The past few years have been rough on Giants fans. Between coaching changes, the ending of Eli Manning’s career, and a whole lot of losing, there haven’t been many reasons to be excited about New York Giants football. But going into the 2020 season, things feel a little different.
The buzz around the team is palpable and the future actually looks somewhat bright. I won’t sit here and tell you that this team will make the playoffs this year, they might not even win that many games, but I will say that this 2020 season is important and will be an indicator of future failures or successes.
For starters, lets first address the Giant’s schedule this year. On paper they have the 7th easiest schedule, but when looking at the list of opponents, it seems the Giants will have to rely on a weak NFC East if they’re going to steal more than a few games this year.
They play the NFC West this season, and almost every single one of those games will be more than difficult. Those teams might not always have the best records, but that’s because they spend all season beating up on each other.
The gmen are also scheduled to play the entire AFC North this year, which is another division where every team is arguably a contender and they also spend all year in brutal matchups with each other. The Buccaneers are also a team that could give the Giants a lot of headaches. With their retooled offense with Brady at the helm, they seem poised to rattle a few cages.
The Bears are one of the only teams where the Giants have much of a chance and that lies solely on the Bears’ inability to run an offense. This year probably won’t yield very many wins, obviously, but it will allow the Giants to play competitively every week and get better against stiff competition.
The youth of the Giants is possibly the most exciting part of the Giants future. Daniel Jones is entering his second year in the league and is clearly the next franchise quarterback that this team needs. Saquon Barkley is entering his third year in the league and has shown he will be an elite runningback in the NFL for years to come.
Over two years he has posted 2,300+ yards despite an injury shortening last season. Its more than reasonable to assume he has the ability to break 1,500 yards this year, and maybe in the coming years approach the 2,000 mark. The receiving core is also young and exciting.
Sterling Shepard leads the staff as a 5th year starter and is bolstered by the veteran presence of Golden Tate. The rest of the wide receivers are all second-year players, Darius Slayton, CJ Board, and recently claimed Damion Ratley.
Slayton had a very satisfying rookie season and seems ready for an emergent year. If tight end Evan Engram can stay healthy, Daniel Jones will have a salve of weapons at his disposal. The biggest question mark on offense is the offensive line, as usual, which does lead to some concerns about the health of Jones and Barkley.
The Giants have made it apparent they intend to fix this weakness and drafted a number of offensive linemen in last year’s draft, including first-round choice Andrew Thomas. This year will be huge for offensive development.
Having another first-year coach in Joe Judge is fairly intimidating but in this training camp, he has shown that his vision for the team is admirable and the players seem to be buying in. He has maintained a strong level of discipline within the team, which is a concept that is reminiscent of some of the better years under Tom Coughlin.
Judge is upfront and blunt with the media and is not shy of addressing his feelings and shortcomings. He shows the team his fun side and seems to have a genuineness to his character. Just last week the team ended practice with some fun fumble drills and the last person to go was Coach Judge, sliding around in the mud underneath the rain from a garden hose.
These are all qualities that were lost under the leadership of Pat Shurmur and Ben McAdoo. The team seems to have bought in which is incredibly important going into a tough year.
Jason Garrett gets his chance to focus on running an offense, which was always his strong suit, after being relieved of his head coaching duties by the Dallas Cowboys. Garrett will be able to guide Judge a little bit during his first year as head coach, and he gets a chance to flex his offensive mind with a chip on his shoulder. Expect some growing pains on offense this year before an explosive year in 2021.
The defense also gets a new coordinator in Patrick Graham, who is a man who has coached in the NFL for a number of years and was the defensive line coach for the Giants not too long ago. His building of a defense centered around a strong defensive line will remind Giants fans of the smack mouth football that used to be played in East Rutherford.
The defensive line looks to be one of the stronger units on defense, as well as the secondary, while the linebackers are a little concerning. Expect them to show flashes of brilliance this year but, again, set sights on 2021 being a breakout year for this team.