New York Giants: 3 hot takes going into the 2020 season

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

The New York Giants have a long way until the 2020 season is underway, with training camp under a month away and several legal proceedings still being ironed out.

Nobody knows if DeAndre Baker or Aldrick Rosas will see the field again, but we must push forward nonetheless.

Let’s take a look at three hot takes for the New York Giants going into the 2020 campaign:

1.) Leonard Williams will be in the Pro-Bowl

When general manager Dave Gettleman sent a third-round pick to the New York Jets in return for Leonard Williams, the fanbase was up in arms. Prior to joining the Giants, Williams had posted 0 sacks, 20 combine tackles, and five quarterback hits with the Jets through seven games. In the second half of the year, he posted 0.5 sacks, 26 combine tackles, 11 quarterback hits, and miss just 3.7% of his tackles, amounting to just one.

The thing about Williams is that he makes everybody around him better, Dalvin Tomlinson and Dexter Lawrence both saw increases in production and efficiency due to the arrival of the former Jet. Leonard’s ability to draw double-teams and put pressure in the trenches and collapse the pocket is precisely why Gettleman hit him with the franchise tag, which will pay him about $16 million in 2020.

Paying him that much money comes with expectations, as the once great uncle Ben from Spiderman said, “with great power comes great responsibility.“

Williams has a lot of expectations on his shoulders, but I believe he will live up to the hype this upcoming season. With half a season of experience and an off-season worth of virtual chemistry building with his teammates, I believe he will replicate the production he saw earlier on in his career when he posted 7.0 sacks and 19 quarterback hits in 2016. We know he’s capable of much more, it’s just a matter of putting him in the right scheme and situation to succeed. I believe defensive coordinator Patrick Graham can unearth his hidden production.

Should the New York Giants Try To Trade For Chiefs DL Chris Jones?

The New York Giants have arguably one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. General manager Dave Gettleman has made it a priority to build through the trenches. Since becoming the general manager in 2018, Gettleman has invested

But what if this defensive line could get even better? What if Gettleman made one last investment to push the unit over the top? One of the best young defensive linemen in the NFL, Chris Jones, could be a potential blockbuster trade target.

Why would this trade make sense for the Chiefs?

The Kansas City Chiefs and Chris Jones are in the middle of a contract dispute. Chris Jones even threatened to sit out the 2020 NFL season if he does not receive a long-term contract extension. Jones is seeking a deal worth more than $20 million per year.

“[Chris Jones] always viewed himself as a $20 million-plus-per-year guy. The Chiefs, frankly, never did. Even before the whole COVID situation, they never made an offer north of $20 million — felt like they could get him somewhere below that. A lot of work to be done here if there’s going to be a long-term deal for Chris Jones…” – Mike Garafolo of NFL Network

Additionally, the Chiefs have another superstar to pay. You might have heard of him. Patrick Mahomes? Yeah, they have to pay him soon. Showtime Mahomes is the best quarterback in the NFL and he is about to get paid like it. Reports indicate that Mahomes could seek a contract worth more than $40 million per year. It would be tough to pay Mahomes that amount while also paying Chris Jones $20 million. This cap dilemma could lead the Chiefs to trade away Chris Jones.

If the Chiefs were to trade Chris Jones to the New York Giants, receiving Leonard Williams and a draft pick in exchange would make sense for them. Trading away Jones would be a huge loss for this defense. But obtaining Leonard Williams would surely soften the blow. Williams could fit right into Jones’s previous role with the team. He would not perform in that role as well as Jones did, but Williams is still one of the better players in the league at the position. Plus, his contract will be much cheaper than Chris Jones’s.

On top of that, if the Chiefs do not give Williams a long-term deal, they will be eligible to receive a third-round compensatory pick in the next NFL Draft if Williams walks away in the 2021 free agency period.

Why would this trade make sense for the Giants?

In order for this trade to make sense for the New York Giants, they will need to free up some cap space. This offseason, the Giants placed the expensive franchise tag on IDL Leonard Williams. The one-year franchise tag is worth over $16 million in cap space. Williams is seeking a new, long-term contract. That contract will likely be worth around $16 million per year.

If the Giants were to offer a trade for Chris Jones, they should begin by including Leonard Williams in the deal. Leonard Williams is a highly-talented defensive lineman and is arguably top-ten in the league at his position. But Chris Jones is arguably top-two. If the Giants could make that upgrade for a few million more in cap space, they should.

Chris Jones is a legitimate pass-rushing threat from the interior. In 2018, Jones totaled 15.5 sacks and 49 pressures. He followed that up with a 9 sack, 27 pressure performance in 2019. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones ranks third among interior defenders in pass-rushing grade over the past four seasons. He also has recorded 212 pressures in that time span, fourth-most (PFF).

If this hypothetical trade were to come true, the Giants would have to throw in a draft pick. That pick could be the deal-breaker. If it is a high pick, then they should not take the deal. Draft picks are extremely valuable in the first three rounds, especially for a rebuilding team like the Giants. But if they can complete the trade by throwing in a mid-to-late round pick, plus a new $20 million-per-year contract along with Leonard Williams, the Giants would be acquiring one of the NFL’s brightest defensive stars in Chris Jones.

Why would this trade make no sense?

If this trade were to happen, the Chiefs would be losing the best player on their defense. Keeping Chris Jones is going to cost the Chiefs a lot, but he is worth the money. Jones has been one of the most consistent and dominating defensive lineman in the NFL over the past four years. At only 26 years old, the Chiefs would be wise to keep Jones as part of their long-term plans. If they feel like they can afford to pay him, they will.

On the flip side, the Giants might not consider this trade worth it. As stated previously, the extra draft pick is the key. If the trade requires a second-round pick, the Giants should turn the other way. But even if it only requires a fifth-round pick, the Giants might not be interested. The Gmen are a rebuilding team. Cap space is valuable. Maybe they are not the best team to pay a defensive lineman $20 million per year.

Then again, Dave Gettleman does love his hog mollies and Chris Jones is one of the best hog mollies in the NFL. Maybe he will be enticed by a potential trade for the young and dominant Chris Jones. It may be a long shot, but a trade does hypothetically make sense. This could be exactly what the New York Giants need.

New York Giants, Joe Judge to ‘push’ Leonard Williams

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

Leonard Williams is entering his first full season with the New York Giants. The Giants acquired Williams from the New York Jets before last season’s NFL trade deadline for a 2020 third- and 2021 fifth-round draft pick. The Giants utilized the franchise tag on Williams this offseason, which pays him roughly $16.1 million for the 2020 season.

New head coach Joe Judge is encouraged by the team’s conversations with Williams, and the Giants have made it clear that they plan to “push” the defensive lineman.

“Leonard has had a really good spring in terms of what we’re able to do working virtually,” Judge said, per Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. “He’s done a phenomenal job working with our coaches. He’s been great in meetings. He’s been very active. We’ve had great conversations. And we’ve expressed to him how much we’re gonna work and push him, that we want to see him maximize his potential.”

Judge says there has been minimal talk about a long-term deal for Williams.

“There have not been extensive talks on contracts since the spring’s gone virtual.”

The head coach wants Williams to maximize his potential this season.

“The biggest focus I have on Leonard right now is that this year, he can really go ahead and maximize his potential. I’m looking forward to working with him for this year, and I’m really looking forward to working with him on the field, finally, to be honest with you.”

The Giants have put a lot of stock in their defensive line. Alongside Williams is Dexter Lawrence (one of the team’s three first-round draft selections in 2017), Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, RJ McIntosh, and Austin Johnson, a free-agent signee.

Williams appeared in eight games for the Giants last season. Across those games, he totaled 26 combined tackles, two tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hits, and 0.5 sacks. Across his five seasons in the NFL, Williams has totaled 266 combined tackles and 17.5 sacks.

Leonard Williams Tag Named New York Giants Biggest Offseason Mistake

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

The New York Giants have had an eventful offseason and have improved in some areas while taking a hit in others, but one of their more controversial moves remains the franchise tagging of Leonard Williams.

Of course, the controversy didn’t just start with Williams getting the tag. The trade to bring Williams to the Giants was controversial in and of itself, with many questioning after the season whether or not the Giants had gotten much out of it given Williams’ slow start with the team.

Just as controversial, though, is the decision to keep paying Williams big money for a player who hasn’t performed yet, under the franchise tag. According to Bleacher Report, it’s the biggest regret the Giants will have from this offseason.

Let’s be honest. The New York Giants may regret trading for defensive lineman Leonard Williams more than they regret hanging onto him. They gave the crosstown Jets a third-round pick and a conditional fourth-rounder to land Williams and got little in return.

In eight games, Williams had just 13 solo tackles and half a sack. Yet general manager Dave Gettleman has defended the trade.

Williams will, of course, have higher expectations in 2020 while playing under a new and hopefully better defensive coordinator, with a full offseason to get used to being on the team. But as a player on the Jets, Williams never quite turned the corner either and became the player the Jets were looking for, not repeating his 7 sack sophomore performance in either of the past two years before his trade.

Things aren’t looking all bad for the Giants and Williams, however. If Williams has one saving grace, it’s that he led the league in quarterback hits last season, indicating some potential to step up and get more actual sacks and tackles for a loss in 2020.

The front office made their choice and decided to keep Williams for 2020 despite the 2019 performances – whether or not that choice will pan out remains one of the big questions for the year and the coming season.

New York Giants: Top Three 2021 Pro Bowl Candidates

The New York Giants were one of the worst teams in the NFL in 2019. Despite playing in the biggest market and being one of the league’s most popular teams, the Giants laid a goose egg in Pro Bowl voting. Not a single Giants player made the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl, held in Orlando, Florida.

The NFL recently announced that the 2021 Pro Bowl will be played in Las Vegas. The question now is whether or not any New York Giants players will be in Las Vegas with the rest of the best players in the NFL. That being said, who are the Giants’ top candidates to make the 2021 Pro Bowl?

Saquon Barkley

Superstar running back Saquon Barkley is entering his third NFL season. Saquon put the league on notice in his rookie season, totaling a league-high 2,028 scrimmage yards. Barkley also made the Pro Bowl and won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018.

2019 was a bit less exciting for Barkley. The Penn State product suffered an ankle injury in Week 3 that kept him sidelined for weeks. Even when Saquon returned from the injury he was not fully himself.

In 2020, a fully healthy Saquon Barkley should have another monstrous season. He had a new and improved offensive line, along with a new offensive coordinator in Jason Garrett. Garrett led the Cowboys offense to numerous rushing titles during his time in Dallas. Saquon Barkley could break out in a major way this season in Garrett’s offensive scheme.

Leonard Williams

One of Dave Gettleman’s most controversial decisions as general manager of the New York Giants was trading a third and fifth-round pick for impending free-agent defensive lineman Leonard Williams. The former New York Jet made the trip to the other locker room and immediately had a significant impact on the Giants’ defense.

“Leonard Williams ranked 11th in total pressures among interior defensive lineman in 2019. Only Williams and two others in the top 20 had fewer than 4 sacks last season. Leonard Williams led the NFL with 19 QB hits, with the 2nd ranked player recording 14.” – Pro Football Focus

Year after year, Leonard Williams has been a great defensive lineman. However, he has only made the Pro Bowl once (2016). If Williams could turn more of those pressures into sacks, he could make his second career Pro Bowl in 2020.

Kevin Zeitler

Kevin Zeitler is one of the best pass-blocking offensive guards in the NFL. In 2019, in 61 combined pass-blocking snaps against Ndamukong Suh, Fletcher Cox, and Kenny Clark this season, Zeitler allowed just one quarterback hurry (PFF). The Giants acquired Zeitler in the Vernon and Odell trade with the Cleveland Browns, and he has been one of the team’s best players ever since.

Also according to Pro Football Focus, Zeitler finished with the sixth-best grade among guards and posted a strong 75.0 pass-blocking grade — the sixth-straight year he’s achieved that mark. Kevin Zeitler provides the Giants with consistent, and reliable pass protection- something hugely important for a young, developing quarterback like Daniel Jones. If the Giants are winning games with an improved offensive line, Zeitler will deserve to go to his first career Pro Bowl in 2020.

New York Giants’ Leonard Williams is living the craziest life during quarantine

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

The entire concept behind quarantining mostly revolves around remaining indoors and away from the general public. For New York Giants’ defensive lineman Leonard Williams, spearfishing and going on other wild adventures in life seems to be the new norm.

Williams has spent his days traveling and secluding himself from the general public, and this time around, he posted videos of him and a few friends spearfishing and making tacos.

Williams recently signed a $16 million deal on the franchise tag for the 2020 season. In 2019, Giants’ general manager Dave Gettleman traded with the New York Jets to acquire Williams. In return, he gave up a third and later round pick.

In eight games for the Giants, he posted 0.5 sacks, 26 combined tackles, two tackles for loss, and 11 quarterback hits. His numbers improved after changing locker rooms at MetLife Stadium, but his production was still quiet for the talent he contains.

The New York Giants are trying to bring out the best in Leonard Williams:

The Giants are attempting to extrapolate on his skill set and hopefully bring the best out of the young interior defender. Williams draws double teams frequently, but pairing him with Dalvin Tomlinson and Dexter Lawrence should give him more opportunity to face solo blockers. If he can improve in the sack category, Gettleman will look like a genius, otherwise, he would have forfeited draft capital that could have become a serviceable starter.

Considering the Giants are still in the midst of a rebuild, placing the franchise tag on Williams is justifiable. If he performs well in 2020, they can extend him to a multi-year deal that will keep him in blue for the next three seasons, at least. New management seems to be focused on three-year contracts, front-loading deals, and having an escape route in year three with low dead cap.

I believe we haven’t seen all of Williams’ talent at this point; the primary issue is Gettleman didn’t improve the outside linebacker unit, meaning other teams won’t have to compensate for an elite pass rusher. This could ultimately hurt Williams’ production moving forward — double teams will remain a factor, which is a positive and its own right.

In the meantime, Williams seems happy traveling and doing exotic things to pass the time until football returns to normalcy.

Why The New York Giants’ Defensive Line Is The Strongest Position Group On The Roster

The New York Giants‘ defense is loaded with young talent. New York has invested a lot of draft capital over the past two years to improve its defense. They have found talent in the secondary and linebacker corps, but they have found more talent on the defensive line than anywhere else. The Giants have quickly turned their defensive line into the team’s strongest unit, thanks to some hefty investments that have loaded their roster with young, talented players.

Hefty Investments

Since 2018, Dave Gettleman has invested 2018 third-round pick, 2018 seventh-round pick, 2019 first-round pick, 2019 seventh-round pick, 2020 third-round pick, 2021 fifth-round pick, and $16.1 million franchise tag into the Giants’ defensive line. Additionally, former general manager Jerry Reese spent a second-round pick on the defensive line in 2017. All of these investments have allowed the Giants to build an excellent group of defensive linemen.

Loads Of Youthful Talent

The oldest player in the group is Dalvin Tomlinson, and calling him old is wildly inaccurate. Tomlinson will be only 26 years old when the season starts. The next oldest player is Leonard Williams, who will also be 26 years old when the season starts. Dexter Lawrence is entering his second season at 22 years old. All three of these players are 26 years old or younger and highly efficient at their positions.

Dalvin Tomlinson had a breakout season in 2019. He racked up a career-high 3.5 sacks to go along with 49 combined tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, and 13 pressures. Dalvin is primarily a run-stuffer but he showed great improvement as a pass-rusher last season.

Leonard Williams arrived and made a significant impact in 2019. Nearly every other player on the defensive line saw their efficiency increase due to Williams absorbing double teams. To read more about the improved play of the Giants’ defensive lineman after Williams arrived, click here.

Dexter Lawrence showed tons of promise as a rookie in 2019. The hog molly out of Clemson totaled 38 combined tackles and 2.5 sacks, and 15 pressures as a rookie. He was even the highest-graded rookie at his position according to Pro Football Focus.

Behind these top-three talents, the Giants have tons of depth on their defensive line. BJ Hill was a solid starter as a rookie in 2018, prior to Leonard Williams’s arrival. RJ McIntosh showed flashes and Chris Slayton was recently elevated off the practice squad. New York has no shortage of defensive line talent heading into the 2020 season.

New York Giants’ Leonard Williams was dominant in one specific category during 2019 season

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

There is no question that the New York Giants will feature Leonard Williams on their defensive line during the 2020 season. General manager Dave Gettleman tapped Williams with the franchise tag, which will pay him about $16 million this upcoming year.

The Williams debate has been the talk of the town since Gettleman traded a third-round pick for him in 2019. While his influence doesn’t come in the form of sacks, he made the players around him better.

Specifically, Dalvin Tomlinson saw his numbers double when Williams joined Big Blue in week eight of the 2019 regular season. The former Jet also saw his numbers increase, mainly his quarterback hits, which saw an increase of six from 5 to 11 in nearly the same percentage of defensive snaps with the Giants. In fact, he actually played more defensive snaps with the Jets (by 1%) through the first seven weeks compared to the Giants in the final eight. That is quite impressive from a production standpoint.

However, when evaluating Williams, you shouldn’t look at his sack numbers, but rather his pressure rate. His 11.3 pressure rate in 2019, ranked 13th among interior defensive lineman, according to Pro Football Focus. He lead all interior lineman with 19 pressures, which was five more than the 2nd ranked player.

The debate isn’t whether Williams is productive, though, it’s his contract that spurs the most negativity. It seems people understand what he brings to the defense, but not the price tag that accompanies it. Paying out $16 million for a defensive tackle is often not the best allocation of resources. Nonetheless, the New York Giants still have time to extend him on a multi-year deal that pays him less per season.

The Giants need Williams to play at a high-level this upcoming season, as his influence on Tomlinson and Dexter Lawrence is significant.

“He brings experience and a great work ethic to our group because he makes you want to outwork him in practice every day, where he goes harder than anyone,” Lawrence told Pat Ragazzo of Sports Illustrated. “A lot of people don’t understand the value he brings to a defense, but I know firsthand what kind of impact he makes.”

New York Giants: The hidden secrets surrounding Leonard Williams’ influence on defense

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

Taking a look at how Leonard Williams helped the New York Giants‘ defensive line:

When general manager Dave Gettleman traded for Leonard Williams, most believed this was a deal meant to save his job and preserve his image within the NFL. Giving up a third-round pick and more for a defensive lineman who simply couldn’t log a sack looked problematic, but when you deep dive into the analytics, his influence is a bit more significant than you would imagine.

With the Giants in 2019, Williams posted 0.5 sacks, 26 combine tackles, 11 quarterback hits, two tackles for loss, and one forced fumble. On average, he played about the same percentage of snaps with both the Giants and Jets, but his numbers with Big Blue far out-gained his production with the Jets. He was able to get into the offensive backfield more frequently, seeing an increase of six quarterback hits after the trade, and he logged more tackles for a loss (0 to 2).

However, despite his increase in production, the Giants are scheduled to pay him $16 million for the 2020 campaign. Unless they can extend him and lower his cap hit significantly, they will be overpaying for a player who simply can’t get the quarterback on the ground. Alternatively, you could make the argument that he does his job just fine, drawing double teams regularly and ranking 13th and pressure rate at 11.3%, according to PFF.

From Pro Football Focus:

No player had a bigger deference between his pressure rate rank and sack rate rank than Williams, who split the year between the Giants and the New York Jets prior to his trade. Among 87 interior defenders with 200 or more pass-rushing snaps, Williams ranked 13th in pressure rate at 11.3% but his one sack in 424 pass-rushing snaps put him near the bottom of the list in sack rate. On the other hand, Williams led the position with 19 quarterback hits. A few fractions of a second faster on several of those plays and that sack total looks a whole lot more respectable.

Considering the draft capital that the Giants gave up acquiring Williams, it seems likely that they’ll retain him moving forward. He’s always been a better run defender than a pass-rusher, but he’s certainly better in the passing game than the one sack he was able to produce in 2019. Now the Giants just need to figure out how to balance all the young talent they have at interior defensive line if they re-sign Williams.

When looking at Williams, though, you have to look at the players around him and see how he affected their play as well. Before Williams joined the Giants’ defense, Dalvin Tomlinson was having an OK season. Prior to his week eight arrival, Tomlinson had recorded 0.5 sacks, 17 combine tackles, and 3 QB hits.

After his arrival, Tomlinson posted 32 combine tackles, three sacks, and six quarterback hits. He more than doubled most of his statistical output. This is a significant jump for a player who wasn’t considered to be a foundational piece on the defense. Taking a look over at Dexter Lawrence, who was a rookie in 2019, his stats also saw an improvement.

Before Williams’s arrival, he had posted one sack, 19 combine tackles, and three quarterback hits. After he joined, Lawrence posted 19 combine tackles, 0.5 sacks, and six quarterback hits. His production was about the same, but as a rookie, that is to be expected.

As the chemistry gels between the trio in the trenches, we can expect them to increase their production and offer more value to the defense. Sometimes looking at an individual’s numbers does not tell the full story, and with Leonard Williams, his influence on other players must be considered.

Projecting The New York Giants’ Top Roster Strengths in 2020

New York Giants, Darnay Holmes, Julian Love, Jabrill Peppers, DeAndre Baker, Xavier McKinney, Corey Ballentine

The New York Giants have rebuilt their roster over the past couple of seasons. They found their future franchise quarterback, Daniel Jones, in 2019 and revamped their offensive line in 2020. The future is bright for the New York Giants, but the rebuild is not complete. There are some legitimate strengths on their roster but also some glaring weaknesses. Today, I will break down those strengths heading into 2020, and tomorrow I will be back to breakdown those weaknesses.

Running Back

Saquon Barkley is entering his third season in the NFL. The 23-year-old freak athlete out of Penn State is coming off of a thousand-yard rushing season, despite playing in only 13 games. He led the NFL in scrimmage yards as a rookie with 2028 yards. He is arguably the most talented running back in the league and will be playing in a new, run-heavy offensive scheme in 2020.

The hiring of Jason Garrett should be music to Saquon’s ears. Garrett has led one of the NFL’s best rushing attacks over the past decade in Dallas. Jason Garrett and the Dallas Cowboys ran for 2,153 yards last season on 4.8 yards per attempt with 18 rushing touchdowns. The team has rushed for over 1,900 yards in every season since 2016. In 2015 they were 10 yards short of that mark but were coming off of an explosive 2,354 rushings yards in 2014. Expect to see the New York Giants’ offense feature a heavy dosage of run plays with Saquon Barkley and the solid depth behind him in Dion Lewis.

The Defensive Line

Dave Gettleman has invested plenty of assets into the Giants’ defensive line. Reese invested a 2017 second-round draft pick on Dalvin Tomlinson. Dave Gettleman followed that up in 2018, drafting BJ Hill in the third round and RJ McIntosh in the seventh round.

In 2019, Dave Gettleman and the Giants went all-in bolstering the defensive line. They spent a first-round pick on Dexter Lawrence, a seventh-round pick in Chris Slayton, then made the controversial trade for Leonard Williams. Trading for Williams cost a 2020 third-round draft pick and a 2021 fifth-round draft pick. Plus, of course, the $16M+ franchise tag.

Altogether, the Giants have invested seven draft picks and around $20M in their defensive line. But this pricey investment has paid off. The Giants have one of the NFL’s best defensive lines with plenty of young talent that will only get better. Heading into 2020, the defensive line is the strongest positional group on the New York Giants’ roster.

The Secondary

Another positional group that the Giants have invested plenty of assets in recently is their secondary. In 2019, the Giants drafted three defensive backs (four if you count Sam Beal, the supplemental draft selection). The Giants traded up into the first round to draft DeAndre Baker, stole Julian love in the fourth round, and picked Corey Ballentine in the sixth round.

The Giants did lose Janoris Jenkins this year, but they quickly replaced him with James Bradberry. The Gmen signed Bradberry to a lucrative three-year, $43M contract. Bradberry will serve as the Giants’ primary cornerback in 2020 and beyond. The team also found two cornerbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft. Darnay Holmes, their fourth-round pick, could be a day-one starter in the slot. Chris Williamson was also a solid pick in the seventh round.

On the back end, the Giants have Jabrill Peppers, the talented safety acquired in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. Peppers impressed in 2019 but had his season cut short due to injury. The Giants have also paired another young, talented safety with Peppers. Their second-round pick in 2020, Xavier McKinney, is an uber-versatile, instant-impact player. Combine those two talents with Julian Love mixed in and the Giants have a young trio of safeties to build their defense around for years to come.