Despite an 11-5 season in 2016, Jerry Reese’s New York Giants will wind up a better team in 2017. There are many reasons why.
Since their season came to an abrupt end at the hands of the Green Bay Packers in the wild-card round, the New York Giants have made some significant upgrades to their roster.
The NFL Draft is a little over three weeks away, so the Giants will make additions to their roster, but there are already signs that 2017 will be a better year for the Giants than 2016.
Here are four reasons why 2017 will be a better year for the Giants than 2016:
The Giants offense struggled mightily all season as they never scored 30 points the entire season. The Giants particularly struggled in the red zone, converting just 51.11 percent of their attempts into touchdowns.
But now, the Giants have Brandon Marshall and his 6-foot-4, 230 pound frame to throw fade passes to. Eli Manning has always loved throwing ball at the goal line to tall receivers such as Plaxico Burress, and now for the first time in a long time. he once again has a tall physical receiver.
The addition of Marshall also gives the Giants the best trio of receivers in the league with him, Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. Scoring 30 points in a game won’t be a problem for the Giants in 2017.
2. The 2016 rookies will take huge strides in their second year
Do you remember how Landon Collins went from being an average safety in 2015 to what many felt should have been named Defensive Player Of The Year in 2016? Not to say that all of the Giants rookies from 2016 will take similar leaps in 2017, but the biggest leap a player takes in their careers is from their rookie year to their second year.
Running back Paul Perkins came on strong at the end of last season, and his production is one of the reasons the Giants cut Rashad Jennings. Cornerback Eli Apple should be adjusted to the speed of the NFL, and should be able to play nickel corner this season. Sterling Shepard had a solid rookie season scoring eight touchdowns, and could score double digits in 2017 with opponents eyeing Beckham and Marshall. Jerell Adams, Roger Lewis Jr and Romeo Okwara all figure to play bigger roles in 2017.
3. The defensive free agents from 2016 will be in their second season with Steve Spagnuolo.
History shows when defensive coordinator Steve Spaguolo has talented players on defense, his defenses are one of the best in the league. Last year, the Giants added numerous players such as Damon Harrison, Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins, Keenan Robinson and Eli Apple.
Each of these players had a huge impact in their first season under Spaguolo’s scheme and improving the Giants defense from 32nd in 2015 to 10th overall last season. Based on Spaguolo’s track record with the Giants, we can expect the Giants defense to be even better this season.
In Spagnuolo’s first stint as Giants defensive coordinator in 2007, he had a very talented defensive that finished seventh in total defense giving up just 305 yards per game and allowing 21.9 points per game. His defense was the main reason the Giants were able to defeat the 18-0 New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
In 2008, despite the loss of Michael Strahan to retirement and Osi Umenyiora to an ACL injury, the Giants defense was statistically better, finishing fifth in total defense allowing just 292 yards per game and 18.4 points. The Giants would have likely repeated as Super Bowl champions that season had Plaxico Burress nightclub shooting not occurred.
It will be very interesting to see the heights of which Spagnuolo can take the Giants defense in 2017.
One of the names omitted from reasons two and three is free safety Darian Thompson who played in just two games last season due to a foot injury. The third round pick in 2016 quickly caught the attention of the Giants coaches early on in rookie minicamp, and training camp because of his vocal presence on the field, and the fact that he was never out of position.
The Giants are optimistic about his rehab and all signs point to him being a participant at OTAs. In college Thompson was known as a ball hawk as he had 19 interceptions during his career at Boise State. If he can do the same at the NFL level, than the Giants secondary who some feel is already the best in the league, will be even better in 2017.