The start of the New York Giants training camp is a time when most fans find a reason to be optimistic about the upcoming season for the football team they dedicate 17+ weeks to. It’s also necessary to pause and provide some introspection on the team and address some of the mainstream storylines that have circulated across the Giants message boards and Twitter. Below are my thoughts at we conclude the first two weeks of training camp.
- The Giants desperately need Lorenzo Carter to take a major leap. The Giants linebacking unit may be the worst in the league. Carter was their best cover linebacker last year and is the only player I trust to not be a liability on third down. It wouldn’t surprise me if B.J. Goodson and Alec Ogletree’s playing time was reduced in passing situations, both struggled in coverage last season. Carter might even be more valuable to the Giants playing out in space as he is rushing the passer.
- The defense will likely stink again this season. The Giants had the 24th ranked defense by DVOA last year and is unlikely to improve this year. The Giants don’t have anyone on the roster that proved they could consistently rush the passer last season, their linebackers will struggle to defend the run and the pass and they don’t have any corners that played well in coverage last year. Furthermore, the Giants will be relying on a lot of young players (B.J. Hill, Carter, Dexter Lawrence, Sam Beal, DeAndre Baker, Grant Haley, Julian Love, and Oshane Ximines) to play well this year. It’s unrealistic to think that most of these young players can be impactful on a consistent basis.
- Evan Engram is an upgrade over Golden Tate. The loss of Golden Tate will hurt the Giants, but not as much as people may think. Evan Engram will get more targets in Tate’s absence, and at this point of their careers, Engram is a more explosive receiver than Tate. Engram needs to improve his route running and struggles to shake from coverage, but Shurmur finally figured out how to use Engram in the second half of the season. Get him in space and let him run. I expect the Giants to use him more to stretch the field than they have in the past.
- The offense will not be better without Odell Beckham Jr. this year. For the first time since 2010, the Giants should have an above-average pass-blocking offensive line. However, don’t expect the Giants offense to be better than last year when they ranked 13th by DVOA. It’s too simple to look at the last four games of the season, wipe out the Titans game and come to the conclusion the Giants offense can thrive without Beckham. It can’t. Without Beckham, defenses can focus on containing Barkley and will have confidence their secondary can hold up against the Giants receivers. Shurmer will have to be extra creative with his scheme and play calling to help the Giants receiver get open against man coverage.
- Daniel Jones needs first-team reps. The Giants can help Jones grow without sacrificing victories this season. He needs to be given first-team reps in training camp and the preseason. Eli Manning does not require 100% of the reps with the starters to get himself ready for the season. Giving Jones a portion of those reps will help Eli rest his arm while giving Jones valuable experience playing behind the first-string offensive line. The Giants will learn very little about the potential of their first-round pick if he’s spending camp and preseason running for his life.