We don't usually post videos and certainly not one of practices, but WOW -you need to see this one!
The wait is over. After a long off season, the Giants kick off their pre-season this Friday night. I have some initial thoughts on the upcoming season, which are admittedly going to be refined significantly prior to the regular season.
I can’t recall the last time that there was a wider gap between the upside and downside possibilities for this team.
The negative case is that the Giants had a ton of close games last year and mean reversion usually means that they should only win about half of them. That alone would cost them two wins.
Additionally, the Giants have one of the toughest schedules in the league. That too could be good for an expectancy of a couple of more losses. All else being equal, last year’s team playing this year’s schedule, would average about 7 wins. Their biggest liability last year, the offensive line, went basically unaddressed in the off season. Also, their most expensive player, QB Eli Manning clearly started the back 9 of his career. It is highly unusual for this to get better. The more likely path is for it to get worse. All these facts don’t bode well for the Giant’s.
Here is the upside. They were an 11 win playoff team. Their defense was not only good last year, but gradually improved over the course of the year, amazingly even after JPP went down with an injury. With the possible exception of Dominique Cromartie, not one significant player on the defense is at an age where he should be getting worse. The one loss on the defense in Hankins was adequately replaced. The free safety situation should be reasonably improved with the return of Darian Thompson from injury. I expect B.J. Goodson to be an improvement from last year’s Kelvin Sheppard (who still remains unsigned if you needed to be sure of that). Eli Apple looks improved from last year and he continued to improve throughout the year last year. The secondary could be the best in the NFL. Most importantly, it seems the defense improvement over the course of the year last year was not a coincidence. The last time the Giants won the Superbowl, defensive coordinators Steve Spagnuolos defense started out by giving up 80 points in their first 2 games before learning the system and improving. This team seems to have learned the system and should be able to utilize this knowledge and improve their game.
On the offensive side, even though the line remains the same, there is an argument that it does not. Pugh missed some time last year and is now healthy. Westburg apparently played with an injured hand which is now better. Disappointments Flowers and Hart stayed in Jersey all winter to work on their bodies and their games. Even a minor improvement should help. They also had no tight end last year who could block and they do now with Rhett Ellison, who was one of the best blocking tight ends in the game. In terms of passing targets for Manning, Marshall is a huge improvement over a post-surgical and ineffective Victor Cruz, and rookie tight end Evan Engram has been flashing in practices and looks like a size/speed mismatch that Ben McAdoo will utilize well. In addition to the obvious expected greatness from OBJ, Shepard is coming into year 2 where may receivers make a jump. He has one of the better statistical years of any first year receiver last year. The Giant’s stuck with Jennings at running back for too long last year and he was awful. Perkins when given a chance did much better than Jennings and will be the main ball carrier. Also Shane Vereen coming back as a receiving back will be helpful. More so the diverse talent they have should allow them more formations and make them less predictable. The Giant’s are only 2 years removed from having a good offense and it was with a substantially similar line. The subtle improvement the offense has made since last year, via additions and health could have a significant impact. If their defense is as good as I think it can be and the offense even gets back to middle of the pack, even with a tough schedule the Giants could be as good as any team.
Ari has been an avid Giants fan since 1979. He attends many home games and has attended the Giants last 2 Superbowl victories. This blog will talk about anything related to the New York Giants. Ari also blogs about the New York Knicks, at http://www.ariglassknicksblog.com