Well, you can't do much better than 4-0 through the first four games, that's for sure. So Tom Coughlin clearly has to be pleased with his club's overall effort. Winning three straight on the road and going 2-0 in the division also lead one to classify the first quadrant of New York's season as a smashing success. But there is also definitely some room for improvement in some statistical categories. TGI will now take a closer look at where the Giants are excelling and where they're still lacking. The 2009 figures are through New York's first four games; the 2008 numbers are for the entire season.
Run offense – While the combo of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw hasn't quite reached the average weekly performance level of Jacobs and Derrick Ward last season, they're certainly close enough. If the Giants can continue rolling up close to 150 yards on the ground every Sunday, they're certain to end up in pretty good shape.
This year: 145.5 yards per game
Last year: 157.3 yards per game
Run defense – For all of New York's offseason signings along the defensive line, they're much worse off at stopping the run. Most of the damage came in the Dallas game when the Marion Barber-led Cowboys ran roughshod over Big Blue. They're obviously getting by with subpar run defense, but they certainly could stand to improve in this area.
This year: 117.3 yards per game
Last year: 95.8 yards per game
Pass offense – It's safe to say at this rate Eli Manning will be heading back to the Pro Bowl. He's put up very impressive numbers and the offensive line has done a great job of keeping him clean. And perhaps you've heard how well Steve Smith is playing.
This year: 255.5 yards per game
Last year: 209.6 yards per game
Pass defense – Much, much better, which is even more impressive when you consider some of the injuries the secondary has endured. Playing without Aaron Ross, Kevin Dockery and Kenny Phillips, the Giants DBs were still getting the job done in very nice fashion.
This year: 115.0 yards per game
Last year: 196.2 yards per game
Third-down offense – They were pretty good in this department last season, but are even more so this time around. Manning has all but turned third-down passing into an art form. He obviously doesn't convert every third-down opportunity, but it sure seems that way.
This year: 47.5 percent
Last year: 43.1 percent
Third-down defense – And they're also much better defensively when the yard markers read third down. Teams are moving the sticks against the Giants on third down much less in '09 than they were able to last season. The return of Kevin Dockery and, eventually, Aaron Ross should help out even more here.
This year: 27.7 percent
Last year: 40.7 percent
Kickoff return – Sinorice Moss is one of our favorite guys in that locker room. He's such a nice, respectful kid. Unfortunately, though, none of that helps him when he tries to run back kickoffs. They've given him the KO return job. But unless he steps up his level of play, they're going to be forced to look to replace him.
This year: 16.8 yards per return
Last year: 23.3 yards per return
Kickoff coverage – One of the Giants special teams weaknesses last season was their kickoff coverage unit. They're even worse at it this year. This isn't to say that every single return against them is a long one; just that opponents have been getting way too cushy field position more often than not.
This year: 24.2 yards per return
Last year: 22.5 yards per return
Punt return – The Giants have been without their usual punt returner partially because Domenik Hixon entered the season in the starting lineup and partially because he's been hurt and has missed the last few games. Ahmad Bradshaw has been dependable catching the ball, which is all that Tom Coughlin really cares about. But his return numbers haven't exactly been impressive.
This year: 7.2 yards per return
Last year: 8.6 yards per return
Punt coverage – Like the kickoff coverage unit, the Giants have posted even worse numbers this season. Jeff Feagles has done his usual excellent job of pinning returners deep and knocking balls out of bounds inside the 20. But when the returner does get his hands on the ball, it's mostly been trouble for New York.
This year: 9.2 yards per return
Last year: 5.8 yards per return
Red Zone offense – For statistical purposes we have to refer to this as the red zone, but we all know it endearingly as the green zone. Whatever you want to color it, the Giants have been very bad in this department. With the exception of the one game in Tampa, the lack of touchdown production in the green zone has to be turning Tom Coughlin blue.
This year: 23.5 percent
Last year: 50.7 percent
Red Zone defense – There's nothing more deflating to the opposition than getting close to the Giants goal line and being turned away or having to settle for just three points. The Giants have made great strides in this department since last season. Almost three-quarters of the time the enemy invades New York's red zone, they come away without a touchdown.
This year: 72.7 percent
Last year: 48.6 percent
Turnover margin – This, more than any other stat, is what drives Tom Coughlin. He's been proven correct time and time again – if you win the turnover battle, you're almost definitely going to win the game. They appear well on their way to another great turnover ratio.
This year: plus-4
Last year: plus-9
Point differential – The easiest way to determine overall success is by how many more points you score than your opposition. The Giants are already ahead of last year's final margin, which was impressive to say the least. When you average more than a touchdown more than your opponents, you're going to be in pretty good shape. Add an extra field goal on top of that, which they have so far in '09, and you're off to a 4-0 start for sure.
This year: +10.8
Last year: +8.3
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