New York Giants: How Lorenzo Carter can improve in 2020

New York Giants, Lorenzo Carter

The New York Giants’ defense needs the best version of Lorenzo Carter in 2020. Over the past two seasons, Carter has been nothing more than an average player. The Giants will need him to start at OLB if Markus Golden goes elsewhere. Through his first two seasons, the Giants have not seen the full potential of Carter, but a new defensive scheme could benefit him, and the new additions to the defense could play a big factor as well.

Lorenzo’s 2019 season stats may seem very average, but there are several areas he needs to improve. In 2019, Carter played in 15 games and started in 12. Also, had one forced fumble, 13 quarterback hits, and 25 solo tackles. I think the solo tackle number needs to be a lot higher. In the NFL, an OLB is responsible for containing the edge and not letting running backs bounce outside the tackles.

Needs to improve his pass coverage

The Giants’ defense has struggled in the passing game over the past three seasons. Especially linebackers in general, Lorenzo Carter, was not used a lot in pass defense, but when targeted, he struggled. In 2019, Carter was targeted five times and allowed three completions for 35 yards. Now, I know it may not seem like a lot, but this is a 60% completion percentage allowed when targeted. Overall, Carter did improve from 2018, but he needs to be better if Markus Golden is no longer a Giant.

An improved secondary

This offseason, the Giants made it a focal point to fix the secondary. With the additions of Xavier McKinney, James Bradberry, and Darnay Holmes, I see the Giants having a top-20 defense in the NFL. There is a lot of young talent on defense; this is a significant factor when it comes to the development of chemistry and coalition. These three guys will be huge in the secondary for Lorenzo Carter, they will allow Carter to focus on rushing the passer and making tackles in the backfield. There will be times where Carter gets stuck in coverage, but the secondary will be behind him to bail him out if anything goes wrong. This year’s secondary is a lot more promising than 2019’s; a healthy Jabrill Peppers looking to shock the world, and McKinney, who is going to put on a show.

Increase snap count

At the end of the day, the only way Lorenzo will get better is by being on the field more. Last season, Carter played in 723 defensive snaps (65%). I want to see Carter on the field for 85% of defensive snaps. Not only will the reps help improve his game, but this will also build his confidence. I think that’s the biggest problem, Carter being confident in the defensive scheme. Hopefully, the new defensive scheme with coach Graham will fit Carter’s playstyle better. Joe Judge is all about making players’ skill set match what his plans are.

New York Giants: Projected starting offensive line in 2020

New York Giants, Nate Solder, Jon Halapio, Mike Remmers

The New York Giants‘ offensive line is the team’s kryptonite; it has been for the last five years. Finally, the Giants made improvements to the offensive line through the draft and free agency. As a fan, this makes me very happy, protecting Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley is the primary concern. All fans want to see these guys play for eight-plus years. There are a lot of questions that need to be addressed this offseason. Who will start at left tackle? Nate Solder, or Andrew Thomas? Who will win the starting center job, Spencer Pulley, Nick Gates, or Shane Lemieux?

I think the end of the preseason will answer all these questions. Joe Judge and the coaching staff want the best man to win the starting job. All these players are going to get a fair shot, and it will come down to who wants it more and who excels at their position.

The best players will play. I don’t care where you got drafted, I don’t care if you’re an undrafted free agent, I don’t care if you’re old, young, traded, whatever you got there for. Everybody will have an opportunity every day to compete for a job on our roster. Every day. If you want to be on the field, be the best player. Outwork the guy in front of you. Prove your value to us, show you can handle the job, and we’re going to put you on the field and give you an opportunity.”

Andrew Thomas starting left tackle

Andrew Thomas is going to be the starting left tackle week one. He is the best option and has all the skills to play at the pro level. The Giants drafted him to fix their blind side problem and protect second-year quarterback, Daniel Jones. As we all saw, Nate Solder was not at his best last season. I still think Solder will be apart of the offensive line, just at another spot. In 2019, Andrew Thomas was a Walter Camp All-American first team, and winner of the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy, this was Georgia’s first recipient in 21 years!

There’s no question Thomas has the athleticism and skill set to become an All-Pro lineman; having a great offensive line coach is also huge for his development. There is no reason to move Thomas to right tackle, he played both in college but excelled at Left. Coming into the draft, Andrew Thomas was the purest left tackle; the Giants made the right decision with their fourth overall pick.

Will Hernandez starting left guard

Will Hernandez has been a reliable option since he was drafted back in 2018. Since drafted, Hernandez has started in every game (32), talk about a reliable offensive lineman! In 2019, Hernandez’s number of penalties went up (4), more than his rookie year (2). This is something that can be worked on and is not that big of a deal. He played 1067 snaps in 2019, and 1027 snaps his rookie season. The Giants’ offensive line needs a gritty guy like Hernandez, who will do all the dirty work in the trenches.

Spencer Pulley starting center

The New York Giants will have a competition battle at center. For starters, I believe Jon Halapio will be cut from the team; he has sustained too many season-ending injuries. I think the Giants have better options at center, Pulley, Gates, and Lemieux will all battle it out. I feel Spencer Pulley is going to win the starting job. He already has experience playing center, it is his primary position, unlike Gates and Lemieux. In 2019, Pulley only played in four games, he only recorded one penalty and was on the field for 95 snaps. If Pulley happens to get injured and can’t play for the remainder of the season, I want the Giants to give Shane Lemieux a shot at center. Several clips have surfaced of Shane Lemieux practicing snaps during his workouts. I feel like Nick Gates is more of a guard and would rather stay there.

Kevin Zeitler starting right guard

There is no mystery behind this one, Kevin Zeitler will be the starting right guard in 2020. He battled shoulder issues in 2019. If he is healthy, we will see a very productive right guard. I see Zeitler being the leader on the offensive line, a veteran who has a lot of experience in the NFL (eight seasons). He will be a great mentor for the young guys who were just drafted. In 2019, Zeitler started 15 games, he only missed one due to a shoulder injury. In those 15 games, Zeitler averaged 93% of offensive snaps, and only had one penalty all year! All in all, the Giants need Zeitler to be the leader of the offensive line in 2020, I think he has a few more years left to play before Shane Lemieux takes his position.

Nick Gates starting right tackle

In 2020, there will be a battle to see who plays right tackle. Most people think Nate Solder is a starter next season. I think he will come off the bench and be a fill-in type player. I think Nick Gates is the better option right now until Nate Solder can prove he can still protect and be effective in the run game. I think Solder will be a great mentor for the other offensive lineman; the Giants can’t rely on him. The Giants can’t let him play left tackle and be responsible for protecting the blindside. Nick Gates only started three games in 2019, I think 2020 could be a different story, and he could be a starter week one. He did well last season, the Giants’ offensive line was awful, and Gates was the only bright spot some games.

New York Jets: Offensive expectations for upcoming season

New York Jets, Sam Darnold

Last season was riddled with ups-and-downs, breaking news and even mono. Through it all, the New York Jets managed to finish 7-9, which was better than most expected. In Adam Gase‘s second season, and Sam Darnold’s third, the offense should be able to improve. After all, they can’t go anywhere but up after finishing with the last-ranked total offense last season. Let’s take a look at what should be expected from each offensive position group this upcoming campaign:

 

Quarterback

Even though the team finished with a losing record at 7-9, Sam Darnold was 7-6 as a starter. That’s far better than his 4-12 record as a rookie. He also increased his touchdown amount from 17 to 19 and threw two fewer interceptions, down from 15 to 13. Those aren’t major improvements but they’re improvements nonetheless. That’s a good sign, especially since the improvements were with a new head coach and a somewhat thin supporting cast.

Darnold’s final stat line from last season was 3,024 yards, 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 13 games. If he didn’t miss games due to mono, there’s no doubt that he would’ve had over 20 touchdowns. Barring any injuries or illnesses this upcoming season, fans should expect to see Darnold throw over 20-25 touchdowns and move toward 4,000 yards. With recent signee Joe Flacco hopefully mentoring and improvements to surrounding playmaking positions, Darnold should take a nice leap for the Jets.

 

Running Back

Last offseason’s signing of Le’Veon Bell sparked a lot of excitement heading into the season. The former All-Pro running back was one of the biggest names in free agency, if not the biggest. He was expected to be a huge part of the offense and, well, that wasn’t necessarily the case. Two seasons removed from 1,291 rushing yards, 655 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns, Bell posted the second-fewest total yards of his career. In 15 games, he totaled 789 rushing yards, 461 receiving yards and just 4 total touchdowns. With more familiarity and an improved offensive line, Bell should get back to around 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards. He probably won’t be posting numbers similar to his career-best, but he should post better numbers.

Fourth-round pick Lamical Perine and free-agent signee Frank Gore should be able to provide situational help for the run game. Gore isn’t nearly what he once was but can still provide spot-help if needed. He shouldn’t be expected to surpass 400, or maybe, even 300 yards this season since his usage will be lessened. He could see time as a late-down option, such as on third-and-one scenarios, for example.

Perine is an interesting player because he could be sprinkled into different scenarios like Bilal Powell was used to. Perine can run between the tackles but can also provide some assistance in the passing game. I expect Perine to see more field time than Frank Gore simply because of his limited wear-and-tear.

 

Wide Receiver

Robby Anderson was one of the top options from last season, but he is now in Carolina. I say “top option” here with a grain of salt because he posted just 52 receptions for 779 yards and 5 touchdowns across all 16 games. Sure, that is not all on him, but those numbers should be higher for one of the better options on the outside. I believe those numbers could easily be replicated by second-round pick Denzel Mims. The Baylor product should be expected to become a major part of the passing attack from the get-go. His speed, deep ball tracking ability and reliability in college should allow Darnold to rely on him from the beginning. He should be expected to grab at least 50 receptions for around 750-800 yards, at least.

Jamison Crowder posted solid numbers in his first season with Gang Green. He totaled 78 receptions for 833 yards and 6 touchdowns while working mostly from the slot. Aside from his playmaking ability with the ball in his hands, Crowder provided last-resort help for Darnold while he was under duress. Crowder should post similar numbers, though possibly with a slight decrease, due to numerous additions.

Free-agent signee Breshad Perriman was brought in to replace Robby Anderson. Perriman, in 14 games, posted career-highs with 36 receptions, 645 yards and 6 touchdowns last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Those numbers definitely don’t jump off the page but he was not brought in with the expectations of a 1,000-yard receiver. He’s a guy who could see a slight jump in numbers and have between 700-750 yards.

Other additions, such as Josh Doctson, could provide fill-in assistance in small doses but shouldn’t be expected to drastically improve. Doctson is somewhat of a mystery, in terms of production, and will most likely be used sparingly. Regardless, expect Mims, Crowder and Perriman to be the top options, maybe in that order. The receiving group will be working collectively to produce for New York.

Tight End

The tight end position should be controlled by Ryan Griffin and Chris Herndon throughout the season. Griffin didn’t have spectacular numbers, but when used, he provided much needed receiving help. He totaled 34 receptions for 320 yards and 5 touchdowns on his way to a new three-year, $10.8 million contract. Griffin shouldn’t be expected to drastically improve in production and should most likely produce similar numbers, especially if Herndon plays.

Chris Hernon has shown some flashes of playmaking ability while on the field. However, he played in just one game last season due to a suspension and injuries. He has more upside as a playmaker than Griffin but needs to stay on the field. If he ends up staying on the field, he should be expected to post similar numbers to Griffin. He may exceed him a little, potentially closer to 400 yards. He’s capable of more, but as we’ve seen throughout the years, tight end isn’t a high usage position for this offense.

 

Offensive Line

The Jets have been towards the bottom in offensive line rankings for some time. It has been a position group that has needed to be revamped and it may have finally happened. Connor McGovern was brought in to become the new starting center after starting all 16 games for Denver last season. The team also signed tackle George Fant and guard Alex Lewis. Perhaps the biggest addition though, in both ability and size, is the 6-foot-7, 364-pound tackle Mekhi Becton. He was selected with pick 11 in the draft and helps solidify the left side of the line.

The offensive line shouldn’t be expected to become one of the top lines in the league but could finish as a middle-of-the-pack unit. If that happens, that could cause a major improvement for the whole offense. Le’Veon Bell could run more patiently, which he likes, and Sam Darnold would have more time to go through his progressions. This new starting offensive line should be improved and should be held to higher expectations than fans have been used to.

Bottom Line

With all of the additions to the offense, the Jets should make games more exciting and should be expected to put more pressure on opposing defenses. They probably won’t be a top-10 offense this upcoming season, but fans should expect the team to exceed their average of 17.3 points-per-game last season.

The Underdogs: Giants Are Favorites in Just One Game in 2020

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants have been a bit of a doormat in the NFL the past six seasons, posting just one winning season since 2012 and posting a .438 winning percentage for the 2010-2019 decade, their lowest win/loss percentage since the Wilderness Years of the 1970s.

So, it makes perfect sense that the oddsmakers, who now have the full NFL regular season schedule in their hands – have made the Giants favorites in just one game for the 2020 season. They are underdogs in 12 games and pick’em in three.

WEEK 1: Pittsburgh Steelers @ New York Giants +3 (Monday)
WEEK 2: New York Giants @ Chicago Bears -5
WEEK 3:  San Francisco 49ers @ New York Giants +6½
WEEK 4:  New York Giants @ Los Angeles Rams -6½
WEEK 5:  New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys -7½
WEEK 6:  Washington Redskins @ New York Giants -5
WEEK 7:  New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles -7 (Thursday)
WEEK 8:  Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New York Giants +3 (Monday)
WEEK 9:  New York Giants @ Washington Redskins pk
WEEK 10:  Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants +3½
BYE
WEEK 12:  New York Giants @ Cincinnati Bengals pk
WEEK 13:  New York Giants @ Seattle Seahawks -8½
WEEK 14:  Arizona Cardinals @ New York Giants pk
WEEK 15:  Cleveland Browns @ New York Giants +1
WEEK 16:  New York Giants @ Baltimore Ravens -12½
WEEK 17:  Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants +3

Last season, the Giants were favorites five times and had an against the spread record of 7-9.

Some interesting facts about the upcoming season from BetOnline.ag:

Baltimore is favored in all 16 games.
New Orleans is favored in 14 with two pick’ems.
San Francisco is favored in 13, one game a underdog, and two as a pick’em.
Kansas City is favored in 14 and underdogs for two.
Tampa Bay is favored in 12, underdogs for three and a pick’em for one.
Jacksonville is an underdog in all 16 games.
Cincinnati is favored in 1, underdogs in 14 and a pick’em in one
Carolina is favored in two, underdogs in 13 with one pick’em.
Washington is favored in two, underdogs in 13 with one pick’em.

Home team is favored 166 times, 64.8% of the time
Road team is favored 74 times, 28.9% of the time
16 games are a pick’em, 6.3% of the time
Week 5 has the most home favorites with 14 of 15
Week 7 is the only week where more road teams are favored (5-7-2)

NFL to Broadcast Playoff Game on Nickelodeon for 2020

NFL, Football

With the NFL season facing challenges to all the other leagues face in the coronavirus world we now live in, we did get some positive news. The CBA was approved, the NFL draft will go ahead (modified of course), and modifications to the current NFL postseason expanding the number of teams participating to 14 teams. As a result of the new expanded format, news emerged that sounded so comical, you assumed it was an April Fool’s Day prank.

NFL to Broadcast on Children’s TV Network

The Jets, a fringe playoff team last season, had a chance to be the 7th team under this new format. So, IF the NFL season starts on time (a lot could still happen with this pandemic), the Jets could be playing their first playoff game since Mark Sanchez was QB on the Nickelodeon television network.

Yes. You read that right. Nickelodeon will carry an NFL playoff game for the 2020-2021 season. Complete with their own broadcast team.

The Possibilities are ENDLESS

If you’re like me, someone in their late 20’s to mid to late 30’s, you remember A LOT of Nickelodeon television. Bringing back someone like Summer Sanders (host of Figure It Out), or Mike O’Malley (host of the show Guts) would excite young parents my age into watching the broadcast on Nickelodeon for nostalgia sake.

But Nickelodeon is, first and foremost, known for its animation. Rugrats, Aah! Real Monsters, Hey Arnold, Rocket Power, and (most famously) Spongebob Squarepants. Could you imagine a Nickelodeon broadcast of an NFL game featuring Summer Sanders doing play by play, and Spongebob doing color commentary? If the Simpsons could animate Homer answering questions in real time, and South Park’s Eric Cartman could introduce Colorado University’s football team on live TV, Spongebob doing color for Jets V Ravens in the Wild Card game is VERY much a reality.