One of the more shocking declines in the NFL saw the Giants sink to an afterthought in the NFC East between 2012-2015, after becoming Super Bowl champions in 2011. Tom Coughlin guided the franchise to a pair of amazing championship wins, but couldn’t right the ship towards the end of his tenure.
Last year, Ben McAdoo was installed as head coach, mostly because of his ability to coordinate explosive offensive units. Ironically, it was the brand new, $200 million defense that lead to a 11-5 record, along with a disappointing wild card loss at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. The defense returns strong as ever, and the offense could end up surprising the league, giving the Giants legitimate odds to make noise during the 2017-18 NFL campaign. Are they a good Super Bowl futures shout? It’s definitely not out of the question, but a lot of things have to go right for the Giants to win their third Super Bowl in less than a decade.
Offense Needs A Bounce Back Season
There aren’t too many years left for QB Eli Manning, who will eventually hang up his cleats like brother Payton. Similar to Payton, Eli’s lead-footed pace will only worsen over the next few years, requiring extraordinary competence from his offensive line.
Good thing he has Odell Beckham Jr. on his list of targets. Odell continues to be one of the most exciting wide receivers in the NFL, creating opportunities out of fractions of space and time. Odell should enjoy a bit more breathing room this year after New York acquired Brandon Marshall, who provides the type of big target that Manning has missed since Plaxico Burress left the Giants. Adding speedy tight end Evan Engram through a first-round pick should also relieve a bit of the workload for Beckham. Running back Paul Perkins will be expected to be an improvement over the faded Rashad Jennings, forcing opponents to respect the run.
Ultimately, it’s the performance of the offensive line that will determine just how much the offense improves. Last year was forgettable. This year, the O-line needs to at least protect Eli long enough to let their impressive set of receivers gain space downfield. Opening holes for Perkins to zip through would be a bonus, although his speed will likely end up determining whether the run will work for or against the Giants in 2017.
Defense Will Remain Solid
Not much changed for the defense during the offseason, with the exception of Johnathan Hankins defecting to the Indianapolis Colts. His replacement to begin the season will be Dalvin Tomlinson, who was the Giants second-round draft pick. Tomlinson accrued an impressive 122 tackles during his time with the Alabama Crimson Tide program, and could end up being an upgrade at the position.
The Giants face a lack of depth on defense, the main weakness of an otherwise sound unit. Last year they survived another Jason Pierre-Paul injury before getting picked apart in the playoffs. If the Giants somehow manage to enjoy another healthy season, they should be assured a playoff spot, even if the offense doesn’t improve.
Special Teams Could Use A Kick
For some inexplicable reason, the Giants decided to recruit a kicker who has never participated in an NFL game. Josh Brown obviously had to go, and management didn’t bother to retain vet Robbie Gould. Mercifully, punter Brad Wing showed an uncanny ability to render his kicks with the sort of arc and location that made returns next to impossible. Wing’s punting ability allowed the Giants coverage squad to avoid strenuous effort for most of the season, and certainly contributed to the slew of close wins the Giants squeaked out in 2016.
Returner Dwayne Harris will be given a chance to raise his game to the next level, although the Giants do have intriguing options if they need a bit more of a punch on kick returns. Odell Beckham Jr. was their best returner when called upon, but New York will want to protect him from absorbing too much damage throughout the year. If healthy, Shane Vereen could also provide another fast option as a multifaceted running back and kick returner.
Bovada have pegged the Giants at -115 to win over nine games this season. Take that bet and expect the G-Men to qualify for the playoffs again in 2017.