New York Giants: Azeez Ojulari could have field day week 1 if he plays his cards right

new york giants, azeez ojulari

The New York Giants will take on the Denver Broncos in week one of the 2021 regular season after the schedule dropped on Wednesday evening. While Denver represents a surprise opponent compared to their usual suspects, the Dallas Cowboys, and Philadelphia Eagles, it should be a competitive game. We shouldn’t underestimate the talent that Denver contains, despite their issues at the quarterback position. They have an extremely deep defense with a stellar secondary and adequate pass rushers in Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.

This game will be no pushover, but the Giants have an opportunity to expose a few weaknesses that the Broncos do have, specifically on the offensive line. As they try to piece together their right tackle position, Denver signed former Giant Cam Fleming to a one-year, $3.67 million deal.

According to Mike Klis of 9News, the Denver Broncos signed former Giants OT Cam Fleming to compete at right tackle, which opens up the door for a slaughterhouse if rookie OLB Azeez Ojulari plays his cards right.

The New York Giants have already experienced the Fleming experiment:

When the Giants signed Fleming last year, they believed he could be a solid stopgap as they developed some of their other talents. Having spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, Fleming had experience with Jason Garrett and head coach Joe Judge in New England years ago. He started all 16 games for the Giants last year but struggled considerably in a majority of his appearances. He allowed six sacks and 35 total pressures, also giving up seven penalties, three of them coming against Cincinnati in a single game.

Ultimately, Fleming is a liability, which is why the Giants let him walk without hesitation. They managed to lower the price tag of Nate Solder and still hMatt Peart coming back for a second season of the NFL after showing promise as a run blocker in 2020.

However, the hope is that Fleming will be starting at RT for Denver in week one, which could open the door for rookie Azeez Ojulari and his abilities.

Ojulari ranked first in the SEC last season in sacks with 9.5 and forced fumbles with four. He is a stellar pass rusher that already contains a few premier pass rush moves: a deadly extension-chop that uses his arm to create space between himself and his assignment and then utilizing a nasty chop to smack away the inside hands.

He will undoubtedly translate that move to the NFL, and with sufficient speed, he should overwhelm a player like Fleming, especially with Leonard Williams/Dexter Lawrence by his side.

If the Giants’ defensive line can get off to a hot start in week one, it will set the tone for the rest of the season. Ojulari is expected to make an impact on day one as a starter, so offering him an easier opponent to work with is exactly what the Giants need to help develop their rookie 2nd round pick.

FOCO drops New York Giants new receiver Kenny Golladay bobble-head

kenny golladay, new york giants

The New York Giants made a big splash in free agency to acquire star receiver Kenny Golladay, formerly of the Detroit Lions. Golladay instantly became a sensation for Giants fans who desperately desired a premium pass catcher, reminiscent of Odell Beckham Jr.

However, Golladay is an entirely different receiver compared to OBJ, representing a big body who can make 50/50 contested catches. Having posted 1,190 yards and 11 scores in 2019, the Giants feel will be a very productive player for them in the future, and after signing a four-year contract, there’s nothing better than a premium bobblehead to display him as a New York Giant.

Happy Golladays, Giants fans! Kenny is bringing his big plays to Big Blue! Celebrate his arrival to the Meadowlands with this Kenny Golladay New York Giants Stadium Façade Bobblehead!

GET YOUR KENNY GOLLADAY BOBBLEHEAD HERE!

New York Giants: 3 rookies who could stand out in mini-camp

aaron robinson, new york giants

The New York Giants will be hosting their minicamp this upcoming weekend from May 14 to May 16, which will include 22 players, including six draft picks, three undrafted rookies, and a max of five tryout players. So far, the Giants have already confirmed they will bring 30-year-old receiver Kelvin Benjamin in for a workout, kicking the tires on the veteran who was formally a Dave Gettleman draft selection years ago.

However, the Giants have a few stellar young players to work with on both sides of the ball from their most recent draft class, but there are a few undervalued options who could make an impact in their first year in the NFL. Let’s take a look at a few prospects who might have an extended future with the Giants.

Three New York Giants rookies who could stand out in mini-camp:

1.) Elerson Smith

The Giants utilize their fourth-round selection on Northern Iowa edge rusher Elerson Smith. Nobody knew who Smith was before his surprise selection, but he was a Senior Bowl stand-out who showed incredible production in 2019. Smith is a 6’6″, 252-pound pass rusher, who racked up 14 sacks, 14 QB hurries, 21.5 tackles for a loss, five forced fumbles, and two blocked kicks during the 2019 season.

Smith is a superior athlete who had the highest vertical of any defensive end in the 2021 draft class at 41.5 inches.

According to the “Relative Athletic Score” metric, Smith ranked 18th out of 1333 DE’s measured since 1987, showing a superior stature in that category. With sufficient speed off the line of scrimmage, I view Smith as a mismatch rotational option for the Giants this upcoming season. Against heavy-footed offensive tackles, Smith has the speed and power to overwhelm them on the outside or dashing to the interior with jab step moves.

Camp will give us our first look at Smith, and hopefully, he progresses nicely as he looks to add a bit more muscle mass onto his frame but also refine his technique at the next level.

2.) Aaron Robinson

Another exciting young rookie is UCF nickel corner Aaron Robinson, who was formally an Alabama transfer. Robinson is a press, man coverage corner who will push Darnay Holmes in the slot for reps. That should be an exciting position battle between two feisty players.

Robinson isn’t only a stellar football player but is also a great teammate. Head coach Joe Judge pointed out his ability to energize players around him and how he creates positive relationships with his fellow teammates. That is exactly the type of character attribute the Giants are looking for, and it fits perfectly with the structure of their defense and represents the type of player they seem to be attracted to.

I believe Robinson has a bright future ahead of him as a third-round selection, and the Giants were so high on him they felt the need to trade up and snag him before Dallas or Philadelphia could make their move. He’s a player to keep an eye on during camp and could even win the starting job in the slot potentially.

3.) Brett Heggie

The Giants signed UDF Brett Heggie out of Florida, and while he went undrafted, he has some solid, tangible traits to consider as we approach minicamp. Heggie is a 6’4″, 310-pound interior defender with experience at center and offensive guard. Having been teammates with Kadarius Tonye, Heggie has routinely faced off against quality opponents in the SEC. In 2019, he started 12 games, including eight left guard and four at right guard. In 2020, Brett moved to the interior at center, starting all 12 games at the position. He has desirable size for the NFL as a center but lacks functional strength at times and is lackluster with his fundamentals. The Giants likely view his physical traits as potential upside, but he will need extensive coaching to iron out some of his bad tendencies and habits.

While I don’t see Heggie contributing day one, he could be a long-term project and could end up being valuable down the line as a reserve or potential starter at center in the future.

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley will benefit most from revamped offense

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants revamped their offense this offseason. The Giants spent big in free agency, signing alpha dog wide receiver Kenny Golladay to a humungous contract. Golladay is the big-body, contested catch, number one receiver that the Giants desperately needed. The Giants made another underrated signing on offense with the addition of tight end Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph brings consistency and dependability to the tight end position, two traits the Giants previously lacked at that spot.

The Giants then doubled down in the 2021 NFL Draft, selecting dynamic wide receiver Kadarius Toney in the first round. Toney gives the Giants a dangerous after-the-catch weapon that they lacked. And, of course, the Giants have some capable returning talent on the roster already. Sterling Shepard is still a dependable intermediate route-running receiver. Evan Engram is still a big-play threat at tight end. And Darius Slayton is a solid deep threat Z-receiver. The Giants also added receiving depth with John Ross III, Dante Pettis, and Devontae Booker.

All of these additions on offense are huge for Giants’ third-year quarterback Daniel Jones in his “prove-it” year. But another player who has not been discussed much this offseason will also benefit from this influx of offensive talent: Superstar running back Saquon Barkley.

The return of Saquon Barkley

Saquon Barkley entered the NFL as an instant star in his 2018 rookie campaign. Barkley won offensive rookie of the year that season as he led the league in total yards from scrimmage with 2,028. Saquon was explosive in 2018 and he followed it up with another impressive season in 2019.

Barkley missed five games with injuries in 2019, but when he was on the field, he was still the dominating presence out of the backfield that the Giants were accustomed to. He totaled 1,003 rushing yards in only 13 starts. Saquon was still special, however, it became evidently clear in 2019 (and even further in 2020) that Saquon Barkley was being held back.

Saquon was frustrating held back by injuries over the last two years. He missed five games in 2019, bounced back down the stretch, then tore his ACL during Week 2 of the 2020 season, missing fourteen games. But injuries were never the only thing holding Saquon Barkley back from reaching his potential. Barkley also struggled due to the lack of talent around him. The Giants simply asked Saquon to do too much in his first two seasons. But now, with a revamped offense, Saquon Barkley is primed for a huge 2021 comeback season.

How Saquon Barkley will benefit from the revamped offense

The last time Saquon Barkley hit the field, he was the only superstar that the Giants had on offense. The only player that defenses had to gameplan around was Saquon Barkley, and they did that in the first two weeks of the 2020 season. Barkley totaled just 34 yards on 19 rushing attempts last season. In Week 1 he was held to a putrid 6 yards on 15 attempts.

This was not the first time this has happened to Saquon. In Week 10 of the 2019 season, Barkley rushed for 1 yard on 13 attempts against the New York Jets. Saquon has struggled with injuries in his career but he has also been held back by a severe lack of talent around him.

In 2021, that will change. Defenses now have new names and talents to respect on the Giants’ offense. Defenses need to account for Kenny Golladay as a vertical threat. Defenses need to gameplan around Kadarius Toney’s ability to break a tackle and take the ball to the house from anywhere on the field. They do not just have to focus on Saquon Barkley and what he does out of the backfield.

This should result in fewer stacked boxes against the Giants’ offense. Defenses did not respect the Giants’ receiving corps in 2020. Wayne Gallman faced 8+ defenders in the box on 40.14% of his rushing attempts (second-highest in the NFL). With more receiving threats for defenses to account for on the Giants’ offense, Saquon Barkley should see fewer stacked boxes and greater rushing opportunities.

New York Giants’ Blake Martinez details ‘awesome’ free agency and atmosphere around Big Blue

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

The New York Giants have had an eventful off-season, littered with high-profile free agent signings and a strong draft class. Acquiring WR1 Kenny Golliday, CB2 Adoree Jackson, and a bevy of adequate depth pieces, the Giants are heading into the 2021 season with a revitalized sense on both sides of the ball.

For current players, watching the Giants go out and spend big money to acquire more talent was exciting; it represented the progress and forward momentum of the organization.

This present-day Giants team is far different than the one we experienced in recent years, ranging from personnel to front office decisions. Even the players noticed a change, compared to their old teams or just in one off-season with Big Blue.

Arizona radio station interviewed Giants’ LB Blake Martinez, who described the difference between playing in New York and Green Bay — they were quite extreme:

“I think the biggest difference between both is the age of the given guys on either team. I think in Green Bay, it was a lot of older, veteran guys, where in New York it was a lot of young guys still in that college mindset and everyone hung out with each other and had that camaraderie. Not that we didn’t have that camaraderie in Green Bay, but it felt more like a high school (or) college vibe in New York,” Martinez said.

The locker-room aspect of any given team is extremely important, but the camaraderie the Giants currently have is outstanding. The coaching staff has put together a disciplined roster containing a variety of demographics, ranging from youth to veterans. With so much youth on the team, there has a college feel to it, which boosts morale and excitement.

The New York Giants had an “awesome” offseason:

“It’s awesome. Throughout the whole thing, I was excited, especially with the free agency process and the guys we brought in on offense and defense. In the draft, we got multiple defensive guys — a couple outside linebackers, a cornerback, the list goes on. The sky’s the limit, and I think the potential is there, but each and everyday as a group, we just have to keep going back to that foundation and that culture and put that work in to be able to reach that potential. If we do that, I think it’s going to be a very successful year.”

That is exactly what you want to hear from your mike linebacker, who played such an integral part in boosting the defense to a top 10 year in 2020. Martinez finished his first season in blue with 151 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, six QB hits, 3.0 sacks, and a career-low 6.2% missed tackle rate. Martinez is a reliable player, playing at all 16 games despite battling injury at points of the season. He set the example for the younger guys, and with Martinez’s excitement, should come an even better 2021 campaign.

New York Giants: Evaluating week 1 opener against the Denver Broncos

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

With the 2021 regular season schedule being released on Wednesday evening, the New York Giants are set to play the Denver Broncos in week one. While the Giants would normally face off against the Dallas Cowboys or Philadelphia Eagles, this contest came out of left field. However, the Broncos are no pushover, despite having a quarterback controversy that involves Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater. Denver is unsure which QB will end up starting, as a position Battle will likely unfold throughout training camp.

Nonetheless, Lock understands the scheme more proficiently than Bridgewater, who was traded from the Carolina Panthers after they acquired Sam Darnold from the Jets.

Either way, the Giants will have a defensive advantage, despite Denver having a solid group of receivers, including Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, KJ Hamler, and Courtland Sutton. Big Blue bolstered their secondary this off-season, acquiring Adoree Jackson to man the CB2 spot. With the existing players of James Bradberry, Xavier McKinney, Logan Ryan, and Jabrill Peppers, the Giants should feel confident going into a contest against a team that doesn’t have an established quarterback to get the ball to his receivers.

As for the running back position, the Broncos have Melvin Gordon as their primary option, while the Giants feature Saquon Barkley. The Giants, last season, allowed the 10th least yards per game on the ground with 111.4. Denver, on the other hand, ranked at the bottom of the pack, allowing 130 per game.

The strong point for the Broncos is in their secondary, where they have a fantastic unit out of DBs with Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby, Bryce Callahan, and the new addition of Patrick Surtain out of Alabama. That is not even including their safeties, Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons. The Giants will need to be clicking on all cylinders to beat a secondary as strong as Denver’s, but it will represent a fantastic challenge in week one after bolstering the unit this off-season.

The New York Giants need their young QB to show off his skills:

Ultimately, Daniel Jones will need to be on top of his game, making smooth reads and hitting his receivers in stride. He will have little room for error against a strong defensive back core. As for the Denver pass rush, they have Bradley Chubb and Von Miller, two of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL. They will put significant pressure on the young offensive tackles the Giants plan to feature next season unless Nate Solder manages to beat Matt Peart for the starting job at right tackle.

Denver dealt with a significant number of injuries last season, including a significant knee injury to Sutton that forced him to miss nearly the entire season. With a healthy squad to start the year, the Giants will have a significant challenge ahead, and one that shouldn’t be underestimated because of their quarterback situation.

This game will come down to a few factors, including a heavy reliance on the offensive line, Daniel Jones accuracy, and the Giants’ ability to put pressure on whatever quarterback Denver plans to roll with. As stated before, the Giants must be clicking on all cylinders to dominate this game, otherwise, this could easily become a more interesting ordeal.

Data says New York Giants consistently dealt tough schedule

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

Now that the NFL schedule is one of the main points of conversation, it seems like a good time to bring up some recent data analysis by NBC Sports’ Warren Sharp. The data is relevant to the New York Giants in specific, because it shines some light on their scheduling over a long period of time and how they’ve consistently gotten dealt a tough hand – even if it might not seem that way from just a surface level glance.

The article alleges that the NFL has done a poor job of keeping the schedule equitable across years. Some teams consistently benefit from the schedule, while others consistently suffer because of it. Some of the relevant factors include how much rest a team gets on average as well as how much rest their opponents get before playing them.

The most difficult scheduling spots teams to deal with as it relates to player health, rest and preparation are:

• Rest disadvantage
• Short week road games
• Negated bye weeks
• Games after playing on Sunday or Monday night on the road
• Four games in 17 days

It may or may not surprise you that when the league was ranked using these variables, the Giants came in dead last. Their division rival, the Eagles, came in second to last, so this seems to be something that runs in the NFC East.

Over the last 10 years, the Giants notably had 42 games where their opponent had over 7 days to prepare for them compared to only 18 where their opponent had under 7. This ranks them as the worst in the league in that metric, and they were the second worst team in three other categories.

Obviously a lot of things have contributed to the Giants not winning much following their last Super Bowl win. It’s impossible to blame the schedule for this, rather than teambuilding decisions and a rebuild that has taken too long, but the schedule has likely played a role in one way or another, even if minor. After all, according to this data, there’s no team in the league that has it worst when it comes to this.

New York Giants officially announce 2021 season schedule

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants have officially announced their 2021 regular season and preseason schedules. The Giants have the eighth-easiest schedule in the NFL this year based on opponents’ records last year (per Bleacher Report). But there are a number of difficult and intriguing matchups on New York’s schedule to keep an eye on.

The Giants will not kick off the season against a division rival. Instead, the Giants will host the Denver Broncos at 4:25 PM in Week One. They have a short rest into week two for their first divisional matchup, a prime-time Thursday Night Football matchup with the Washington Football Team. The Giants are currently slated to have three primetime matchups this season.

The Giants will face both of the teams that appeared in this past season’s Super Bowl this year on primetime. In Week Eight, the Giants will face the Kansas City Chiefs on the road on Monday Night Football. In Week Eleven, they will travel to Tampa Bay to play the Buccaneers on Monday Night football.

The Giants face the entire AFC West division this year, but they also face one opponent from the AFC East as part of the new expanded seventeen-game regular season. This AFC East opponent will be the Miami Dolphins on the road in Week Twelve.

The Giants will have their BYE Week in Week Ten before preparing to play four of their six division-rivalry games in the second half of the season. They will end the season in Week Eighteen hosting the Washington Football Team in what could be a division-deciding matchup. Check out the full schedule down below:

Preseason:

  1. vs. New York Jets
  2. @ Cleveland Browns
  3. vs. New England Patriots

Regular Season:

  1. vs. Denver Broncos (4:25 PM, 9/12)
  2. @ Washington Football Team (TNF, 9/16)
  3. vs. Atlanta Falcons  (1:00 PM, 9/26)
  4. @ New Orleans Saints (1:00 PM, 10/3)
  5. @ Dallas Cowboys (4:25 PM, 10/10)
  6. vs. Los Angeles Rams (1:00 PM, 10/17)
  7. vs. Carolina Panthers (1:00 PM, 10/24)
  8. @ Kansas City Chiefs (MNF, 11/1)
  9. vs. Las Vegas Raiders (1:00 PM, 11/7)
  10. BYE
  11. @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (MNF, 11/22)
  12. vs. Philadelphia Eagles (1:00 PM, 11/28)
  13. @ Miami Dolphins (1:00 PM, 12/5)
  14. @ Los Angeles Chargers (4:05 PM, 12/12)
  15. vs. Dallas Cowboys (1:00 PM, 12/19)
  16. @ Philadelphia Eagles (1:00 PM, 12/26)
  17. @ Chicago Bears (1:00 PM, 1/2)
  18. vs. Washington Football Team (1:00 PM, 1/9)

New York Giants 2021 Regular Season Schedule Leaks, so far

new york giants, ryan anderson

With months remaining until 2021, regular-season starts for the New York Giants, their schedule will be officially dropping at 8 PM on May 12. However, leaks occur every year, displaying some of the games prior to the official announcement. This is as much excitement as we can muster with so much time between live-action and a dead period right after the NFL draft, but let’s take a look at what is on the board for the Giants so far.

New York Giants schedules leaks 2021:

  1. Home vs. Denver 4:25 PM 
  2. @ Washington TNF 
  3. N/A
  4. N/A
  5. N/a
  6. Home vs. Rams 
  7. N/A
  8. N/a
  9. N/A
  10. N/A
  11. N/A
  12. Home vs. Philly 
  13. N/A
  14. N/A
  15. Home vs. Dallas
  16. @ Philly
  17. Home vs. Washington

Right off the bat, the Giants have a tough matchup against the Denver Broncos, who are trying to sort through their quarterback situation, who have Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater on the roster. They drafted a CB in Patrick Surtain out of Alabama to further bolster their secondary, and they may have one of the better ones in the NFL after this off-season.

The Giants haven’t won a home opener since 2016, so this would be a great statement game after bolstering the offense tremendously this off-season with big money and draft selections. Denver has a solid defense but an offense that can be contained by a top-10 defense last year in the Giants. They added Cornerback Adoree Jackson and UCF DB Aaron Robinson in the draft, and don’t forget about Azeez Ojulari, who they landed at 50th overall, representing an impact pass rusher.

In week two, the Giants will travel to Washington on Thursday night football. Washington’s defense was one of the best in the NFL last year, but they have a patch-work offense led by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Giants have had Washington’s number in recent years, and hopefully, that continues after the retooling on both sides of the ball.

Fast forward to week six, and the Giants will take on Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams, a tough matchup but a winnable one at home. In week 12, the Giants will host Philadelphia and the Dallas Cowboys in week 15. Since there’s an extra game on the schedule this year, week 16 will go against Philly away and close the regular season against Washinton at home in week 18.

So far, the Giants have a tough schedule on the books, but with their improvements this off-season, they are capable of winning these games. Reports have also indicated they have two primetime matchup’s against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers end Kansas City Chiefs, representing tremendous challenges.

WILL CONTINUE TO UPDATE: 

New York Giants: 5 reasons to expect a big Andrew Thomas/Will Hernandez improvement

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants head into the 2021 season with a big question in the trenches. They failed to address the offensive line in free agency and declined to do so in the 2021 NFL draft, but there is reason for optimism after a few unfortunate factors played a significant part in the demise of the unit last season.

Ultimately, the Giants ranked 31st in pass blocking efficiency but were a tad more proficient in run blocking, raking in the middle of the pack as Wayne Gallman helped sustain one of the worst offenses in the NFL. Averaging just over 18 points per game, only the lowly New York Jets were below them, but the Giants re-tooled their offense and put them in a place where significant improvements are an expectation.

However, none of their weapons matter if Daniel Jones doesn’t have time in the pocket. The left side of the OL is integral to his protection scheme since it’s his blindside. Andrew Thomas struggled to get his footing in his rookie season, giving up double-digit sacks and left guard Will Hernandez didn’t fare much better. Nonetheless, I believe they’re in for a far better campaign this upcoming year, thanks to a variety of reasons.

Five reasons to expect a big improvement from Andrew Thomas and Will Hernandez:

1.) Both played injured in 2020

After Thomas’s rookie season concluded, it was discovered that he had an ankle injury that required surgery. He played the entire year with his injury that he picked up in training camp, which clearly affected his footwork and overall efficiency. He has since cleaned up the injury and should be 100% for the start of the 2021 season, which will help him improve tremendously.

Hernandez also reportedly had an injury, according to his personal trainer, Duke Manyweather. Both players endured far more than just injuries, as they were also behind mentally in the experience category and understanding of Jason Garrett’s schematics.

2.) Lack of in-person training

Due to COVID-19, both Thomas and Hernandez lacked significant time on the training field with the team. When you aren’t able to establish the base concepts and apply them to practice, it makes transitioning them to a live game that much more difficult. The reality is, they didn’t even have the luxury of practicing and creating muscle memory with their new scheme, which initiated a poor start to the regular season.

3.) Hernandez caught COVID

I would be remiss not to mention the fact Will Hernandez was diagnosed with COVID-19 last year, which significantly hampered his stamina and strength. That was a primary reason Shane Lemieux started a majority of the second half, and the Giants had no choice but to ride with him as Hernandez fought his way back.

4.) No pre-season

As stated above, the lack of preseason forced the Giants to transition from training camp directly to the season against live-action. Pre-season is integral to applying new schematics, especially with a new coaching staff trying to corral the team. Why the defense blew past expectations, the offense struggled to get things going, especially with the lack of playmakers and a blocking scheme that was not refined.

5.) No chemistry

Another factor that played a part was a lack of chemistry in the trenches. With new faces at left tackle, center, and right tackle, the Giants barely had any time for their players to experience each other’s tendencies and timing. The chemistry between an LT and LG is extremely important, and aside from the other factors affecting their efficiency, the lack of experience together clearly showed up on tape.