NFL Wire News

Giants fail in 2014 but see future hope

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The 2014 season might be a lost cause for the New York Giants, but among the ruins of what was once hope are a few brightly shining embers from the team’s rookies.

One of the highlights on offense occurred Sunday in New York’s 36-7 rout of the Tennessee Titans, when running back Andre Williams and receiver Odell Beckham Jr. became the first rookie teammates to have 130-plus rushing and receiving yards, respectively, in the same game in league history.

Williams, who got the start despite Rashad Jennings (ankle) being active, in particular was a good story for the Giants. Entering Sunday’s game, the rookie out of Boston College was averaging 2.9 yards per carry, as he was struggling to find creases and take advantage of them.

“I think he is (running as well as he has all season), with the exception of a couple of times when I would’ve maybe made a little bit different reaction to some of the things he saw in front of him,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “He was on the spot with his cuts, and he did demonstrate once again the power that we are counting on. The more he plays, the better he gets and the more opportunity he has. He helped us considerably getting started in a two-minute drill; that was a big plus.”

Beckham, meanwhile, has a six-game streak with at least 90 receiving yards. He recorded his fourth 100-yard receiving performance, and for good measure, even attempted a deep pass, a ball intended for wide receiver Rueben Randle that fell incomplete.

“I don’t think ‘amaze’ is the right word,” Coughlin said of Beckham’s skill set and ability to do things at such a high level considering he missed most of training camp and the first week of the season with a hamstring strain.

“I think we knew that he was a very talented young man when we drafted him. The number of things he can do, you saw him throw the ball yesterday and you have seen him run the ball and certainly catch the ball. We continue to try to put him in some spots where we can utilize all of the talents that he brings to the field.”

On defense, outside linebacker Devon Kennard, who recorded his first two sacks of the season Nov. 30 at Jacksonville, doubled his season total on Sunday.

“He is maintaining his own at the line of scrimmage, he plays with power, he can shock you on contact, which we all observed,” Coughlin said of Kennard, the second of the team’s two fifth-round picks this year. “He is a guy that is not prone to missed assignments or anything of that nature. Loves to play, he is physical, so he has been the kind of things you are looking for.”

Other rookies — offensive lineman Weston Richburg, defensive tackle Jay Bromley, safety Nat Berhe and undrafted defensive end Kerry Wynn — also quietly contributed the past few weeks.

The promise that they showed is important to the Giants’ long-term productivity prospects, regardless of what the future may hold for the coaching staff.

“It is encouraging because long have we invested in their playing time,” Coughlin said. “The fact that they have played some and they continue to play and get experience and they have had a little taste of success from time to time, that is a good thing. In order to advance this team, these young guys have got to get great experience, and they are starting to get it.”

REPORT CARD VS. TITANS

–PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus — WR Odell Beckham Jr. continues to amaze. The rookie finished with 130 receiving yards, his sixth consecutive game with at least 90 receiving yards and fourth 100-yard performance this season. However, QB Eli Manning saw his own performance tail off, as he finished 26 of 42 for 260 yards while making yet another poor decision that resulted in an interception returned for the Titans’ only points of the game. Also on the down side, WR Rueben Randle, who had single coverage, made only a since reception for 9 yards (three targets).

–RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus — The Giants had their third-best rushing production this season, gaining 142 yards on 30 carries (4.7-yard average). Rookie RB Andre Williams, who capped his day with 131 on 24 carries, did the bulk of the work, with 50 of his yards coming on his lone touchdown run. Williams typically enjoyed most of his success running behind FB Henry Hynoski, and he might have had even more yards had the interior of the offensive line done a better job blocking up the middle.

–PASS DEFENSE: A-minus — The defensive front took advantage of a banged-up Titans offensive line by recording eight sacks for minus-60 yards. The secondary, which make a subtle switch, placing Zack Bowman with Chykie Brown and inserting Mike Harris as the slot cornerback, did a nice job in coverage as well, limiting the Titans to 206 receiving yards. Tennessee’s top receiver, Derek Hagan, finished with six catches for 62 yards.

–RUSH DEFENSE: A — The defensive front won its battle in the trenches, limiting the Titans to 61 yards on the ground and only one long run, a 21-yard scramble by QB Jake Locker. The Giants also used a lot of three-safety sets to help compensate for the injuries that thinned out the linebacker unit, a plan that worked well.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: B — PK Josh Brown was perfect on five field goals and had some nice kickoffs to complete his day. Beckham finished with a 12.3-yard punt return average. The lone blip on this unit’s showing was the unpleasant exchange between P Steve Weatherford and special teams coordinator Tom Quinn after one of Weatherford’s punts rolled into the end zone. Quinn put his hands on Weatherford, who angrily swatted them away while the camera caught it all.

–COACHING: B — Give credit to both offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell for throwing caution to the wind and changing things up a bit. McAdoo introduced a heavier run package that utilized Hynoski more often, and out of some different formations, and that helped the running game break out of its rut. McAdoo wasn’t afraid to try something new with Beckham, having the rookie attempt a deep pass down the field that was overthrown. Fewell is bringing the blitz more, and the results are paying off. The linebackers have six of the team’s 15 sacks over the past two games.


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