So week 2 of the NFL season is done, and surprise: the Giants are 0-2 and seem to be non-contenders. To say the Cowboys beat the Giants badly is an understatement. The offense couldn’t get anything going after the first two drives. The defense was atrocious, they couldn’t develop any pass-rush, the linebackers blew several coverages up the middle, and our cornerbacks and safeties could not stop Dak Prescott, allowing him to throw for over 400 yards and 4 TDs. The only positive on defense was stopping the run, but it didn’t really stop the Cowboys. Their play against the Bills was not much better, and Eli Manning looking lost certainly didn’t help. While this looks like it will be a long season for the Giants, I want to take a step back and say that this year isn’t necessarily about winning, it’s about development. And the Giants need to do a lot of it. So here are 5 reasons to be optimistic about the future of the Giants:
The Giants Are Young
Take out Eli Manning, Alec Ogletree, and a couple others, and most of the starters left are in their first three years of playing. On Offense, the receiving core minus Golden Tate are all 26 years old and under. On defense, the D-line is young and improving with guys like B.J. Hill, and Dexter Lawrence, Ryan Connelly and Zo Carter have lots of potential, and the secondary is filled with prospects like Deandre Baker and Jabrill Peppers. Inexperienced players are allowed to make mistakes, and as they get better, the Giants secondary will improve. If all of these players fulfill their potential, the Giants future can be bright.
Perhaps the best thing the Giants have going for them is their pro bowl running back, Saquon Barkley. Saquon is undeniably a top-three running back in the league, and in most people’s opinion, the best of the best. If the defense can improve, Saquon can single-handedly carry the team deep into the playoffs. Having a good running game is crucial to the success of a team, as not only does it force the other side to stack the box to avoid big runs, but it also allows the offense to run play-action passes and RPOs, which is the new offensive trend in the NFL. Furthermore, Saquon averaged more yards on runs with a stacked box than without one, which is a testament to his juke and big-play ability. Saquon is the best player on this team, and if we can build around him, he will shine, and so will the Giants.
No More Drama
No one can deny that Odell Beckham Jr.’s tenure with the Giants was hectic. Whether it be a boat trip before a playoff game or the feuding with a Josh Norman and a kicking net, Beckham was a bad influence on the locker room, and his prima donna attitude only sparked more drama. Not only are the Giants a drama-free team with confidence inside the building with Beckham gone, but the Cleveland Browns are continually bringing up the Giants. He cannot forget about New York. With veteran leaders like Eli Manning, Golden Tate and Janoris Jenkins, or up and coming stars with Saquon and Will Hernandez, the Giants are set up to emerge from this short rebuild as a better team on and off the field.
The Offensive Line
When Dave Gettleman was hired a couple years ago, he told the media that he would make it a priority to find a new group of “hog mollies” for the Giants. And now, it looks like he stayed true to his word. Their offensive line has been a significant weakness for the Giants ever since the 2011 Super Bowl-winning season. From bad free agent signings to draft pick busts, Eli Manning has been knocked around consistently. Times are finally changing as the new-look offensive line, while expensive, looks to be a unit in the top half of the league. In week one, the offensive line held its ground, letting up only one sack on four pressures. These numbers will continue to improve as team chemistry grows through the season. As long as everyone can stay healthy, this o-line core will carry the Giants for years to come.
Daniel Jones was viewed by many—including me— as a flawed prospect. Some of his common criticisms include his inability to throw the deep ball, and his tendency to take the sack under lighter pressure. Fast-forward to now, and he is looking like one of the top draft picks from this year. Many of the flaws once noted are looking like his strengths, and his ability to deal with the media from day one, and block out the haters has been everything the Giants could have wanted. As long as Jones can fix his fumbling issues, he seems to be the heir to the Giants quarterback throne. If Eli starts slipping again, he will not just be playing at the ends of blow-out games like in week one, but he will be starting, and in the process be leading the Giants into their future.