There are questions and significance among fans and sports bettors as the Giants kick off their season Sunday against the Broncos. Quarterback Daniel Jones, offensive line and their talent at wide receiver? Giants offensive linemen have been inefficient the past two years and ranked bottom eight in pass and run blocking.
Barkley’s Week 1 Fate Uncertain
And there is the lingering question regarding Saquon Barkley. Will the running back be ready for week 1? Barkley has slowly recovered from a torn ACL after a 2019 season of 1,003 yards rushing and 413 yards receiving.
So much was missed last season. Jones could not hand the ball to Barkley and the Giants felt the impact with their running game when they had possession. The status of Barkley for Sunday is uncertain as he continues to work his way back.
“He’s no different than a lot of other guys we have right now coming off of injury that we’re going to have to see for the next three days, in terms of what they can handle by load and how we think their bodies are going to respond going into Sunday,” said head coach Joe Judge.
“We got to make the best decision for everybody’s health going into the game. Saquon no different than that, so we’re taking that lens of player safety as we go ahead and look at all these guys for the opener.”
Judge has seen the progression of his quarterback in the limited throws he had during a brief pre-season schedule of games.
“Well, I think the biggest difference, obviously, is just time in the system,” Judge said. “He’s obviously a year further in the league. We didn’t have preseason games last year. We didn’t have any kind of a spring last year. Training camp itself was just tremendously different and limited on time.”
“I think obviously the time he’s had to prepare and be with his teammates has helped him. I’ve seen a lot of growth with him throughout the offseason and it’s carried through spring, training camp and in the regular season right now in terms of being a leader.”
The Giants signed Devontae Booker to a two-year. $5.5 million contract when free agency opened, and when Barkley returns he could share the backfield and that is another interesting part of the offense that will be addressed.
Sterling Shepard in his sixth season had a good training camp. He missed 10 games the past two seasons. If healthy, Shepard will get a lot of targets and could compile touchdowns and yards. Improvement from Darius Slayton with 50 catches and 750 yards the past two seasons can also be a difference maker.
Judge said this week about Slayton, “But in terms of Slayton directly, he had a good camp for us. I don’t think he flew under the radar to us watching the tape every day. The things that he’s really improved on to me is his route-running’s really taken a step forward. That’s something I look at this year compared to last year is just his efficiency with limiting wasted movements in routes, getting off theball and playing to his speed.”
“Making tough catches, he’s done that throughout camp on a daily basis. We’ve got to keep him moving in that direction.”
Again, the question is the Giants’ offensive line and it may come down to their young players to proceed with development. The veterans could provide a bulk of where they go.
Kenny Golladay is one of the injured on the way back and a question at wide receiver after sitting out most of camp with a bad hamstring and he’s coming off a disappointing season that was hindered with hamstring and hip injuries that limited playing time to five games.
Though, the Giants are reinforced at the position if Golladay can duplicate 2018-19 years of catching 67 percent of his passes and converting eight touchdown passes with the Lions.
Evan Engram injured his calf in the final preseason game and his status is uncertain which could cause a reduction in targets. Kyle Rudolph returned last week after offseason foot surgery which leads to more questions.
As for defensive backs and the secondary? That’s a really good question of how much pass rush occurs because that was a problem last year. Dalvin Thompson, a former first round pick was acquired by the Vikings via free agency. But James Bradberry is now the top
cornerback coming off three interceptions last season and opponents will have a difficult time making the pick from the opposite corner.
Blake Martinez and Leonard Williams were solid last season on the defensive line. There are minor questions about the Giants Defense. It’s a question of how much of pass rush they will get. Williams with 11.5 sacks and got his contract extension of $63 million. Now, the question is Williams and continuing the momentum and he could become a sacks leader with that continued improvement.
Though, if you want to say where the Giants are in January? Questions are always a key now and more with a 17-game season. It comes down to Daniel Jones and the offense that has a lot of questions in a division also that could still be as determined as the NFL Least with Washington, Dallas, and the Eagles.
Look at the Giants as a six or seven win team. Then again, the questions have to be answered.