A puzzling 2014 season finally came to a conclusion on Sunday for the New York Giants. Over the last four months spectators have witnessed a team that was unable to put forth a complete effort from week-to-week and struggled to maintain a healthy roster.
Individually it was a frustrating season for many players looking to take their performance to the proverbial next level, and the team to January competition. This was the case for 3rd year receiver Reuben Randle who was expected to shoulder a significant load in the passing game with the loss of Hakeem Nicks and the initial injury absence of Odell Beckham Jr.
Randle was plagued by a very slow start to the season that included some very clear miscommunication issues with QB Eli Manning. He was unable to step into the void left by the loss of Victor Cruz, who tore is patellar tendon in Week 6, and become the top target for Manning. His struggles to separate from coverage and make contested catches continued for much of the season. He watched Odell Beckham ascend past him on the depth chart and into stardom. But Randle, like many of his Giants’ teammates, showed legitimate improvement in the last quarter of the season.
Despite the progression, Randle still expected more from himself and the rest of his teammates in the 2014 campaign.
He said, “That’s what we’re here for. That’s part of our job; to criticize ourselves and hopefully get better to help this team win.”
Week 16 and 17 were Randle’s best performances of 2014. He hauled in 6 receptions for 158 yards against the Eagles on the heels of a 6-132-1 TD line against the Rams the week prior. It was the type of impact the Giants had hoped for from Randle all season as an outside threat for the recently implemented West Coast Offense. If nothing else, it provided a heightened confidence for the pass-catcher heading into the offseason.
“I just wanted to finish strong and that’s just the main point about it,” Randle said. “I didn’t want to end on a bad note, at least for myself, so I just try to come out and give my all and just leave on a positive note.”
For Randle it will be another long offseason that should be dedicated to developing into an upper-echelon receiving threat. After finishing 2014 with 938 receiving yards, he will look to break the 1000-yard barrier for the first time in his career in what will be the final year of his rookie contract. Reuben will be given every opportunity to compete for the No. 2 receiver job as Victor Cruz rehabs from a catastrophic knee injury. Hopefully he takes advantage.