New York Giants 2016 Preview: Super Bowl Team?

The New York Giants enter the 2016 season with high expectations, despite the fact they haven’t made the playoffs in five years, and finished last season with a 6-10 record.

Newly appointed Head Coach Ben McAdoo enters his first season in charge with a plethora of proven weapons on offense, and a newly revamped defense thanks to General Manager Jerry Reese’s spending spree. Here is the breakdown of each units entering the 2016 season.

Offense:

eli beckham

The Giants finished in the top 10 in most offensive categories last season, and have actually added more weapons entering 2016. The Giants return with Eli Manning, who is coming off his two best seasons as a pro, and Odell Beckham, who is in the discussion of being the top WR in the league. The G men also drafted WR Sterling Shepard in the 2nd round, and RB Paul Perkins in the 5th round. Shepard will make an immediate impact, while Perkins will be eased into a backfield that has a number of talented backs. Perkins is a Tiki Barber type or running back who is quick and elusive, and could be the Giants back of the future. Keep an eye on him.

Adding to the draft picks is the return of Larry Donnell, who missed the second half of 2016, as well as the long awaited return of Victor Cruz. Cruz hasn’t played in a regular season game in almost two years, and is one of the most intriguing stories of 2016 for the Giants. It will be interesting to see what Cruz has left. The Giants also return RB’s Rashad Jennings, Orleans Darkwa, Shane Vereen WR’s Dwayne Harris, and TE Will Tye. Two unproven WR Tavrres King and Roger Lewis round out the offense. King shined in the preseason, and has the chance to make a contribution in 2016.

Offensive line is the biggest question mark on offense. The only solidified starters are Left Guard Justin Pugh and Center Weston Richburg. The right side of the line is dreadful, and Giants didn’t do anything in the draft or free agency to address their problems. If the offense regresses, the offensive line will be the biggest reason why.

Defense:

defense

For the first time since Super Bowl XLVI, Giants fans finally have a defense to be excited about. Last season, the defense was absolutely brutal, and blew multiple double digit leads in the 4th quarters of games. If the defense was anywhere near the middle of the pack of the NFL last season, the Giants probably would’ve won enough games to make the postseason.

Much to the delight of the fans, the Giants spent a boat load of cash on the defensive side of the ball, adding the likes of Damon “Snacks” Harrison, Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins. Add to that their first round pick of cornerback Eli Apple, and a few veteran linebackers, and on paper, this unit has the ability to finish in the top 10-15.

The pass rush with JPP (in better shape), Snacks, Jonathon Hankins, and Vernon, will definitely be a force to be reckon with. Vernon and Harrison have looked really good all preseason, and seem to be worth the investment. This pass rush could mirror those of the recent Giants Super Bowl teams, and should be the strong suit of the defense.

In the secondary, The Giants return CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and SS Landon Collins. DRC is a proven veteran, and Landon Collins enters his second season poised to improve after his somewhat dissapointing rookie season. The secondary welcomes the additions of “the jackrabbit” Janoris Jankins, first round pick Eli Apple, and veteran Leon Hall. Due to injuries to Mykelle Thompson, second year man Nat Behre will round out the secondary at FS.

The secondary hopes to benefit from the pressure the defensive line gets on opposing Quarterbacks. If the line gets pressure, the secondary unit will have the opportunity to make plays, and force a good amount of turnovers. Look for Jankins to be the guy to come up game changing plays, but also be burned time to time because of his aggressive style.

Linebacker is where this defense is the weakest. The Giants enter with Devon Kennard, Kelvin Sheppard, and Jonathan Casillas as the starters. Fourth round pick B.J. Goodson will be forced into the lineup at some point this season, after the Giants released Jasper Brinkley a few days ago. Fans haven’t seen a LB core they could be excited about since the likes in LT, Carl Banks and Harry Carson back in the 90’s. Dont expect this unit to be anywhere near those guys.

Special Teams:

harris

The Giants finished in the top 10 in most Special Teams categories in 2015, and they return their key players in 2016. Punter Brad Wing, Kicker Josh Brown (serving a one game suspension), and KR/PR Dwyane Harris are all back in 2016. The Giants also kept RB/Special Teamer Bobby Rainey on their roster, and he can contribute if Harris goes down as well. Expect more of the same from this unit in 2016.

Conclusion:

The over/under number for the Giants is 8.5 Wins for 2016, and they are currently ranked as #17 in the ESPN Power Rankings. This is a fair assessment as the Giants are coming off back to back 6-10 season, and haven’t looked great in the preseason either.

If Manning and Beckham stay healthy, and the offensive line can put together an average performance, the offense will finish top 10. If the defense plays to the names on paper, they have the opportunity to finish in the top half of the NFL.

There’s a feeling I have about this team, the same feeling I had about the team going into the season in 2000/2001. Of course that was the team that made it to Super Bowl XXV, only to get blown out by the Ravens.

The NFC is weak, and it’s the Giants division for the taking. They should win the division and have the chance to make some noise in the playoffs.

Can this team make the Super Bowl? I think they can. Will they? Prob not.

-Mark

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