By Paul Dottino
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The Giants' enigmatic season ended at 6-10, with an excellent illustration of what they need moving forward. The two most significant elements that were missing from their 34-26 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles cropped up all year long: an inconsistent running game and the need to reduce the number of big plays allowed on defense.
You can start with those themes before trying to clean up the dropped passes, the untimely penalties, the rushing defense or the hot-and-cold special-teams play. Although those items will have to be addressed, as well.
Some of the answers will come from within. The Giants put 22 players on injured reserve this season, and a healthier team should be able to assist in the process. We've also seen many of their younger players start to develop down the stretch, and they look as though they can be relied upon to be a significant part of the team's future. But the Giants must improve their roster. It simply was not deep enough to make the playoffs.
The good news for them is that it shouldn't take more than a handful of moves via free agency and the draft to put the club back into the postseason.
We'll get to those items another time. For now, here's a final look at Week 17:
Offense: WR Odell Beckham Jr. -- Do we really need to explain this one? He either set or tied several more records as he tightened his grip on what should be the NFL Rookie of the Year Award. His stat line read 12 catches to tie a career-high, along with a career-high 185 yards and a TD. He finished the season leading NFL rookies with 91 catches and 1,305 yards, and tied for the rookie lead with the Buccaneers' Mike Evans at 12 TD receptions.
Defense: Jason Pierre-Paul -- The defensive lineman added five tackles and two sacks to his stat sheet, putting him at 77 stops and 12.5 sacks. He finished with sacks in each of the final five games, registering nine over that span. Afterward, he revealed that he played with numbness in his arm for the early part of the season, the result of a burner in the opener against the Lions.
Special Teams: Josh Brown -- He capped off a fantastic season, going 4-for-4 on field goals, including a 53-yard bomb in the third quarter.
Offense: Will Beatty -- There's no other place to go after his penalty wiped out a touchdown for the second straight week. With 5:10 left in the third quarter, his holding infraction negated a 34-yard TD pass to Rueben Randle with the Giants down, 24-16. The Giants settled for a field goal on this drive and a 24-19 deficit.
Defense: The Entire Unit -- They allowed eight plays (six passes) of 20-plus yards on 72 snaps over a time of possession of 25:23. Not nearly good enough against a team quarterbacked by Mark Sanchez.
Special Teams: LS Zak DeOssie and S Quintin Demps -- In the third quarter, P Steve Weatherford was victimized by his first-career blocked punt, and Trey Burton returned it 27 yards for a TD and a 24-16 Philadelphia lead. DeOssie floated a high snap and James Casey sprinted by personal protector Quintin Demps -- who was chipping to his left -- to block the kick.
Final prediction record for Giants games: 11-5
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