By: Brendan Schick
The New York Football Giants are coming off an absolutely abysmal 3-13 campaign which was littered with crushing injuries, disappointing performances from key players, and multiple coach firings, culminating with ex-general manager Jerry Reese being launched into the sun. As the New York Giants embark into the doldrums of the summer, let’s begin by analyzing the offensive position groups and where the Giants stand entering into the 2018-2019 NFL season.
The Quarterbacks: Eli Manning, Davis Webb, Kyle Lauletta, Alex Tanney
There is no denying that the New York Giants’ starting quarterback, Eli Manning, is getting older. Manning turned 37 this past January, and there was a significant portion of the fanbase that believed that the Giants should have taken one of the highly rated QB prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. Obviously, this did not happen, as newly appointed GM Dave Gettleman sought the services of Saquon Barkley with the second overall selection. However, the Giants did take QB Kyle Lauletta out of the University of Richmond with the 108th pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. Similarly, the Giants selected QB Davis Webb with the 87th pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. Alex Tanney, an NFL journeyman, is currently the fourth QB on the Giants’ roster. Eli Manning will most certainly be the starting quarterback this season, and with the addition of Saquon Barkley, Manning will have another dynamic play maker at his disposal. However, the young talent behind Manning will duke it out for the back-up position this season, and potentially the future, as hopefully one of the two can assume the role as eventual successor to the two time Super Bowl MVP.
The Running Backs: Saquon Barkley, Jonathan Stewart, Wayne Gallman, Jalen Simmons, Robert Martin
Enter Saquon Barkley. The Giants selected Barkley with the second overall pick and expect him to immediately take over the starting job. The Giants are expecting Barkley to be their own version of Ezekiel Elliot this season, as Barkley runs the ball and catches the ball out of the backfield with ease. Jonathan Stewart was signed this off-season as a free agent. The ex-Panther will provide leadership and mentoring to Barkley and the other young Giant back, Wayne Gallman. One of the few bright spots on the Giants team last year, Gallman amassed 476 yards rushing on 4.3 yards per carry, adding 34 receptions for an additional 193 yards. While Saquon Barkley is expected to carry the brunt of the ground work for the Giants, the grind-it-out strength of Stewart and the pass-catching prowess of Gallman should prove to be valuable whenever Barkley needs to exit the game.
The Wide Receivers: Odell Beckham, Jr., Sterling Shepard, Roger Lewis, Cody Latimer, Russell Shepard
#13 is back. After breaking his ankle last season, Odell Beckham returned to his usual self, posting workout videos on Instagram showing off what he is capable of doing on his surgically repaired ankle. His contract situation remains dicey, but for now, Beckham looks primed for a bounce-back year. Entering his third season, WR Sterling Shepard has amassed 124 receptions for 1,414 yards with 10 touchdowns. Shepard suffered an ankle injury, migraine problems, and a shoulder problem in 2017 but, like Beckham, looks poised for a bounce-back year opposite the electric Beckham. Roger Lewis filled in as the default starter last season when Beckham, Brandon Marshall, and Shepard all went down with injuries, and he played well in his role. Lewis caught 36 balls for 416 yards and 2 touchdowns. Playing in a complementary role, Lewis should be a solid third option for Eli Manning this season. Cody Latimer will fill in as the fourth receiver. I remember following Latimer when he was on the Denver Broncos, and while his receiving career has been relatively quiet, he can, and will contribute on special teams. Beckham and Sterling Shepard will be a solid 1-2 punch if the two can remain healthy this upcoming season.
The Offensive Line (left to right expected starters): LT Nate Solder, LG Will Hernandez, C Brett Jones, RG Patrick Omameh, RT Ereck Flowers
The New York Giants offense will go as far as the line can take them. Last year, the Giants’ offensive line was one of the worst in the NFL, as it seemed that Eli Manning was getting planted on his back-side every other play. New GM Dave Gettleman sought to address this issue this past offseason, and address the issue he did. Gettleman signed Nate Solder to play left tackle, a position that has been manned by Ereck Flowers the past few seasons. Flowers’s technique has been very poor, and he has done a sub-par job protecting Eli’s blind side. Solder, having played for the New England Patriots, will slide into the blind side spot, moving the much larger Flowers over to the right side, where hopefully, he can show signs of improvement. The Giants selected guard Will Hernandez with the 34th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft out of UTEP. Simply put, Hernandez is an enormous man, and his physicality and athleticism at the guard position will improve the Giants’ line immensely. Putting him next to Brett Jones, the incumbent starter from last year. Jones took over for ex-Giant Weston Richburg when Richburg went down with an injury, and never looked back. The ex-CFL most outstanding lineman, Jones solidified himself as a quality NFL center, and he will try to continue his success this upcoming season. Patrick Omameh and John Jerry will battle it out this summer for the other starting guard position.
The Tight Ends: Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, Jerrell Adams
Engram, the Giants’ first-round selection in the 2017 NFL draft was fantastic in his rookie season, catching 64 passes for 722 yards and 6 touchdowns. The Ole Miss product will create mismatches this season like he did last year. Engram is too fast for most linebackers to cover him, and he is too large for cornerbacks to cover him. He will look to build upon his first-year success this upcoming season. Rhett Ellison, a 6 foot 5 inch beast, will look to continue his primarily blocking role in the Giants offense. However, Ellison proved that he can catch the rock, as he filled in for Engram in the Giants’ 2017 finale, catching 5 passes for 63 yards. Jerrell Adams rounds out the tight-end group for the Giants for now.
Analysis: The Giants offense has improved significantly this offseason
Last season was incredibly disappointing for the New York Giants, but football is an incredibly unpredictable sport (except for the New England Patriots winning the AFC East every season). Injuries to key players such as Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall, Weston Richburg, Justin Pugh, and DJ Fluker led to ineptitude on the offensive side of the ball. The offensive line was in shambles, leading to Eli Manning getting benched in favor of Geno Smith against the Oakland Raiders. However, the line has been improved, the receivers are healthy once again, and the addition of Saquon Barkley gives the Giants a credible running game for the first time since the Ahmad Bradshaw/Brandon Jacobs days. It remains to be seen how Eli Manning and the squad will adapt to the new Pat Shurmur offense, but all signs are pointing up for this Giants squad.
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