Nick Jehamy| January 12th, 2020
The Giants didn’t come into the 2019 season with playoff expectations. With how the division played out the Giants were statistically still alive through a majority of the season but there was no chance that they were pushing themselves into the playoffs even with the rest of the NFC East’s shakey play this season. The 4-12 had some highlights though. Daniel Jones started a majority of the season and quieted down many of those who questioned the Giants decision in drafting him over Dwayne Haskins last year, Saquon Barkley produced another 1,000+ yard season rushing, and the Giants come out of the season with the number four pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Giants made multiple mid-season moves as well this year. Waiving defensive back Janoris Jenkins in week 13 has gone over with mixed feelings. They also traded with their hometown rivals the New York Jets in a deal to receive defensive lineman Leonard Williams. The biggest move the switch at head coach. After two seasons leading the Giants Pat Shurmer was released. The new head coach selection for the Giants was a surprising one to many, the New England Patriots special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach Joe Judge. The Giants are building and moving forward, let’s see what they do from here.
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What Went Right
The Jones era has begun and this year’s opportunity he was given not only was great towards overall experience but he also showed us he can hold his own in the National Football League. Not to get too ahead of ourselves but Jones’ production of 3027 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions was a solid outing for the rookie who had three games without Barkley and multiple receiving options missing games throughout the season including Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, and Evan Engram.
When healthy, the receivers in New York gave some optimism to the Giants offense outside of Barkley. Rookie Darius Slayton showed up and led the team with eight receiving touchdowns on the season. The combination of Slayton, Shepard, Tate, and Engram with some game experience under Jones’ belt gives the team optimism going forward offensively.
Defensively there wasn’t much positive to say about the Giants. One of the few positives was the play of Markus Golden who was under a one year contract with the team. Golden was the only Giant to produce double-digit sack numbers and had one of the two Giants defensive touchdowns on the season. The ten sacks Golden produced is the second most in his career as well as hitting a career-high in total tackles.
What Went Wrong
With a 4-12 season there usually is a decent amount that went wrong. We said the offense looks optimistic at the skill positions, but this year’s health of those position players was not great. Barkley missed three games, Jones missed two games, Shepard missed six, and Engram missed eight just to name some of the bigger name players on the roster.
Jones looked good passing the football, but the young quarterback needs to do better keeping control of the football. Jones fumbled the ball 18 times this season, losing 11 of them. The Giants offensive line play hasn’t been the best of help to Jones this season either. The Giants offensive line allowed the third most quarterback hits in the league with 119 on the season and will most likely look to bolster this position going forward.
The New York Giants pass defense was disappointing this season, to say the least. The Giants ended the season as the fifth worst team in passing yards given up per game, average opposing quarterback rating, interceptions, and pass completion percentage against. This was not helped from the release of defensive back Jenkins after week 13, who led the team in interceptions with four as well as pass deflections while not even being a part of the team for the last three games. This shows not only their issue in pass defense but the turnover battle as well. The Giants had the worst defensive percentage of drives ending in a turnover in the entire National Football League as well the third worst in total takeaways with 16 on the season.
Outlook for the Offseason
The Giants have moved on from Shurmer after two seasons and will be going into the offseason with Judge at the helm. The Giants will look to add some more experienced coaches to the staff to assist the young and inexperienced head coach as the offseason moves forward. Judge will have a projected $69.5 million in cap space to work with this offseason with multiple needs to fulfill they can be aggressive this offseason filling some of these holes, especially on the defense.
The Team’s Free Agents
The New York Giants have a few unrestricted and restricted free agents this offseason. Eli Manning, Williams, Golden, Michael Thomas, Mike Remmers, and Aldrick Rosas are a few of the bigger names that will be hitting free agency this offseason.
The Giants have made it known they wouldn’t rule out re-signing Manning, but only in a backup capacity. Manning doesn’t seem to be looking forward to being a backup at this point in his career even if it means staying with the Giants so don’t expect him back in New York. Rosas is coming off the worst season of his career to date. Rosas missed five field goals and four extra points this season, four of his five field goals coming from 49 yards or less. The Giants will have to make a decision if they want to stay with him or move on and try someone new, the season was not great for him but he had a fantastic 2018 and the Giants should keep him around and hope this season was a fluke.
The Giants lost out on a third and fifth round pick in getting Williams. I believe though they should just cut their losses and use the money they would be spending on him towards a higher profile pass rusher this offseason. Whereas Golden who was on a one-year contract should be re-signed this offseason. Golden had a revitalizing season and was one of the only highlights to the Giants defense this past year and would be a strong asset to hold on to.
Two players who the Giants can potentially cut to free up some space are Alec Ogletree and Nate Solder. Two positions the Giants need to solidify, they can clear up some space cutting some older ties. With the Giants looking to solidify their offensive line, it is possible Solder moves over to right tackle with the Giants drafting a young lineman, but do not count out the possibility of the Giants cutting or trading the offensive tackle. Ogletree’s play has declined and if they cut him they will free up a sizable amount of cap space for the team to use in free agency.
Open Market Free Agents
The Giants will be looking to bolster their offensive line along with multiple facets of their defensive side of the ball. Here are a few names to look at going into free agency this offseason.
Yannick Ngakoue and Arik Armstead are two big names to look at on the defensive line. The Giants need to put together a better pass rush and both of these players would be big signings to bolster the line. Both would come a little pricey but they are young at 26 and 24 years old and are both coming over very good seasons.
Cornerback is another position the Giants can use some help with. Two names that come to mind are Logan Ryan and James Bradberry. Ryan showed up this season and would be a big signing for the Giants, where Bradberry maybe not as good as Ryan, would be still extremely helpful to the team’s secondary and cost them not as much money.
The Giants need to move on from Ogletree and need to bring in a strong experienced linebacker to place alongside the young guys they have. There are some big name guys out there to look out for and the Giants would be lucky and benefit from grabbing any one of them. A few names that pop out to keep an eye for are Kyle Van Noy, Shaquil Barrett, and Danny Trevathan. Any of those would be big signings that would help the Giants defense not only in play but leadership and experience.
Projecting the NFL Draft
The first two picks in the draft seem to universally decided for the Bengals and Redskins, so things get interesting at the third pick and on. The Giants start with the fourth pick and honestly can go a few different ways with it so early on with so much to choose from. Here is my thought on where the Giants will end up deciding to go through the first few rounds.
Round 1, Pick 4: Offensive Lineman
Dave Gettleman trends towards the lineman position. So with the options available here and the needs of the Giants, I believe they decide to give their young quarterback some assistance by bolstering his front line. Two names to look at here are Jedrick Wills from Alabama and Andrew Thomas from Georgia. Personally, I believe Thomas is the best offensive lineman in a draft that has a few solid ones at the top, the Giants will likely go with Thomas when the fourth pick comes through. A possible other option in this spot is going with linebacker Isaiah Simmons.
Round 2, Pick 36: Linebacker
The Giants can use some help in numerous areas of their defense and can possibly go cornerback here as well if pieces all fall into place for them but I believe after passing up on linebacker Simmons in the first round they will come back around to grab one in the second round.
Round 3: No Pick (Traded Away)
The New York Giants traded away their third round pick to the New York Jets as part of their deal for defensive lineman Williams.
The NFC East this year was questionable. The Giants with a decent rebuild this year can jump up into contention within the division. Super Bowl aspirations will not be in the near future, but the playoff chances can be possible sooner than you think depending on the moves made this offseason. I do not foresee them making a run at the playoffs next year but the team will be much more favorable and trending in the right direction. If the offense can stay healthy they can be solid, with another year under his belt Jones will get better and learn to hold on to the ball more than he did this season. The questions will really come on the defensive side of the ball and if they can make major improvements from this past season, that will tell how much the Giants improve.
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