By: Brendan Schick
The New York Giants are coming off of a disaster of a season, finishing 3-13 only one year removed from making the playoffs in 2016. Before last year’s dumpster fire of injuries and coach firings ensued, the Giants were projected to be Super Bowl contenders, which only added to the disappointment experienced by the fans. Would Giants fans be idiots for thinking that the Giants are again…Super Bowl contenders? There’s reasons that fans of Big Blue should be excited for this season.
1. Healthy and deep receiving core
The Giants quietly scrapped oft-injured (and grossly overrated) receiver Brandon Marshall this offseason. Marshall provided little to no production on the field and absorbed a much too large portion of last year’s payroll. But hey, at least he got some cool Instagrams with Odell Beckham, right? Speaking of the man, Odell Beckham is back and seems to be normal again following his ankle injury suffered last year. Just look at the man’s Instagram page, it’s insane what he is physically capable of only months removed from the ankle injury he suffered. Likewise, Sterling Shepard seems healthy and should be quite the Costello to Beckham’s Abbott. The 1-2 punch of Beckham and Shepard will be very challenging for defenses to match up against on the outside. Oh, and Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley exist. Have fun game planning against that, NFL.
2. Improved offensive line
Jerry Reese, the former Giants’ GM, held a longtime tradition of neglecting his offensive line and his linebacker core in the draft, but now that Reese is gone and Dave Gettleman is at the helm, the line has already improved significantly. The Giants signed LT Nate Solder, signed LG Patrick Omameh, and drafted LG Will Hernandez. The most important part about the offensive line moves absolutely has to be the fact that Ereck Flowers will no longer be the Giants’ left tackle (Eli Manning can exhale now). Moving Flowers over to the right side of the line opens the door for him to focus on using his size and strength more so in the running game, while allowing the veteran Solder to help Flowers learn better technique in the passing game. Brett Jones is already very talented, and will help solidify the line at center. Compared to last year, the Giants o-line is in much better shape. If this line cannot stay healthy, however, the G-men are in deep, deep trouble.
3. New coaches, new systems, new schemes
Ben McAdoo is out and Pat Shurmur is in. A change in the locker room was much needed after it was reported that McAdoo lost the team’s respect last year. The Giants roster that made the playoffs in 2016 was not much different from what the roster was in 2017, so a culture change was probably what the doctor ordered. Likewise, James Bettcher is an improvement over Steve Spagnuolo as defensive co-ordinator. Sorry, Spags. Thanks for 2007-2008, though. <3
4. Weak NFC East
The Philadelphia Eagles are the defending Super Bowl champs (this still feels so wrong), so obviously they should be favorites to win the NFC East again, but behind them, what do the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys have to offer this season? I foresee 7-9/8-8 seasons for the two teams, mainly because of the quarterbacks for both teams. I think Alex Smith benefited largely from a good system in Kansas City last year, and while he is talented, is not the guy the Redskins are looking for/need. Likewise, I believe that Dak Prescott is very talented, but I don’t think he is good enough for the Cowboys to cause too much damage. The passing game of Dallas is suspicious and should lead to fans questioning if the Cowboys will rely on Ezekiel Elliott too much. The Redskins have a talented defense and the Cowboys have their running game, but I believe both teams are too one-dimensional on offense. Game manager Alex Smith is not winning a Super Bowl.
Am I too optimistic? Yeah, probably…but the Giants have reasons to believe that they should compete this year amongst the NFL’s best. Obviously teams like the Eagles, Patriots, Rams, and Jaguars are currently the cream of the NFL’s crop, but don’t sleep on those New York Giants. I’m predicting a 10-6 record for the New York Giants this season, with an appearance in the NFC Wild Card game.
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