8.

But, how did they get there?

The story of the 2015 Giants season actually contains a narrative that doesn’t quite jive with Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning’s career. The two are best known for their late game, late season heroics in which they rise to the top when the game is on the line. But, it’s been the opposite of that this year.

Although the Giants failures have predominately been closing out games defensively, Coughlin and Manning have managed the clock extremely poor. It all started in week one. In the opening game of the season against Dallas, both Coughlin and Manning did a terrible job of leaving too much time for a Cowboys comeback.

That blunder kicked off the season, but oh, there’s been more. The Giants have held a 4th quarter lead in eleven of fourteen games. They’ve managed to lose five of those. Here is the breakdown, according to USA Today:

Week 1 at Dallas
Biggest lead: 23-13, 5:47 left in game
Biggest win probability: 98.94%
Final score: 26-27

Week 2 vs. Atlanta
Biggest lead: 20-10, 12:50 left in game
Biggest win probability: 97.60%
Final score: 20-24

Week 8 at New Orleans
Biggest lead: 49-42, 1:20 left in game
Biggest win probability: 96.4% (Giants 49-42, Saints on own 23, facing 3rd and 7 with 6:41 left)
Final score: 49-52

Week 10 vs. New England
Biggest lead: 26-24, 0:06 left in game
Biggest win probability: 89.66% (Giants 26-24, Giants kicking off after taking lead with 1:50 left)
Final score: 26-27

Week 12 vs. New York Jets
Biggest lead: 20-10 4:25 left in game
Biggest win probability: N/A
Final score: 20-23

Much of the tumultuous season stems from the defense’s inconsistent play. What more can I say, other than the fact that it’s been an utter disaster. The Giants are dead last in yards allowed, giving up a whopping 423 yards per contest. They are third in penalties – getting whistled for 115 so far this season. New York is 31st in sacks, tallying just 19 through 14 games.

To its credit, the Giants defense did rise in the late third and early fourth quarter yesterday – stopping Carolina numerous times to give the Giants offense an opportunity for an improbable comeback. With that said, did anyone really expect Big Blue to come up big with Newton and 1:45 remaining in regulation staring them in the face?

Of course not. The Giants have been plagued at the same positions for years now, and I could have re-posted my colleague’s article from November 19, 2014. Jim Armstrong explains that the Giants problems have been systemic at certain spots of the roster: “I hate to sound unappreciative or short-minded but the Giants, winners of two Super Bowls in the span of five seasons, have fallen into disarray in an even shorter amount of time. Although a 4,000-word exposition could be crafted detailing the different reasons for the Giants slow and steady decline, I will instead focus on several key areas that the Giants have failed during the last three seasons.

Within the article, linebackers, tight end, and the running game are all illuminated as key reasons for the Giants decline over the last several years. And, guess what? Those are the very same problems with the 2015 Giants.

What makes this all so frustrating is that the Giants had the potential to win the division this year. Despite their flaws, the Giants are the most complete team in the NFC East. That’s not saying much, but it’s really a shame they have wasted such incredible seasons from Manning and Beckham, Jr.

Get a pass rush, a reliable tight end, and linebackers who can cover – and you may have yourself a potential Super Bowl team. Eli Manning is still a top quarterback, Beckham, Jr. is the best receiver in the NFL, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Prince Amukamara, and Landon Collins are a nice trio in the defensive backfield. Combined that talent with Dwayne Harris’s kickoff and punt return capabilities, and Big Blue has talent at the play-making positions.

And perhaps that is how the Giants have fooled many of us who have watched all year long. They aren’t a good team, they are just explosive. At least through three quarters of most games.

I know what you’re probably thinking: 2015 isn’t over yet. With two games remaining, the Giants have a chance to go on a 2007 or 2011 late-season type of run. It isn’t happening this year, with this team.

Maybe in 2016, the issues that have plagued Big Blue for years will finally be addressed. My advice for Giants fans, however is the following: don’t get your hopes up.

About Tyler Michels

Tyler is an NC State alum living in Raleigh, NC. Growing up in Northwest New Jersey, Tyler developed a love for New York sports teams, driving his desire to become a writer. In his free time, Tyler can probably be found on a golf course.

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