Behind Enemy Lines – New York
The New York Giants are the last NFC East Team to take the field for the first time in 2020 so let’s take one last quick look at them before their season begins.
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
The last time that the New York Giants won the NFC East was in 2011. It has been a very long time since the good old days of chucking a ball into the end zone during a Super Bowl and having a receiver catch it on their helmet. But there have been signs in the last year that this franchise is indeed heading in the right direction.
· Similar to Washington and the Cowboys, the Giants have a new Head Coach for 2020. Joe Judge comes from the Belichick Coaching Tree and was not considered a top coaching candidate prior to being hired by GM Dave Gettleman. A Special Teams Coordinator and Wide Receivers Coach with the Patriots, Judge appears to be a disciplinarian who is trying to emulate his mentor New England. This is a strategy that we have seen fail on many occasions: McDaniels in Denver, Crennel in Cleveland, Mangini in Cleveland and New York are all case in point examples of HCs forged under Belichick’s tutelage who were not able to replicate the New England culture at their respective coaching destinations. Bill O’Brien in Houston and Matt Patricia in Detroit are other uninspiring examples of HCs whose jobs are far from being secure. Brian Flores in Miami and Mike Vrabel in Tennessee have shown promise but it is still early days. Joe Judge is the latest to step out form Belichick’s shadow but his ways have already been criticized and praised alike. Reports of making coaches run laps for mistakes and brutal training sessions for the players may pay off in the long run but trying to portray Belichick’s hard persona has worked for no one so far. Jason Garrett in the role of Offensive Coordinator is an interesting wrinkle and a fun storyline for those following the NFC East Teams.
· Daniel Jones has apparently had an up and down preseason. Take that with a pinch of salt though. Preparation for the season this year has been a strange proposition and players need to be given the benefit of the doubt. Jones has shown promise and is a definite upgrade to what Eli Manning was able to achieve the final years of his career. Jones has an issue fumbling the ball. He fumbled 18 times last season and reports are that this continued during camp.
· The Giants focused on the Offensive Line this year drafting Left Tackle Andrew Thomas with the 4th overall pick and then Matt Peart, another Tackle, in round 3. Will Hernandez returns at Right Tackle and Kevin Zeitler returns at Left Guard to bookend the Centre Nick Gates. The Left Tackle position has been affected by Nate Solder being a Covid opt-out. Journeyman Cameron Fleming with experience playing for both the Patriots and Cowboys will fill in for this year.
· Saquon Barkley is an elite Running Back and the centerpiece of the offense. His weakness is pass protection. He has been working on fixing this. The injury he sustained last season may have affected his ability to replicate the big play ability he showcased in his rookie season but he will look to rebound in 2020 backed up by a familiar name to Eagles fan; Dion Lewis.
· On paper, the Giants have great skill position players on paper however, injuries have prevented them all being on the field at the same time. This does not seem to be the case for tonight. Evan Engram is a monster at TE if he can stay healthy. The combination of speedy receiver Darius Slayton, versatile veteran Golden Tate and productive (when healthy) slot receiver Sterling Shepard only made #19 in the PFF Team Wide Receiver Rankings.
· The Giants have elected to go with continuity with regards to their Defensive line. Employing a 3-4 scheme Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson and Leonard Williams are all returning starters from 2019. All 3 are big, athletic players who were selected in the 1st round, 2nd round and 1st round respectively. This D Line will rely on physicality to be successful.
· At Linebacker, Blake Martinez was the big offseason acquisition in an attempt by Gettleman to strengthen the position. His plans however, have been dealt a temporary blow with the injury of fellow Linebacker David Mayo who will have to miss at least 3 weeks recovering from surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
· The Secondary was also dealt an injury blow during camp. 2020 2nd Round Pick Xavier McKinney has had to go onto IR as well with a broken foot. The hope is that he returns this season at some point. 2019 1st Round Pick DeAndre Baker (CB) was released by New York after being charged with four counts of armed robbery. This leaves free agent signing James Bradbury and 2nd year player Corey Ballentine to start at Cornerback and Julian Love (replacement for McKinney) with Jabrill Peppers starting at Safety for the Giants.
The Giants enter the season with low expectations, but that is exactly what makes a team dangerous as we found out yesterday in Washington D.C. Similar to the Football Team, they could cause issues to the Eagles and Cowboys if they are not taken seriously.