Little did the New York Jets know, one headline trade would trigger a fitting reminder for their close rivals.
Amid a showcase of the NFL at its cutthroat best ahead of the new season, the New York Jets turned heads by trading Sheldon Richardson to the Seattle Seahawks.
Whilst New York Giants fans can be forgiven for gazing beyond a decision that has no immediate impact on them, there is no hiding from the timely reminder it can be seen to represent.
The defensive lineman’s move not only resonates a familiar storyline for head coach Ben McAdoo and his men but also bolsters a mouth-watering clash on the Big Blue schedule.
Besides the Jets dictating the spotlight and continuing a mass exodus of talented contributors, they also, in the process, reaffirmed the Giants’ required impetus towards offensive improvement.
A highly-anticipated week seven matchup with the Seahawks just got even more interesting, with Richardson teaming up with an already feared defensive line.
In exchange for wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and a second-round pick in 2018, Seattle strengthened their defense with the 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year and a 2014 Pro Bowler. His suspensions and limited production in recent years aside, there is an undeniably gifted outlet striving to somewhat reignite his career — making him a threat to be respected.
Fresh off a bye week, the Seahawks travel to the MetLife Stadium on October 22 with an illustrious and widely-praised defensive unit to match that of Steve Spagnuolo’s in New York.
The Giants face a stacked defensive line, with a potential interior partnership of Richardson and Michael Bennett sandwiched by the likes of edge rushers Cliff Avril and Frank Clark.
Richardson joins a defense that, much like the Giants, carried a lackluster offense in 2016 — meaning something has to give between the two.
The switch comes as yet another hint at the need for McAdoo’s under-pressure offensive line to make strides this season, not only to grant quarterback Eli Manning the time and space he needs to operate in, but also to inspire a revival of the Giants running game.
While an explosive Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul combination will give their offense plenty of opportunities to make use of possession, they can’t control how their teammates perform against the Legion of Boom, which welcomes back free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor from respective 2016 injuries. That’s also not forgetting the presence of cornerback Richard Sherman.
Week seven marks a contest the Giants won’t be thinking about just yet but one that alerts them to the fierce defensive battles awaiting them, reiterating the demands for Manning and his team this season.
In addition to Avril and Clark’s eye-opening combined total of 21.5 sacks in the 2016 regular season, Richardson’s seemingly ongoing war of words with Giants receiver Brandon Marshall gives fans another reason to circle this game on their calendars.
The Giants have already been given a warning as to what kind of mood Richardson is in, with the 26-year-old breezing past their offensive line in a recent preseason meeting and finishing with two tackles and a sack.
And the Giants will be given a stern reminder of the need to respond on offense long before week seven.
Week one in Dallas will be a test of how capable McAdoo’s pass catchers are of rewarding the solid work put in to halt Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense.
An encounter with the Detroit Lions eight days later promises to be just as telling, with a pass-dominant approach from both sides sets up a matchup of possible fine margins.
A trip to face the Philadelphia Eagles a week later at the Lincoln Financial Field, where the Giants have not won since 2013, poses as yet another difficult stage on which Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Marshall may be the difference.
Before hosting Pete Carroll’s Seahawks, the Giants face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, strengthened by the arrival of three-time Pro Bowler T.J. Ward, as well as the Los Angeles Chargers and a standout Denver Broncos defense.
There is no room for a low-scoring year given the mold of the Giants’ opponents.