The Giants hit the unofficial halfway point of their season in Week 8. And while the 2014 season has certainly gone much better than last year, it’s hardly been smooth sailing.
They sit at 3-4, with a three-game winning streak serving as the meat between two back-to-back losses. And as fans are prone to do in the weekly rollercoaster of the NFL, the current morass over consecutive losses is just as low as the heights of the wins over Houston, Washington and Atlanta.
Metro grades the key players’ performances on this Giants team at the bye.
Eli Manning, QB
Considering his own quarterback coach wouldn’t give him an "A" — he is falling short of the 70 percent mark after all — we can’t give him one either. But Manning has been solid, even as his team struggles. He has a career-high 64.9 completion percentage and his yards per completion is percentage points below his career average. Most importantly, he’s on pace to throw 32 touchdowns against only 11 interceptions, one year after throwing 27.
Will Beatty, LT
The team’s left tackle struggled badly last season after signing a big-money deal. He’s been much better in 2014, though. Pro Football Focus, an advanced analytics site, actually had him ranked as the No. 1 tackle in football through four games. And while he may not be the best after the line struggled against the Eagles (eight sacks), he’s kept Manning’s blind side plenty protected on the whole. And, critically, he’s been healthy.
J.D. Walton, C
The most important position that gets overlooked in football is probably center. Walton, who joined the team in the offseason after playing with the Broncos and Redskins, has stepped in the position after a camp battle with rookie Weston Richburg. He’s held onto the role without major incident. Offensive line coach Pat Flaherty met with the media Tuesday — and Walton didn’t even come up. No news is good news for a “big ugly.”
Rashad Jennings, RB
After getting off to a slow start, Jennings was just starting to emerge during the team’s hot streak when he got injured. But his absence is showing how important he was when healthy.
Rueben Randle, WR
As one of the most popular breakthrough candidates in preseason, Randle has been a little disappointing. He has 34 receptions for 321 yards and two touchdowns on the season, but he’s been fairly consistent if not explosive. He’s yet to have a 100-yard receiving game and both of his touchdowns are on short receptions. With Victor Cruz done, he needs to step up more.
Victor Cruz, WR
We’re able to grade Cruz’s entire season due to a devastating knee injury two weeks ago. The veteran had 23 catches for 337 yards and one touchdown in his abbreviated, six-game season. He actually probably would’ve added a touchdown to that total on the play he got injured on. But it was not to be, and now he faces a long rehab from a torn patellar tendon. The Giants could use his playmaking and leadership in the second half.
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE
Pierre-Paul promised before the season he was back to the form of 2011 when he had 16 1/2 sacks. In fact, he said he planned to have “unlimited” sacks in 2014. It hasn’t quite worked out that way, but Pierre-Paul has looked better than he has since that breakout season. He has 3 1/2 sacks, but that only tells part of the story.
Antrel Rolle, SS
It wouldn’t have been at all surprising to expect a decline in production for Rolle this season after his best as a Giant in 2013. But there’s been very little letdown for the team’s emotional leader. Rolle already has three interceptions after setting a career-high with six last season. He’s not getting much help at free safety either. The team will need his leadership with Cruz out for the season. But you know he’s up for the task.
Jon Beason, MLB
The story of Beason’s season has been injuries. After sitting out the entire training camp and preseason, he returned for Week 1. And then was promptly back sidelined in Weeks 3, 4 and 5. And guess what, he’s back to being injured after going out early last week in Dallas. He simply can’t stay healthy. The Giants defense is significantly worse with backups like Spencer Paysinger or Mark Herlizh playing.
Prince Amukamara, CB
Sex or no sex, Amukamara looks all grown up in 2014. It’s hard to believe Amukamara is already in his fourth season, but it’s nice to see him finally living up to his first-round draft status. There is still room for improvement, as shown by some struggles last week against Dez Bryant, but he and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are the best pair of corners they’ve had in awhile.
Mathias Kiwanuka, DE
The man on the opposite end of the line from Pierre-Paul has been quiet. He has 1 1/2 sacks, and Damontre Moore has seen increased playing time as the season has continued.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.