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Five stats the Giants will look to improve on in 2015

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  1. YARDS PER CARRY**

NEWS
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PHOTOS
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VIDEOS
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Despite finishing 10th in total yards in Ben McAdoo's first year as offensive coordinator, the Giants struggled to find consistency in the ground game last season while the offense dealt with injuries, including to starting running back Rashad Jennings.

At his press conference at the end of the year, coach Tom Coughlin stressed the importance of improving the rushing numbers and said there was no better example than what Dallas did in 2014 when it finished second in rushing and won the NFC East. A healthy Jennings and the addition of Shane Vereen in the backfield will go a long way, but it will be a total team effort for the Giants.

"Before you do anything else as a running back, know your system and do a better job with your reads," running backs coach Craig Johnson said.

"We have to get fits better with the linemen and timing with them and then obviously you want to put yourself in the best position for all the running game that you can and that is part of what the quarterbacks do such a great job for us for. All those factors matter, but at the end of the day, I tell the backs, 'When it is time to run, run, and if there is a hole there, that is great, but if there is not a hole there, make a hole and make it happen.'"

2. YARDS PER CARRY AGAINST

The other side of the coin is stopping the run, an area the Giants struggled with in 2014 while they surged in getting to the quarterback. New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is always associated with the latter, but it starts with plugging up the ground game.

"It always comes before, in my opinion," said Spagnuolo, whose rushing defense finished in the top 10 in 2007 and 2008 during his first stint with the Giants.

"Now we do have run-pressures, which I hope help. When you are talking about stopping the run, it does come back to the guys up front. It doesn't matter what you draw up on the board, in my opinion. Guys up front have to do it first, then the second level behind them have to do it next, then when all else fails, you have to have guys in a position that those plays don't become big plays…It is not all about pressure and blitzing. That is not necessarily the answer. It is about fundamentals and playing good, strong, solid, physical football up front to stop the run. That will be a focus."

3. TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL

Although it was vastly improved from 2013, the Giants' turnover differential still didn't break even in 2014 with 28 giveaways and 26 takeaways.

Almost more than anything, Coughlin will want to see the plus-minus in the black in 2015. Offensively, Eli Manning will do his part coming off the most accurate passing season of his career. On the defensive side, cornerback Prince Amukamara set his goals on more interceptions to take his game -- and the entire defense's -- to the next level.

"Ball production is huge not only for me but for the team," Amukamara said. "It definitely helps me out, but in the main stream of things, it helps the team out. So any time that the DBs can get our hands on the ball, we are going to make the most of it."

4. OPPONENT BIG PLAYS

Numbers can be deceiving.

The Giants' defense finished fourth last season in third-down conversion percentage, but they put opposing offenses in that situation just 200 times, second-fewest in the NFL.

That was largely due to the 79 plays of 20 yards or longer the defense allowed.

"This league is about finding matchups and they will try and go after the weak links and guys that don't do it," cornerbacks coach Tim Walton said.

"So we try to preach that we are going to have all our guys solid at tackling and being physical and getting off blocks and doing all the fundamental things that come with football. We have to get that down."

5. PUNT COVERAGE

While punter Steve Weatherford grinded through ankle and back injuries, the coverage unit allowed another return touchdown in 2014 after giving up three the year before. Through both the draft and free agency, the Giants made key additions this offseason to make sure the streak does not continue in 2015.

"Punt is the one area that we did not meet our goal," special teams coordinator Tom Quinn said. "You want to have a 40-yard net now and we are under that. We continue to emphasize with the hang time and the location of the punts. Get better at that and get better at covering it. I think we have done that with some of the acquisitions we have made."

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