5 Burning Questions
1. How Much Better Is The O-Line?
We know the Giants offensive line will be better than it was a season ago with the free agent signing of left tackle Nate Solder and selecting left guard Will Hernandez in the second round of the draft.
Solder will help restore confidence in Manning that he can take five and seven step drop backs and not have to worry about being hit from behind. His presence will also help bring back the play action pass which has been non-existent in the Giants offensive attack in years.
While Solder is a huge upgrade over Flowers at left tackle, Solder might be the fourth best tackle in the division behind the Cowboys Tyron Smith, the Eagles Jason Peters, and the Redskins Trent Williams
Jon Halapio looks like he can be a solid center, but there are still concerns on the right side of the line with guard Patrick Omameh and tackle Ereck Flowers.
So the question is how much better is the Giants offensive line when there are concerns with 40 percent of the line?
From what we’ve seen in the preseason, the line is better in pass protection than run blocking.
If the Giants offensive line can be a top 15 offensive line, the potential for the Giants offense is unlimited. If they’re still in the 20’s it will plague them when they face the better defenses in the league. We’ll find out Week 1 against the Jaguars how much better the offensive line is.
2. Can Eli Be Elite Again?
The main reason why the Giants didn’t draft a quarterback with the second pick, is because they still believe their 37-year-old franchise quarterback Eli Manning still has something left in his tank. The question is how much does he have left?
Last season you have to give Manning a pass for throwing under 4,000 yards as his receiving corps was depleted, and he was without his two best offensive linemen for most of the season.
With an improved offensive line and the best set of skill position players he’s ever had in Odell Beckham Jr., Evan Engram, Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard, there’s no reason Manning should not be a top 10 quarterback if he still has something left in his tank.
Expect Manning to perform close to his 2015 form when he threw for 4,436 yards 35 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions.
3. Can Saquon Barkley Live Up To The Hype?
No rookie is entering the 2018 season with as much hype surrounding them than Saquon Barkley. The second overall pick in the draft is a favorite by many to win Offensive Rookie Of The Year, and one of the reasons the Giants are expected to contend for a wildcard. His expectations rose even further after he rushed for 39 yards the first time he touched the ball in the preseason game against the Browns.
But can he live up to those lofty expectations after just carrying the ball four times in the preseason?
Based on what’s expected of him if he should have 1,500 all-purpose yards. That might be too much to ask for considering the right side of the offensive line.
4. Will The Defense Struggle Early In The 3-4 Transformation?
For the first time in over 20 years, the Giants will play in a 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator James Bettcher. Anytime a team makes this drastic of a change in their defensive philosophy, it can take one and sometimes two years to get the personnel to fit the new scheme. The Giants will try to make this work in Bettcher’s first season.
The defense will be strong against the run, but against the pass, they’ll go through growing pains defending the pass as their linebackers get accustomed to covering running backs and tight ends, and with their best pass rusher Olivier Vernon unable to play in the season opener due to a high ankle sprain.
Expect the defense to struggle early when they face high powered offenses but will get better as the season progresses.
5. How Much Of An Upgrade Is Pat Shurmur Over Ben McAdoo?
The Ben McAdoo tenure as Giants head coach was a disaster. He lost the locker room last season and looked unfit to lead a team. Worst of all he ended Manning’s consecutive game streak by benching him for Geno Smith.
Giants ownership finally had enough of McAdoo’s antics and relieved him of his duties in December. The Giants then hired Pat Shurmur in January and the reaction, for the most part, was lukewarm.
Shurmur has a reputation of being an offensive guru, but his record as a head coach coming into this season is 10-23. Albeit all but one of those games was when he was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns a franchise where even the great Bill Belichick has failed.
Pat Shurmur at the podium. He said Mike Shula is an excellent coordinator pic.twitter.com/HIvBuYuCOm
— Jason Leach (@JasonKLeach) August 7, 2018
But still, it’s unknown at this time of how much of an upgrade Shurmur is from McAdoo. One good thing that Shurmur has admitted was that he’s learned from his mistakes from his time with the Browns and won’t make the same mistake again. One of those mistakes was not having an offensive coordinator, so one of the first things he did when he became Giants head coach was to hire Mike Shula as offensive coordinator. The Giants are hopeful that Shurmur’s in-game strategies alone will lead to a couple of victories.