July 24, 2018
After one of the worst seasons in franchise history at 3-13, the New York Football Giants have nowhere to go but up.
The moves to change the coach and general manager are steps in the right direction. General Manager Dave Gettleman has a good reputation, is a meat-and-potatoes guy, and the Giants are a meat-and-potatoes franchise. Pat Shurmur looks good, so far, but we will have a better idea when the season has started.
The Giants addressed big needs on both the offensive line and linebacker. Signing Nate Solder as a free agent and having the fortune to draft Will Hernandez will strengthen the left side of their line. Ereck Flowers struggled at left tackle and if he can make a successful transition to right tackle, the line improves even more. Add guard Patrick Omameh and the line is almost completely re-tooled. At linebacker, trading for Alec Ogletree, drafting Lorenzo Carter, and now signing Connor Barwin as a pass rush specialist provides much needed help at a position that was regularly overlooked by the previous administration.
There are other areas that still need improvement, such as the secondary, depth at wide receiver, and possibly the kicking game. And both lines and linebacker could still use another player or two.
The offense will be helped with the return of wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. after missing most of the season with an ankle injury. Add a bounce-back year for Eli Manning at quarterback with an improved line in front of him and the drafting of running back Saquon Barkley and it’s easy to be optimistic for improvement. One of last year’s few bright spots was the emergence of tight end Evan Engram as player on the rise, along with wide receiver Sterling Shepard, giving many reason to hope for an offense that can score points.
Speaking of Barkley, I have never seen such excitement over a Giant no.-1 draft choice since I became a Giant fan in the 1960’s. There have been stars such as Lawrence Taylor and Beckham, but there was nowhere near the enthusiasm at the time of the pick. The closest was Jeremy Shockey before he wore out his welcome.
Defensively, the Giants are converting to a 3-4 base and there could be a lengthy transition, but Snacks Harrison will clog up the middle at nose tackle and Olivier Vernon may provide a pass rush from outside linebacker, while still lining up as an end. Ogletree has the chance to provide some leadership and Landon Collins is a star at safety. A key factor will be how much Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple rebound from sub-par seasons.
The kicking game may be a concern, but the overall play of special teams in return and coverage situations will be improved with standouts such as Michael Johnson and Cody Latimer being signed in the off-season.
While they are not expected to contend for the division title, significant improvement has been made and the prospects of an 8-8 season is very reasonable.