The last three NFC East division winners have gone from last place the previous season to a division title. Can the New York Giants make it four in 2018?
They say history has a way of repeating itself. The New York Giants hope that holds true again in 2018 as they look to become the fourth NFC East team in a row to go from worst to first in the division.
Beginning with the Washington Redskins in 2015, followed by the Dallas Cowboys in 2016, and the Philadelphia Eagles last season, NFC East teams have made a remarkable turnaround and went from the basement to the penthouse in the division.
So now it’s the Giants turn to ascend from the bottom of the division to the top. Can they do it?
Based on the additions they’ve made since the conclusion of the 2017 season, their chances are better than you would think for a team coming off a 3-13 season.
For starters, the Giants named Pat Shurmur as their next head coach. Shurmur has developed a reputation as an offensive guru and knows how to maximize his players’ potential. Last season, when he was the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, he helped guide quarterback Case Keenum to the best season of his career.
Shurmur hired Mike Shula to head the offense and James Bettcher to run the defense. Under Bettcher, the Giants will run a 3-4 defense where they can deploy exotic blitz schemes.
Having a solid coaching staff is great, but you need players to execute their scheme and gameplan. So general manager Dave Gettleman went out and upgraded both the offense and defense through free agency, trades and in the draft.
For the defense, the big acquisitions were linebackers Alec Ogletree, Lorenzo Carter and Kareem Martin. The Giants also added depth and size to the interior line in selecting B.J. Hill and RJ McIntosh.
With these additions, a case can be made that no other team has upgraded its roster more than the Giants. So there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to compete for the division title.
On paper, the Giants and the Super Bowl champion Eagles have the two most talented rosters in the division. Despite the Eagles going 13-3 last season, their two wins over the Giants in 2017 were by a combined eight points.
So the Giants know that, despite going through the worst season in the history of the franchise, they were able to hang in with the Super Bowl champions.
While the Giants have upgraded their roster, the team that finished second in the division last year, the Dallas Cowboys, are going through a transition period with their roster.
They cut their franchise leader in touchdown receptions in Dez Bryant, and their all-time receptions leader, tight end Jason Witten, retired. Bryant and Witten were not the players they once were, but a team does not get better when they lose their top two receptions leaders from a season ago.
They also had what many consider a subpar draft and are facing the possibility of receiver Terrance Williams facing a suspension following his arrest for public intoxication.
Cowboys Officials Still Gathering Info Following Terrance Williams’ Arrest
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) May 19, 2018
The Cowboys swept the Giants last season, but Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t play in either game. OBJ has had some of the biggest moments of his career against the Cowboys, and the last three times the Giants have faced the Cowboys with Beckham, they’ve won.
Unless Beckham sustains another injury, he’ll be on the field against the Cowboys this season, which spells trouble for Dallas.
The one team in the division the Giants defeated last season was the Washington Redskins, earning an 18-10 victory in the season finale.
The Giants have had consistent success against the Redskins over the last several seasons, evidenced by their 7-3 record against Washington dating back to 2013.
Just like the Giants, the Redskins had a solid draft with the selections of Da’Ron Payne and Derrius Guice. But there’s a question on whether they took a step back at quarterback now that Alex Smith will be the man under center instead of Kirk Cousins.
The Giants are 3-2 against Smith during his time with the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, including last season’s 12-9 overtime victory in Week 11 over the Chiefs where they intercepted Smith twice.
So you know the Giants feel confident they can continue their success against the Redskins.
The Giants are long overdue for a division title. Every team in the NFC East has won the division twice since the Giants’ last NFC East crown in 2011. That simply is not acceptable and is one of the reasons Big Blue was so active this offseason.
For the first time in years, the Giants have a solid offensive line and linebacker core. With Eli Manning equipped with the best set of playmakers he’s had since he was named Super Bowl 46 MVP, you have to feel optimistic that the Giants will continue the NFC East trend of going from worst to first.