The 2019 season for the New Giants is truly a new chapter for the franchise. The brain trust, led by John Mara, has identified Daniel Jones as the heir apparent to Giants legend, Eli Manning. Make no mistake: even though Eli is still here for one more year, this is Daniel Jones’ team now.
On top of the QB equation, the departure of Odell Beckham Jr., among others, has cleansed the locker room of headaches and distractions the brain trust could no longer tolerate and placate to. This new era of Giants football will solely be on the shoulders of Mara, Dave Gettleman, Pat Shurmur, and, yes, Daniel Jones to change the culture and narrative of a once proud franchise turned laughing stock the past few years.
When Danny Dimes takes over for good is not as certain. Eli will be the starter for the season and I think he could actually fend off Jones for the majority of the campaign despite losing one of the best WRs in all of football.
The revamped offensive line with the acquisitions of Kevin Zeitler (Olivier Vernon trade) and Mike Remmers (free agent), plus the returning Nate Solder, Will Hernandez and now healthy Jon Halapio, has constituted the best Giants offensive Eli has had in years. That unit combined with the uber talented Saquon Barkley, should help insulate Manning and open up the passing game into a normal, functional offense.
Granted, the WR core has taken a few lumps already with Golden Tate getting suspended for the first four games of the season and losing Corey Coleman to an ACL tear, there is still enough to get by and be respectable. Between Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, there is some true talent Eli can rely on. Beyond that is a little less certain. Darius Slayton, a fifth round pick from this year’s draft, represents some fresh hope and a potential threat in stretching the field, while retread vets such as Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler fill out the position depth chart.
I expect the offense to be more well rounded this season but outside of Saquon, the lack of another home run threat will hurt the Giants ability to come back from multiple score deficits or blow out teams. Big Blue will most likely operate with high percentage throws underneath and pound the run. Hopefully, the run game is effective so that can setup Eli with his best asset, the play action game.
I am a HUGE fan of defensive coordinator, James Bettcher, despite his unit’s subpar performance last year. The personnel this year has somewhat improved but still remains a giant work in progress and has tons of question marks. Mainly, how are the Giants going to get to the opposing QB?
After passing on Josh Allen for Jones, the Giants enter the season without a stud pass rusher they can count on a play in, play out basis. A TON of emphasis will be on second year player, Lorenzo Carter, and rookie Oshane Ximines, to get after it on the edge. BJ Goodson has become kind of a lost name but big things were expected from the Clemson product the past few seasons after flashes of productivity. Markus Golden comes over from Arizona and had 12.5 sacks in 2016 under Bettcher’s system. Here’s to hoping Bettcher and Golden can recreate that magic at MetLife this season.
They should be stout against the run with first rounder Dexter Lawrence being added to the mix of solid contributors in BJ Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson. That triumvirate will be tasked with anchoring the defensive line and occupying several offensive linemen at a time.
I’m most excited about the Giants suddenly young secondary. Outside of Antoine Bethea and Janoris Jenkins, the youth movement and assets put into this section of the defense shows an understanding of today’s game. Between Jabrill Peppers (Odell trade), Deandre Baker (first round pick), Julian Love (fourth round pick), Corey Ballantine (sixth round pick), and Sam Beal (third round pick from 2018), the Giants have a new core to work with. There will surely be natural growing pains with this group, and issues because of pass rush that might expose them, but I’m pumped to see how they perform. There should be moments and glimpses of promise that Giants fans will love.
Bottom line for the defense will be rushing the passer. If they do it on a fairly consistent basis, the team and offense has a chance. If they don’t, this team will struggle and be forced to come back often. I pray they don’t fire Bettcher because of potential poor performance. The personnel upfront needs to improve for him to showcase how he can run the defense.
Surprisingly, the Giants strength last year were the special teams. Aldrick Rosas established himself as a Pro Bowler with his 32/33 performance and Riley Dixon was solid with the punting duties.
The return game could always improve and it is TBD to see who handles those duties on a full-time basis. Look for Brittan Golden to make an impact after strong performances during the preseason.
I pray this team is competitive. I don’t want to see Eli’s career record (232-230) dip under .500 but that remains a strong possibility. The man is arguably the most important Giant ever and deserves a better swan song than another losing season. We, as Giants fans, should be grateful for those two magical seasons Eli orchestrated. Everything else was bittersweet, yes, and I’ll never forget the Giants brass (see: Mara) toiling away Eli’s prime with mismanagement.
However, come late November / early December, I could see the Danny Dimes era officially being ushered in. The drumbeat for him could happen much, much sooner especially after his encouraging and impressive preseason display.
This team needs to show progress even if its incrementally. I see 7-9 and we get to see what Danny Dimes can do when the lights are on for real. I could see 12/1 (week 13) against the Packers being the first time we see him take over for good. My hope is that Eli starts the final home against Philly so we can send him off properly – with our love and appreciation.