Eli Manning can still be streaky and needs to cut turnovers [11 picks already; he had 14 last season] but he’s still efficient. His numbers are steady, save for the occasional wayward passes, as he’s completed 127-of-329 for a 65.7 completion percentage. He’s also thrown for 1,785 yards and 14 TDs, making him the most accomplished passer in a loaded NFC East.
Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs are the best rushing tandem in NFL. Bradshaw’s 708 rushing yards is second in the NFC, while Jacobs has 282 yards and five TDs. The receivers are led by second-year stud Hakeem Nicks , who leads in catches (45), yards (525) and TDs (eight). Eli finally has a stellar red-zone target. He isn’t the only option, as wideouts Steve Smith [43 catches for 471 yards, two scores] and Mario Manningham [21 catches, 329 yards, and three scores] also put in work. Tight end Kevin Boss sports a team-leading 16.7 yards per catch average.
All but C Shaun O’Hara has started every game this season. When O’Hara missed three games due to ankle and Achilles problems, Adam Koets stepped in admirably and kept the line moving. Backup tackle and swing-guard Shawn Andrews can also play as an extra tight end when the Giants go jumbo.
The defensive front is the backbone of a defense that’s first in NFC and second in NFL in total yards allowed [263.3], while also allowing a conference-low 178 passing yards per game. The
manic pass rush, which should survive the loss of Mathias Kiwanuka, is responsible for allowing just 14.7 first downs per game. Osi Umenyiora has a team-leading eight sacks [second overall in NFL].
Unit lacks a true leader. Keith Bulluck was brought in but has had trouble staying on the field. Other than Michael Boley knocking out Tony Romo, this unit hasn’t done much to distinguish itself this season.
Living off work put in by D-Line. S Antrel Rolle has a team-leading 43 tackles, while S Deon Grant is tied for team lead with two picks. CB Terrell Thomas leads in passes defended (9). Cornerback Terrell Thomas leads team with nine passes defended. Although there isn’t a Pro Bowler in this bunch, this unit is a marked upgrade over last year’s sieve of a secondary.
When Jeff Feagles retired, there was a giant hole to fill at punter. Rookie Matt Dodge has an NFL-sized leg but his nerves and accuracy in corner kicking [Feagles’s specialty] have been suspect at times. Dodge has turned it around some, following his disastrous start, as he’s raised his average to 44.7 per punt. Return man Darius Reynaud, however, brings down the grade with his paltry averages of 5.9 per punt return and 17.4 per kick return.
It’s funny what a four-game winning streak can do for a coach’s security. Following that Week 3 disaster in Indy that put the G-Men at 1-2, Tom Coughlin has rallied his team and everyone seems to be on the same page again. No team rallies around its coach as well the Giants do for Coughlin, putting the Bill Cowher watch on hold – for now.
All of the professional sports teams that play in the country’s biggest market will also receive the most scrutiny but the Giants have seemed to have weathered the storm. Their five wins are tied with four other teams for the most in the NFC – giving 2010 a 2007 feel right now.