Following yet another disappointing season and a somewhat questionable offseason even the most die-hard of Giants fans will have an unhealthy relationship with the optimism surrounding this team going into the new season.
Dubious trades, free-agency signings and a draft that continues to be a source of constant media debate understandably sees a number of major networks place the Giants at or near the bottom of the pile in this year’s collection of power ranking lists.
So, despite seemingly taking on the metaphorical role of the league’s rubble is there actually hope for this Giants team?
Well with recent criticism directed towards the Giants organisation from the recently departed Odell Beckham Jr and Landon Collins currently saturating NFL twitter feeds, perhaps general manager Dave Gettleman did have a scratch of sanity within him when he decided to ship them out of New York. During Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur’s tenure they have at the very least been transparent with the types of characters they want permeating their locker room for years to come.
With this new hungry and young core of players led by the likes of Kevin Zeitler and Janoris Jenkins, the volatility that drenched the Ben McAdoo era of this team has firmly been dumped by the roadside. But let’s not lie to ourselves, the credibility of this team’s chances of success really lies in the hands of players fulfilling their potential just like any other team.
So we’ll start with the offensive side of the ball where it’s hard to argue that the O-line has not shown improvement under Gettleman but it will need to continue on its upward trajectory if Eli Manning is to return even close to the form of previous Super Bowl winning seasons. And adding a guard with the quality of Kevin Zietler will only help them on that journey. Questions still remain at right-tackle however with many New York fans frustrated that the team’s second of ultimately three-first round picks was not spent on a player of the calibre of Andre Dillard or Jawaan Taylor.
In the ammunition room, despite the highly ridiculed decision to trade Beckham Jr, the weapons Eli still has at his disposal in the likes of Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Evan Engram and most significantly stud running-back Saquon Barkley, should still see the Giants turn into an all-rounded and consistent attacking threat this season.
On the opposite side of the ball the defensive line is sound. A young talented core of players in BJ Hill, Dalvin Tomlinson, and the recently drafted 340–pound monster that is Dexter Lawrence means this team should have no problem containing opposing run-games or creating inside pressure.
However, doubts surrounding the quality of the Giants outside pass-rush still linger after they allowed top draft prospect Josh Allen to grab a one-way ticket to Jacksonville as he looked the nailed-on replacement for Cleveland-bound Olivier Vernon. Instead they will look to improvements from second year linebacker Lorenzo Carter, a return to form for former Cardinal Markus Golden, and for this year’s third-round draft pick Oshane Ximines to build on his 91.3 pass rush grade in college.
The last line of defence is perhaps though where Gettleman most went to town in the offseason. Trading back into the first round for cornerback Deandre Baker, obtaining another in the form of second round talent Julian Love in the fourth, and acquiring safety Jabrill Peppers in the offseason shows that the Giants front office was aware of the concerns surrounding their secondary. All will have to demonstrate signs of them fulfilling their potential as quality draft prospects if the Giants are to see noticeable improvements in defence from last season. Even Peppers, a former first-round pick, who the jury is still out on.
So there you have it. Perhaps all is not so bad in the big NY. The foundations are there. And strong new ones and that. And yes we can all continue to snigger at the Giants decision to take Daniel Jones with the sixth-pick of the 2019 draft but like so many other new young additions across the NFL it’s important to remember that he is still an unknown quantity. An if, but and a maybe if you will.