new york giants
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

The New York Giants franchise improved both on and off the field in 2020. However, the team still has much to resolve.

Ryan Honey

Thanks to a Washington Football Team win over the Philadelphia Eagles on the final night of the regular season, the New York Giants‘ 2020 campaign has concluded. Despite heading into Week 17 still alive and pulling off a ginormous victory over Dallas, Big Blue will be golfing in January and February for the fourth consecutive year.

Sure, the team only emerged victorious in six games this season, four of which were against ballclubs in their own putrid division. Nonetheless, the improvement was existent. The players seemingly played hard for rookie head coach Joe Judge along with defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and the Giants have a lot to be proud of exiting the season.

There’s still a ton of work to be put in ahead of 2021 though. Numerous areas of the game need to be developed as the Giants will look to return to the playoffs next season.

And what are these exact areas, you ask?

1. Offensive playcalling/coaching

It’s tough to imagine the Giants firing offensive coordinator Jason Garrett after one season, but given how the unit performed in 2020, it’s not an unheard-of scenario. And the Giants might lose him to a head coaching job as well (the Chargers are interested).

Just look at each of the four major offensive categories.

  • Scoring: second-to-last with 17.5 points per game.
  • Total offense: Second-to-last with 299.6 yards per game.
  • Passing: Twenty-ninth with 189.1 yards per game.
  • Rushing: Nineteenth with 110.5 yards per game.

The Giants didn’t stand out in any offensive area and were only able to remain alive late in the season due to the defense’s multitude of strong performances. There was just one game in which Big Blue scored 30 or more points and only seven times when the team scored 20 or more points.

Not to mention, Garrett didn’t exactly do the greatest job developing Daniel Jones either. The second-year quarterback threw just 11 touchdowns after notching 24 during his rookie season and still possessed a lingering turnover issue.

Jones didn’t take many shots downfield either, mostly because Garrett wasn’t truly aggressive with those types of plays. Sterling Shepard’s yards-per-target rate this season was just 7.3. Golden Tate’s was 7.5 while Darius Slayton’s was 7.8.

The offensive line additionally wasn’t perfect for much of the year. It surely improved as the season progressed, but after Week 17 concluded, the Giants found themselves with 50 allowed sacks — tied for the second-most in the league.

Too many offensive aspects were topics of concern in 2020, and you have to wonder what Garrett’s future in East Rutherford will be like.

2. Wide receiver play

It’s evident the Giants didn’t employ a true No. 1 wide receiver this season. Neither Shepard, Slayton, or Tate was overly consistent and each individual tended to disappear some games.

The inability of the receiving corps to find significant separation on a constant basis is another factor that played a role in Jones’ slow development. There were many instances in which the young quarterback wasn’t able to hit his preferred targets, and because of that, a coverage sack occurred.

The numbers aren’t that impressive at all. Shepard only averaged 5.5 receptions and 54.7 yards per game with a 73.3% catch rate. Slayton averaged 3.1 catches and 46.9 yards per game while Tate averaged 2.9 receptions and 32.3 yards per game. Slayton and Tate’s catch rates were respectively 52.1% and 67.3%.

It all bodes the question: Will the Giants look to acquire a big-time receiver via the draft or free agency? With the No. 11 overall pick, it’s certainly possible they scoop a soon-to-be rookie in April in order to continue building around their young quarterback.

3. Utilizing a consistent pass rush

The Giants pass rush improved from 2019 and I try to avoid questioning anything Patrick Graham did with this defensive unit. For what it’s worth, the team was tied for 12th with 40 total sacks after notching 36 sacks (22nd in the league) last year. Leonard Williams was also a top-ten sack-getter with 11.5.

The team employs the necessary players to get the job done and will hopefully re-sign Williams, but there were still some games in which the pass rush was just absolutely non-existent.

After notching five sacks and 10 quarterback hits against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in Week 13, the Giants combined for two sacks and nine quarterback hits in the Week 14, 15, and 16 losses to Arizona, Cleveland, and Baltimore.

Not utilizing that pass rush on a consistent and effective basis was a huge reason as to why the team gave up significant point totals in those defeats, and that losing streak ended up becoming a notable factor in the Giants missing out on the postseason.

Further rushing of the passer would take pressure off the secondary and limit the detriments that a zone coverage could bring.

4. Tight end play

I think it’s time we address Evan Engram‘s future in East Rutherford.

From dropped passes to missed blocks, his Pro Bowl selection proves the annual event is an absolute joke. On Sunday, a perfect pass that bounced off his hands ended up in the arms of a Cowboys defender for an interception. It was the 12th pick the Giants threw all season and sixth when targeting the fourth-year tight end.

Sure, he was third among NFC tight ends in both catches (63) and yards (654), but the mistakes are so costly that it’s tough to truly look past them. His lack of skill and consistency are too severe to keep him for the long term, and I believe the Giants are better off making a switch than paying him a significant amount of money in a new contract.

NYY

NYM

NYG

NYJ

NYK

BKN

NYR

NYI

NJD

SJU