With the start of training camp just a month away, there are several reasons to be optimistic about the New York Giants chances in 2019.
The New York Giants had one of the most interesting offseasons in the 95-year history of the NFL.
They let one of their defensive captains, Landon Collins, walk via free agency. They also made two trades with the Cleveland Browns which saw the departure of Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon, and in return, received Kevin Zeitler, Jabrill Peppers and two draft picks that would turn out to be Dexter Lawrence and Oshane Ximines.
Pat Shurmur and the rest of the coaching staff like what they saw from the new look Giants in rookie minicamp and OTAs. But it’s difficult to get a true gauge on how good the Giants might be this season until the season starts.
However, there are some factors that should give fans some optimism about the 2019 Giants heading into training camp.
The offensive line is better
General manager Dave Gettleman made it a priority to upgrade the offensive line this offseason. He did this by trading Vernon for right guard Zeitler and signing free agent right tackle Mike Remmers.
Zeitler and Remmers may have never made a Pro Bowl, but they are a huge upgrade over last year’s Week 1 starters Ereck Flowers and Patrick Omameh; Zeitler was given a pass blocking grade of 91.7 last season by Pro Football Focus, which was the highest amongst guards.
Last season, Saquon Barkley rushed for 1,307 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns behind a below average offensive line. Now with Zeitler and Remmers on the team along with left guard Will Hernandez expected to make a huge leap in year two, the Giants at minimum have an average offensive line.
The sky is the limit on what Barkley can accomplish behind this offensive line, that could pave the way to Barkley’s first rushing title.
The schedule is favorable
On paper, the Giants have a very favorable schedule as they’re tied for the 27th-easiest schedule as their opponents this upcoming season had a combined record of 120-134-2 in 2018. In addition, the Giants only play four teams that made the playoffs a season ago.
Another plus as far as the schedule is concerned is that the Giants play the AFC East a division that Eli Manning has owned throughout his career. Including his two Super Bowl victories over the New England Patriots, Manning’s record against the AFC East is 11-3.
One last scheduling benefit for the Giants is that over the last five weeks of the season: they do not travel outside of the Eastern Time Zone.
We know games are decided on the field and not on paper, but based on the schedule, fans should feel optimistic that the 2019 season will go better than the 2018 season.
The secondary will be better in coverage
In addition to the offensive line, Gettleman completely revamped the secondary as cornerback Janoris Jenkins is the only remaining starter from last season. The Giants acquired strong safety Jabrill Peppers in the Beckham trade and signed free agent free safety Antoine Bethea, who is familiar with James Bettcher’s defense from their time together with the Arizona Cardinals.
But perhaps the biggest addition to the secondary is rookie cornerback DeAndre Baker. Baker was seen by many as the best cornerback in the draft which is why the Giants traded three draft picks to get back into the first round to take the talented cornerback at of Georgia.
Throughout OTAs, Baker was starting at left corner and made some excellent plays in knocking down passes and being in the right position. If Baker can live up to being the best corner in the draft, then he and Jenkins can be the best cornerback tandem in the NFC East.
The three new additions to the secondary are better in coverage than the player they’re replacing and will help the Giants improve on their 23rd-ranked pass defense from a season ago.