With the 2022 draft in the books, we have now have just a little more clarity on what the Giants might look like this fall. Indeed, we’ve had a number of correspondents contact us this week asking how many wins we think the Giants might be good for next fall. Our simple answer is that we don’t know. That’s why they play the games!
However, we can say with some certainty that while we aren’t about to be ordering Super Bowl tickets any time soon, we are almost assuredly a little more optimistic than most about the Giants chances in 2022. In many ways it all depends on where you start. If you start at 4-13 you’d in fact have to be thinking that things are still pretty bleak. But starting at 4-13 is almost a little disingenuous. Fact is those final six games were almost meaningless.
Bottom line is that this is a passing league and if you end up starting Jerome the Giraffe and Rusty the Rooster at QB, arguably the most impactful position in all of sports, you got no chance. And the numbers bear that out. In those final 6 games QBs Glennon and Fromm completed fewer than 50% of their pass attempts, had only 4 TD passes against 11 picks and finished with a QB rating barely over 50. Indeed, one can make a pretty good case that the Giants were very capable of winning maybe 3-4 of those four final games with any kind of decent QBing.
In fact, the Giants season was effectively over in the 11th week when Daniel Jones was injured. And people tend to forget where the Giants were at that point. They were 4-7 (and probably should have been 5-6 as a result of that bizarre last play loss in Washington) thru the toughest part of the schedule and had people at least thinking of a possible late playoff run with the easiest part of the schedule coming up. But then came the Jerome and Rusty show.
As I said, no one is going to suggest that the Giants could be in the conference championship mix as early as next fall. But there are certainly are some opportunities for real improvement this coming season. Let’s start with the defense which wasn’t all that bad last fall, it’s just they couldn’t rush the passer, especially when it mattered. But in getting Kayvon Thibodeaux, who we argued prior to the draft was the one guy in this year’s draft who had the potential to emerge as a transformational type player, the Giants landed a guy with the potential to change the face of the pass rush.
Add in that new defensive co-ordinator Wink Martindale who comes to the Giants with the mantra “meet you at the QB!” is just not going to sit back in a soft read and react zone and let opposing passers complete 70-plus per cent of their throws week in and week out all in the name of not giving up the big play.
Meanwhile, it says here that the key to the upcoming season is getting the Giants’ skill position people healthy and playing close to their potential. Of course, that was the plan last year when the Giants signed Kenny Golladay in free agency, took Kadarius Toney with the #1 pick in the 2021 draft, and had high hopes that Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepherd would be 100% again. But it never materialized as they almost never had a quorum of those guys and Jones ended up throwing to a street-free agent receiver corps for a second straight year.
Of course, the elephant in the room is whether Jones can take advantage if he in fact has an NFL calibre receiving corps. Again, its why they play the games, but we think Jones will be perfectly fine if he has some actual weapons with which to work. That’s hardly a given, though, and we have had more than one correspondent ask us something along the lines of ‘give me some evidence’ that Jones can indeed be a solid NFL QB. OK, so how about we start with the fact that, at least from a purely statistical perspective, Jones has been a more efficient passer than Eli was at the same point in their respective careers.
And yes I know ‘cue the cries of heresy’ but stats just don’t lie. The Giants did win more games in Eli’s first three years, although they also clearly had a much better team. We are also talking slightly different eras, but in his third year in the NFL in 2006, Eli completed 58% of his passes versus 64% for Jones last year; Eli had 24 TD passes against 18 picks; prorated over the year Jones had 20 TD throws but only 14 picks. Eli threw for 203 yards per game; Jones 221; Eli averaged 6.2 per throw, Jones 6.8. Finally that year Eli had a QB rating of 77, Jones 85. And remember, Eli was working with a receiver corps that included Plaxico, Amani Toomer, Jeremy Shockey and Tiki Barber. In fact, it still kind of perplexes me that a fan base that will contort itself to excuse almost any Eli fault, won’t give Jones an inch for almost the same issues.
The dilemma for the Giants next season, though, would arise if the team goes out and wins 8-9 games in 2022 and Jones is good but still isn’t at the level of the other really good young QBs around the league like Mahomes, Herbert, Allen because they are the guys you are going to have to beat to compete for a championship. But as we noted above, that’s why they play the games, as we figure the Giants themselves really want to wait and see what Jones can do with a decent team around him. Indeed, I recall an old-time baseball G.M. saying that the ‘only thing worse than hanging onto a guy too long is giving up on a guy too early!’
In fact, our biggest concern right now regarding Jones is his durability. It is our understanding, for example, that the primary reason that the Giants didn’t pick up Jones 5th year option – and very likely the same reason they signed Tyrod Taylor as insurance at the position – is that they really don’t know for sure where he is health-wise. Neck injuries are tricky things and while Jones is allowed to work out, its not clear even 6 months after the injury that he has actually been cleared for contact. And until he actually takes a hit or two the Giants won’t know whether he’ll actually be able to stand up to the pounding a QB naturally takes in the NFL. However, it was interesting to note that while the Giants didn’t pick up Jones’ option, they also didn’t take a QB at the 2022 draft despite several chances to take one of this year’s top guys.
But as we said, it’s why they play the games. And when the games do start in the fall, the Giants still have plenty of areas to fret over going forward. On the one hand, they still don’t have a true, #1 game-breaking receiver as does just about every other contending team in the league. At the same time, they are very thin in the secondary, a situation that could be magnified if CB James Bradberry is ultimately released as a salary cap measure, although he is still on the team. Indeed, we are a little surprised that the Giants didn’t use any of their late round picks this year adding some depth at either safety or corner if not both. In fact, if there is a potential Achilles heel for this team it would appear to be lack of depth pretty much right across the board, but especially in the secondary, at WR and along the defensive front.
See you in September!!