The 1-7 New York Jets ready themselves to take on the 2-7 Giants at MetLife Stadium and Michael Nania has the statistical scouting report.
Throughout the season, I’ll be previewing the New York Jets‘ opponent each week with a look at their greatest strengths and weaknesses from a statistical standpoint.
Let’s dive into some key numbers on the Giants heading into this Sunday’s quadrennial battle of New York.
Strength: Avoiding stuffs
The Giants are ranked in the top half of very few offensive categories, but one area where they do rank solidly is with rushing efficiency. Big Blue is ranked tenth in yards per rush attempt, with a mark of 4.7.
There have not been many huge plays for Saquon Barkley and company this season, but the primary reason they have fared so well in the yards per rush category has been their ability to avoid the negative plays.
To date, the Giants have had just 12 run plays stuffed for a loss, an average of 1.5 per game that stands as the lowest mark in the league.
The next key will be getting Barkley back to producing huge plays at the level he was in 2018. Last season, Barkley picked up 16 runs of 20+ yards, five more than any other player. Here in 2019, he has just three of those runs, tied for 14th in the league.
Pat Shurmur’s offense has 22 turnovers and a turnover rate of 22.2 percent, each mark the worst in football.
Most rookie quarterbacks struggle with turnovers, but Daniel Jones has been turning the ball over at an incredibly high rate even for a rookie.
Jones has tossed eight interceptions across 257 pass attempts, giving him an interception rate of 3.1 percent that stands as the fifth-highest mark in the league.
Interceptions are far from the main issue, however. Fumbles have been a gargantuan problem for Jones. He is tied for second in the league with 10 fumbles and has lost a league-high eight of them.
Jones’ total of 16 turnovers is tied with Jameis Winston for the most in the league, although Winston has started one more game and thrown 50 more passes than Jones has.
Strength: Red zone
Throughout most of the season, the Giants defense has been one of the league’s worst units. However, they have crept up a bit recently, now ranked 25th in DVOA after spending much of the season in the bottom three.
A big reason the Giants have been able to maintain just a little bit of respectability on defense has been their performance in the red zone. They have allowed a touchdown on just 48.3 percent of red-zone trips, the sixth-lowest rate in the league.
Big Blue has been particularly good with their backs all the way up against the wall. Inside of their own five-yard line, the Giants have allowed only two of nine pass plays to be converted for a touchdown, a 22.2 percent rate that ranks sixth-best. In the run game, they have allowed a conversion on just four of 14 attempts, 28.6 percent (tied for fifth-best).
Overall, the Giants have allowed six touchdowns on 23 plays inside of their own five, a rate of 26.1 percent that is second-best to only the Denver Broncos (23.8 percent).
Weakness: Pass defense
The most consistent weakness for the Giants this season has certainly been their pass defense, specifically in the secondary. James Bettcher’s defense is ranked 27th in pass defense DVOA and 29th in net yards per pass attempt allowed (7.8).
Bettcher’s front seven has gotten a decent amount of pressure, ranking 12th in sack rate (7.2 percent) and 16th in pressure rate (23.3 percent). The problem is that when the pressure hasn’t been there, the back end has been picked apart with ease. New York has allowed 8.9 yards per pass attempt, worst in the league.
Many Giants have routinely struggled to get stops in coverage. Rookie cornerback DeAndre Baker has yielded 578 yards (second-most) and six touchdowns (tied-most). His 151.4 passer rating when targeted is the highest among qualified players at any position.
Cornerback Grant Haley has allowed 32 catches on 37 targets for 383 yards, an extremely high average of 10.4 yards per target. Safety Antoine Bethea and Linebacker Alec Ogletree have combined to allow 31 catches on 35 targets for 427 yards (12.2 per target) and five touchdowns.
Special Teams’ notes: Some problems with punting and placekicking units
Kicker Aldrick Rosas has had a mediocre start to the season. He is a decent eight of 10 on field goals (80 percent), but that is a bit misleading, as he has kicked from the shortest average distance among qualified kickers (31.2 yards). Rosas missed a 48-yard attempt back in Week 2, and a 37-yard attempt in Week 7.
Rosas has left points on the field in three consecutive games. Since his latest field goal miss in Week 7, Rosas has missed one extra point in back-to-back games.
Because of his struggles with extra points and short-distance kicks, Rosas has the Giants ranked 26th in placekicking DVOA.
The Giants have generally done a good job handling opponent punt returns. They have allowed just 5.5 yards per punt return, ninth-fewest.
However, they made the unforgivable mistake of allowing a blocked punt to the Patriots back in Week 6. Blocked punts are so rare that can they sink the season-long value of even the best punt units. Despite their strong return coverage, the Giants punt unit is ranked 29th in DVOA, entirely because of that one mistake. It just goes to show how catastrophic special teams miscues are.