It’s not necessarily unanimous, but there does seem to be a solid consensus out there, both among the fans and media, that 6-7 wins this season is pretty much the ceiling for the Giants this coming season. Here’s an example from the NY press from this weekend. Call me a cockeyed optimist if you want, but my sense is that that 6-7 range is more the starting point for the team this fall.
Again, I’m not necessarily predicting anything here; predicting is more for gypsies, but I believe there is a tendency to misinterpret where the Giants are at. In particular, in the final 11 games of 2020 and the first 11 games of the 2021 season prior to Daniel Jones’ injury – a 22 game stretch – the Giants were 10-12 (and would have been 11-11 were it not for that Dex Lawrence offside cost them a W in Washington last fall). Again, I’m not sure what that all means but it sounds like overall a reasonable sample of games the Giants were flirting with .500. Again, that’s not where they want to be, but it also isn’t terrible an suggests to me that they were actually getting better.
Same thing for just last year. The Giants were 4-7 through the toughest part of schedule when Jones was injured. Again, nothing is ever for sure, but at the time they were very much on pace to finish with 6-7 wins against one of the tougher schedules in the NFL, with their skill position players sidelined most of the year with injuries, with a patchwork offensive line, and without much of anything in the way of a consistent pass rush. Oh, and did we mention that the coaching was also kind of feckless.
So I’m just not sure why people would suggest that 6-7 this year is some sort of ceiling when the Giants will face one of the easier schedules in the league, (hopefully) will have all, or at least parts of their skill position unit healthy, will have a much improved offensive line, will have for the first time in literally a decade the makings of a decent pass rush, and appear to have a much more aggressive coaching staff.
Actually I do know why people would think that. The last thing folks remember about the 2021 Giants season is the 6-game losing streak with the dynamic Glennon/Fromm duo at QB after Jones was injured when the Giants were in fact, awful, terrible, putrid – feel free to fill in any apt word of your own – but that’s all largely irrelevant as both Glennon and Fromm are gone and they ain’t coming back. Bottom line is that any legit analysis of the Giants’ prospects for this year has to start at 4-7. Otherwise you’re just fooling yourself to make yourself feel miserable.
As a former player and coach, like players and coaches, we tend to ask the question what are our strengths; how are we going to win games rather than focusing endlessly and ‘holes’ in the roster. Of course, the Giants still have their share of issues, but they also have some strengths. As noted above with Leo Williams, Dex Lawrence, Az Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux the Giants have a potentially disruptive pass rush which combined with new DC Wink Martindale’s attacking schemes means opposing QBs aren’t necessarily going to be able to sit back in the pocket and literally play catch with their receivers.
At the same time, the oft-maligned offensive line is going to be better. While most of the attention through camp has been on rookie RT Evan Neal, we’ve been really impressed with LT Andrew Thomas who has looked all the part of a shut-down tackle; what you see watching Thomas is terrific feet, balance and arm extension. At the same time, veteran interior additions Feliciano and Glowinski impress with their awareness and range. LG is still somewhat unsettled, but the Giants have several potentially useful bodies there; besides LGs don’t win or lose games.
And we have said it before and we will say it again, but the key to the Giants season will be getting some legit productivity from their skilled position people. The talent is there, but can they stay healthy and contribute.
On the other hand, the Giants do clearly have some issues in their defensive back seven. In particular, can Aaron Robinson hold up replacing James Bradberry on the corner. Time will tell, but if he can’t there are adjustments that Martindale can make to at least give him some help. It is also going to be interesting to see how Martindale handles the ILB situation now that veteran Blake Martinez has been released. While that move looks like a big deal, but the fact is that it appeared that Martinez was only going to be a one-down LB in the current configuration.
Of course, the Giants are also really thin at TE, but here’s the thing. There is no rule in the NFL that you have to actually use a TE. In fact, very few college teams use a TE much, while the position is pretty much extinct in the Canadian league. Need blocking in short yardage situations, bring in your reserve linemen.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Giants’ preview without some mention of embattled QB Daniel Jones. Again, time will tell, but I remain hopeful that he evolves into a solid NFL starting QB. He has all the tools – size, arm talent, athleticism and work ethic – and, like the Giants. I just would like to see what he can do in a moderately functional NFL offense. And whether this is his last year or not may ultimately come down to whether GM Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll and company are comfortable with him running their offense down the road.
Of course, we can hear the screams that he’s ‘terrible’ and what’s he ever done already. In fact, it doesn’t matter what he has or hasn’t done in the past. What matters is what he is able to accomplish this season. And for those looking for something to hang their hat on: a little trivia. Who’s got the higher career QB rating: Jones or Eli Manning. And here’s a hint: it’s the guy with the single digit number! It isn’t my goal to start an argument as to who is better (my understanding they break out on their own in Giants’ land!), but it is hard to be both terrible AND have a higher career QBR than Eli.
Bottom line, though, is that I have no idea how this season is going to play out. But I lived through the 1970s and then the 1990s and I know these things end. And you can get from the piece that I think the Giants are generally a better team heading into the 2022 season than most people give them credit for and that I, for one, will be more than a little disappointed if they only win 7 games this fall. But you still have to do it on the field and I can guarantee that I will be on pins and needles Sunday afternoon when we kick the season off in Tennessee.