The New York Football Giants. One of sports most beloved and hated, famous and infamous organizations of all time. Two of their four Lombardi Trophies have been hoisted in the last decade, both in which by teams led by future hall of famer, Eli Manning. The Giants are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 3-13 year, which saw a Manning benching, turmoil in the locker room, numerous injuries, and terrible team statistical metrics on both sides of the football.
Football is much like chess, in that in order to attack your opponent, you need to have as many pieces as possible. The Giants believe that this season, they have the offensive pieces to make a run deep into the playoffs. Most importantly, the Giants have seemingly addressed the elephant in the locker room- Eli Manning is Pat Shurmur’s guy and will most likely be the man under center, come opening day.
Shurmur told the media this week at Mini Camp, “He looked fit. He was throwing the ball well. The ball had good velocity coming off his hand. And again, I think he’s got years left. How much, I don’t know. But I think he has time left, and I look forward to working with him.”
In addition, backup quarterback Davis Webb said this about Eli when asked about Eli Manning as a mentor and Quarterback. “Eli? He’s the best I’ve ever seen throw it. I mean, he has total command of the offense – attention wise, route wise, teaching everybody on the fly on the field and off the field. He’s ready to rock and roll. We’ll all try to keep up. He sets that tone, and I know he’s going to play his best.” This confidence from coaches and fellow players leads Giants Nation to believe that Manning is not only the starter, but still a presence in the organization and remains the quiet leader he always has been in the locker room.
The next big piece to this offensive puzzle is undoubtedly Odell Beckham Jr. OBJ is an outspoken leader and unbelievably athletic superstar, who is the face of this potential filled franchise. As a boisterous playmaker on the field, and a well spoken and influential leader inside and out of the locker room, New York will be leaning on this young gun to step into even more of a leadership position this season. The 2017 season only saw Odell on the field just four times due to injury.
When asked about Beckham Jr’s ability to handle his workload coming back from injury, Shurmur responded with confidence in his health and ability. “Good. I mean, he’s running around. You see he’s very energetic on the practice field. He had some production yesterday, caught a couple balls from Eli [Manning], in there blocking a little bit, and involved with the punt returns.” Schurmur spoke further about the 25-year-old LSU product, “He’s actually fun to be around on the practice field. Everybody locally knows him better than I do and it’s very obvious to me that the guy loves to play football. When you’re in a practice setting like that and you see that, it’s pretty obvious.” With a clean bill of health and his guy, Eli Manning, still at the helm of the ship, fans should see their undeniable chemistry on the gridiron return.
You can have the best quarterback in the league throwing to the best wide receivers, but they can only do so much without a solid run game. That is where the #2 overall pick from Penn State, Saquon Barkley, comes into play. As a rookie, a lot of attention has been directed toward his expected role on the team. Fans talk about and treat him as if he is the savior of the run game, and possibly the team. This is clearly a lot of pressure for anyone, let alone a rookie. “I do get a little nervous about all the hype,” New York Giants Presiden, John Mara said of Barkley’s sky-high expectations. “[H]e hasn’t played a down yet. But I think he’s capable of living up to it.”
When asked what it was like to practice in front of so many fans, especially considering many of them were wearing jerseys with his name and number, Saquon Barkley responded candidly, “Oh yeah, definitely never practiced in front of a crowd like that. It was awesome. [S]aw a lot of 26 jerseys in the stands, saw my family. I got to see my family after, I was able to sign for kids after also, and that becomes part of the game. You don’t do it for the fans, but you play for the fans also, too, and you want to come out there and practice your heart out, and just for them being out there showing love and support, it means a lot to me.”
The Giants seem poised for a bounce back season. With veteran leadership in Eli Manning, as well as as young talent with OBJ and now Barkley, the Giants’ offense appears ready to make their mark in New York and on opposing defences across the league. Will all of this be enough for a chance at the playoffs? Or maybe even a run at the big dance? There are too many variables to factor in just yet. But if these three offensive playmakers can stay healthy and hungry this season, New York may very well be able to spark some of the magic that Manning found with Big Blue back in 2008 and 2012.
The Giants kick off their regular season at MetLife Stadium against the Jacksonville Jaguars at 1:00pm on September 9th (FOX). New York and Jacksonville last faced off in November of 2014 at Everbank Field, when the Jags bested the Giants 25-24. This will mark the first time the Giants face off against former Super Bowl winning head coach Tom Coughlin, who now serves as the Executive Vice President of Football Operations for Jacksonville.
Keep it locked in on The Wrightway Network, as TWN brings you coverage on all things football this Summer across NFL Mini Camps. Stay tuned for more NFL updates and the re-launch of TWN’s flagship podcast with CEO Malik Wright.