Mixed Bag

Heaven knows last year's 8-8 Giants had their fair share of trouble spots. Most of Tom Coughlin's offseason was spent trying to fix what ailed Big Blue. In some cases, the positive results have been obvious. In others…well, believe it or not, through four games, the Giants were actually worse in some categories than they were last season.

As the first quarter of the 2007 season comes to a close with New York boasting a 2-2 record, TGI takes a look at some of the key statistical categories and how New York stacks up compared to last year's unit. The ‘this year' figures are for New York's first three games.

The good…

Rushing defense

The Giants have clamped down some defending the run. Better play from up front in the running game, as well as solid run defense from the LBs has led to the marked improvement, at least so far.

Last year: 114.4/game
This year: 102.3/game
Against the Eagles: 114

Passing offense

Eli Manning has made great strides throwing the ball consistently. Manning exploded opening night, then came back in Week Two and played well again in defeat. A combination of Chris Palmer's mechanical help and Manning's emerging confidence has done the trick here.

Last year: 191.1/game
This year: 254.7/game
Against the Eagles: 129

Third-down offense

The Giants had certainly gotten much better and more consistent at moving the sticks during the season's first month. A lot of that had to do with Manning's more consistent and confident play. Derrick Ward has chipped in with his hard running as well.

Last year: 37.9 percent
This year: 50 percent
Against the Eagles: 27 percent

Kickoff return

The combination of explosive rookie Ahmad Bradshaw and experienced, wily veteran Reuben Droughns has injected some life into New York's kickoff return game. Those two will also tell you that better blocking up front has sparked the unit.

Last year: 20.1/return
This year: 24.9/return
Against the Eagles: 32/return

Red zone defense

In the early going this season, New York's defense tightened up enough in the red zone, but they certainly could afford to get a little tougher. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo surely will take more efforts like he had against the Birds, when the Giants denied Philly on their only trip inside the New York 20.

Last year: 67 percent
This year: 67 percent
Against the Eagles: 0 percent

The bad…

Third-down defense

The Giants defense was pretty bad last season at trying to get the opponent off the field on third down and they've done nothing to improve in this category. With the secondary's troubles, especially during the first two games, opponents have been able to move the sticks close to half the time so far.

Last year: 42.9 percent
This year: 44.7 percent
Against the Eagles: 31 percent

Kickoff coverage

What was a trouble spot has only gotten worse for New York. For some reason, despite constantly changing cover men and schemes, the Giants have been unable to get this right for years. The absence of David Tyree for a few weeks also hurt.

Last Year: 22.4/return
This year: 27/return
Against the Eagles: 24.5/return

Punt return

The Giants are opting to use the more dependable, but less threatening R.W. McQuarters to return punts this year. Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn is opting to go the safe route instead of experimenting with more explosive youngsters like Sinorice Moss or Aaron Ross. The results thus far have been just a little off last year's pace.

Last year: 8.7/return
This year: 7.6/return
Against the Eagles: 8.2/return

Punt coverage

Similar to their kickoff coverage unit, the Giants have dropped in this department as well. Similar to their kickoff coverage unit, there's no real reason that you can point to in order to explain why. Again, New York hopes Tyree's return will help here.

Last year: 5.8/return
This year: 8.4/return
Against the Eagles: 6.7/return

Red zone offense

The Giants converted two-thirds of all possible points inside the opposing 20-yard line last season. Their green zone production so far has been slightly worse, and they were real bad against the Birds, with a missed field goal and an interception resulting in two totally empty trips.

Last year: 67 percent
This year: 60 percent
Against the Eagles: 36 percent

Turnover margin

Tom Coughlin swears by the turnover margin and he proved prophetic last year. His club was right down the middle in turnovers forced and committed and they ended up right down the middle with an 8-8 mark. Through the first four games this year, they're one under the split-even mark and boast a 2-2 record.

Last year: Even
This year: minus-1
Against the Eagles: Even

Point differential

The Giants' ability to run and gun with the Cowboys on opening night is the main reason they're not worse off here. The only real blowout through four games went against them, when Green Bay took them apart in Week Two.

Last year: minus-17
This year: minus-25
Against the Eagles: plus-13

The ugly…

Rushing offense

Without Tiki Barber and his borderline Hall-of-Fame stats, you knew there'd be some drop-off in the running game. And there certainly has been. With Brandon Jacobs getting injured during New York's first game, Derrick Ward has stepped in and done a nice job.

Last year: 134.8/game
This year: 104.7/game
Against the Eagles: 83

Passing defense

Just when you thought it couldn't possibly get any worse... The Giants remain one of the league's worst pass defenses through four games, even though the 12 sacks against Philly helped lower last week's number. Replacing Corey Webster with rookie Aaron Ross should help right the secondary ship some as well.

Last year: 228.1/game
This year: 266.3/game
Against the Eagles: 76

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