The New York Giants organization changed drastically the night of March 12th when General Manager Dave Gettleman traded away star player Odell Beckham Jr. Whether that change is positive or negative remains to be seen, the reality of the situation is that it’s simply too early to come to any rational conclusion.
The claims suggesting the Giants will be in a worse position after trading Beckham are premature considering we are still 6 months away from watching the 2019 Giants hit the field on Sunday.
One could argue that the Giants offense will be just fine without Beckham considering that the offense performed better in the four games he missed due to a season-ending quad injury. Despite an abysmal shutout to the Titans in week 15, the Giants still managed to average 26.4ppg. That production came out to over a 4 point increase from their 22.2ppg when Beckham was in the lineup. Erasing the outlier in week 15, the Giants averaged a total of 33ppg in the 4 other games they played without Odell to end the season.
It has been proven time and time again that a star receiver is not a necessity to a championship roster. What’s more important is to distribute that wealth among a variety of solid NFL players, modeling the New England Patriots.
A Look At What’s Left:
For starters, there’s All-Pro running back sensation Saquon Barkley, who is now considered the face of the franchise with Beckham’s absence. There is not much else that needs to be said about the Rookie of the Year and Ground player of the Year… The Giants landed an absolute stud. Now let’s consider the following:
Love it or hate it, what is often forgot about the offense is that former GM Jerry Reese prioritized drafting skill position players during his tenure. Electric tight end Evan Engram (‘17 Rd1) and receiver Sterling Shepard (‘16 Rd2) have both shown tremendous upside while wearing blue. When healthy, Evan Engram is a top tight end in the NFL. For the 2018 season, his grade of 76.5 was the third highest on the offense. Trailing only Odell Beckham (90) and Saquon Barkley (85.9), according to Pro Football Focus.
Engram would have graded much higher had the season been split in two. From weeks 1-8, while plagued with all sorts of injury, Engram’s average PFF grade was a 54.8. After the bye week, a healthier Engram performed at an elite level, earning a 91.7 overall grade for his performance during weeks 9-17.
As for Shepard, he finished 5th on the offense with a PFF grade of 67.3. Aside from his receiving, it is also his effort in blocking which makes him a valuable piece to the offense. Check out his key blocks against the Redskins when the Giants cruised to a 40-17 win in week 14:
The Addition of Golden Tate:
After letting the dust settle the first day of free agency, the Giants made their splash signing established wide receiver Golden Tate to a four-year deal, worth up to $37.5 million with $23 million guaranteed. Tate, who essentially played on a half-season rental for the Eagles, played his previous four seasons with the Detroit Lions. In Detroit, he was a force to be reckoned with tallying over 90 catches in each of those years. Tate finished the 2018 season with 74 catches and 4 touchdowns. While playing in two separate offenses, Tate earned a respectable 71.1 PFF grade.
No wide receiver has accumulated more yards after the catch (1,672) than Tate over the past three seasons, making it obvious why he is widely recognized as the #YACKing.
The Kevin Zeitler Trade:
In perhaps the most successful move of the offseason, the Giants acquired premier right guard Kevin Zeitler from the Cleveland Browns in exchange for edge rusher Olivier Vernon. With trades trending upward in the NFL, this certainly qualified as a win-win for both the Browns and the Giants. The Giants, whom everyone assumed would cut Vernon, got exceptional value from him in Zeitler. The right Guard graded out as PFF’s #1 pass protecting guard in the NFL with a 91.7.
For reference, guards Patrick Omameh and Jamon Brown allowed a combined 39 pressures in only 14 games last year. Zeitler allowed just 11 pressures through 16 starts.
Zeitler brings stability to an offensive line that was already greatly improved from years prior. GM Dave Gettleman has made countless promises to revamp the offensive line, and bringing in an elite guard like Zeitler does just that.
While the jury is still out on whether or not the New York Giants need Odell Beckham Jr, it’s more important to understand that the offense is only going to go as far as the offensive line takes them. We have seen over the years that it is not so much the players around Eli, but the ones who protect him that dictate which version of “Eli” we are going to see on a game to game basis.
While a young quarterback is ultimately in the works, the Giants have put themselves in position to have a very respectable supporting cast for whoever is under center in the future.