Our 2019 NFL Preview rolls along with a stop in the Big Apple, as the New York Giants look to formally begin their rebuild after years of denying it was taking place. Since winning Super Bowl XLVI, Big Blue have been mired in mediocrity, going 47-65 over the past seven seasons, with just one Playoff Appearance (2016) to show for it. Of course, this past Offseason has been all about turning the page on a number of high profile players, including All-Pro Receiver, Odell Beckham Jr., who was traded to the Cleveland Browns back in March. However, longtime Quarterback Eli Manning remains the Starter, even after the club selected his successor Daniel Jones, with the Sixth Overall Pick in the NFL Draft. With the Franchise still unwilling to move away from the Two-Time Super Bowl MVP, and a competition under Center between he and Jones in the cards, it may be yet another season before this era of Giants Football final comes to an end and a new one begins. So with that said, let’s take a look into what can be expected from the G-Men in 2019…
Past, Present, and Future
After at least two years of the fanbase crying for them to formally begin their rebuild and select a young, Quarterback to lead their franchise moving forward, the Giants finally succumbed to addressing their most glaring weakness, and made Daniel Jones, their future (and perhaps present) Signal-Caller with the Sixth Overall Pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. It was a decision that surprised many around the league, for Jones was a polarizing figure among scouts, with some feeling that the Duke Product was well-equipped to be a solid Starter on the professional level, while others felt that he lacked the necessary tools to flourish into something greater. Of course, the fact that he had spent the last four seasons tutored by David Cutcliffe, whom also coached Eli Manning (66.0%, 4,299 YDS, 6.33 NY/A, 21 TD, 11 INT, 51.2 QBR) during his collegiate career at Ole Miss, appeared to play a major role in his acquisition, though that seems to be where the parallels between the two Quarterbacks ends. However, it’s anyone’s guess as to when he’ll actually assume the role of Starter, for Head Coach, Pat Shurmur, has proclaimed it an open competition throughout Training Camp, with the Rookie battling it out with the 38-Year Old. It’s an odd situation to be in, as New York continues to be stuck with one foot in the past, as they no doubt feel indebted to Manning for the success that he’s brought them. However, in most situations, the incumbent would have been put out to pasture. After all, Manning’s performance in recent years certainly warrants it; he was sacked a whopping forty-seven times in 2018, easily the most of his career, fumbling on seven occasions, while steering a middling Offense that remained one-dimensional. Now without the playmaking expertise of the aforementioned Beckham, the outlook of Manning finding the fountain of youth is highly unlikely. Indeed, the Giants are stuck in three distinct time periods, though they need to sort out their present so that they can move on their future.
Doing it All
A major reason that folks around the league feel that the Giants made the move to select Daniel Jones, was because they refrained from picking a Quarterback in last year’s Draft, despite sitting at No. Two Overall, and then witnessing the widespread success of the Signal-Callers that were selected afterwards. Instead, New York opted to go with arguably the best player in the field, Saquon Barkley (261 CAR, 1,307 YDS, 5.0 Y/C, 11 TD), who certainly didn’t disappoint as a Rookie. The versatile Tailback went to the Pro Bowl and was selected as the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year to boot, all the while leading the NFL in Total Yards, amassing a staggering 2,028 Yards from Scrimmage in 2018 averaging 126.8 per Game. Now, with Beckham out of the picture and the inevitability of a Rookie Quarterback stepping into the spotlight, Barkley figures to shoulder an even greater load of the Offense, with Shurmur attempting to devise new, creative ways to utilize his dynamic talents. In all honesty, it wouldn’t be surprising if he didn’t lead the team in both Receptions and Receiving Yards this season, for after all, he caught fourteen more passes than Beckham (91 REC), and trailed the Wideout by just Three Targets (121 TGT) en route to 721 Receiving Yards and Four Touchdowns, ranking Third and Second respectively. With the Receiving Corps expected to be headlined by the likes of Free Agent Acquisition, Golden Tate (74 REC, 795 YDS, 10.7 Y/R, 4 TD), along with holdover, Sterling Shepard (66 REC, 872 YDS, 13.2 Y/R, 4 TD), along with Sophomore Tight End, Evan Engram (45 REC, 577 YDS, 12.8 Y/R, 3 TD), Barkley is likely to factor into the Passing Game even more so than he did as a Rookie. What that means for the Giants’ Offense as a whole for that matter, is anyone’s guess…
Pulling the Strings
Rebuilding Projects are littered with difficult decisions, and for the Giants, the man making those decisions is their General Manager, Dave Gettleman. The longtime scout has taken plenty of criticism over the past season for the decisions made under his watch, from passing on a Quarterback in the 2018 Draft, to hiring Pat Shurmur as Head Coach, to trading away Odell Beckham Jr (77 REC, 1,052 YDS, 13.7 Y/R, 6 TD) a year after granting him a lucrative extension, to allowing valuable pieces such as Landon Collins (96 TKL, 5 TFL, 2 QBH, 1 FF, 4 PD) to leave in Free Agency, the aforementioned selection of Jones, while deciding to retain Manning. In truth, this is a team that’s denied the need to rebuild for a while now, and even after the exodus of veterans it still seems like they’re refusing to fully embrace it by parting ways with their aging Quarterback. Granted, Manning’s relationship with Ownership probably has a lot do with that decision, so we’ll give Gettleman the benefit of the doubt, but it’s harder to defend his choices in regards to the rest of the personnel, be it through Free Agency or the Draft. His decision to make Nate Solder the highest-paid Offensive Tackle (4-Years, $62 Million, $36 Million guaranteed) in the league has done little to improve a porous Offensive Line, while trading away a solid Edge Rusher, Olivier Vernon (30 TKL, 5 TFL, 21 QBH, 7.0 SK, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 PD), coupled with allowing the aforementioned Collins to depart as a Free Agent for nothing, only to sign with the Redskins for that matter, is puzzling at best. And by and large, selecting Jones at No. Six Overall was a reach, particularly when many believed that he could have been had when the Giants’ were picking again at No. 17. Indeed, these are perilous waters that the General Manager is navigating this club through, though you can’t blame the fanbase for not having much confidence in him.
2019 Forecast: 4-12
The 2019 Season should be the dawn of a new era for the Giants, who in just a few months managed to part ways with a slew of recognizable veterans on both sides of the football, while welcoming in a number of fresh faces as they finally begin their long-delayed rebuilding project. However, with Eli Manning still in the picture, they can’t fully embrace the project, and their loyalty to the aging Quarterback will only serve to prolong the inevitable: handing the reins to his successor, Daniel Jones. As a result, this campaign will in all likelihood serve as nothing more than a Zero Year for the club, as they spend the majority of it laying a foundation while giving their young players every opportunity to grow. The schedule is far from easy, with the ever-difficult NFC East offering no easy-outs, making it very difficult to foresee the Giants doing much better than they have in each of the past two seasons in which they won a combined Seven Games.