Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones, Eli Manning
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

Following a 5-11 season in the first year of the Pat Shurmur-Dave Gettleman regime, the New York Giants will look to restore credibility in 2019.

Jason Leach

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—As the NFL celebrates its 100th season, the New York Giants will begin season No. 95 on Sept. 8 when they take on the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

This will be the first step towards bringing back credibility to a franchise that’s had double-digit loss totals in four of the last five seasons.

General manager Dave Gettleman spent the offseason upgrading the roster, and after seeing his team show some promise throughout training camp and the preseason, head coach Pat Shurmur is confident about the outlook of his team. This remains the case, despite what some outsiders may think.

Shurmur spoke about this earlier this week.

“Two things, number one we don’t really listen to the talk outside,” Shurmur said. “We feel like we are a better team than we were a year ago, we just have to go out and perform. We know we are at the stage of our year where winning football games is what it’s all about and so that’s where we’re at.”

Shurmur and his team have had a quiet confidence about them throughout the summer and finished 4-0 in the preseason. Now, it’s time to see how they’ll perform throughout their regular-season slate. 

Offseason Recap

The Giants made two huge trades this offseason with the Cleveland Browns. First, they traded Olivier Vernon for right guard Kevin Zeitler. Then, their second trade with Cleveland shook up the NFL, as they dealt three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for safety Jabrill Peppers and two draft picks that would turn out to be defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence (No. 17 overall) and edge rusher Oshane Ximines (No. 95 overall).

Time will only tell which team got the better of these two trades.

In the wake of the Beckham departure, the Giants signed free agent receiver Golden Tate, who was having a solid training camp. However, the veteran is suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance policy.

The Giants also parted ways with another three-time Pro Bowler when they let safety Landon Collins walk in free agency.

To help bolster a defense that finished 24th in yards allowed last season, Gettleman signed three veteran free agents that have ties to James Bettcher from his time in Arizona. Big Blue inked deals with free safety Antoine Bethea, outside linebacker Markus Golden and defensive lineman Olsen Pierre.

To the surprise of everyone outside the organization, the Giants took Duke quarterback Daniel Jones with the No. 6 overall pick in the draft. Many scoffed at the selection of Jones; however, the rookie silenced some of his critics by completing 29 of 34 passes for 416 yards and two touchdowns.

5 Burning Questions

1. Will year 16 be a sweet one for Eli Manning?

Eli Manning is entering his 16th and what will likely be his final season with Big Blue. The 38-year-old holds just about every significant passing record in franchise history and will be, at some point, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But more than ever, there are questions about how much he has left in the tank.

For the first time since taking over as the starter in 2004, the Giants have a viable option behind Manning in Daniel Jones. If Manning plays well and the Giants remain in playoff contention, Manning will remain the starter. However, if he falters and the team gets off to a slow start, like in the previous two seasons, then control could be handed over to Jones quicker than expected.

Whether or not Manning can live up to John Mara’s wish of Jones not seeing the field this season is the biggest questing heading into this season.

2. Have the pass-rushing woes been fixed?

The pass rush has been an issue for the last several seasons and in 2018, it wasn’t anything special either. The Giants registered only 30 sacks which were tied for the second-fewest in the league.

The progression of Lorenzo Carter and B.J. Hill in their second season will help. The additions of edge rushers Markus Golden and rookie Oshane Ximines will additionally give the Giants a boost. But whether that’s enough for the defense to have a consistent pass rush and disrupt opposing quarterbacks remains a huge question coming into the season.

3. How much better is the offensive line?

Two of the biggest additions to the team is right guard Kevin Zeitler and right tackle Mike Remmers. With the additions of Zeitler and Remmers, along with the progression of second-year left guard Will Hernandez, this is the best offensive line the Giants have had in years. The question is, how much better is it?

In recent memory, the Giants offensive line has hovered near the bottom of the league. If they can be a top-three unit, life will be easier for Eli Manning and Saquon Barkley. If they’re still a bottom-half unit, fans will need to temper their expectations on the Giants for 2019.

4. What will Saquon do for an encore?

This is a following up to the third question as we all know the Giants offensive game plan will rest on the shoulders and quads of Saquon Barkley. Last season, Barkley set numerous franchise rookie records on his way towards winning Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Now, entering his second season and running behind a better offensive line, the sky seems to be the limit for the superstar running back. Barkley has a legit chance to win his first rushing title and a chance of rushing for 2,000 yards.

5. Do the Giants have enough playmakers at wide receiver?

With the departure of OBJ and Golden Tate serving a four-game suspension to start the season, Sterling Shepard becomes the No. 1 target for Eli Manning in the passing game. But can Shepard thrive in his new role? Can the rest of the receivers such as Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler and Russell Shepard make enough plays downfield and become a solid unit?

With the exception of Tate, none of the receivers on the roster have had 1,000-yard receiving seasons, making this a huge question mark coming into 2019.

New York Giants

X-Factors

Oshane Ximines – We start the X-Factors with the X-Man himself, who the Giants took in the third round of the most recent draft. The Giants are in desperate need for a young edge rusher who can apply a good amount of pressure. Ximines had three sacks in the preseason, but will the rookie be able to have similar success in the regular season going up against starters?

Cody Latimer – A hamstring injury limited Latimer to six games last season. However, he did have a solid outing in the season finale against the Cowboys when he had four receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown.

In training camp and in the preseason, Latimer has shown his ability to make plays down the field, but he’s also dropped a few passes. If he can be a reliable receiver that can stretch the field, he’ll be in for a breakout year.

DeAndre Baker – The Giants traded away three picks to get back into the first round to draft Baker, who was seen as the best cornerback in the draft. From the start of training camp, he was starting at the left corner opposite Janoris Jenkins.

Teams will test Baker earlier, and if he can adjust to the speed and physicality of the NFL game, he and Jenkins could be one of the best corner tandems in the NFC.

Game-By-Game Predictions

Week 1 @ Cowboys: Offensively, the Giants have gotten off to slow starts, averaging 12.6 points in the last three season openers. It will take a while for the revamped offensive line to sync together. Not to mention, the Cowboys have a dominant front seven that’ll cause problems. The Giants will come up short in the season opener. L (0-1)

Week 2 Bills:  It’s never a must-win game in Week 2, but the Giants have to avoid an 0-2 hole in their season opener and avoid the slow start that plagued them the last two seasons. The offense will make enough plays to win a low scoring game. W (1-1)

Week 3 @ Buccaneers: The Giants will pick up their first road win of the season as the defense will force a couple of turnovers and Saquon Barkley will rush for over 100 yards as the Giants will be above 500 for the first time since the 2016 season. W (2-1)

Week 4 Redskins: The Giants continue their winning ways as the defense overwhelms the Redskins offense. Additionally, the offense will have a balanced attack that will lead to a double-digit victory. W (3-1)

Week 5 Vikings: The Vikings are one of the most balanced teams in the NFC and the Giants are quite ready to beat the best in the conference despite Golden Tate making his season debut. The Vikings will put an end to the Giants winning streak. L (3-2) 

Week 6 @ Patriots: It’s always a tall task to defeat the Patriots especially on the road and on a short week. This game will be on Thursday Night Football. It’ll also be the sixth and probably final meeting between Eli Manning and Tom Brady. Ultimately, the six-time Super Bowl champ will get the better of Manning this time. L (3-3)

Week 7 Cardinals: The Cardinals might be the worst team in the league and have a putrid offensive line. The defense will make life miserable for No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray as the Giants get back to their winning ways. W (4-3)

Week 8 @ Lions: The Giants come back down to earth in Detroit as the Lions find a way to come away with a close win. L (4-4)

Week 9 Cowboys: The Giants will get revenge on their division rival on Monday Night Football as they end their five-game losing streak to the Cowboys. W (5-4)

Week 10 @ Jets:  The Giants will show that they’re still the best team that plays at MetLife Stadium as Eli Manning will outplay Sam Darnold and exploit the Jets’ weak secondary. W (6-4)

Week 11: Bye

Week [email protected] Bears: The Bears might have the best defense in the NFL and despite having a week off to prepare, the Bears defense will get the better of the Giants’ offense L (6-5)

Week 13 Packers: The combination of Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams will be too much to overcome as Big Blue gets swept by the NFC North. L (6-6)

Week 14 @Eagles: Playing in Philadelphia has been a house of horrors for the Giants as they haven’t won there since 2013. Their losing ways in Philly will continue as the Eagles come away with the victory. L (6-7)

Week 15 Dolphins: The Giants put an end to their three-game losing streak in resounding fashion as they lay a beat down on the Dolphins. Tight end Evan Engram will have one of the best games of his young career. W (7-7)

Week 16 @ Redskins: The Giants slim playoff hopes will come to an end in Washington as they suffer a heartbreaking loss. L (7-8)

Week 17 Eagles:  The Giants will end their six-game losing streak to the Eagles and finish the year at .500. Late in the 4th quarter, Shurmur will pull Manning for Daniel Jones so that Manning can get a standing ovation in his last game as a Giant. W (8-8)

NFC East Final Standings

  1. Cowboys 10-6
  2. Eagles 9-7
  3. Giants 8-8
  4. Redskins 4-12

Pro Bowl Players (4)

  • Saquon Barkley
  • Evan Engram
  • Michael Thomas
  • Aldrick Rosas

Team Awards

  • Team MVP: Saquon Barkley
  • Offensive Player of the Year: Saquon Barkley
  • Defensive Player of the Year: Lorenzo Carter
  • Offensive Rookie of the Year: Darius Slayton
  • Defensive Rookie of the Year: DeAndre Baker
  • Most Improved Player: Lorenzo Carter

ESNY Staff Picks

Ryan Honey, Editor, Giants Staff Writer

  • Final record: 7-9
  • Playoffs: N/A
  • NFC East: 3rd place
  • NFL awards: N/A
  • Team MVP: Saquon Barkley

The team will be eliminated from playoff contention after dropping to 6-8 on the season. Daniel Jones will thus start the final two games of the year, going 1-1 in those games.

Robby Sabo, Founder, Jets Columnist

1. Eagles 10-6
2. Giants 9-7
3. Cowboys 8-8
4. Redskins 4-12

Playoff result: N/A

Think about who Eli Manning is as a player, a person. Think about the scrutiny he’s played under since entering the league. Whenever the pressure becomes overwhelming and/or things become most chaotic, Manning delivers. He always produces beyond his means when it’s least expected.

Manning’s first Super Bowl season came the very campaign the Giants decided to move on from two of his best offensive weapons, Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey. Removing the headache that helped destroy a football culture did wonders. Now, with Odell Beckham Jr. gone and Daniel Jones clawing at his back, Eli Manning is in position to put forth his surprising encore.

Dave Gettleman is a football man who scouted in Buffalo for four Super Bowl teams, in Denver for two Super Bowl champions (technically one), eventually ran the scouting department for the Giants (two more Super Bowl champions) and constructed the Carolina Panthers NFC championship team several seasons ago. The man knows talent. The man knows what he’s doing. Never believe the overwhelming negativity that comes with trading away superstar power that walks around as a severe headache that’s never contributed to a winning culture.

The team finally took the first step in restoring a winning culture this past offseason. They found those long-long big-boy pants and now proudly don the material.

While this team is still building down the correct path, Eli Manning and a young, exciting defense will surprise many folks in 2019, barely missing the playoffs after a 9-7 record. Oh yeah, and the offensive line is finally legitimate. Be very careful about laughing at Gettleman, Manning and, most importantly, young Daniel Jones, who’ll eventually take over in 2020.

Gregg Cambareri, Staff Writer

1. Eagles 11-5
2. Cowboys 10-6
3. Giants 6-10
4. Redskins 5-11

Giants OMVP: Saquon Barkley. I mean, is there anything Barkley can’t do? In just one year, he established himself as one of the league’s top backs. Rushing, receiving and even throwing–Saquon can do it all. Now a team captain in his second year, the Giants will rely on the Penn State product to carry much of their offensive production. Barkley is an easy and obvious choice for Offensive MVP, and it’s something Big Blue can expect for a long time.

Giants DMVP: B.J. Hill. Hill may be one of Dave Gettleman’s best draft picks yet. The former third-round selection quietly had one of the best rookie seasons of any defensive lineman in the league, registering 5.5 sacks and showing well against the run. The Giants added a behemoth in defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence in the first round and will also expect Rocky McIntosh to contribute after a lost rookie year–this should make Hill’s life a little easier in what looks to be an improved front seven. Look for Hill to take a step forward in 2019.

Rookie of the Year: CB DeAndre Baker. A lot will be asked of Baker in year one, likely starting opposite of Janoris Jenkins at cornerback. The Georgia product was long rated as one of the best corners in last April’s draft and should have an immediate impact at the professional level.

The Giants rebuild continues, but the black cloud known as the Odell Beckham Jr. sideshow is finally in the rearview. This is a young team with tons of upside, but also plenty of unproven players. The Giants biggest questions marks will come on the edge of both sides of the ball–can Nate Solder show better than in year one? Can Mike Remmers stay healthy and solidify right tackle? The Giants offensive line is better, but still an average unit overall. Defensively, the Giants will rely on Lorenzo Carter to take a huge step forward in year two, Markus Golden to show healthy coming off a knee injury and rookie third-rounder Oshane Ximines to make an impact as pass rushers. The Giants are headed in a positive direction, but 2019 will likely have its growing pains.

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