Apr 032015
 
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Victor Cruz, New York Giants (November 4, 2012)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Victor Cruz Begins Running: New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz posted a photo on his Instagram account yesterday showing him running inside the team’s indoor practice facility at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

This is the first public evidence that Cruz is running again since tearing the patella tendon in his right knee on October 12 against the Philadelphia Eagles and subsequent surgery. Team officials such as General Manager Jerry Reese and Head Coach Tom Coughlin have said a number of times this offseason while they remain optimistic that Cruz will return to full strength, there are no guarantees.

“When a guy has a big injury like Victor had, you can’t put all your eggs in his basket,” said Reese on February 21. “Our doctors said he looks good. I see him down in the training room working out with our trainers and doctors and he looks good. Until you get out there – his game is quickness. Until you get out there and move around, you never know how he is going to recover from that. We are hoping and praying that he comes back 100 percent and be the Victor Cruz that we know, but you can’t put 100 percent in that basket.”

“I think (Cruz) will be back to the player that he was and hopefully better,” said Coughin on March 25. “Victor looks really good, he’s starting to run, I was in the field house watching him rehab, he’s coming along well… I don’t know (when he will be able to fully practice). I shouldn’t say this, because medically I really do not have a definite answer, but by training camp, hopefully. He will work his way through.”

Good morning world! Not the greatest quality but I think the screen shot speaks for itself. #TheReturn

A photo posted by Victor Cruz (@teamvic) on

“Big Four” Together at Duke: New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz also posted a photo on his Instagram account showing fellow wide receivers Odell Beckham and Rueben Randle as well as quarterback Eli Manning hanging out with him at Duke University. The extent of their athletic interaction is not known.

Mar 312015
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (October 19, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Giants.com senior writer Michael Eisen interviewed Eli Manning for a story on the quarterback’s thoughts on the upcoming season. The 34-year old Manning will be entering his 12th season, and second under Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo’s West Coast Offense-based system.

Manning finished the season with 4,410 yards (second-highest total in his career and in franchise history), 30 touchdowns (one shy of his career-high in 2011), and 14 interceptions (13 fewer than he threw in 2013). Manning’s completion percentage (63.1) was a career-high. His passer rating of 92.1 was the second-highest of highest of his career (93.1 in 2009).

“I’m excited about this upcoming season,” said Manning. “Last year during the offseason, I was coming off an injury and going into a situation with new coaches. And the way the (Collective Bargaining Agreement) works now, you don’t get much, if any, communication with the coaches. There were a lot of uncertainties and I didn’t know how quickly I would heal. I had to learn a new system and new mechanics. There was a lot of anxiousness.

“This year I feel great about the system. My body feels good. I am excited about coming in and knowing what I need to improve on and make strides in, rather than learning a complete new system. I have been working hard and looking at some stuff from last year and keeping the plays fresh and in my head. I’m trying to keep it all fresh in my mind and I am excited about getting back.

“This year will be a much easier transition, knowing that we have been through so much of it already. It’s definitely a different starting point. I feel good about it. I feel that I have a good understanding of it, but there is still room to grow and that is why I try to keep it as fresh in my mind as possible. Looking at old game-plan sheets and calling plays in my head – throwing routes with receivers trying to call out plays to myself, so you don’t let it slip away. It was new last year and it wasn’t something I have been doing for 10 years, so you want to keep it fresh and go through your reminders and all your checks. So when we come back I haven’t taken a step backwards and have to re-learn things. It is still all there. There will be new stuff and we will be taking it to another level.

“I’m not pleased with the amounts of wins (last year). That is the important thing. There are still some situations that we need to get better at and that I need to improve on and, as an offense, we need to improve on. (We need to make sure) we are taking care of what needs to be done during the course of the game to put us in a situation to win, or if we got opportunities in the fourth quarter, to be at our best and win our games in those situations. There is definitely still some room for improvement, but I feel good that I can play at a high level in this system and can definitely make improvements and we can win a lot of games and play a lot better this year.”

Manning also addressed the following topics:

  • How he physically approaches the offseason: “Your arm needs rest and your body needs rest. I didn’t start throwing again until mid-February. Just to keep the arm in shape and making sure it has all the strength and everything that it needs when we get back in April. As I get older, I take less time off, especially from my workouts and my conditioning (because) it is harder to get back into shape. It takes a little longer to get your strength back up. Take two weeks off, but even then I still enjoy the workout part of it. It is still exercising and moving around just to keep loose.”
  • How he reviews his play from the previous season: “I look at everything. I look at games to see situations we need to improve on, whether it is a two-minute before a half or it is a red-zone or try to analyze certain games (to see) if there is a common trend we need to improve on from aspects of circumstances of the game. Then look a lot of cut-ups of the same play. If it is a play you ran 20 times in a season, you’re seeing trends, what coverages it worked well against. Why it had success or why it didn’t have success. So you can learn from those and get a great feel for it going into the season.”
  • Wide Receivers Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz: “The good thing about having guys that are smart and versatile is that you can move them around in different positions. Victor and Odell can do a lot of the same things. The more guys you can have that are great athletes, the more you want to try to get the ball in their hands. You can change up formations, you can move them inside or outside. Victor can play outside, he can play in the slot. Odell can do both of those things, so I think that is an advantage to us. You can run similar plays or the same play, but having different guys do it disguises things.”
  • Running Back Shane Vereen: “I have talked to Shane a little bit and I have seen him play over the years in New England. He is very versatile. He can catch the ball well out of the backfield, run routes very well (when he is) split outside and he runs the ball well when you use him as a running back. I think it gets you excited because you can use him in a lot of different ways and move him around and create mismatches.”
Mar 252015
 
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Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Tom Coughlin Addresses Media at League Meeting: New York Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin addressed the media at the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona on Wednesday. Some of key points made by Coughlin included:

  • On WR Victor Cruz’s recovery from knee surgery: “I think he will be back to the player that he was and hopefully better. Victor looks really good, he’s starting to run, I was in the field house watching him rehab, he’s coming along well… I don’t know (when he will be able to fully practice). I shouldn’t say this, because medically I really do not have a definite answer, but by training camp, hopefully. He will work his way through.”
  • On QB Eli Manning’s contract situation: “Eli knows he’s our guy. (As for) when these things get done, well, I think John (Mara) last week expressed it as well as it can be said. Yeah, it’d be great if it was done. If it isn’t done going in (to the season), it’ll be done during or shortly after or whenever… It’ll get done, I’m fully confident of that, and I think so is Eli. Why would he have any concern about that?”
  • On the safety position: “That’s an issue, no doubt. We do have one more access to bringing in personnel, obviously, the draft. And we have a couple of guys in the program including (Nat) Berhe, who we really liked as a rookie and a special-teamer. We have injured players (Cooper Taylor and Bennett Jackson) coming back that can help. But there’s concern, no doubt… (Moving Jackson to safety) is a possibility… a kid none of us know much about. He’s rehabbing. He’s doing pretty well.”
  • In addition to Bennett Jackson, Coughlin also said cornerback Chykie Brown might be moved to safety.
  • On S Nat Berhe: “(He can play free safety and) I think he can come down in the box, too. His special-teams play would lead you to believe that. We threw him into a lot of responsibility on special teams and I thought he handled it well. So he’s adaptable, he’s smart, he’s anxious and he’s eager for the opportunity, for sure.”
  • On RB Shane Vereen: “As a pass receiver coming out of the backfield, pass-protector, a guy who runs the ball in the three wide offense, the defensive run game if you will. A lot of the (Tom) Brady hook up with Vereen, the ball was almost automatically going to him. You know there would be certain first downs, if there was zone coverage, they would drop the ball off and he would scoot. So, we know that. Will we open it up to other parts of it? Well, we would like to make sure he can. He does very well at that spot. I really like the young man, he adds an experienced playmaker out of the backfield.”
  • On WR/Special Teams Player Dwayne Harris: “The idea that you have a guy of that ability — and you’ve seen the way he carries himself on the field, he’s physical — to have a guy who can kick return, punt return, cover kicks, gunner. In this day and age to have a guy at gunner who’s consistent and good, let’s face it, it’s been a while since we’ve had that. That is a very attractive deal… (David) Tyree would come in (on offense), he’d be a blocker, that’s what Harris does, but you see him on the field, you start thinking that way. And that part of it alone opens up possibilities, maybe you get back to that old fake ghost screen stuff again, maybe that becomes a better opportunity for it. Whether he’s the third receiver or fourth receiver or a special situation kind of a player, offensively he wants to contribute.”
  • On linebackers J.T. Thomas and Jonathan Casillas: “We think Thomas can be a WILL ‘backer. Casillas is basically the same kind of guy. Both are excellent special teamers. They’ll make contributions in both ways.”
  • On what he expects out of LB Devon Kennard: “A lot. If Jon (Beason) comes back and Jon is healthy and can play, then you have Kennard maybe in a stronger position and rushing the passer more, the whole deal that way. That is going to make you better.”
  • On DE Damontre Moore: “He has to make a contribution. He has the pass rush ability and special team play.”
  • On the defensive tackle position: “(Kenrick) Ellis is a big human. The young man on our practice squad, (Dominique) Hamilton, is a big human, so I am looking forward to seeing what they can do, too… We realized that big dominating guy in the middle is a good starting point for the D-Line.”

A video of Coughlin’s remarks is also available at Giants.com.

A video of an NFL Network interview is also available at Giants.com.

Giants Receive No Compensatory Draft Picks: As expected, the New York Giants will not receive any compensatory choices in the 2015 NFL Draft. Under the rules for compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks. The Giants were pretty aggressive in signing free agents for other teams in 2014. For a complete list of free agents signed and lost by Giants in 2014, see the 2014 Free Agency Scorecard.

Giants.com Q&A with OT Justin Pugh: A video of a Giants.com interview with OT Justin Pugh is available at Giants.com.

Article on RB Shane Vereen: Shane Vereen gives Tom Coughlin and Giants more options in passing game by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on RB Rashad Jennings: Jennings: Giants offense can be “dominant” by Arthur Stapleton of The Bergen Record

Article on the New York Giants Wide Receivers: Do the Giants have enough wide receiver depth to protect against Victor Cruz being healthy? by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on LB J.T. Thomas: Why didn’t Jacksonville Jaguars re-sign J.T. Thomas and what does he bring to Giants defense? by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Mar 232015
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (February 5, 2012)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Right now, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning ($19,750,000 in base salary and bonuses) and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul ($14,813,000 franchise tag) take up over 24 percent of the team’s $143,411,883 adjusted 2015 salary cap. That’s two players taking up almost a quarter of the franchise’s cap space. Most teams facing such a situation would look to re-structure or extend the contracts of players placing so much pressure on the cap.

However, with the free agent market drying up and the Giants still roughly $9 million dollars under the 2015 salary cap, the team appears to have the option or “luxury” to carry these two huge cap numbers, allowing both Manning and Pierre-Paul to play out the final year of their contracts. Why would the Giants do this?

Both Manning and Pierre-Paul have proven to be inconsistent players. After having a career season in 2011, Manning was on a downward spiral for two years before bouncing back with a strong 2014 season. The 2013 season was particularly alarming as Manning arguably had his worst season as pro. Pierre-Paul also had his best year in 2011 and was also trending downward until bouncing back in 2014. And although Pierre-Paul had his second-best season as a pro last year, he did not make a big impact in games until the Giants’ post-season hopes were already dead.

Before the Giants extend or re-sign Manning and Pierre-Paul, they may want to see how both perform in 2015. The odds are Manning should do well as he will be in the second season of Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo’s quarterback-friendly offense. Odell Beckham is arguably the best wideout in the game. Victor Cruz may not be the same player after his October 2014 knee injury but he should be back. And most of the surrounding offensive talent base should be better, including the offensive line, a running back corps that now includes pass-catching back Shane Vereen, and a more mature Larry Donnell and Rueben Randle.

But what if the 34-year old Manning has a bad year in 2015? Signing him now to a contact similar to Ben Roethlisberger’s new 5-year, $99 million deal could sabotage any rebuilding process.

Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (November 17, 2013)

Jason Pierre-Paul Returns an INT for a TD – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The same set of circumstances applies to Pierre-Paul, who is looking to become one of the highest paid defensive players in football despite only accruing a combined total of 8.5 sacks in 2012 and 2013. If the Giants pay Pierre-Paul a huge, long-term contract and he remains an inconsistent player, the team would be severely limited in what it could do to improve the overall state of the defense.

In short, and to be brutally frank, if the Giants extend Manning and Pierre-Paul with mega-contracts, and both do not perform like impact players, then the team’s future would be bleak. The contracts would prove to be an albatross, making it difficult to not only retain and pursue other talent, but probably even preclude the option of releasing either player in a worst case scenario.

Of course, there is a risk here for the Giants. If Manning and Pierre-Paul play extremely well in 2015, the Giants may be faced with the daunting prospect of their franchise quarterback and one of the league’s best pass rushers hitting the open market next offseason at the same time. The Giants can only use the franchise tag on one player per offseason. If the Giants cannot re-sign Manning before free agency begins, they would have to franchise him (over $23 million). Pierre-Paul would then likely hit the open market. And once a player hits the open market, it is a 50-50 proposition on whether he returns.

Nevertheless, right now, it appears this is a gamble the New York Giants are prepared to take.

“There are no guns to anyone’s head, no ticking clock (with respect to Manning),” said team Chairman and Executive Vice President Steve Tisch on Monday. “I have not heard he has been putting any pressure on us. So I think let’s just wait and see.”

As for Pierre-Paul, Tisch said, “A lot depends on how he performs this season.”

The New York Post is also reporting that team President and CEO John Mara said on Monday that an extension for Manning is “preferable” but the Giants are willing to let him play out his contract.

Of course, this could be all negotiation posturing, a way for the team to encourage Manning and Pierre-Paul to reduce their respective contract demands. Without new contracts, there would be a lot of unpleasant pressure on Manning and Pierre-Paul to play well in 2015 for their own financial welfare. Some players do not respond well to such pressure, as we saw with Hakeem Nicks in 2013 and Antrel Rolle in 2014. Both Manning and Pierre-Paul cannot discount the fact that the team appears to at least have the financial option to force them to play well in 2015 in order to get paid well.

For two players taking up nearly 25 percent of the 53-man roster’s cap space, this is indeed high-stakes poker.

Mar 222015
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 28, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Report – Giants Willing to Let Eli Manning Play Out Final Year of Contract: According to ESPN, the New York Giants “recently had another conversation” with representatives for quarterback Eli Manning about a contract extension. Manning is entering the final year of his current contract, with a cap hit of nearly $20 million. ESPN reports that two unidentified sources say the two sides are not close to a new deal, and that the Giants are willing to let Manning play out the final year of his contract. ESPN says that an extension this offseason “doesn’t seem likely unless there’s a major change in one side’s negotiation position.”

According to ESPN’s sources, the Giants are not willing to make a larger commitment to Manning than the 5-year, $99 million deal that Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger signed recently.

ESPN says the Giants still believe in Manning and “their primary goal is to keep him a Giant for the remainder of his career.” But ESPN claims that the team has no big incentive to complete a new deal in the near future as the Giants do not currently need the additional salary cap space that an extension would create.

ESPN speculates that if a new deal is not completed this year or before free agency next year, the Giants could place the franchise tag on Manning.

This past week, team President and CEO John Mara said that a contract extension for Manning is not currently in the works but “obviously something will be done at some point.”

Giants.com Q&A with DE George Selvie: The video of a Giants.com Q&A with DE George Selvie is available at Giants.com.

Article on Former Giants TE Kevin Boss: Long-term concussion fears haunt retired former Giant Kevin Boss by Bob Glauber of Newsday

Mar 172015
 
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Kenrick Ellis, New York Jets (November 24, 2014)

Kenrick Ellis – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Defensive Tackle Kenrick Ellis Visiting New York Giants: According to The New York Post, unrestricted free agent defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis (New York Jets) is visiting the New York Giants today.

The 27-year old Ellis is a huge (6’4”, 346 pound) run-stuffing defensive tackle who was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Jets. Ellis did not start a game for the Jets in 2014, but he was a valuable reserve on a talented defensive line.

Other New York Giants Free Agent News:

  • Unrestricted free agent safety Ron Parker (Kansas City Chiefs), who the Giants were rumored to be interested in, has re-signed a 5-year, $30 million contract with the Chiefs.
  • The deal that offensive guard John Jerry re-signed with the Giants is reportedly a 2-year, $3.3 million deal that includes $1 million in guaranteed money.
  • The deal that cornerback Chykie Brown re-signed with the Giants is reportedly a 2-year, $2 million deal.

Giants.com Interview with RB Andre Williams: The video of a Giants.com interview with RB Andre Williams is available at Giants.com.

Articles on the New York Giants and Free Agency:

Article on QB Eli Manning: How Ben Roethlisberger’s new deal affects Giants, Eli Manning by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Feb 112015
 
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David Wilson, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

David Wilson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York  Giants Waive RB David Wilson: The New York Giants have waived running back David Wilson, the team’s first-round draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Wilson suffered a season-ending neck injury in Week 5 of the 2013 NFL season in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He re-injured the neck on July 29, 2014 during training camp. Soon after a joint decision by Wilson and the Giants was made that it would be best for Wilson to retire from football. Wilson was officially placed on Injured Reserve a second time in August 2014.

New York Giants Officially Sign Center Brett Jones: Following up on yesterday’s update, the Giants have indeed officially signed Canadian Football League (CFL) offensive center Brett Jones. The 23-year old Jones has played center for the Calgary Stampeders for the past two seasons. He was named the CFL’s top rookie in 2013 and top offensive lineman in 2014.

“It has always been a goal and a dream of mine to play in the NFL,” said Jones in the team’s press release. “This is the first step, and I look forward to taking many more.

“When I was in university in Canada, my goal was always to try to play in the NFL. As a kid growing up playing games like Madden, it definitely was an influence. Some of the players on my team (in the video game) that I played with, they play in the NFL now. I always thought that I wanted to earn a chance.

“I am coming from the Canadian style, where (the defensive line is) one yard off the ball. I know that there is going to be a learning curve to that… Hopefully my pro experience will help me, but I understand there is going to be a learning curve and I look forward to that.”

Article on OC Brett Jones: Newest Giant Brett Jones’ former CFL teammates and position coach call him an ‘offensive coordinator’ on the field by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on QB Eli Manning: Eli Manning’s Giants future: fat new contract or lame duck? by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on DT Cullen Jenkins: Know Your Giants: DT Cullen Jenkins by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Feb 052015
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 14, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Largely lost in the disappointing 6-10 season and the Odell Beckham hype was the fact that New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning experienced a renaissance in 2014. Approaching his mid-30’s and coming off arguably his worst season in the NFL in 2013, Manning rebounded with one of his best seasons in 2014. Indeed, had it not been for a dreadful 5-interception game against the San Francisco 49ers in November, Manning would have thrown only eight picks all season – his lowest ever in the NFL. His success was even more impressive when you consider he was coming off April ankle surgery, had a new offensive coordinator and position coach, was introduced to a radically-different offensive system, and lost his security blanket Victor Cruz early in campaign. Before the season, many said Manning was washed up and the team should move on. By season’s end, those thoughts had largely disappeared. Of all of the Giants’ personnel problems, the quarterback position is not one of them.

It originally looked like Ryan Nassib was going to have an up-hill fight for the #2 quarterback spot as the Giants had re-signed 2013 #2 quarterback Curtis Painter and had added quarterbacks Josh Freeman and Rusty Smith in free agency. But Freeman and Smith didn’t even make it to training camp, and Nassib clearly out-performed Painter in the preseason, completing 44-of-74 passes for 588 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions (107.3 quarterback rating). Nassib not only earned the promotion to the #2 spot, but the team was comfortable enough with him to cut Painter and only go with two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (November 3, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Eli Manning rebounded from arguably his worst season in 2013 with one of his best seasons in 2014 under a new offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, and West Coast Offense-based system. The latter required him to reprogram his footwork and become accustomed to new route depths run by his receivers. Despite a year-long learning curve, Manning finished the season with 4,410 yards (second-highest total in his career and in franchise history), 30 touchdowns (one shy of his career-high in 2011), and 14 interceptions (13 fewer than he threw in 2013). Manning’s completion percentage (63.1) was a career-high. His passer rating of 92.1 was the second-highest of highest of his career (93.1 in 2009). And all of this despite the fact that Manning played behind a sub par offensive line that allowed 28 sacks and only generated 3.6 yards per carry (tied for 28th in the NFL). Manning was the first player selected in the 2004 NFL Draft and immediately traded to the Giants by the Chargers. The 34-year old Manning owns practically every quarterback record in franchise history. He is 8-3 as a playoff quarterback and a two-time Super Bowl MVP. His best season was 2011 when he carried the Giants to the playoffs, highlighted by seven come-from-behind victories on a team with a poor regular-season defense (27th in the NFL) and running game (32nd in the NFL).

Manning has excellent size and a strong arm. He is extremely tough and has never missed a game in 11 seasons. He only has a 59 percent career completion percentage though that figure should improve with the offensive emphasis shifting from a down-field, vertical attack to the West Coast system. Manning excels in the mental aspects of the game. He has the perfect temperament for playing in the New York metropolitan area as the intense media spotlight does not seem to faze him. He is very smart and hard-working. Manning reads opposing defenses extremely well. The coaching staff trusts him to make complicated pre-snap reads for both the running and passing games. On the negative side, Manning is still guilty of making the ill-advised, head-scratching throw when the smarter decision would be to throw the football away or take the sack. His gun-slinger mentality also causes him to make some risky throws in tight windows. A true pocket passer, Manning is not a threat to harm a defense with his feet. Manning was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2008 and 2011, and played in the game in 2012 as a second alternate. When Manning is on his game, he is one of the most clutch performers in the NFL.

Ryan Nassib, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Ryan Nassib – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Ryan Nassib was drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. He made the team as the #3 quarterback that year but was never active on game day and did not play. In 2014, Nassib played well in the preseason and became the #2 and only other quarterback behind Eli Manning. He saw limited time at the close of four games, completing 4-of-5 passing attempts for 60 yards in a blowout loss to the Eagles. Nassib has average height and mobility, but he is a mentally and physically tough, well-built quarterback with a good arm. He is very smart and played in two pro style offenses in college. At the college level Nassib was a team leader and clutch player who had a history of winning games late.

Jan 302015
 
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The father of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, Archie Manning, told the press on Thursday that he believes his son would retire before playing for another professional football team. One of Archie’s other sons, Peyton Manning, plays for the Denver Broncos after a long career with the Indianapolis Colts.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (February 5, 2012)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

“Peyton’s enjoyed his three years with the Broncos but he always envisioned himself playing for one team. So I’m glad when he did have to change, he made a good choice,” said Archie Manning. “But Eli, I think if the Giants traded Eli, he would retire. He loves his team. He loves the New York Giants…Eli wants to (finish his career with the Giants). I hope he can. Eli doesn’t worry about it too much. That is kind of the Giants decision.”

The Giants traded for Manning in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. The 34-year old Manning has played 11 seasons and won two Super Bowl MVP’s with the team. He is entering the final year of his current contract. Manning is scheduled to count $19.75 million against the 2015 salary cap unless the Giants extend his contract.

Statistically-speaking, Manning had one of his best seasons in 2014. Manning finished the year with 4,410 yards (second-highest total in his career and in franchise history), 30 touchdowns (one shy of his career-high in 2011), and 14 interceptions (13 fewer than he threw in 2013). Manning’s completion percentage (63.1) was a career-high. His passer rating of 92.1 was the second-highest of highest of his career (93.1 in 2009).

And Manning did all of this with a new offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, and West Coast Offense-based system.

“I thought going to the West Coast was great for Eli at this point of his career. Really great,” Archie Manning said. “But I didn’t know it was going to involve mechanics and footwork and all that stuff. It was a transition, but he made it and he got more comfortable. Maybe he got comfortable when Odell (Beckham Jr.) started playing.”

(Giants fans are discussing this topic in The Corner Forum).

Article on LB Jon Beason: Jon Beason believes he’ll thrive with new Giants ‘D’ coordinator Steve Spagnuolo by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on Former Giant OT/OG David Diehl: David Diehl’s lasting impact on the Giants by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Article on Former Giant DE Justin Tuck: Justin Tuck reflects on SBXLII; still considers NY home by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Jan 282015
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (November 23, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

by Brendan Cassidy for BigBlueInteractive.com

The 2014 season was a trying one for the New York Giants.  After one of the busiest offseasons in franchise history, with high turnover at key positions, many were expecting big things from the Boys in Blue.  However, that was not to be, in large thanks to a restructured offensive line and a subpar defense that struggled to get a stop whenever it needed one.  The Giants finished a disappointing 6-10.

Despite all the letdowns from the 2014 season, there were some bright spots in this season of disappointment, the brightest being the emergence of rookie sensation Odell Beckham Jr.  In just 12 games during his rookie season, Beckham did the unthinkable: racking up 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 TDs, which were good for top 5 Fantasy Football WR numbers on the season.  Another positive for this Giants squad was the progress Eli made in the West Coast System, under first year Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo.  Coming off a horrendous 2013 season (3,818 yards, 18 TDS, 27 INT), Eli was able to bounce back and have arguably the most productive year of his career throwing for 4,410 yards with 30 touchdowns to go with only 14 interceptions.  The progress he made throughout the year is definitely encouraging.   I am hopeful he will continue to improve especially if the offensive line problems are addressed this upcoming offseason.  Possibly the biggest spark would be Victor Cruz returning to his old form.  While this is a big “if”, Giants fans have to be drooling at the potential this offense could have in 2015.

While the 2015 season is still more than seven months away, and the Giants personnel is sure to change through the draft and free agency, here are my very early fantasy football projections for the Giants key offensive players at quarterback and wide receiver:

Eli Manning, New York Giants (December 21, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Quarterback:

Quarterback for the Giants is a one-man show, as it has been for more than a decade.  With Eli Manning entering his 12th season and second in McAdoo’s West Coast Offense, it is fair to think he will make even more progress in 2015.  Coming off a horrid 2013 season where many were even questioning Eli’s future with the Giants, Eli was able to prove all the doubters wrong.  McAdoo’s quick-paced gun-slinging offense did wonders for Eli in his first year.  Probably the most telling statistic was the fact that his interception per throw rate went from a career high 4.9% in 2013 to a very respectful 2.3% in 2014.  He finished as the 10th overall fantasy QB in 4 point passing TD leagues ahead of players such as Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, and Matthew Stafford while finishing only 3 points behind Tom Brady.

With the wonder Odell Beckham coming back for his second year, the return of Cruz (to what extent is to be seen), Rueben Randle (who really came on in the last few games last season), and an offensive threat at tight end like Larry Donnell, Eli should have plenty of weapons to come back with.  That being said, here are my projections for Eli for the 2015 season:

Eli Manning Projections:

  • Yards: 4,550, Completion Percentage: 63%, Touchdowns: 32, Interceptions 13
  • Fantasy Football QB Rank: 8th Overall

Analysis: While I think it’s fair to say Eli will never be an Elite Fantasy Football Quarterback on the level of Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, or Andrew Luck, I think he has the potential to be a serviceable mid- to low-end QB1 this season.  Assuming Cruz comes back somewhere close to what he was before his injury, he has arguably the best weapons of his career.  Look for Eli to have one of, if not the best year of his career next year.

Wide Receiver:

Wide receiver is one of, if not the strongest position on the Giants roster.  Beckham, as you all know, had one of the best rookie seasons of all time for a WR, and with Cruz coming back and Randle looking like a solid number 3, the wide receiver corps has the potential to be special.  Beckham looks to be an elite Fantasy WR next year with the potential to be the top overall WR.  If you average out his stats over 16 games this past season, it comes out to 121 catches, 1,740 yards, and 16 touchdowns.  That is 24.67 points per game in a PPR league and 17 points per game in non-PPR, edging out Antonio Brown for tops in the entire NFL, who had 24.31 in PPR and 16.12 in Non-PPR respectively.  The sky is the limit for Beckham.  Let’s just hope he can stay healthy and continue to produce at this level.

Victor Cruz, New York Giants (September 21, 2014)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

As for Victor Cruz, he is probably the toughest player to evaluate for next season.  So much hinges on his health and if he can return to his former self, and how the emergence of Odell Beckham as the clear-cut number 1 will affect his performance.  He has played with Hakeem Nicks while he was in his prime, so I don’t think the latter will be an issue.  More than anything, what concerns me the most is the grueling rehabilitation he is currently going through.  Returning to the player he was will be a tough task.  Before his injury, he was a borderline top 10 Fantasy WR, but now it is hard to gauge.  If he returns as a fantasy WR3, (somewhere in the range of 1,000 yards 6-8 TDS), I think Giants fans have to be thrilled.  Assuming Beckham has the year we all expect from him next year, this would be great production from the Giants top 2 WRs next season.  But we won’t really know until he steps onto the field come August.

Rueben Randle seems to be seen as a scapegoat and disappointment by many on BBI, which in some aspects is fair.  As a second round pick and looked at as polished player coming out of college and a “safe” pick, many here had high hopes for him.  He has had trouble running correct routes in the past (which led to a good amount of Eli’s interceptions in 2013) and had many poorly-timed drops when it mattered most.  However, at the end of 2014, when many had given up on him, he showed glimpses of the player he could become.  He finished the season with a very respectable 71 catches for 938 yards and 3 TDs.  Granted, part of this was aided by 132 yard and 158 yard performances the last 2 weeks of the season.  While I don’t necessarily think his catches and yards will go up in 2015, due to the return of Cruz, I do expect him to be much more polished with better route running and fewer mistakes.  Look for him to still be in the WR3/Flex conversation from a fantasy perspective.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (December 28, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Odell Beckham Projections:

  • 118 Catches, 1660 yards, 15 Touchdowns, 120 Rushing Yards
  • Fantasy Football WR Rank: 2nd Overall

Analysis: All signs point towards a monster season for Beckham.  With these projections, he would finish with 386 points in a PPR League.  This would leave him second only to Antonio Brown’s 388 based on this year’s results.  While this is slightly less production per game than this past year, I believe with the return of Cruz this would be a phenomenal output from Beckham.  The other factor being defenses will have a full year to study tape, and focus their game plans on containing him.  He is a bona-fide first round draft pick this upcoming year especially in PPR leagues.  If you miss on one of the elite RBs, you should seriously consider nabbing him in the mid-to late-first round.

Victor Cruz Projections:

  • 64 Catches, 870 Yards, 6 Touchdowns
  • Fantasy Football WR Rank:  28th Overall

Analysis:  Coming off Cruz’s injury, I think expectations have to be tempered.  With Cruz looking to be a number 2 at best in this upcoming season, these numbers would be very respectable and great production for a second WR.  Cruz will be in the Fantasy WR3 conversation, with a bit of upside.  Definitely a value pick in later rounds of drafts if he returns anywhere near to the player he was pre-injury.  Cruz is worth consideration after the 7th round in a 10-team draft.

Rueben Randle, New York Giants (September 14, 2014)

Rueben Randle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Rueben Randle Projections:

  • 53 Catches, 720 Yards, 4 Touchdowns
  • Fantasy Football WR Rank: 52nd Overall

Analysis: Like I mentioned earlier, I think Randle will have his best season as a pro in 2015.  While this doesn’t necessarily mean more fantasy production with the return of Cruz as the clear number 2, I think he will prove to be a reliable number 3 and he will continue to improve as an overall player in a crucial make or break contract year.  He is probably worth a late-round flyer in deeper leagues (while knowing there is limited upside), unless Cruz gets re-injured or is completely ineffective coming back from his injury.

If a few things go the Giants way next season, look for them to have a ton of Fantasy value from the quarterback and wide receiver position.  Next week I will take a look at the Giants’ running back and tight end fantasy value going into the 2015 season.

Brendan Cassidy has over 15 year of experience in fantasy football in both league and daily fantasy formats and is an avid New York Giants fan.