New York Giants: This Free Agent Linebacker Could Be a Perfect Fit on Defense

The New York Giants have one of the league’s worst defenses. They went from bad to worse in the offseason. After an abysmal 2018, the Giants let their best pass rusher and their best safety go in the offseason. These moves left even more holes on the Giants’ defense.

Prior to these moves, the Giants were already weak at a number of defensive positions. One of those weak positions is at linebacker. The Giants will need to upgrade this position sooner than later, whether that be through the draft or through free agency.

Free agency started about two weeks ago, so the market has really thinned out. However, there is still at least one quality linebacker available for the Giants to consider. That linebacker is former Washington Redskin, Zach Brown.

What Zach Brown Could Bring To The Giants:

At 29 years old, Zach Brown could bring a nice veteran presence to the Giants’ locker room. The Giants already have Alec Ogletree for that, but Brown and Ogletree could be a great duo of defensive captains. Brown has also performed better than Ogletree as a player, too.

Zach Brown struggled through an injury in 2018 but still played top-notch football. He totaled 96 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and 10 tackles for loss. Despite playing with an injury, Brown played all 16 games for the Redskins. He did only start in 12, but he played in all 16. Pro Football Focus graded Zach Brown as the 3rd best linebacker in the NFL in 2018 with an overall grade of 89.2.

Brown has been an impact player for the past 3 seasons. He has totaled over 10 tackles for loss in each of the last 3 seasons and in 2017 and 2016 he had incredible combined tackle totals. In 2016, playing for the Buffalo Bills, Brown racked up a huge 149 tackles as he was selected to the Pro Bowl. That tackle number was 2nd highest in the league in 2016.

In 2017, Brown put up another solid season. He had 127 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks with the Washington Redskins. On top of this, Brown was solid in pass defense in 2018. According to Pro Football Focus, Brown was one of only six linebackers to play at least 350 coverage snaps and not allow a single touchdown in coverage.

If the Giants sign Zach Brown, they will be getting a highly productive and very consistent linebacker to man the middle of their defense.

Possibility of Nick Foles To New York Giants Scared The Philadelphia Eagles

New York Giants, Eli Manning

Should the New York Giants have made more of a run to bring in Eagles quarterback Nick Foles? Foles is now with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but was the top quarterback of this year’s free agency after the Eagles decided not to use the franchise tag to keep Foles in Philadelphia. With the Jaguars trading Blake Bortles away, it looks like at least one team has the faith in Foles to be a starting caliber player.

It also looks like the Eagles thought highly of the player, even though they decided to stick with their main man, Carson Wentz, instead of keeping Foles around for another year as an expensive backup. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said that much himself, this week at the NFL owner’s meetings.

“We were also, to be honest about it, hoping that he would not end up with the Giants or the Redskins,” Lurie said about Foles. Both teams are said to be quarterback needy, but neither one has found their man just yet.

The Giants are sticking with Eli Manning this season and could potentially draft Manning’s successor as soon as this year, while the Redskins have been mentioned by many as a team that could trade up past the Giants to make sure that they get the player they want.

Other teams trading up, and whether or not to spend their draft pick on a quarterback, is not something the Giants would have to worry about if they had made a move for a free agent player.

But it’s too late to change the decision after it was already made, whether or nor allowing the Jaguars to sign Foles was the right or the wrong move. Eli Manning is the Giants’ quarterback this season. Whether or nor the team makes moves for the future during this offseason or waits, though, is up for debate.

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley Once Again Proves Why He’s a True Leader

When it comes to justifying the seemingly earned losing record of the New York Giants in recent years, it always comes back to Eli Manning and his abilities. Never the defense, offensive line, or coaching that is called into question immediately, it’s always Manning and his deficiencies.

New York Giants: It’s far more than just Eli Manning

If you’ve ever seen Eli play football you know that he needs a stout offensive line and a balanced array of weapons to function at a high level. Former general manager Jerry Reese found every which way to put him in a position to fail – whether it be a bad offensive line, an unstable defense, or locker room madness. The questionable decisions were a direct influence on the Giants’ veteran signal caller.

Most resort to blaming Manning when asked about the team’s recent failures, but star running back Saquon Barkley knows that’s not the case.

“Yeah, it bothers me. I’m not going to lie because it’s not his fault,” Barkley says “He’s not the reason why [we’ve struggled]. We love to put the blame on one person, but it takes 11 men, a team and an organization all together to win.”

General manager Dave Gettleman went as far to say that Manning had a heck of a year in 2018, and while most would look at the garbage time stats and Barkley dump-offs, the stats don’t lie – not to mention the offensive line struggled once again.

How did Manning perform?

Manning targetted his new favorite weapon in Barkley 121 times, 91 of which were caught, tallying 721 receiving yards in addition to four scores. Earning Rookie of the Year accolades, Barkley helped Manning secure a career-best 66% completion percentage.

While you could make the argument that throwing five-yard screen passes shouldn’t indicate a spike in performance in regard to Manning, it certainly can’t be considered a dozy either. After all, Tom Brady completes most of his passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, as the offense he operates is designed to work in that fashion – I don’t see anybody complaining about Brady’s completion percentage.

Yes, it’s certainly a stretch to compare the two, but the point here is that short passes can be equally as effective if your receivers are catching them.

“Eli is still a quality NFL quarterback,” Gettleman told NFL Network. ” It wears me out, it really does. Obviously, he’s 38 years old. … Anyhow, the bottom line is yes have to address it. It’s reality. So when the time is right we will.”

The Giants will likely find a successor for Manning in the near future, whether it be Josh Rosen or a drafted quarterback, but the one constant in his process will be Saquon Barkley, a true leader at the ripe age of 22 years old. There’s no time for blaming teammates at the expense of locker room feuds, and Barkley knows how to avoid these confrontations. Every player must be responsible for their own actions, and coming together in pressing times requires strength and leadership, both of which Barkley posses.

 

New York Giants: Evan Engram Primed For Big Year After OBJ Departure

If there’s any single player that will benefit from the departure of Odell Beckham Jr., it’s New York Giants pass-catching tight end Evan Engram. The third-year player is primed for a breakout season, considering he will be a more prominent piece in the passing game.

In 2017, Engram recorded 722 yards and six scores after Beckham broke his ankle against the San Diego Chargers. The undersized tight end showed where his value resided, giving the Giants an opportunity to extract his potential. While his blocking abilities aren’t as strong as Scott Simonson or Rhett Ellison’s, he is the most deadly with the ball in his hands.

Why trading Odell Beckham Jr. is good for Evan Engram:

When Beckham was on the field, nearly every player saw their totals drop significantly, as he rightfully attracted a lot of attention. The ball needed to be in his hands, or so most thought.

To put things into perspective, Engram averaged a mere 36.7 yards per game receiving when Beckham was on the field. In the final four games where the star receiver was injured, he averaged an astounding 80 yards per game – more than double. His yards per reception with OBJ present was 13.58, and without, 16.43.

Everything about Engram’s game was elevated the second the offense was opened up to the bigger picture. When utilizing the tight end effectively, the Giants put up a massive amount of points. In week 14, Big Blue had their most productive game – scoring 40 points without Beckham as they utilized Engram on three catches for 77 yards. Additionally, Saquon Barkley ran for 170 yards and a score on just 14 carries.

While I’m not trying to take away anything from OBJ, as he’s an incredibly influential player, we shouldn’t be worried about the efficiency of the offense. With an upgraded offensive line, the entire unit should be more productive.

Head coach Pat Shurmur commented on Engram’s impact in 2018:

“He had production when he was in there, but then he got hurt a few times,” Shurmur said at the NFL Annual Meeting. “By the end he was feeling good, running well and playing well. That is a function of Evan doing his thing.”

When factoring out Engram’s usefulness as a receiver, he becomes an average tight end at best. The knock on him is his blocking, but Shurmur is convinced that he’s not as bad as most think.

“I think he can block better than you do,” Shurmur told skeptics. “I think his whole game improved when he became healthy. He is a willing blocker.”

I do agree that Evan is a far better player when healthy, an easy assumption to make. He’s more than capable of playing at a high level, but eliminating dropped balls and further developing his ability to block will be a priority moving forward.

 

 

New York Giants Could Snag Top Interior Defensive Lineman With 1st Round Pick

The New York Giants could go after Ed Oliver in the 2019 NFL draft.

The New York Giants will have an opportunity to grab a top option with the No. 6 pick, and there’s one player that I have in mind that could make a significant impact on the defense.

Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver is the prospect with the ability to slip to No. 17, but why? Some have Oliver mocked in the first 10 picks of the draft while others have him falling to the middle of the round. An altercation with coaches during a game in 2018 put his character in question, but it seemed to be more fueled by his desire to play and compete.

Oliver is a top defensive tackle in the upcoming draft, behind Alabama star Quinnen Williams. The Houston product enjoyed a stock-raising Pro Day, running a 4.71 40-yard dash at 287-pounds. That’s absurd for a player of that size.

As a prospect trying to prove his worth, Oliver offers elite athleticism and speed coming from the interior. His ability to push the offensive line and act as a pass-rusher while dominating in the run game offers the Giants more value than a pass-rusher…why? Because the Giants’ defense is built around the 3-4 concept, where three down lineman are used to take up space as the linebackers fill in the gaps and rush the passer.

Oliver is the perfect fit for a defense of this nature, and he would be a fantastic selection if available at No. 17. The chances seem unlikely that he will drop this far, which could indicate a higher selection – he would be a solid pick at 6 as well.

His cons:

Despite his observed athleticism, Oliver has various flaws that will need to be addressed at the next level. His inability to fight through double teams and maul his way to the quarterback will pose issues. He was reported at playing under 280-pounds last season, which will not be ideal at the NFL level given the size differences. Oliver favors his speed and initial burst to beat an offensive lineman, but his moves inside are rather predictable. Additionally, he lacks the length that most coaches desire in a defensive tackle.

While these cons certainly raise a few red flags, there are ways to develop beyond them and methods to masking these deficiencies.