2007 and 2011 feel like a lifetime ago. One playoff appearance (2016) since Super Bowl XLVI and only 2 ‘winning’ seasons (2012: 9-7, 2016:11-5) is embarrassing for a franchise with the history and expectations of the New York Giants.
Last season was a write off; 3-13 and the firing of the Head Coach and then a change in direction for the front office with the new combo of HC Pat Shurmur and GM Dave Gettlemen. A rebuild was required and this season has felt like a team in transition, but only of late has it felt like it was going in the right direction.
Taking the positives – Saquon Barkley has proved the No 2 pick was spot on with some astonishing numbers, particularly in a struggling offense. The defense has shown promise at times, with younger talent coming through – partiality a necessity as the Giants jettisoned JPP, Damon Harrison and Eli Apple. Aldrick Rosas has nailed kicking this year and is looking ‘surefooted’ for the future.
How can a team with offensive weapons like Barkley, OBJ, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram rank so poorly (choose your stat here, there are lots to choose from – I’ll just go with 17th in points scored). To be fair to both sides of the ball the defensive stats are also unimpressive. A 1-7 start was truly awful and, at times, mistake riddled.
Dave Gettlemen extolled the virtues of ‘hog-mollies’ last off season and I would agree that you win in the trenches. The O-Line and the D-Line are pivotal and there needs to be an influx of talent on both sides. If the Giants cannot keep their QB upright, give their star RB lanes to run through, and cannot pressure the opposing QB, then it is virtually impossible to win games.
There is around $30M in cap space which will be available to the Giants across free agency and the draft. I’m not going to use this post to say ‘who’ (that will come later) but the lines should definitely be the priority for strengthening.
For the offense, NYG have slid far enough down the draft order that they may not get the franchise QB of the future (unless they trade up). So after the O-line I’d like to see an additional RB, maybe a late round pick, to help share the load with Saquon (like the 1-2 punch of Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman in Atlanta). I’d also love to see a true TE (see my earlier post on the TE position) to emulate the George Kittle’s and Zach Ertz’s of this league.
For the defense, keep Landon Collins! Get some pieces around him that are going to pressure the QB. I like Olivier Vernon but I’m not sure he is worth it for another season – limited by injury this year. Also, in this pass-happy league you cannot have enough quality in the secondary.
So, for me, priority 1 is OL and the front 7 of the defense. Priority 2 is the secondary, TE and RB. QB is the unknown depending on where the Giants end up round 1 of the draft – I do wonder if they will look at a stop-gap to back up Eli for a year (the Nick Foles’ or Teddy Bridgewater’s of this world – not saying I like the option but I can’t see another season of it being Eli or Lauletta).
This year will be, at least in terms of the W column, an improvement but not by as much as the organisation would have hoped back in September. The heat will be on Shurmur and Gentlemen to make a Giant leap for 2019 with an expectation to be a contender, that much is for certain.