2018 NFL Season Preview - New York Giants
The Giants were supposed to build upon their successful 2016 campaign, but instead they proved to be dysfunctional pretenders in what became one of the worst seasons in franchise history.
A combination of internal conflicts, poor play, and questionable decisions all led to the team limping to a 3-13 record. Head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese were both fired with four games left in the season.
Quarterback Eli Manning struggled with injuries to his supporting cast and didn't start in a game midseason due to a coaching decision, ending his streak of 210 consecutive starts. Running back Orleans Darkwa had a breakout year rushing for 751 yards and five touchdowns. Tight end Rhett Ellison set career highs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns while serving as a solid blocker. In Week 5, the offense lost their top four receivers to injury. Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, and Dwayne Harris suffered season ending injuries while Sterling Sheppard dealt with an ankle injury that plagued him all season. Justin Pugh and Weston Richberg's injuries and Ereck Flowers' inconsistent play doomed the offensive line for much of the year.
The defensive line struggled to generate a pass rush with defensive end Olivier Vernon dealing with an ankle injury. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison is still one of the best run stoppers in the league. The Giants lost four of their top linebackers due to injuries throughout the year. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was a bright spot coming back from suspension, while Eli Apple's poor attitude and nature led him to be suspended for the final game of the year. Safety Darian Thompson was unimpressive in his return from an injured rookie season.
Safety Landon Collins was the team's only Pro Bowler. Collins made his second trip to Orlando despite breaking his forearm late in the year.
The rookie class stepped up when starters went down. Tight end Evan Engram was exactly as advertised and proved to be a versatile receiver and play maker. Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson was a solid run defender and plugged up the middle of the line. Quarterback Davis Webb was third string all year, but the team hopes he is Eli's future successor. Running back Wayne Gallman proved to be a good 1, 2 punch with Darkwa.
Giants 2017 Rankings
Opposing Passing YPG
Opposing Rushing YPG
With Ben McAdoo being fired after less than two seasons, the Giants hired Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator and 2017 NFL Assistant Coach of the Year, Pat Shurmur to be the new head coach. Shurmur had also served as head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 2011 to 2012, where he posted a 10-23 coaching record. The team also hired former Carolina Panthers general manager David Gettleman to the same position prior to the last game of the 2017 season.
With all of McAdoo's staff fired, the team replaced offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan with former Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula and replaced defensive coordinator and interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo with former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher.
Notable Additions- RB Jonathan Stewart, WR Cody Latimer, T Nate Solder, MLB Alec Ogletree, OLB Connor Barwin, CB William Gay, S Michael Thomas
Notable Departures- QB Geno Smith, RB Orleans Darkwa, RB Shane Vereen, WR Brandon Marshall, WR Dwayne Harris, T Bobby Hart, G DJ Fluker, G Justin Pugh, C Weston Richberg, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, LB Akeem Ayers, LB Keenan Robinson, LB Jonathan Casillas, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie,
Giants 2017 Highlights
2018 NFL Draft
Holding the second overall pick going into the draft, the Giants had the option to trade back to acquire more picks or fill the needs at offensive tackle, linebacker, and cornerback.
The team acquired Nate Solder from New England, but they lost Bobby Hart, Weston Richberg, and Justin Pugh to free agency and Ereck Flowers has been a bust thus far.
The linebacker corps has a lot of bodies thanks to the acquisition of Alec Ogletree, but the position still needs durable players with great coverage speed.
Eli Apple will be on a short leash this season and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was a cap casualty. William Gay helps, but the secondary needs more youth.
On draft day, the Giants decided to take the best player available in Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the second pick. Barkley has all the physical tools to be an every down back, but he didn't play to his size in college.
The Giants also notably drafted Texas-El Paso guard Will Hernández in the second round, Georgia linebacker Lorenzo Carter and NC State defensive tackle BJ Hill in the third, and Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta in the fourth. Hernández was seen as the top run blocking guard in the draft, but needs to improve his hand placement in pass protection. Carter has the frame to be a disruptive edge rusher, but struggles in coverage and in run support. Hill has the prototype size for an NFL defensive tackle, but relies more on pure power rather than technique. Lauletta was viewed as the best decision maker of any quarterback prospect this year, but lacks elite level arm strength.
Saquon Barkley Highlights
What to Expect
Many people see the Giants as a team likely to rebound in 2018, but I personally don't believe they've done enough.
Eli Manning is 37 and doesn't fit this league anymore. He doesn't have the mobility to escape pressure and the team has to decide if Davis Webb or Kyle Lauletta is Manning's future successor. There's a lot hype around Saquon Barkley with many expecting him to be the Rookie of the Year, but to me he has a decent probability of bust potential. He has the mentality more of a homerun hitter rather than that of a patient back taking what the defense gives him. Jonathan Stewart is a capable back, but he hasn't played a full season since 2011 and is on the wrong side of 30. The wide receiver corps doesn't have the talent level they did last year, but having Odell Beckham and Sterling Sheppard back at full strength and Evan Engram in year two can still be impressive playmakers. Adding Nate Solder and Will Hernández to the offensive line helps, but Ereck Flowers can't be trusted and there are still voids left by Weston Richberg and Justin Pugh at center and guard.
With a defensive style change from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme, Damon Harrison will have a big responsibility as a nose tackle to plug the middle and occupy multiple linemen. Dalvin Tomlinson and BJ Hill will likely be the defensive ends on the line which will be a first for both. Lorenzo Carter and Vernon Olivier will be expected to put pressure on the outside while Alec Ogletree and BJ Goodson man the inside. If Eli Apple can keep his attitude in check, he will likely regain his starting job while Landon Collins should continue to grow as one of the league's top safeties.
With all the additions and coaching changes, I do expect the Giants to leapfrog over the Redskins, but I don't believe they're ready to challenge the Cowboys or Eagles yet in the NFC East.
Best Record They Can Hope For: 7-9