It wasn’t just one thing that plagued the New York Giants in 2013. It was the culmination of a variety of problems, none more important than New York’s failure to take of the football.
The Giants finished their 2013 campaign with a total of44 turnovers, which was at least 10 more than any other team. They also had a turnover margin of minus 15, good enough for second to last in the NFL.
If New York is hoping avoid another ugly season, the offense must value possessions and protect the football.
It all starts with veteran quarterback Eli Manning. In 2013, Manning threw a career-high 27 interceptions, eclipsing his old record by two. This is a staggering number and clears up any mystery as to why the Giants offense consistently struggled last season.
Now, not all of the interceptions were Manning’s fault. There were passes that bounced of receivers’ hands and wound up in the arms of a defender. There were also times that receivers slipped or misread coverages and effectively left Manning out to dry. However, while this was the case at times, the fact remains that Manning still plays too loose with the football.
Manning was constantly forcing the ball into double and even triple coverages last year in effort to create big plays. Part of the reason why must have been due to an inconsistent running game and an offensive line that barely gave Manning time to exhale. Manning must have felt like he had to be the one to make something happen.
In 2014, the pressure on the Manning’s shoulders should be substantially less. New York’s front office used free agency and the NFL Draft to help re-build their offensive line. A couple of new pieces like guard Geoff Schwartz and center Weston Richburg should turn out to be serious improvements.
The Giants offense is also entering a transitional year under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. Expect some growing pains early on but also expect some of last year’s problems to have less of an impact. McAdoo’s system relies less on the reading of coverages from the receiving corps. This should ultimately help some of New York’s weapons like Rueben Randle, who had a hard time staying on the same page as Manning last year.
It’s hard to believe the Giants will struggle as much this season as they did in 2013. New York’s many offseason moves provided Manning with more protection and a few new weapons. However, Manning must play smarter and be more accurate with the football if the Giants are going to turn the ball over less.