New York Giants: Slowing down dominant Cleveland rushing attack the key to Week 15 victory

The New York Giants lost a crucial matchup with the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. This loss moved the Giants down to second place in the NFC East as the Washington Football Team came out victorious against the San Fransisco 49ers. It is a tight race to the finish line for the top teams in the NFC East. Every game left on the schedule should be treated as a playoff game.

This race to the playoffs makes the Giants’ primetime Week 15 matchup that much more important. New York will host the Cleveland Browns next Sunday night in a difficult matchup that will greatly affect the Giants’ chance of winning the division. Cleveland is coming off of an impressive Week 14 performance that saw them come up just short against reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns put on a rushing clinic against Baltimore, as they have all season long. If the Giants want to come out victorious against the Browns, they need to slow down Cleveland’s rushing attack.

Cleveland’s dominant rushing attack

The Cleveland Browns have the best running back duo in the NFL. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are two top-tier running backs running out of the same backfield. This has helped Cleveland create one of the best rushing offenses in the NFL this season.

The Cleveland Browns are third in the NFL in rushing yards per game at 156.2 yards, behind only the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans. The Browns have totaled 16 touchdowns on the ground this season.

After a 2019 season that saw running back Nick Chubb total 1494 rushing yards, 2020 has seen the running back have another excellent season. The Browns’ 2018 second-round pick has dealt with injuries this year and played in only 9 games, but he has performed as one of the best running backs in the NFL when on the field. Chubb is averaging 5.9 yards per attempt and 97.9 yards per game, totaling 881 rushing yards and a career-high 9 rushing touchdowns in 9 games.

Kareem Hunt has been just as impressive though, whether filling in as the full-time back while Chubb was injured or splitting the workload with his teammate in the backfield. Kareem Hunt is averaging 4.4 yards per attempt and 59.4 yards per game as Cleveland’s secondary running back. Hunt has also provided the Browns with solid receiving ability out of the backfield, totaling 252 receiving yards and 5 receiving touchdowns, matching his total of 5 rushing touchdowns on the season.

The Browns’ running back duo has accounted for 19 of the team’s touchdowns this season. Cleveland’s offense runs through those two backs. If the Giants want to get back to their winning ways on Sunday, they need to slow down Cleveland’s rushing attack.

What If The New York Giants Traded Back In The 2018 NFL Draft?

New York Giants. Dave Gettleman, Pat Shurmur

The New York Giants are in the second year of their rebuild. In 2019, New York is once again on pace to finish with a top-ten draft pick. The 2-8 Giants currently hold the third overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

The Giants picked 6th overall in 2019 and 2nd overall in 2018. 2020 will be the Giants’ third straight year with a top-ten pick if they continue to lose the way they have. But a recent rumor from Benjamin Allbright suggests that in 2018, the Giants had the opportunity to trade back with the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

In this article, I will be exploring a hypothetical scenario that might have taken place if the New York Giants accepted the Denver Broncos’ offer in 2018. Of course, this is not definite. Everything has a cause and effect and there is no guarantee that any of these hypotheticals would have happened. But this is one scenario that could’ve happened if the Giants traded back in the 2018 NFL Draft.

The 2018 NFL Draft

If the rumor is true, then the Denver Broncos offered the New York Giants the 2018 5th overall pick, the 2018 40th overall pick, and what became the 2019 20th overall pick. Had the Giants made that deal, they would have likely missed out on Saquon Barkley. But they would have been able to fortify their offensive line with already All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson.

Nelson was drafted sixth overall by the Indianapolis Colts in 2018, so it is fair to assume that he would have been available for the Giants to draft with the fifth overall pick. So the Giants would have missed out on Saquon Barkley for Nelson, but they would have gotten a nice consolation prize at running back in the second round.

Nick Chubb would have been available for the Giants with the 34th overall pick since he was actually drafted 35th overall by the Browns in 2018. The Giants would then be picking again with Denver’s second-round pick, 40th overall. The Broncos drafted Courtland Sutton with this pick. Sutton would have been a solid option for the Giants.

Courtland Sutton, Harold Landry, Josh Jackson, Jessie Bates, and D.J. Chark were some of the top prospects available at this pick. Assume the Giants drafted based on need, Jessie Bates would have been a home run selection as the top safety available.

So, had the Giants made this trade, they would have ended up with an All-Pro left guard in Quenton Nelson, a thousand-yard-rusher as a rookie in Nick Chubb, and a rookie safety who totaled 111 tackles with 3 interceptions and 7 passes broken up in Jessie Bates.

The 2019 Offseason

I will be going through this hypothetical scenario under the concept of “ceteris paribus,” meaning “other things being equal or held constant.” So, Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon still get traded, and the Giants still draft Daniel Jones and Dexter Lawrence.

The Giants drafted Dexter Lawrence with the 17th overall pick. Some controversy arose with this selection because the draft class still had a top-tier offensive tackle available. With the 20th overall pick, the Denver Broncos selected tight end, Noah Fant.

The Giants had and still have Evan Engram, so it is hard to believe they would have gone the same route as Denver did with Fant at pick 20. Instead, the Giants would get that offensive tackle prospect that they desperately needed then and even more desperately need now.

Andre Dillard was drafted by the division-rival Eagles with the 22nd overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Dillard was the top offensive tackle prospect available and was though to be a premier pass-protector. Dillard has only started three games for the Eagles this season as they are grooming him to take over on the left side when Jason Peters retires, but he would have been a day-one starter on the right side of the Giants’ offensive line.

And this article was not written to be a Debbie Downer or Negative Nancy. I am not trying to criticize Dave Gettleman and the work he has done in the NFL Draft these last two years because I think he has done a superb job. This article was written for fun, as a hypothetical “What If?” situation, the same as “What if Eli Manning remained a San Diego Charger?” so, please, do not attack me on Twitter. This article was also written to point out that trading down in the NFL Draft can reap huge benefits, even if a team is trading only a few picks back.

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley Wins 2018 Pepsi Rookie Of The Year

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

After already winning the PFWA Offensive Rookie of the Year award, New York Giants’ running back Saquon Barkley has added another trophy to his collection. Fans across the country voted for the Pepsi Rookie Of The Year, and the Giants’ rookie won the voting. Saquon beat out other great talents, such as Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Darius Leonard, and Phillip Lindsay.

It should come as no surprise the Saquon won this award. Barkley was the third running back in NFL history to total 2,000 scrimmage yards as a rookie. With this feat, the rookie from Penn State joined the elite company of Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James.

Barkley proved to be well worth the 2nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Along with his league leading 2,028 yards from scrimmage, Saquon scored 15 total touchdowns. He totaled 15 with 11 rushing and 4 receiving. His 91 receptions were also a rookie running back record. Saquon was a true force in both the rushing and receiving game.

Barkley was also voted to the 2019 NFL Pro Bowl. Saquon is greatly respected by his peers and coaches. Of course, the Pro Bowl is an event for the fans, so this is another testament to how much the fans love Barkley.

Saquon was excited to receive the award, and eager to bring it back to the Big Apple:

Giants fans should take a moment to reflect and appreciate Saquon Barkley’s incredible rookie season. Not only was Saquon a stat-sheet stuffer, he was also a human-highlight reel. Barkley proved he could take any play and turn it into a highlight.

A simple screen pass:

A speedy handoff from 78 yards out:

An everyday 9 yard gain:

And of course, an ordinary handoff from the 1 yard line:

If Giants Lose Out On Barkley they Must Consider These Three Running Backs

The fan-base for the New York Giants is on a Saquon Barkley craze, and rightfully so as he posted incredible NFL combine numbers; running the 40-yard dash faster (4.41) than Odell Beckham Jr. and jumping higher (41 inches) than Julio Jones. Barkley clocked in at 233-pounds of pure muscle, making him one of the draft’s heaviest running backs.

But the consensus is that Barkley might be on short list for the Cleveland Browns at No. 1 overall, so realistically, we must evaluate the other running back talent in the draft.

Here are the top three behind Barkley:

Georgia, Sony Michel:

Michel is believed to be the second-best back in the league behind Barkley, after averaging 7.9 yards per carry in 2017 and recording 1,227 yards with 16 touchdowns. The Georgia product is a workhorse back. In the NFL, we should expect to see him handling a full load.

Michel could fall to the second-round and land with the Giants at No. 34 overall if they can’t secure Barkely int he first.

LSU, Derrius Guice:

Averaging 5.3 yards per carry in 2017, Guice is among the nations best running backs. He additionally totaled 1,251 yards and 11 touchdowns. Drafting Guice would add a power runner to the mix for the Giants; a player with good instincts and ability with the ball in his hands.

If drafted in the second-round, he could be a workhorse back for the Giants in 2018.

Georgia, Nick Chubb:

Splitting carries with Sony Michel at Georgia was Nick Chubb;  a physical back with tackle-breaking abilities. He averaged 6 yards per carry in 2017 for 1,345 with 15 touchdowns. If Michel wasn’t stealing the spotlight from Chubb, he may have seen much improved stock going into the combine.

He could be a solid scoop for the Giants in the third-round if he falls.