One just one regular-season game remaining in the 2018 NFL season, New York Giants fans can make out one serious holiday wish list.
In many ways, the last-minute loss to the Indianapolis Colts represents a microcosm of what the New York Giants franchise has been since they defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 46 seven seasons ago.
They play well at times and show the potential they have, but when it matters most, they come up short. This is why the Giants have missed the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons while piling up double-digit losses in four of the last five seasons.
This era of futility has Giants fans frustrated and wanting significant changes.
Since it’s the holiday season, here’s the New York Giants fans wish list:
Find a young quarterback to be Eli Manning’s successor
Eli Manning will always have a special place in Giants fans hearts as he’s a two-time Super Bowl MVP, holds just about every passing record in the history of the franchise, and has been the epitome of class on and off the field.
But nothing last forever and it’s time they find his successor since he turns 38 in January, and next season is the final year of his contract. The way things look right now, the Giants plan to bring Manning back in 2019. But they also need to draft or sign a young quarterback that can be the team’s quarterback post 2019.
Based on the fact that the Giants did not have rookie Kyle Lauletta active in the last two games, is a clear indication that the front office has serious doubts about Lauletta. The 2019 draft class is not as deep or as talented as the 2018 class, but the Giants need to take a quarterback early in the draft and have Manning help develop him for a year.
Ideally, fans will want this quarterback to be mobile so that they can extend plays and add a dimension seldom seen in a Giants offense. Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock and Justin Herbert are a few of the quarterbacks that the Giants are rumored to have interest in. Anyone of these quarterbacks will give Giants fans hope that the future will be bright.
Get an elite pass rusher
One common theme of the four Giants Super Bowl championships was their ability to rush the quarterback. Lawrence Taylor, Leonard Marshall, Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul all excelled at rusher the quarterback in the Super Bowl seasons, especially when the team needed a big play the most.
The Giants pass rush has been abysmal in the last several seasons as they haven’t had a double digit sack artist, since JPP had 12.5 in 2014. The lack of a dominant pass rusher is one of the reasons the Giants have been unable to close out games like their 28-27 loss to the Colts on Sunday.
Olivier Vernon is the Giants best pass rusher, but he has just 19.5 sacks since joining Big Blue in 2016, and he might be a cap casualty in the offseason due to his high price tag.
Even if the Giants bring back Vernon he’s not a top tier pass rusher as he’s only has one double digit sack season in his career. The Giants need to find a rusher that can come up with big sacks on third downs, and showcase double-digit sacks year in and year out.
Find dominant run stopper
The Giants had a dominant run stopper this until they trade Damon Harrison in October to the Lions for a fifth-round pick. The Giants defense clearly gets worn down in second halves since they trade Harrison as they’ve given up 128 yards on the ground in the seven games without him. That stretch of games also includes the embarrassing 215 yards they gave up to the Titans in Week 15.
Trading one of the best run stoppers in the league for a fifth-round pick is one of the moves that general manager Dave Gettleman has made that has backfired, and now the Giants need to find a replacement for Harrison. Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill are good, but they’re not on the level of Snacks when it comes to stopping the run.
Acquire a solid center and right tackle
The Giants offensive was under enormous scrutiny in the first half of the year when the Giants were 1-7, and Manning was under constant pressure. The line has improved in the second half of the season since they acquired right guard Jamon Brown who the Giants will likely try to resign in the off-season.
If the Giants can bring back Brown 60% of their starting offensive line will be set with Nate Solder at left tackle, and Will Hernandez at left guard. However, there are still two glaring weakness on the line and that center and right tackle.
Center Spencer Pulley who went undrafted in the 2016 draft and right tackle Chad Wheeler who went undrafted in the 2017 draft is not the short or long-term answer. The Giants liked the opening day center Jon Halapio, but he broke his leg in Week 2 and is a free agent. Somehow and someway Dave Gettleman is going to have to find two quality starters on the offensive line to make life easier for Saquon Barkley and to whomever is the quarterback in 2019.
Host a home playoff game
If the Giants are able to address all of the above needs, then hopefully next season they’ll be able to treat their fans to something they haven’t been able to do since January 2012, and that’s host a home playoff game.
2018 marks the ninth year that MetLife Stadium has been in existence, and it’s only hosted one playoff game when the Giants defeated the Falcons 24-2 in the Wildcard round.
Despite the hard times over the last few years, Giants fans have remained loyal, and hopefully, the Giants can make the necessary upgrades to the roster to reward their fans with another home playoff game.