Playing in front of a national audience on Sunday night, the Giants gifted the Minnesota Vikings a late Christmas gift in the form of a playoff berth with a listless performance that may well be Tom Coughlin’s last at the helm. Out of contention courtesy of Washington’s win on Saturday, Big Blue looked like they had nothing to play for as Eli threw 3 interceptions and was yanked in the fourth in favor of seldom-used Ryan Nassib who recorded his first ever TD.
Playing without the suspended Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants’ offense was out-of-sorts all night long. The lone bright spot was the play of running back Rashad Jennings who seems to have finally cemented his place on the team just as the season is winding down. Jennings ran for over 100+ yards last week, followed up with 136 all-purpose yards in this one that saw him attack on the ground as well as through the air. He gained 74 yards from 14 carries while also catching the ball twice for 62 yards, including one for 50.
The jury is still out on the Giants’ running back by committee approach as Jennings has not been bad this season but not great either. The former Jaguar and Raider has seen his playing time and touches affected while sharing the workload with Shane Vereen, Andre Williams, and Orleans Darkwa with none of them making the position theirs. Despite already playing in three more games than last year’s 11, Jennings’ numbers are down across the board. He is averaging 44.2 yards/game vs. 58.1 from a year ago, he has rushed for 619 yards from 154 carries as opposed to 639 yards from 167 carries and, most crucially, he has scored only 2 TDs, half of last year’s total.
Jennings is set to make $5.875 million and is contracted through 2017 while his dead cap is $1.6875 million for the same period. In an offseason full of tough decisions, Jerry Reese and the rest of the front office will no doubt be looking at the run game and figuring out if current personnel is adequate enough or whether it’s time to re-invest in the unit. As a result, next week’s dead rubber against Philly will hold some value, maybe not in terms of postseason play but definitely in terms of jobs for next season.