In a decade that included earning their fourth Vince Lombardi trophy the New York Giants only won a single NFC East crown and had 4 winning seasons. How would they finish the 2010s?
Entering the season
Having finished dead last in their division in 2017 and 2018 it was time for some significant changes if Big Blue was going to emulate its predecessors.
In possession of the 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkey, a top three fantasy pick, the Giants were looking to begin the NFLs 100th season in a much better way than 1-7 (as they did in 2017 and 2018).
The Giants bid farewell to a number of big names, WR Odell Beckham Jr and LB Olivier Vernon going to Cleveland by trade and S Landon Collins departing in free agency to divisional rivals Washington. The only veteran names of any significance coming into the team were WR Golden Tate and G Kevin Zeitler.
Without doubt the biggest offseason transaction for the G-Men was their first round draft pick (#6) Daniel Jones. Ridiculed by draftniks across the globe for selecting the former Duke standout so early, head coach Pat Shurmer and GM Dave Gettleman knew the writing was already on the wall for veteran QB Eli Manning.
Ending up with three first round selections, the Giants made two more conventional early picks, grabbing DT Dexter Lawrence at #17 and CB Deandre Baker at #30 to try and immediately improve a weak defense. They also picked up WR Darius Slayton in the 5th round.
Reggie White Jr, son of legendary Hall of Fame DE Reggie White was signed as an UDFA but was cut before the season started, before earning a place on the Giants practice squad.
Would this be the final season we would see double Super Bowl winning QB Eli Manning suiting up in the Big Apple? Could Saquon move onwards and upwards? Could the Giants find some defensive consistencey?
During the season
Despite going undefeated in the Preseason the Giants began the 2019 regular season in familiar fashion with two consecutive losses. In both defeats Saquon rushed for over 100 yards.
With the season outlook already starting to turn dark Coach Shurmer made the bold move to bench Eli Manning for only the second time in his career (the first being for Geno Smith in 2017).
In Eli’s place was rookie Daniel Jones, who despite harsh criticism, managed to win his first two NFL starts against Tampa Bay and Washington. Jones threw for 336 yards and two scores in his debut, but had a tougher outing against the Redskins, tossing two picks.
The small taste of success was then turned into as much fun as licking an Amazonian tree frog for Giants fans as the team went on a nine-game losing skid, a franchise record defeat streak, last performed in 1976 when the team introduced the word ‘Giants’ on the sides of their helmets.
Saquon Barkley missed Weeks 4-6 with an injury, and didn’t have his third 100+ yard rushing performance until Week 14, which coincidentally happened to be the next time the Giants won a a game, having not won a single contest in October or November.
The two December wins, against the Dolphins at home and then on the road in Landover, Maryland was enough to leave the Giants with a 4-12 record, and the smallest of moral victories, having finished the season 3rd in the NFC East.
A few side notes on another season without a sniff of the postseason included Eli Manning, in his final contest of the season, and his career, leaving the league on a winning note, a week 15 triumph against Miami, and the cutting of CB Janoris Jenkins for calling a fan a ‘retard’ on social media.
After their 12th loss, a Week 17 defeat to the Eagles, Giants brass sacked head coach Pat Shurmer, who accumulated a poor 9-23 record in two seasons in charge.
Team leaders for the Giants included Markus Golden (10 sacks), Janoris Jenkins (4 interceptions), and rookie Darius Slayton (receiving yards – 740 and touchdowns – 8). Kicker Aldrick Rosas did himself no favours missing 29% of his field goal attempts and failing on 4 point after touchdowns.
Much in the same way that NFL experts were scratching their dandruff ridden scalps after the Giants selected QB Daniel Jones at 6 overall in the 2019 draft there were similar flake inducing moments when they announced Joe Judge as the new head coach.
Judge, only 38, has an astonishing track record, winning two College championships with Alabama (2009 and 2011) and three Super Bowl winners rings as a special teams coach with the New England Patriots. This will be his first ever head coaching job.
In other franchise altering news Eli Manning retired in late January 2020, ending 16 seasons of NFL gameplay, taking with him two rings, the same number as his big brother Peyton.
The Giants have lots of work to do everywhere in 2020 having failed to muster a single Pro-Bowl player for the 2019 season, the first time they failed to send someone somewhere sunny since the mid-90s.
Building blocks will include QB Daniel Jones, who rode out a torrid rookie season with three wins and over 3,000 yards passing and DT Dexter Lawrence (pictured above), who made the PFWA All-Rookie starting lineup.
This is a very young team, with no big names on defense, no 1,000 yard receivers, no Pro Bowlers and no big prospects in 2020.
They do pick high again, this time at #4 overall and will likely be targeting a playmaking speed rushing defender or the best CB or S available. The team need to target WR, CB and LB in free agency.
The jury is out already and the verdict is not good for Coach Judge in 2020.
The division standings are starting to take shape. We’re starting to see which teams and players are destined for the post season and which teams are already back at the drawing board.
Here are our main takeaways from week 3 in the NFL.
Fly (Low) Eagles Fly (Low)
You can have everything in place; A forward thinking, risk taking GM. An analytical playcalling coaching staff and head coach coupled with all of the necessary talent in the locker room to boot.
However, results are determined on the pitch and if there
talent isn’t out there, the playcalling cannot be executed to it’s maximum
Prior to this game, WR Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson
were ruled out of this game and Dallas Goedert “gave it a go”. Include on to
that list Jason Peters and 1st round pick Andrew Dillard leaving the
game due to injury. Other stalwarts including Malik Jackson are done for the
You can quickly see why this season is turning in to a bit
of a nightmare for Philadelphia and their fans. A loss to Detroit in a game
where they were behind for all of the game, still had chances to win it is a
testament to their ethos and how good they are. But now staring down the barrel
after falling to 1-2, travel to Lambeau on Thursday Night football and could
after Sunday’s results, be 3 games back.
Yay or Gay
In another parallel universe, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have never
had kicker problems.
Since Connor Barth had his troubles, it’s fair to say it’s
been a big mess at the kicking position. Roberto Aguayo, Chandler Catanzaro,
Nick Folk, Cairo Santos, Patrick Murray, Kyle Brindza, Rian Lindell are all
names that have come in and then gone back out the door of Raymond James
Stadium. The Bucs have had a new place kicker each of the last 8 seasons and whilst
they all haven’t had the investment of former 2nd round pick Roberto
Aguayo, they’ve all brought home the same amount of bacon (Peppa, you’re safe
Matt Gay up until his last kick in the game actually has
been spot on the money in this game and was 7/8 on the season.
Daniel Jones drove his New York Giants into a late lead with
1:21 left in the 4th quarter only for Jameis Winston to emphatically
reply. A 44yard toss down to Mike Evans (who, as predicted on the podcast had
himself A DAY!) who caught the ball at the Giants’ 9yd line. After a bit of
shenanigans, the ball was placed dead center at the NYG 16yd line. 34 yards was
the distance for Matt Gay to have himself a five star performance.
Unfortunately, just like many times before, it squeezed past
the upright and the Buccaneers lost the game. Ultimately, I think Gay will get
a bit more time as he has been fairly solid thus far, but in a world where there
aren’t many highlights for kickers, this one will be in a few recap reels to
add to the long notorious list in west Florida.
San Francisco Phoney9ers
Of all the 3-0 teams, surely the 49ers are by far the most
Easy defences beaten, backup quarterbacks and less than potent offences faced.
Yes, the 49ers have a talented HC in Shanahan, which was
there for all to see last week vs Cincinnati and yes, they beefed up their
defensive front to be one of the most piercing in the league to the tune of 9
combined sacks and 5 interceptions.
But I am sorry, I cannot buy the 49ers. I still think they’ll
miss the playoffs.
Their schedule isn’t as accommodating as the first 3 weeks
(although Pittsburgh wasn’t going to be an easy game coming in to the season)
and face the Browns and the Rams in weeks 5 and 6. They also have Green Bay, Atlanta
and probably a Saints team welcoming back Drew Brees still to play as well as
all of their divisional games ( went 1-5 last year). I think the 49ers despite
being top 5 in points for and top 10 in points against will continue to
struggle and the main reason is their handsome QB, Jimmy G. Yes he’s 58/84
(69%) but that’s all primarily going to the running backs Matt Breida, Raheem
Mostert and Jeff Wilson due to the genius of Kyle Shanahan. Garoppolo has an
adjusted Net air yards per attempt of 7.47 which is brutal combined with just
5TDs and 4INT.
In their game against the Steelers (notorious poor west
coast travellers), they turned the ball over 5 times and still won. There aren’t
many teams on that list, that’s for sure. Garoppolo was the culprit for 3 of
those (2 INT, 1 Fumble lost) turnovers and it’s fortunate the Mason Rudolph was
feeling just as generous and got absolutely nothing going.
They are on a week 4 bye and will be feeling pretty good about themselves and quite right too. After the turmoil over the past few years with Shanahan leading the team, it must be a breath of fresh air for those in the Bay area.
Of all the 3-0 teams though, the 49ers are by the least likely to make the playoffs. Yes you heard me, The Buffalo Bills will have a better chance at making the playoffs than the 49ers. Bank on it.
Not 3-0, But Still Undefeated
Did you know there is a team yet to taste defeat but without a perfect record? I ask the rhetorical question in jest as a way of illustrating just how little noise is following the currently undefeated Detroit Lions.
An opening night draw with the Arizona Cardinals has been followed up with wins against 2 teams with playoff ambitions in the Chargers and Eagles. I’m not buying into them just yet though. If you actually take a look into the game you will see that the Lions were there to capitalise on the Eagles beating themselves.
Winning in the NFL is hard, and that becomes almost impossible anytime you have to try and overcome 3 fumbles and 7 dropped passes. Fair play to the Lions for being in position to strike and I must say it was refreshing to see a kick off returned for a touchdown in todays NFL.
A win is a win however you get it and the Lions have yet to taste defeat so maybe they are better than we think. Chiefs up next though, good luck!
Can I Just Pop You On Hold?
Let’s all hail Tom Brady! I know it’s not an easy thing for us all to do but he possibly made the NFL much more watchable this week.
After a flag infested Thursday Night Football between the Titans and Jags, Brady tweeted his displeasure at the amount of times yellow laundry was thrown onto the field by officials. Fast forward to Sunday and the difference in the officiating was huge. Including the Thursday Night Football game there had been 188 flags thrown for offensive holding in the opening 33 contests.
On the Sunday games there were only 41 offensive holding flags thrown, or to put it another way – half as many on average. Yes the rules already favour offences but seeing every other play called back by a flag had become incredibly frustrating and following a conference call between officials on Friday we saw big changes this weekend.
Lets hope this continues moving forwards as a flowing game is a better game.
Cooking Up A Storm
I called out in last weeks look ahead that the Vikings needed to get back to pounding the rock and limiting what they ask Kirk Cousins to do.
Well they did just that this weekend and let me throw it out there now, Dalvin Cook is in the conversation as the league’s best running back.
Averaging nearly 7 yards per carry for his 110 rushing yards and adding a team leading 4 receptions for 33 yards he found the endzone for the 4th time this year. Before you think I’m jumping onto a bandwagon early, bear in mind Adrian Peterson spent 10 years with Vikings, yet Dalvin Cook is the first ever Viking to rush for 100 yards in 3 straight games to open the season. He is doing things nobody has done before him and with the Vikings gameplan (36 rushes/21 passes) favouring the run he has a chance to be the leagues leading rusher.
He has immense power but also great speed with the ability to hit a home run every time he gets the carry, Vikings fans should be excited.
Filling up your Kupp
If you stayed awake throughout this year’s Super Bowl snooze fest you came away with one abiding memory, that of Julian Edelman catching everything that came near him.
Possession receivers can have a huge impact on a game’s outcome, keeping the chains moving and helping drain the clock. Perhaps the personification of a powerful possession receiver was on display Sunday night as the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cleveland Browns.
Rams WR Cooper Kupp, who was injured in the 2018 regular season and unable to perform post-season plays, was pretty perfect in Week 3. His two touchdowns were the difference in the game, and his exquisite route-running made Jared Goff look like a Montana/Brady-esque clone. It’s absolutely no coincidence that with a fit Kupp performing wonders as a slot machine the Rams are now 3-0.
Todd Gurley may still not be right but Kupp has come back from a season ago stronger, faster and determined to prove he can be a difference maker.
Hey mr D.J. can you play that tune every week please?
When draft aficionados collectively sent their thumbs in a southerly direction when the New York Giants drafted QB Daniel Jones in the first round of the draft, I don’t think they were expecting him to be starting Week 3 as a rookie.
The agony for Big Blue fans was finally buried when they pulled Eli Manning from the starting line-up last week, opting for the Duke gunslinger. OK Jones’s win in his debut was delivered courtesy of his opponents missing a last-gasp field goal but putting up over 30 points, 353 passing yards, two scores by air and by ground and no picks in your debut is a pretty positive experience. Jones, the 2019 Senior Bowl MVP was given such bad treatment by the media that it’s a surprise he wasn’t psychologically scarred for life.
Thing is, wins have a funny habit of erasing pigskin prognostication, and by the look of the glowing pro-Jones headlines in the New York daily newspaper he has already won over some of his harshest critics.
Here’s a stat attack for you: Daniel Jones was the first rookie QB in the Super Bowl era with 300+ pass yards, 2+ pass TDs and 2+ rush TDs in a game. At 18 points in the hole, he led the Giants to their biggest comeback since 1970 whilst being under pressure on 47% of his dropbacks (3rd highest of Week 3). Eli Manning was 0-44 in games where he trailed by 18 points. Maybe Gettleman DID have a plan afterall….?
With Saquon Barkley injured for around a month, October will be a tough test for the 1-0 rookie.
Hey Cam, take ALL(EN) the time you need
If you are an ‘All or Nothing’ fan you would have seen how tough Cam Newton was, playing hurt for the vast majority of the campaign, before finally succumbing to a pine ride in Week 17. The quarterback who filled in for the Carolina Panthers was Kyle Allen, who looked solid if not spectacular.
Fast forward to 2019 Week 3 and Allen made his second start, this time producing a stat-line and a victory that will be hard to forget. Four touchdowns was impressive, but this has to be put into context this was against a poor Cardinals pass defense without the presence of All-Pro CB Patrick Peterson. Allen did complete 73% of his passes on Sunday and was not intercepted, but he faces a tougher test against the J.J. Watt led Texans in Week 4.
With the news this week that Cam Newton may have a Lisfranc injury and is definitely out this weekend Allen will be hoping to build on his impressive season debut. The ageless Panthers TE Greg Olsen, who is probably held together by frog-tape and bits of soldering iron, will be relishing catching balls from someone who is younger, more accurate and less crocked than Cam.
Burger me – I’ll take
a Big Mack and a Terry Mc
Monday Night Football may have witnessed a stunning second quarter from Chicago Bears WR Taylor Gabriel, who became the first player in MNF history to catch three touchdowns in a single quarter of play, but his performance was shadowed by his Tottenham bound colleague Khalil Mack who dominated from start to finish. Mack recorded two sacks and two forced fumbles as Case Keenum handed out turnovers like Thomas Cook did P45’s this week.
Elsewhere there was a small crumb of comfort for Redskins fans as rookie 3rd round selection Terry McLaurin became the first player in NFL history to record five catches and a touchdown in his first three NFL regular season games. If Mitch Trubisky continues to take what he is given, through intermediate routes to Allen Robinson, Gabriel and Anthony Miller (who has not yet shone this year) then this is a playoff bound team.
The defense is scary, and whilst the Washington offensive line was not the toughest test, this is a team that is a decent kicking game from an NFC Championship.
With Todd Gurley having an injury plagued end to the 2018 season, people are rightly reluctant to draft the LA Rams running back with the first pick. With the running back position being so vital to fantasy teams, is there a better option if you are lucky enough to get the number 1 pick?
Most fantasy mock drafts have both Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley being claimed in the first two picks but who, out of the two, should you pick? Now, before we proceed, I am well aware of the holdout potential that us fantasy owners are currently having to monitor with Zeke, but, let’s move forward assuming Jerry Jones and co. will do the right thing and sign him to a deserved contract before week 1 commences.
Ezekiel Elliott – Running Back, Dallas Cowboys
Since entering the league in 2016, Elliott has played nearly 90 percent of the Cowboys’ snaps and has handled over 80 percent of the carries when active. ‘Zeke’ carried for 1,434 yards in the 2018 season on 304 attempts, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He also caught 77 passes (on 94 targets) for 567 yards scoring a combined 9 touchdowns.
A true ‘3 down back,’ he is a durable workhorse and running behind one the best offensive lines in football, so you know there will be production. Zeke is always dangerous after the catch on screens and dump offs but with his improvement as a wide receiver, look for him to cause even more problems for opposition defences.
The return of Jason Witten may take away some of his targets, but based on last years’ stats, his passing upside still outweighs other top tier running backs. Having already demonstrated tackle-breaking and big-play ability its no wonder Zeke is anticipated to be picked first or second.
The Cowboys’ are changing their offense for the 2019 season by promoting Kellen Moore to offensive coordinator. This doesn’t mean any less of Zeke, who is the centrepiece of the offense. It could actually mean more scoring opportunities but there is uncertainty about what the ‘Moore’ offensive scheme will look like.
There are a few concerns though. Along with the holdout situation, Zeke has already faced suspension during the 2017 season and after an altercation at a Las Vegas music festival in May 2019, where he shoved a security guard. Zeke was lucky to avoid another suspension.
That was a little reminder that he is one bad decision away form being a suspension candidate once again.
Dallas also appear reluctant to run Elliott near the goal line. In fact, he ranked just 17th last season for runs inside the 5 yard line with his 10 carries. Despite that, he did rank 8th overall for rush attempts in the red zone with 39 carries. Elliott has also fumbled the ball 12 times in his career. Although only three of these have led to the ball being lost, in comparison, Barkley didn’t fumble once during his rookie year.
Other running backs may get more opportunities for touchdowns near to the goal line but Zeke is projected to yet again lead the league in carries, and with his improvements in the receiving game, Elliott is a solid number 1 pick for any fantasy owner!
The 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year regularly torched defenses as both a runner and receiver last season. Barkley had a league-high 2,028 yards from scrimmage and a total of 15 touchdowns justifying his pick at number 2 in the 2018 NFL draft.
‘Big Blue’ could have picked a much needed quarterback but went with the Penn State man and his performances last season showed it was the right decision.
Like Elliott, Barkley is a workhorse clocking up 261 carries and 119 targets. He was on the field for 83 percent of the Giants’ snaps and handled 75 percent of the handoffs.
However, the Giants’ do have their problems – and it starts at Quarterback. Eli Manning has never been known as a ‘dual threat’ quarterback but the 38 year old has been increasingly immobile resulting in a career worst 7.5% sack rate in 2018.
He has also lost the biggest weapon to throw the ball deep downfield since losing Odell Beckham Jr. Manning has gone from averaging 22.6 points per game to just 18.6 last season when without Beckham, also falling from 7.1 yards per attempt to 6.4.
This means that opposing teams can load the box, expecting the run or short pass which certainly doesn’t help Barkley.
This could also work as an advantage for Barkley as he is guaranteed touches. Barring any injury, he will carry the ball around 300 times during the 2019 season and although Manning’s stats may have dropped off with OBJ’s absence, during the final four weeks of the season this made little difference to Barkley as he still ranked in the top 5 running backs during this time.
Whether you pick Elliott or Barkley at number 1, you are going to get a three down workhorse who will rack up the fantasy points for your team.
If I had to pick one (and I suppose that’s the point of this!), I would go with Barkley. Although he is playing behind a poor offensive line and with an ageing quarterback I just feel that his big play ability alongside his use as Manning’s primary receiver will see him deliver more often.
Zeke also worries me with suspension issues and isn’t as productive in the receiving game. We also do not know how the new Cowboys’ offensive coordinator will look to utilise him.
After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…
Today we take a look at the New York Football Giants.
Don’t forget to check out the NFC East podcast where we talked to Jack Humphrey and got their thoughts on them!
How Did Last Season Go?
Overall, not great from a neutral’s point of views but I guess it depends on whether your ask the pro Eli fans or those against.
The Saquon Barkley pick will be debated until the cows come home. The attempts to beef up the offensive line didn’t work out how they would have liked in terms of being able to run the ball and I don’t think you can say the defence gave it their all 100% of the time. 1-7 before the bye looks awful on paper but a few games (especially the Carolina game) in another year would’ve gone the way of the G Men. An Overtime win vs the Bears was the eyebrow raiser of the schedule and actually went 4-4 after the bye to finish with a 5-11 record, 4th in the East. Saquon Barkley, The offence was actually 11th in terms of yardage gained on offence, but that was mainly due to their bottom 10 ranked defence and the Giants generally chasing games. Not a great start for the tenure of new GM Dave Gettleman and HC Pat Shurmur who were under scrutiny from the draft.
The Giants own the 6th pick in the first round along with picks 17, 37, 95, 108, 133, 142, 143, 171, 180, 232 and 245. A lot of picks there as some are compensatory picks and some are from the Odell Beckham trade.
Cap wise, they are spending over $20m in to the black hole pocket of Eli Manning and are eating a lot more cap paying for Beckham to be on the Browns. In terms of free cap space, at this moment they have just under $12m.
Odell Beckham, Olivier Vernon both leave New York in trades. Landon Collins was too rich for the blood of New York and is the other notable name out of the door.
Jabrill Peppers and Kevin Zeitler (trades) along with Golden Tate, Markus Golden, Antone Bethea also in through the door.
Outlook for Next Year
Their dealings in Tennessee could make or break their offseason and will determine their outlook for 2019 in terms of how successful it was but there will be many giants out there who will feel it is already unsalvageable. There are a wide range of outcomes in the 2019 draft for the Giants so get your popcorn ready if you are a fan of the G Men. There is no doubt that every move they make in the next year or two will be under a big microscope which will always circle back to their stud running back taken at #2 last year. Almost feels like the wait to find out whether that was the right move will take longer than the waiting between season 7 and 8 for Game of Thrones (cant wait by the way…).
On the field, having just re-signed Sterling Shepard to a 4 year, $41m deal (the Patriots were having a sniff), the extra picks gained in their trades has helped to work some big contracts off the books have many Giants protractors of Gettleman quietening down just a smidgen so you could call this a remodelling of the team which will take a few years for it to manifest. This team isn’t built to make a playoff push and could quite easily have a 3rd top 10 pick in a row come the 2020 draft, where they may strike for their successor to Eli Manning.
That said, it isn’t a particularly strong NFC East with question marks everywhere. Saquon Barkley should continue his early dominance in the league but passing wise, they are not going to pull up any trees and could be quite limited, just like this season. Evan Engram should return to a bit more production as seen in his rookie year unless the Giants are busy adding to their offence in the Draft.
Battle for the wooden spoon between them and the Redskins in the East I feel. I think the Giants max out at 6 or 7 wins if everything goes their way. Matchups vs the AFC East and NFC North isn’t the worst combination in the world and also face the Bucs and Cardinals due to their 4th place finish last season.
Eli Manning – is not a fantasy football QB
Saquon Barkley – pretty much the consensus #1 overall pick. PPR monster again this season