NFL Honors: OBJ, Eli, JPP possible nominees

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

The 2014 season will be remembered for the debut of the most exciting rookie to hit these parts since Lawrence Taylor in 1981 in WR Odell Beckham, Jr., the bouncing back of DE Jason Pierre-Paul and the re-emergence/renaissance of QB Eli Manning.

All three could be in line for awards this season. Beckham will surely be named as a finalist for Rookie of the Year while Manning and JPP could be nominated for NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

Beckham was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month twice – in November and December – the first player to be honored in consecutive months.  He was also NFL Rookie of the Week for Weeks 12, 15, 16 and 17.

Click here to read more: The breakout season of OBJ...

The 12th overall selection of the NFL Draft, Beckham led the NFL in receptions (43), receiving yards (606) and touchdown catches (seven) in December.

His 606 receiving yards are the most by a rookie in any calendar month in NFL history.

Beckham is the third player – and only rookie – to gain at least 600 receiving yards in a single December, joining Calvin Johnson (707 in 2012) and Josh Gordon (658 in 2013). Both Johnson and Gordon played five December games while Beckham played in four.

Beckham had at least eight catches, 130 yards and a touchdown in all four December games.

He had at least 90 receiving yards in each of the season’s last nine games, tying Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin for the longest streak in NFL history. Beckham has at least 100 yards in seven of those nine contests.

In each of his last six games, Beckham led all players in receiving yards. That is the longest such streak by a rookie in NFL history.

Beckham led the NFL with 593 receiving yards in November and joins Calvin Johnson (2012) and Andre Johnson (2012) as the only players in NFL history with back-to-back months with at least 500 receiving yards. Beckham is the only rookie to accomplish the feat.

In just 12 games this season, Beckham set Giants rookie records with 91 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns.


Manning was thought to be in the beginning of a steep decline at the end of the 2013 season. He threw for 3818 yards and just 18 TDs, completing 57.7 percent of his passes for a 69.4 QBR. He led the league in INTs with 27 and was sacked the most times (39) in his career.

This season, the Giants hired a new OC (Ben McAdoo) and a new QB coach (Danny Langsdorf) to rectify some bad habits that the two-time Super Bowl MVP had fallen into.

Eli responded by raising his QBR to 92.1 and completing 63.1 % of his passes. He also threw for 4410 yards with 30 TDs and cut his INTs in half (14).

JPP started 16 games for the first time in his five-year career. His 12.5 sacks are the most since his All-Pro season fo 2011, when he recorded 16.5. Pierre-Paul is coming back from back and shoulder injuries and was considered to be on his way out at just 25 years old.

JPP had 77 tackles (53 solo), six passes defended, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

One more award possibility is the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in which Giant punter Steve Weatherford is the team’s nominee for his charitable works in the NY/NJ Metro area.

The awards will be presented at the NFL Honors ceremony on January 31st in Phoenix.


Who is the Giants Defensive MVP for 2014?

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

The Giants’ defense finished the 2014 season ranked 29th overall in the NFL. They were 18th vs the pass and 30th against the run.

USATSI_8270795_110579513_lowresThey surrendered 400 points for only the fifth time in franchise history and finished 29th in the league in points allowed.

They have finished 27th or higher in that category three of the past four years under DC Perry Fewell.

Still, there were some positives. Several players gave their all this season, most notably the five candidates below.

Here are the candidates for this year’s Defensive MVP: To read more of this story, click here


Season’s over, so now what?

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

No press conferences to cover, no injury updates, no player interviews and no practice report. That all ended Sunday after the Giants lost their season finale to the Philadelphia Eagles, ending a long, trying, frustrating year at QDTC.

USATSI_8284464_110579513_lowresCEO John Mara revealed yesterday that he felt so frustrated after the loss in Jacksonville that he felt like firing everyone in sight. He didn’t, and instead, everyone may be back for another season.

GM Jerry Reese lamented about losing close games, apologized to the fans for consecutive losing seasons while promising to “keep all of our options open.”

Head coach Tom Coughlin, given at least another year to turn things around, kidded about how long he felt he could continue coaching and then detailed how much better his team needs to get to make that happen.

I don’t think it does much good to rehash this lost season, a season which saw the Giants regress and progress at the same time. I make the argument that if the team stayed somewhat healthy, they could have contended for the playoffs, if not the division. Others feel nothing except a complete overhaul is required going forward.

The decision to retain Coughlin and Reese appears to be the right one. To read more of this story, click here


Mara, believing his team is close, stays the course

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

It was press conferences galore at the QDTC Tuesday morning, with Giants CEO John Mara giving his take on a disappointing 6-10 season. In a nutshell, Mara said he and his partner, Steve Tisch, still believe GM Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin — who also met the media Tuesday — are the right men to direct the Giants going forward. That is, for one more year at least.

“I do not think that is an unfair statement,” Mara replied when asked if 2015 would be a “win-or-else proposition” for a lot of people.

Reese has had two strong drafts in a row after several subpar classes. Mara pointed out that the Giants “need another one” and feels Reese is the man to get that done.

Mara said Coughlin, 68, will come back on his current deal, which has one more season. He said the team preferred to not play the season with a “lame duck” coach, but things could change.

“That has been our policy in the past, but that is not set in stone…I have to talk about that with him,” Mara said. “I am not so sure that will be the situation anymore. I need to talk to him about that first. We haven’t had that discussion yet. He is going to be back.”

Coughlin will also be responsible for maintaining his coaching staff, meaning if he wants to keep Perry Fewell as defensive coordinator, he can. Mara went out of his way to characterize last year’s departure of former OC Kevin Gilbride as a retirement, insisting that Gilbride was not forced out.

“I will give him (Coughlin) my opinion, but it has always been the case in this organization that the head coach makes the final call on assistant coaches and whether he needs to make any changes, contrary to popular belief.”

Last year the focus was on fixing the offense. This year, Mara would like improvements to the defense.

“They did not play well,” Mara said. “There is no secret about that when you finish (29th). They had opportunities in a lot of games this year to make a key stop at the end of the game, and they didn’t do it,” Mara said. “There is no question that has to be a focus going into next season. You look at the number of players that we got hurt here. We had three or four corners hurt. We were playing in a lot of those games with guys we had signed off the street, which is not the ideal situation. Again, that is no excuse for going 6-10 and, believe me, I am not under any illusions about where we are right now. I am aware of what teams we have beaten over the last two years and what teams we have lost to. We have a lot of work to do.”

There was no question that the unusually high number of injuries contributed to the 10-loss season. Mara said the team used every method at their disposal to reduce injuries after 2013, but instead ended up having more.

“For some reason, here we are again leading the league in that category. We cut down the number of soft-tissue injuries and then, all of a sudden, we get all these broken bones and torn tendons and torn biceps. I just don’t have an answer for that right now. Obviously we will spend a lot of time on it this offseason, talking about that and looking at ways that we can improve upon that…but this is the NFL. People are going to get hurt. Why it happens to us in such extraordinary numbers, I don’t know. I am just hoping that we are due to have a change in luck in that area, and hopefully that will happen next year.”

Mara also said the Giants would like to retain impending free agents S Antrel Rolle and DE Jason Pierre-Paul but it would have to be at the right price. Same goes for QB Eli Manning, who has one more year on his deal.


Giants Week 17 defensive report card, presented by Long Island University

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Overall Grade: D: It actually should be an F, but, hey, it’s the giving season so why not? When you give up 27 points, 426 net yards and 5.1 YPA on the ground, things did not go well. Still, the Giants did play well in spots, holding the Eagles to 7-of-16 on third down and 2-for-4 in the red zone.

Long Island UniversityThe defense on the season was a mess thanks to season-ending injuries to MLB Jon Beason, LB Jacquian Williams and CBs Prince Amukamara, Walter Thurmond III and Trumaine McBride. They allowed 400 points on the season, tied for fourth-worst in team history. On a positive note, they recorded 47 sacks, up from 34 last year, and the most since 2011 when they had 48 and won the Super Bowl.

DL – Grade: C-: Call it a good sign. JPP and Jon Hankins both started every game this season. On this team, that’s a badge of honor. JPP Had two sacks of Mark Sanchez, raising his season total to 12.5, the most by a Giant since he had 16.5 in 2011. The bad news is they haven’t been able to stop the run all year and they didn’t again this week. DT Markus Kuhn got his first career sack.

LB – Grade: C: Jameel McClain (8 tackles, six solo, 1 PD) closed out his debut season in Blue with another fine performance. Mark Herzlich had seven tackles and a sack. Still, this group was supposed by about Beason, the team leader on defense; Williams, who way ahead in tackles when he got hurt halfway through the season and rookie Devon Kennard. The effort was there this week from the others, but more is obviously needed.

CB – Grade: C: Mike Harris has been a pleasant surprise as a mid-season free agent add. He led the way on Sunday with ten solo tackles, an INT and a PD. Chykie Brown had six total tackles and DRC was quiet as the Eagles chose to steer away from him for the most part. He did allow a few to be caught on him, however. To read more of this story, click here


Season ends with trademark loss to Eagles

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

After finishing 7-9 last year, the Giants retooled and came back this year to prove they were not losers. They were bitten hard again by the injury bug and actually finished 6-10, one game worse than last year.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New York GiantsThe season ended with a game that resembles a microcosm of the Giants’ problems the past two years: the opponent ran the ball at will, the special teams gave up a score and the offense failed in key spots, especially in the red zone.

In a contest that could have put a cherry on the season with a four-game winning streak, the Giants fell to the Eagles for the fifth time in seven games. Philadelphia did what they did best yesterday: hand the ball off and watch the Giants struggle to stop them.

The Giants failed to defeat another opponent with a winning record and we were reminded of why the Giants were going for only their second consecutive seven-win season yesterday. They have not solved their problems at some key positions, mainly tight end and in the trenches, and will face many of the same questions they faced last offseason. They ran the ball poorly again, gaining just 3.0 YPC.

Even though the Giants’ defense was only on the field for 25 minutes, they looked a step slower all afternoon. Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense had the lead for all but short stint right before halftime.  It didn’t help that the Giants’ lost two more defensive players, safeties Stevie Brown and Nat Berhe, early in the game.

QB Eli Manning came out firing, hitting his talented group of wide receivers for huge gains, but the Giants’ offense sputtered when it counted. They were 7-18 on third down and 1-3 in the red zone. Manning threw catchable passes that were not caught. They settled for FGs instead of TDs  too often.

There were some good things, though. Manning had one of his best days ever, throwing for 429 yards on 53 attempts, but had only one TD pass and his lone interception late in the game killed the Giants’ last hope of winning.

Odell Beckham, Jr. continued to post historic numbers and his cohort, Rueben Randle, had his biggest game as a pro. The two combined for 18 receptions and 343 yards yesterday.

DE Jason Pierre-Paul had two more sacks, finishing the season with 12.5 which will undoubtedly jack up his price this offseason. He was one of the Giants’ pregame captains, leaving fans wondering if its a sign of commitment by the team or a fitting farewell.

To read more of this story, click here


Last game for Fewell?

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Perry Fewell has been the Giants’ defensive coordinator since 2010. During that period, the Giants’ defense has been ranked among the best – and worst – in the NFL. His “bend but don’t break” philosophy has taken the Giants to the top of the league, winning a Super Bowl. But it also has failed miserably at times, exposing the team both personnel-wise as well as calling into question the team’s defensive strategy.

USATSI_4971254_110579513_lowresLast season, the Giants made a change at offensive coordinator, bringing in Ben McAdoo to replace the retiring Kevin Gilbride. At least that was the official narrative. This year, with the team missing the playoffs for the third straight season, many feel it’s time for a change on defense.

“No, not really. I just prepare for the next opponent, and I go at it like that,” Fewell replied Friday when asked if he thought this Sunday’s game vs the Eagles was his last with the Giants.

Fewell, like all of the team’s employees will learn their fate after the season. It is widely believed that head coach Tom Coughlin will be retained, but will be asked to make changes among the rank and file within his coaching staff.

If this is his finale as DC, Fewell is not reflecting on his time here. Coaches all know. Getting fired is just like getting hired. It’s one of the hard facts of the profession.

“I haven’t really thought about it. I wouldn’t even reflect on it,” he said.

To Fewell’s credit, his defense has been a force on occasion amassing takeways and sacks, stopping the run and shutting down historic offenses in postseason play. To his detriment, Fewell’s unit has been on the receiving end of some inexplicable beatings, surrendering large chunks of yards and points while failing to hold leads late in games.

Many readers of this column, and others, would not be sorry to see him go. I personally believe it’s time for a change. As for Fewell, he’s a class guy and a pro all the way. He will certainly be coaching somewhere next season. I just don’t think it will be here.