New York Giants
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

At 1-7, the second half of the New York Giants 2018 season is all about progression and building for a much nicer football future.

Jason Leach

The New York Giants and their fans were hopeful that with the upgrades the team made in the offseason via the draft and free agency that they team would be vastly better than the team that finished 3-13 a season ago.

But unfortunately, the Giants are in the same exact position with their season over before Halloween.

The Giants are now 4-20 over their last 24 games and are clearly in rebuild mode.

Rebuilds are never easy and ownership, along with general manager Dave Gettleman, must make tough and fundamentally sound decisions to ensure the rebuild happens as quickly as possible.

The first part of the rebuild starts with the final eight games of the 2018 season. Here are three things to watch for in the second half of the Giants season:

1. Do the players still believe in Pat Shurmur?

The Giants did not make any trades this week after parting ways with Damon Harrison and Eli Apple a week ago. Most were expecting to do a fire sale and acquire as many picks as possible in the upcoming draft.

Had the Giants had a fire sale and parted ways with some of their best players, that would have given head coach Pat Shurmur an excuse for the Giants continuing their losing ways.

Typically when a team is out of the playoff mix, their effort tends to wane as they look forward to the end of the season. So it will be intriguing to see if Shurmur can keep his team focused during the final stretch.

Shurmur had a reputation as an offensive guru, but we have not seen that this year. In eight games the Giants have scored just 14 touchdowns, and have been held to under 20 points five times this season.

Pat Shurmur’s head coaching record is 11-30. You wouldn’t think that he could be a one and done coach after the Giants fired Ben McAdoo last season, but if the team finishes 1-15 or 2-14, it would be hard to vouch for Shurmur as the man that can turn the franchise around.

If the team believes in Shurmur, they’ll play hard and will be competitive in the second half and show that Shurmur deserves time to change things around. If they don’t buy into him, then the team will get blown out and several games and Shurmur might be shown the door.

2. The progression of the rookies

Perhaps the only positive in the Giants season has been the play of their rookies. Saquon Barkley has lived up to the hype despite playing behind a poor offensive line. He’s on pace to become the first Giant since Ahmad Bradshaw in 2012 to rush for 1,000 yards, and he’s on pace to have just under 1,000 yards receiving.

Will Hernandez has been by far the best offensive linemen this season. Despite going through the rookie learning curve from time to time, Hernandez has shown he has the size and strength to be a solid guard in this league.

The Giants two third-round picks in the 2018 draft, defensive end B.J. Hill and linebacker Lorenzo Carter, have been solid and the game seems to be slowing down for them. Although it’s a dubious distinction considering how poor the Giants pass rush has been, Hill and Carter have two sacks a piece which leads the Giants.

Having played eight games to get acclimated of the speed and physicality of the NFL and now having a bye week to rest and recovery, Barkley, Hernandez, Hill, and Carter may have a better second half of the season than the first half.

Eli Manning
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

3. When will the Giants pull the plug on Eli Manning?

It’s not a matter of if, the question revolves around when the Giants will sit down their 37-year-old quarterback Eli Manning. Despite owning one more year on his contract, the Giants have to part ways with Manning one way or another in the offseason.

So at some point in the second half of the season, the Giants will start rookie Kyle Lauletta.

Lauletta didn’t do himself any favors getting arrested on Tuesday, Oct. 30, but the Giants have to play him and get an honest assessment to see if he has the potential to be a starting quarterback in this league or if the Giants will have to find Manning’s successor via the draft or free agency.

Expect Lauletta to make his first NFL start in one of the four remaining home games.

Jason's first love was football while growing up in northern New Jersey. For the past three years, he has covered the New York Giants, as well as several boxing events along the East Coast.