Could the Giants ‘leap’ back into playoff contention next season?

Brian Burns of Carolina chases Giants quarterback Daniel Jones in the second half as the Carolina Panthers faced the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ on October 24, 2021.  The Carolina Panthers Faced The New York Giants At Metlife Stadium In East Rutherford Nj On October 24 2021 Credit:Chris Pedota, / USA TODAY NETWORK
Credit: Chris Pedota, / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants have made strategic enhancements on both sides of the ball this offseason despite not being able to secure a top quarterback prospect. Their efforts to trade up for Drake Maye were thwarted by the New England Patriots, leading them to select Malik Nabers with the sixth overall pick.

Nabers’ addition signifies a shift in the Giants’ offensive strategy, moving from a run-heavy approach to a more modern, pass-oriented system. This transition hinges on the improvement of the offensive line, which the Giants have addressed by signing Jon Runyan to a three-year, $30 million deal and Jermaine Eluemunor to a two-year, $14 million contract, both expected to start immediately.

East Rutherford, NJ -- June 11, 2024 -- Wide receiver, Malik Nabers at the NY Giants Mandatory Minicamp at their practice facility in East Rutherford, NJ.
Credit: Chris Pedota, / USA TODAY NETWORK

Giants’ Upgrades and Expectations

The Giants’ defensive line looks particularly formidable this season with the additions of Brian Burns, who signed a five-year, $141 million deal following his trade from the Carolina Panthers, Dexter Lawrence, and Kayvon Thibodeaux.

Defensive coordinator Shane Bowen plans to leverage this trio to generate a strong pass rush, a departure from Wink Martindale’s previous strategy that relied heavily on blitz packages. This lineup is considered one of the best the Giants have assembled in recent years and should alleviate some pressure from Thibodeaux, who is eyeing to surpass Michael Strahan’s sack record after bagging 13 last season.

Offensive Line’s Crucial Role

As Jim Harbaugh famously said, the success of the offensive line is critical as they don’t rely on other players to succeed. Andrew Thomas is expected to continue his Pro Bowl-caliber performance at left tackle, with Runyan slated as a solid starting left guard. Second-year center John Michael-Schmitz is looking to make significant strides this year.

However, the right guard position remains a question mark, with Eluemunor being a potential solutation at right tackle if Evan Neal isn’t ready or doesn’t show improvement. Neal is still recovering from foot surgery, and his readiness is uncertain.

Jan 8, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Giants offensive tackle Evan Neal (73) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Jones’ Crucial Year

All eyes will be on quarterback Daniel Jones, who is coming off an ACL tear and faces a pivotal season. His performance in 2022, including a playoff win against the Minnesota Vikings, feels distant due to the injuries and inconsistencies that followed. This season may be his last chance to prove he can lead the Giants to the playoffs.

For the Giants to be considered a playoff contender, much depends on the performance of the offensive line. If they can provide Jones with the protection he needs, the team has a real shot at success. The overall improvements and strategic shifts indicate that the Giants are poised to make significant progress this season, potentially returning to the postseason as suggested by Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated.

“Now content, and signed long term to play opposite Kayvon Thibodeaux and alongside Dexter Lawrence, I’d expect a big year from Burns. Add him to what the Giants believe will be a really good rookie class, and Brian Daboll’s crew could leap right back into contention in the fall.”

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