New York sports fans are a passionate and fickle bunch, full of pride with high expectations, and being a UK based sports fan I feel the New York Giants’ fans pain. Soccer is a way of life here and the same applies with football in New York.
Speaking to Giants fans I get the sense that 50% remain unhappy while 50% are pleased with what the Giants are trying to do, but remain concerned about the defense.
Progression, even without a winning record can still be considered as a success if it’s a part of a bigger plan than a single season winning record. Patience is the key, and there was a massive overhaul throughout the Giants’ organisation. Dave Gettleman was hired to install a winning culture; let’s not forget that this is an organisation with four Lombardi Trophies sitting on display at the Giants HQ and they want to get back to winning ways. Pat Shurmur was new in and needed time to find his feet and implement his plans, he installed new offensive and defensive schemes and the player personnel saw huge changes, with less than 15 players suiting up for the Giants this year from last season’s roster.
Yes there is a chance that they could have hit the ground running but it was always more likely that things would take time, and the 2018 season was a tale of two halves, in the first half of which the Giants went 1 – 7.
Excluding everything mentioned above I wanted to look at the on the field
stats to see what actually went wrong.
The Giants had a -4 turnover difference in the first 8 games, they had a points scored differential of -55, they gave up 31 sacks, remember this is through 8 games and they converted 35 3rd downs from 100 attempts. So it’s clear to see why the start was so poor and the BYE week couldn’t come soon enough. The BYE gave the Giants the opportunity to reflect and adjust for the second half of the season which was much more of an indication of things to come in the future.
Through weeks 10 to 17 the Giants went 4 – 4, they had a turnover difference of + 2, a points difference of +12 and Eli Manning was only sacked 16 times, still an average of twice a game but in contrast to the first 8 weeks, a massive improvement.
The improved offensive line kept Manning upright but it also allowed Saquon Barkley to run the ball more effectively and more often. This balance in offense allowed the Giants to be more consistent than through the first half of the season.
One thing that was evident to me whilst Odell Beckham Jr. was out, was that it allowed the rest of the receiver core to put themselves in the spotlight as well as on tape, and they did well. Next season he needs to understand that the offense will benefit by sharing some of his targets out. Meaning he would receive, maybe 8 a game to make 6 impactful catches, but by spreading the ball around it would make the offense unpredictable and far more balanced.
I see Manning returning next season. It doesn’t make sense to use the 6th overall pick on a QB from the draft when the position isn’t as strong as it will be next year. I would do one of two things with that pick, either get the edge rusher or defensive interior lineman the Giants need, or trade back somehow to get a solid lineman and a high 1st round pick for when the QB class of 2020 comes out.
All in all, the Giants found their feet towards the end and they played like a borderline top ten offense, however they did struggle on defense all season. The secondary was still giving up too many plays and they struggled to get at quarterbacks. But when you look back to 2017 it is clear that they have improved and the signs are positive that the New York Giants can have a winning record next year.
The team is buying in to Shurmur’s ways and I feel it only fair to highlight the incoming Rookie of the Year, Saquon Barkley. What an incredible start to his professional career – 2028 yards and 15 touchdowns from scrimmage. His mammoth season earned him some franchise and NFL records:
Most rushing touchdowns by a rookie – 11
Most rushing yards by a rookie – 1307
Most touchdowns in a season by a rookie – 15
Most 100+ yards from scrimmage games by a rookie – 12 games
Most 50+ yard touchdown runs – 5 (tied with Randy Moss)
Most receptions by a rookie running back – 91 receptions
The off-season poses many questions that need answering. Shurmur said that he needs to reflect on the offense and defense and went on to say that he will assess his own play calling abilities. Plus he feels that it is important to always upgrade the lines and I tend to agree. You can have all the skilled players you like but if you can’t protect your guy or can’t get to the opposing QB then you will always struggle.
The long term goal is to lift a 5th Lombardi trophy, intermediate goals have to be reaching the playoffs by winning the division and the immediate aim for 2019 needs to be a minimum of having a winning record, something that I feel is achievable for the New York Giants.
Article authored by Colin McDonnell @ukfantasyballer on Twitter
Photo Credit: Brad Penner (USA Today)