With the New York Giants resting and self-evaluating on their much-needed bye week, let’s take a look at what this team needs most to return to contention.
Here are the top need for the New York Giants on both sides of the ball:
1. Left Tackle
Not only is Nate Solder currently injured, but he’s continued to look like a mediocre tackle since joining the team in 2018. With Daniel Jones struggling with ball-security and pocket awareness, protecting his blindside should be the #1 priority of the offseason. Even if the team plans to bring Solder back, they need to plan on upgrading the left tackle position. That would leave him either giving right tackle a shot or on the sidelines as a reserve offensive lineman. The team will need to at least attempt to upgrade the left tackle position, whether Solder is on the team or not.
2. Right Tackle
Usually, the left tackle is considered the blindside blocker, but the way Daniel is playing, both tackles are on the blindside. Daniel Jones has fumbled 13 times in 8 games. His eyes remain downfield for nearly the duration of every play, not exactly a typical habit for quarterbacks. If Daniel Jones does not grow out of his bad habits in the pocket, he will need a fantastic offensive line to hide those significant flaws. It’s also fair to wonder how long Daniel Jones could play this way without being sidelined due to injuries. Once a team drafts their quarterback of the future, it is imperative to protect him with adequate NFL tackles. The Giants do not currently have a suitable tackle on either side of the formation in Nate Solder or Mike Remmers.
Janoris Jenkins, DeAndre Baker, and Grant Haley were among the league’s worst cornerback groups in weeks 1-8 of the 2019 season. Jenkins’ play was spotty but decent, while the other two were torched in almost every game with ease.
Overall, Jenkins has been targeted 59 times allowing 32 receptions for 419 yards and three touchdowns. Baker has flashed here and there, covering Chris Godwin well in particular, but unreliable overall. He’s been targeted 53 times allowing 37 passes completed for 572 yards and four touchdowns. Grant Haley earned his playing-time through his tackling skills, which are a questionable trait to prioritize when he struggles mightily in coverage.
Haley has only allowed one touchdown, but giving up 28 receptions on 34 targets is too easy for quarterbacks. That’s over 80% of passes completed in his coverage. While Jenkins and Baker have struggled, Baker is allowing a 69% completion rate, and Jenkins’ currently stands at 54%. It’s hard to say this team has a single reliable option at cornerback going into the offseason.
4. Inside Linebacker
When the best linebacker on the team is a 5th round rookie who was expected to be a special teams contributor, there are serious problems. Alec Ogletree is the best available linebacker with Ryan Connelly injured, but he still isn’t finding his groove in New York. Once considered an athletic and rangy linebacker, he continues to get roasted in pass defense, and he is inconsistent against the run. The team sent BJ Goodson packing, apparently preferring guys off the street like David Mayo or James Bettcher’s former inside linebacker from Arizona, Deone Bucannon. In 4 out of 7 games without Ryan Connelly in the lineup, a member of the secondary has led the team in tackles. This unit needs two new starters going into 2020, planning for Connelly to be one of them on opening day wouldn’t be smart. Connelly’s ACL recovery could last into October or November.
5. Right Pass-Rusher
With Lorenzo Carter experiencing highs and lows as a pass rusher, he’s not a defender the team should rely on going forward. One week he’s forcing Tyron Smith to hold him, and the next week, he’s getting handled by Chuma Edoga, a rookie left tackle who was questioned for his work ethic entering the draft. He currently has 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble but disappears in too many games to rely on him. Oshane Ximines is ahead of him in terms of technique, and both are talented enough to be on the 53 man roster, but this team needs a new starter on the edge. Neither has shown any ability in run defense.
Last year the team signed Spencer Pulley to a three-year-deal and praised Jon Halapio as a starting-caliber center. Unfortunately, the team has received little impact from either player heading into their week 11 bye. It’s fair to ask if Saquon Barkley has been operating at 100% since returning, but he’s getting absolutely no push up front to work with. With Kevin Zeitler and Will Hernandez being the team’s best linemen, the issues in the middle have come from Jon Halapio and Spencer Pulley. Usually, quarterbacks see pressure coming up the middle, but Daniel Jones’ reckless abandon for his body and health brings a very high standard for offensive line play.
7. Left Pass-Rusher
There’s nearly just as much of a need for pass-rushing help on the left side, but Markus Golden has been a bright spot. He hasn’t made an impact in each game, but 6.5 sacks are enough of an effect through 10 weeks to return as a rotational piece in 2020. Markus Golden might not be a preferred starter, but he is serviceable. His contract was only a 1-year deal if he plays elsewhere in 2020, the team would be in serious trouble at both edge spots. With no depth behind Golden, to begin with, a left pass-rusher is a need regardless of where Golden plays in 2020.
8. Free Safety
Jabrill Peppers has been a pleasant surprise at the safety position, but he’s more like a rangier Landon Collins than a center-field ballhawk. He almost exclusively lines up in the box, leaving a significant need for a conventional free safety going forward. For the time being, Antoine Bethea is offering what he has left in the tank paired with Jabrill Peppers, but he doesn’t have much to offer. Michael Thomas is an adequate option on the backend of a roster but not someone who should be penciled in as a starter.
9. Wide Receiver
Golden Tate has proven to be an adequate pass-catching option, but the team has little depth behind him. Sterling Shepard is arguably the best wide receiver the New York Giants have but could be considering retirement after the 2nd concussion in 2019. Darius Slayton is currently the #2 wide receiver and just torched the Jets for over 120 yards and two touchdowns, but he’s shown typical rookie ups and downs. Behind Slayton, the team has Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler, who are replacement-level wide receivers.
Any receiver on this roster has definite limitations. Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard are primarily slot receivers with limited explosiveness on the perimeter. Darius Slayton has shown some ability underneath but is best used down the field. Adding a ”do it all” wide receiver would greatly help Daniel Jones. As it stands, the Giants wide receivers are among the leagues worst in terms of separation.
Aldrick Rosas had a promising start to his career, but he’s missed three extra points in the last three weeks. He might be granted a longer leash in a lost season to prove it’s just a slump. However, signing a proven veteran with a large body of work would be the safe option for the 2020 season.
Why wasn’t a Pass-Rusher at the top of the list?
While there’s no denying this team needs an edge rusher badly, that hasn’t been the most considerable concern. Currently, the team doesn’t have a single adequate option at inside linebacker or cornerback, depending on how you feel about the roller-coaster ride of Janoris Jenkins.
The New York Giants also need to worry about keeping Daniel Jones up-right and protecting the football. This will require much better offensive tackles than what’s currently available to the young quarterback. His development is what’s most important right now. Nate Solder and Mike Remmers haven’t been very helpful so far.