New York Giants: 2020 season report card

New York Giants, Leonard Williams
Oct 18, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants defensive end Leonard Williams (99) celebrates with linebacker Tae Crowder (48) against the Washington Football Team during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants closed their season at 6-10 and second in the NFC East. Joe Judge and his team were able to get a win in the last game of the season to place the Giants a little higher than preseason expectations.

Here’s how this season affected the stock of various aspects in the Giants organization.

Stock up

Leonard Williams, DT

Many questioned Gettleman’s decision to franchise tag Leonard Williams after a 0.5 sack season five QB hits. Williams himself answered all those questions as he posted the best season of his career, raising his stock more than anyone on the team.

The former first-round pick out of USC put together a monster season with 30 QB hits, 14 tackles for loss, and 11.5 sacks. These were all career highs for Williams and an insane increase from his not so stellar performance last season. This All-Pro caliber season from the interior defender should land him a big payday this offseason where he is an unrestricted free agent.

Blake Martinez, LB

Another defender who built on his stock during the 2020 season was Blake Martinez. The newly signed linebacker from Green Bay had a terrific season where he posted 155 tackles (third in the NFL), nine tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles (career-high), and one interception. This high level of play made him the seventh graded linebacker (by Pro Football Focus) out of 89 candidates. With more help from a better second linebacker, Martinez could see a further increase in his level of play.

James Bradberry, CB

Another newly signed free agent who raised their stock was James Bradberry. The former Panther earned himself a Pro Bowl nomination through his breakout 2020 season. During this campaign, Bradberry posted 54 tackles, 18 passes defended (second in the NFL), and three interceptions. Similarly to Martinez, this high level of play made Bradberry the seventh graded cornerback (by Pro Football Focus) out of 123 candidates.

Daniel Jones, QB

On the offensive side of the ball, Daniel Jones solidified his spot as the Giants starter for at least one more year. The Giants’ offense was clearly much more effective with Jones on the field, and he himself improved his level of play greatly from his rookie campaign. He was much more careful with the ball and his throws looked to be much more accurate.

Additionally, Jones improved his rushing ability and took care of the ball better. He posted a career-high 423 rushing yards. The Duke product also decreased his fumbles to only 11 (most of which came in the first half of the season) and interceptions to 10 (many of which were not his fault). If Jones can get a better receiving threat, an improved offensive line, and Saquon Barkley back healthy, he may be looking at a breakout season next year.

Wayne Gallman, RB

Gallman came into this season unsure of a future in the NFL. Then he had to fill some of the biggest shoes in football when Saquon Barkley tore his ACL in Week two. However, he rose to the challenge and tackled these obstacles like a champ (which he is as he won a college championship at Clemson).

The fourth-year running back came out and posted career-highs in every single rushing statistic. Gallman recorded 682 rushing yards on 4.6 yards per attempt and six touchdowns. If he does not get resigned with New York, he will definitely have a spot in the NFL somewhere as a reserve back.

Coaching (Joe Judge and Patrick Graham)

Two Giants coaches who improved their stock drastically were head coach Joe Judge and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. In his first year as head coach, Joe Judge overcame multiple obstacles and had his team only one game out of making the playoffs. Expectations were low for the Giants, and with the injury of Saquon Barkley plus the opt-out by Nate Solder, the season appeared doomed. However, Judge had his troops play some inspired football throughout the season, having them in the playoff race until the very last game of the season where they needed an Eagles win, which did not happen.

As for Patrick Graham, with a limited offseason and lack of star players, it appeared that the defense was gonna be the problem for New York. However, the exact opposite was the case as the Giants’ defense was the only thing keeping them in games. The Giants were 12th in the NFL in total defense (349.3 yards allowed per game) and ninth in scoring defense (22.3 points allowed per game). This is coming off of a season where they were 25th in total defense (377.3 yards allowed per game) and 30th in scoring defense (28.2 points allowed per game). The pass rush also saw an increase as the Giants posted four more sacks this season than in 2019. If Graham can get his pass rushers (Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines) healthy and a second cornerback, this defense can become one of the best in the NFL.

Stock Down

Andrew Thomas, OT

While Andrew Thomas had a disappointingly down rookie season, he did make some progress in the second half of the campaign. He’s a solid run-blocker who underwhelmed in pass-protection, which is a factor he will need to improve significantly in 2021. The number four overall pick came in with high expectations as he was the first lineman taken off the board, but he ended up being the worst.

The former Georgia Bulldog allowed the second-most pressures in the NFL (57), the second-most QB hurries (39), and the most sacks (10). It was clear that Andrew Thomas was not ready to feature as the starting left tackle for the Giants. The opt-out by Nate Solder combined with the shortened offseason appeared detrimental to his development.

Shane Lemieux, OG

Another lineman who did not perform well for the Giants was Shane Lemieux. While the rookie out of Oregon did not have high expectations, he was thrown into a starting position midway through the season and floundered.

The rookie allowed 25 pressures, 14 QB hits, and five sacks despite only playing 205 pass-blocking snaps. This made him the lowest-graded lineman in all of football (out of those that played over 75 passing snaps) with a PFF pass-blocking grade of 16.9. The Giants should seriously look to move on from Lemieux as he is clearly not a starting-caliber player.

Evan Engram, TE

Despite making the Pro Bowl, Evan Engram did not have a great season.

The fourth-year tight end dropped a career-high nine passes, one that would have sent the Giants to the playoffs. Engram also was involved with five out of Daniel Jones’ 10 interceptions as he often dropped the ball, allowing it to be picked off by the defender. The tight end was also involved with a Daniel Jones fumble bringing his total turnovers involved with to a grand total of six, an outrageous number for a position who is supposed to have the best hands on the team.

It is clear that Engram has potential, but if he can not get more reliable hands, the Giants will need to move on from the speedster.

Golden Tate, WR

Tate seemed a step slower this season as he was not as quick after the catch and barely gained any separation from his defenders. This resulted in Tate posting the third-lowest receiving output of his career—388 yards. This was also a career-low for the veteran in yards after catch with only 82 yards. Following this season, it seems that he and the Giants will part ways as he is rarely targeted and does not seem happy with New York. The departure will likely be mutually beneficial.

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