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2017 NFL Season Preview- New York Giants
Despite a new head coach and making the playoffs for the first time in five years, the Giants also went backwards in several cases. 2016 ended in disaster, as they were upended by Green Bay in the Wild Card round. The Giants only managed to score 13 points and allowed a season high 38 points.
The 2015 Giants offense were a top 10 unit in scoring offense, passing, and total offense, but the team fell to 26th, 17, and 25th in those categories in 2016. The year was far from quarterback Eli Manning's best. He took a beating behind a poor o-line and made several head scratching decisions that lead to turnovers. Running back Rashad Jennings left a lot of yards on the field due to poor vision and an inability to cutback on runs. Shane Vereen tried to comeback from an early season triceps tear but came back too soon and retore the muscle. The tight end position was a mess. Larry Donnell became a disappointment with his poor blocking and fumbling issues. Wide receiver Victor Cruz got his wish and made his comeback after two lost seasons, but was nowhere near the player he was before his injury. Once again, the offensive line was inconsistent. Left tackle Ereck Flowers has not shown any progress in two years and the team may wish to see him somewhere else on the line.
The front office invested a lot of money on the defensive line and it paid off. The team finished third against the run and the pass rush improved as the season went on. Defensive end Olivier Vernon didn't match his 2015 sack totals but was still a disruptive force. Outside linebacker Devon Kennard saw a lot of playing time as a down lineman due to his ability as a pass rusher. Jonathan Casillas rebounded after an injury filled 2015. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was the defense's most underrated player as he flourished in his new nickel corner position.
The team produced four Pro Bowlers in wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., cornerback Janoris Jenkins, safety Landon Collins, and special teamer Dwayne Harris. Beckham had his third consecutive 1,000 yard receiving season but his sideline episodes and off field behavior are starting to become a distraction. The gamble on Jenkins was worth every penny as he routinely shut down number one receivers. Collins was the team's most improved player, finishing with the defense lead in tackles, second in interceptions, and third in sacks. Harris struggled as a kick returner but was a valuable gunner.
The rookie class was the most productive of general manager Jerry Reese's career. Cornerback Eli Apple was solid and took over the starting spot opposite Janoris Jenkins. Wide receiver Sterling Sheppard made the slot his home and finished second on the team behind Beckham in every major receiving stat. Safety Darian Thompson was sidetracked by an early season foot injury but is the team's starting free safety of the future. Running back Paul Perkins looks to be the team's starter moving forward due to his complete skill set. Tight end Jarrell Adams is the team's best blocker and shows promise as a route runner. Undrafted defensive end Romeo Okwara played well filling in for an injured Jason Pierre-Paul.
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 17th
NFL Rank- 29th
NFL Rank- 23rd
NFL Rank- 3rd
NFL Rank- 25th
NFL Rank- 10th
Going 11-5 in his first season, head coach Ben McAdoo has to get his offense back in the top 10 and get a better, more consistent pass rush from his defense.
Notable Additions- QB Geno Smith, WR Brandon Marshall, TE Rhett Ellison, OL DJ Fluker, K Mike Nugent
Notable Departures- QB Ryan Nassib, RB Rashad Jennings, RB Bobby Rainey, WR Victor Cruz, TE Larry Donnell, T Will Beatty, T Marshall Newhouse, DT Jonathan Hankins, CB Leon Hall, K Robbie Gould
Giants 2016 Highlights
2017 NFL Draft
Holding the 23rd overall pick going into the draft, the Giants had to make some upgrades to key positions. Primarily at tight end, offensive lineman, and defensive end.
Ben McAdoo's offense doesn't work without a playmaking tight end. The offense needs a vertical threat who can stretch the middle of the field.
Ereck Flowers has been up and down since joining the Giants. The team would be wise to bring in competition at tackle to help Eli Manning from getting knocked around.
Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon are solid players but their backups were inconsistent all year. The defense could use a solid third defensive end to use in rotations.
On draft day, New York decided to draft Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram with the 23rd overall pick. Engram was praised for his determination on and off the field but his tweener frame limits his ability as a blocker and long speed.
The Giants also notably drafted Alabama defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson in the second round and California quarterback Davis Webb in the third. Tomlinson has the prototypical body team's look for in defensive tackles but lacks the quickness as a pass rusher. Webb set Cal single season record for completions, attempts, and tied Jared Goff's record for total touchdowns but his fundamentals disappear at the first sign of trouble.
New York also signed some well known undrafted free agents in Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph and USC tackle Chad Wheeler. Rudolph has the tools to make plays at receiver but his thin frame limits his strength to fight through tackles or block downfield. Wheeler has the frame and skills to play anywhere on the line but has a long list of medical issues, both physically and mentally.
Evan Engram Highlights
What to Expect
The way I see it, the Giants will only go as far as Eli Manning takes them.
Manning just turned 36 and started showing he was losing velocity in his throws late in the year. Whether or not Davis Webb is Manning's future successor aside, the team has to be aware that the clock on his playing career doesn't have a lot left on it. Paul Perkins has the tools to take pressure off the quarterback and Shane Vereen is a playmaker out of the backfield when healthy. Evan Engram fills the void at tight end but having two alpha male personalities at wide receiver in Brandon Marshall and Odell Beckham may cause some issues on the field or in the locker room. Signing DJ Fluker helps, but their are still questions on the offensive line's run blocking ability.
Dalvin Tomlinson looks to be a good replacement for Jonathan Hankins, allowing the starting defensive linemen to continue to be a top tier unit. The linebackers don't have any big name talent but they play well together. The secondary should continue to grow strong with Darian Thompson returning from injury.
The NFC East title will likely come down between the Giants and Cowboys with the loser likely being the top wildcard team.. Given the Giants inconsistencies at key spots, I believe they're a year away from taking the NFC East crown.
Best record they can hope for: 10-6