By Brendan Schick
Eli Apple being referred to as a standout may come as a shock to some people, but supposedly, the soon to be third-year cornerback has garnered the praise of his coaches and his teammates throughout the Giants’ OTA sessions. Apple, the former first-round pick, has had a very underwhelming start to his career. His rookie season was average and his sophomore season was, as the great Charles Barkley says, “Turrible.” Eli Apple’s poor play received a lot of harsh criticism when the Giants lost (of which they did a lot of last year). The former Ohio State Buckeye was as dislikable off the field as he was on the field, as teammate and all-pro safety Landon Collins referred to Apple as a locker room cancer. Apple’s attitude changed, and his play bottomed out, and consequently, Apple was suspended by his own team for the last game of the season.
Collins has since apologized for his jabs directed at Apple, but a lot has happened to the Giants organization since the end of last year’s 3-13 rollercoaster ride of sadness. Two years is not that large a sample size, and there is always a chance that Eli Apple can become a quality starting cornerback opposite of Janoris Jenkins. Here’s why there’s reason to be hopeful: The Giants’ coaching staff and general manager* are brand new.
While Eli Manning is really the last connection to the “old regime” Giants of the Manning/Coughlin era, the Giants are embracing the next chapter in the organization’s history. The McAdoo-coached Giants were only good because Odell Beckham became a thing, and when their star, game-changing receiver was injured, McAdoo was exposed as a one-trick pony coach who couldn’t handle adapting to the circumstances that occur over the course of the football season. It also didn’t help that Jerry Reese was calling the shots in regard to personnel selection. So, now that McAdoo and Reese are out of the picture, the Giants truly have an opportunity to hit the reset button.
A fresh start. A clean slate. That is something that a struggling player like Eli Apple needs. It allows him to clear his mind from his lamentable past, and to focus on improving within a new system on defense. With the exit of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from the defensive scheme, the Giants need Eli Apple now more than ever. His success will go a long, long way towards the overall success of the Giants. Similarly, his misdoings will be heavily scrutinized, like they have been the past two years. There’s reason to be hopeful. Apple has been given the tabula rasa from his new head coach, Pat Shurmur, and most importantly, he has seemed to bury the hatchet with Landon Collins. Collins is quoted as having said, “He (Apple) is just making plays” and “He’s growing up.” Part of Collins’ gripes about Apple included the requirement of Apple to “grow up.” Funny choice of words for Collins to use again. It remains to be seen whether or not Eli Apple rises to the challenge to fulfill his intended destiny of the Giants 2016 10th overall pick, but from what it sounds like, he is balling out in the offseason, and looks positioned to play a significant role in James Bettcher’s defense this upcoming season.
*Giants GM Dave Gettleman was recently diagnosed with lymphoma. The Giants will not reduce Gettleman’s role as general manager while he battles this disease. This news sucks. Kick cancer’s ass, Dave. Giants fans, and football fans everywhere are cheering you on.*
Follow @NFLNosebleed for more!