New York Giants: 3 play-makers who could have great 2020 season’s

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard, Xavier McKinney, Evan Engram

Training camp is underway for the New York Giants and the veterans have taken the football field. With plenty of opt-outs across the league still expected, the Giants have only lost two players thus far –Nate Solder and Da’Mari Scott.

The current roster is a product of a complete overhaul, institutionalized by general manager Dave Gettleman. New head coach Joe Judge has certainly made his impact known early on in his career with the Giants, spending the fourth overall pick on a tackle, Andrew Thomas. Prior to this off-season, Gettleman had never spent a first-round selection let alone a top-five pick on an offensive lineman.

The Giants have struggled in recent years to put any sort of success together. Offensively in 2019, they ranked 18th of 32 in points for and 30th of 32 in points against. They allowed nearly 30 points per game, a number that must decrease moving forward.

Since both sides of the ball need to witness vast improvements, let’s take a look at some of the Giants’ playmakers and what to expect from them in 2020.

Three New York Giants players who could have big 2020 seasons:

1.) Jabrill Peppers

When the Giants originally traded Odell Beckham Jr., they didn’t anticipate Jabrill Peppers becoming a focal point on defense. Since joining Big Blue, he has left his mark.

Despite missing five games in 2019 with an injured hip, Peppers posted very similar stats to his 2018 campaign.

For comparison sake:

2018: 79 combined tackles, five tackles for a loss, four quarterback hits, 1.0 sacks, three fumble recoveries, five passes defended, 1 INT

2019: 76 combined tackles, five tackles for a loss, two quarterback hits, three forced fumbles, five passes defended, one INT, one TD

As you can see, he had a very similar year but posted three additional turnovers on defense. He took a significant step forward at strong safety with the Giants, and having leaned out and added more muscle mass, he looks to be in perfect shape. Considering his development last year, I fully expect him to take a step forward and produce at a high-level.

New York Giants: Sterling Shepard will have a breakout season

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

The New York Giants’ new and improved team could open some eyes in 2020. Especially, Sterling Shepard who is coming off a rough 2019 season. To rephrase it, I’m saying rough season because of the number concussion he dealt with.

For example, Shepard missed six games due to concussions, this was tough to watch as a fan. I love Sterling Shepard, not seeing him on the field hurt me, he is a great team leader.

What we can expect from Shepard

Year in and year out, Shepard is that guy who lights a fire in his teammates. He is a team leader and a motivator, there is no better hype man than Sterling Shepard. Without a doubt, Shepard is a guy who needs to stay healthy and be on the field all game. First off, expect Shepard to be a force in the slot and out wide. Not to forget, Shepard has been used before on Jetsweeps, and wheel routes. Overall, Jason Garrett will have a lot of options to choose from, Shepard will be a huge part of the offensive system in 2020.

2020 stat line projection

In 2020, Sterling Shepard will be a man on a mission. Hopefully, he is healthy for all 16 games. I’m projecting Shepard to be targeted over 100 times with 70 receptions, and have over 700 receiving yards!  Although Shepard only had three touchdowns in 2019, I’m expecting him to have eight receiving touchdowns this year. Overall, I think Shepard will compete with Slayton for receiving yards and touchdown catches.

I’m expecting a big year out of Sterling Shepard especially with the new offensive system installed. I think Jason Garrett will improve Shepards’ game by a landslide. However, the Giants need Shepard to stay healthy in 2020, having two concussions last year scared a lot of Giants’ fans. Especially me, at the end of the day, Sterling Shepard is a family man and has to consider that factor.

Will the New York Giants Have A 1,000-Yard Receiver In 2020?

The New York Giants have put together an offense with a multitude of talented playmakers. Entering his second NFL season, Daniel Jones will be sharing the football with the likes of Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, Golden Tate, Darius Slayton, and others. On paper, this is a pretty solid stable of playmakers.

This is the same group that the Giants put on the field in 2019. But, with a new offensive scheme under Jason Garrett, will this same group of playmakers improve in 2020?

One area of the Giants’ offense that has been heavily discussed this offseason is the receiving corps. Many have criticized the Giants’ offense, citing a lack of a true number one receiver as a major weakness. Even former Giants Super Bowl champion wide receiver Amani Toomer stated this to be a weakness. With that being the case, what will the wide receivers be able to accomplish in 2020 with Daniel Jones and Jason Garrett?

Will There Be A 1,000-Yard Receiver?

From 2014 to 2018, the Giants had one primary receiver running the show and dominating the competition. Odell Beckham Jr. managed to surpass 1,00 receiving yards in every season he played with the Giants (except for 2017 when he only played in 4 games before suffering a season-ending leg injury).

Odell’s departure in the 2019 offseason came as a huge surprise for most Giants fans. Beckham had been the team’s best and most consistent player over the past five seasons and his absence was felt on Sundays in 2019. The Giants did not have a 1,000-yard receiver in 2019 and the team’s receivers struggled to fill the void that the Odell trade left behind.

Will that change in 2020? Will one of the Giants’ receivers crack 1,000 yards? Based on the career history of the Giants’ receivers, it is not very likely.

Sterling Shepard?

Sterling Shepard has never totaled 1,000 receiving yards in his four-year career. His career-high is 872 yards in 2018. Additionally, Shepard spent much of the 2019 season off the field due to injuries. It is unlikely that Sterling Shepard will net his first 1,000-yard season in 2020. Jason Garrett will be running a run-first offense that will use slot receivers like Shepard and Golden Tate as reliable chain movers and underneath route-runners. Shepard likely will not have enough big-play opportunities to have a chance at 1,000 receiving yards.

Golden Tate?

Golden Tate likely will not reach the 1,000-yard milestone this season for the same reasons as Sterling Shepard, though he seems to have a better chance than Sterling. Tate did manage to total 676 receiving yards in 11 games last season. Golden has had three 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his career, but not since 2017. At nearly 32-years old, it is hard to imagine Golden Tate having a career resurgence and becoming anything more than a reliable number two receiver with the Giants this season.

Darius Slayton?

Of all the Giants’ receiving targets, Darius Slayton has the best chance to total 1,000 receiving yards. Slayton flashed tons of potential in limited playing time in 2019. The rookie racked up 740 yards and 8 touchdowns, which was the most of all rookie receivers. Big Play Slay proved to be a big-time playmaker. If Slayton develops in year two he could have a breakout season and become that number one receiving threat that the Giants currently do not have. An expanded role as Daniel Jones’s favorite receiving target in 2020 gives Darius Slayton the best chance to top 1,000 receiving yards.

New York Giants: Sterling Shepard One Of The Game’s Best Slot Receivers

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

The New York Giants‘ offense has a solid stable of playmakers. Daniel Jones is entering his second NFL season and has a new offensive scheme to learn under offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. However, his weapons have not changed. Jones will have the same teammates to share the ball with in 2020 that he did in 2019.

Golden Tate, Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard will serve once again as Daniel Jones’s primary targets. Maybe his favorite target in 2019 was former Oklahoma Sooner Sterling Shepard. Shepard played many snaps on the outside and in the slot last season, but he was particularly efficient on the inside.

Sterling Shepard Stats and Highlights

The Giants have two talented slot receivers on the roster- Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard. This has forced Shepard to play outside more often than he probably should, but he has still been productive in either alignment. But when lined up in the slot, Shepard is one of the most efficient receivers in the NFL.

Sterling Shepard ran 184 routes out of the slot in 2019. He was targeted on 42 of those passes, a target rate of 22.4%, the ninth-best rate in the league. This indicates that Shepard is getting open at a high rate when lined up as the team’s slot receiver.  Shepard’s 42 targets from the slot accounted for about half of his total targets last season. Sterling was targeted 83 times, catching 57 passes for 576 yards and 3 touchdowns in only 10 games.

Since his rookie season, Shepard has been performing as one of the best slot receivers in the entire NFL. As a rookie in 2016, Shep scored 8 touchdowns when lined up in the slot, which was the most in the NFL that season (PFF).

Sterling Shepard has dealt with injuries throughout his NFL career. In 2019, Sterling suffered two concussions that kept him sidelined for six games. The amount of concussions that Sterling has dealt with throughout his career is concerning and frightening. One more concussion could spell the end of a short NFL career. But if Shepard stays healthy in 2020, he could have the first 1,000-yard season of his career. Daniel Jones and Sterling Shepard developed strong chemistry last season and it will be exciting to see how they elevate their game in Jason Garrett’s offense in 2020.

 

New York Giants Possess NFL’s Fastest Offense

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

In the NFL, speed kills. Luckily for the New York Giants, they have plenty of speed on offense.

The new-look New York Giants are heading into the 2020 NFL season with a new coaching staff. The roster, however, has stayed pretty much intact. The Giants rebuilt their offensive line this offseason but they did not add much to their skill positions. The offense, led by second-year quarterback Daniel Jones, will feature the likes of Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and others who were on the roster in 2019.

Recently, NFL Network Analyst Daniel Jeremiah did a study on offenses in the NFL. Jeremiah took the 40-yard dash times for every team in the league and projected their lineup in 11 personnel (1RB, 1TE & 3WR) for the 2020 season. He then ranked each team’s offense by their average 40-yard dash times.

The New York Giants came out on top in this study with the fastest offense in the NFL, based on average 40-yard dash times. At 4.42s, New York was a few ticks ahead of the competition, even proving to be faster than Tyreek Hill and the dangerous Kansas City Chiefs offense.

The Giants’ 40-Yard Dash Times

There are some true speedsters on the Giants’ offense. Darius Slayton ran a 4.39s 40-yard dash, Golden Tate ran it in 4.42s, and Sterling Shepard’s 40 time was 4.48s. Saquon Barkley, of course, lit up the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. There he posted a 4.40s 40-yard dash time. The one player, however, that likely separates the Giants’ offense from the rest of the league is Evan Engram. Engram ran a ridiculously fast 4.42s 40-yard dash in 2017, the second-fastest time ever from a tight end.

It will be exciting to see the Giants’ offense get to work in 2020. They have the speed to burn defenses and, now, the offensive scheme to move the football with Jason Garrett. Daniel Jones has plenty of weapons to drop dimes to next season and he will for years to come.

New York Giants: Daniel Jones Hosts Workout With Receivers In Texas

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants have a true leader in their newest franchise quarterback. After sixteen years with the legend Eli Manning, the Giants began a new chapter in 2019. Daniel Jones is now the face of the New York Giants, and so far, he has shown admirable leadership qualities.

Eli Manning’s offseason workouts at Duke were an annual tradition. Every year, Manning would rally the troops together and conduct workouts with Duke head coach David Cutcliffe. Daniel Jones is working hard to continue this tradition, though in a slightly different way.

The coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult for professional sports to conduct offseason activities. Teams have been conducting minicamps virtually. Recently, though, things have begun to ease up. More and more states are reopening or partially reopening and moving into their first phases of return to normal life. Along with this, Daniel Jones has conducted some offseason training with his teammates.

The Texas Workouts

Daniel Jones “organized an off-site throwing and catching program with his skill players” the past two weeks. Jones and company came together in Austin, Texas, to get some work in. The Giants’ training facility is closed because of COVID-19, so The Giants players needed to find another location to practice.

According to the New York Post, “the arrangements were helped along by Colt McCoy,” who used his strong connections with his alma mater (University of Texas) to help Daniel Jones arrange these training sessions.

There was “a pretty good group of guys” in attendance. Among those guys includes wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton and tight end Kaden Smith. Additionally, Saquon Barkley, Golden Tate, Jonathan Hilliman, and Corey Coleman joined the quarterbacks in Texas. The Post also reports that there were “as many as 15-20 players participating at various points in time.”

The Giants have a new offense to learn this year. Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett was hired this offseason to serve as the Giants’ offensive coordinator. The players in Texas spent time running routes designed by Garrett and discussing the concepts in the passing game.

This is one of many moments where Daniel Jones has already established himself as a leader of this football team. Last week, the 23-year-old released a statement in support of his teammates and the Black Lives Matter movement. This week, Jones has brought his teammates together to focus on football and preparing for the 2020 NFL season.

The Giants’ quarterback is a leader. At only 23-years-old, Daniel Jones has already impressed in that regard. On the field and off the field, Jones is proving to be an excellent man and teammate. Giants fans seem to be lucky enough to have another classy individual lead their team into battle once again.

New York Giants: What one more concussion would mean for Sterling Shepard

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

The New York Giants should be worried about Sterling Shepard and his concussion history:

Anytime a player sustains cumulative concussions in a given season is problematic. New York Giants’ wide receiver Sterling Shepard suffered two concussions in 2019, forcing him to miss six games. It was his worst statistical season to date, logging 576 yards and three touchdowns. He played in just 56% of offensive snaps, taking away one of Daniel Jones’s top security blankets and targets from the slot position.

The Giants might have a serious issue in the wide receiver corps if Sterling suffers another concussion in 2020. Having taken multiple hits to his head, causing injury dating back to high school, Shepard is on the fast track to premature retirement.

This was one of the reasons I believe that the Giants would look for a wide receiver in the 2020 NFL draft, but they stood their ground and managed to secure a few high upside players as undrafted free agents. This could also indicate they might go for a young prospect next year, especially if Shepard suffers another concussion.

Despite his injury history in the area, the Giants are confident in Shepard and offered him a four year, $41 million deal to justify it last season (they didn’t know he would suffer two more in 2019). With Golden Tate entering his 11th season in the NFL, the Giants really only have Darius Slayton as a young pass catcher who will be the future at the position.

Finding more young alternatives is a necessity, and while they will probably stick with the current group moving forward, next season will offer them more available cap space to spend on new players.

When did his two concussions occur in 2019?

Shepard suffered a significant hit to the head in the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys, where he was dragged down on a long reception and bashed his head against the turf. He missed the following game and returned in week three, but suffered another concussion in week five, forcing him out for the next three games. He was cleared by an independent neurologist but began to experience more symptoms and was forced out for another two games.

With a young family, Shepard will have to make a decision that could impact the rest of his life. Another hit to the head would justify the consideration of retirement. Having long-lasting symptoms over the course of 4-5 weeks is not a good sign, and protecting himself must be a priority moving forward.

New York Giants: Amani Toomer Harsh, Yet Accurate When Discussing Team’s WRs

New York Giants legend Amani Toomer recently gave his take on the state of the Giants’ roster. Toomer, a Super Bowl champion, spoke to the New York Post and made headlines for what he said about the team’s playmakers. Amani Toomer referred to the Giants’ wide receivers as a “lacking” unit.

Amani Toomer was hard on the Giants’ receivers. His criticisms were harsh- but they were valid. Toomer’s statements were accurate. The Giants’ wide receivers are lacking. Toomer made a few more specific statements on individual players and most everything he said was true.

The Giants’ “Lacking” Wide Receiver Group

The Giants’ wide receivers heading into 2020 are Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, and Darius Slayton. This is a solid receiver corps, but it is indeed lacking. Mainly, the Giants are lacking a true number one receiver. That go-to guy for Daniel Jones to depend on all game is not there. Of course, New York had that but traded Odell Beckham Jr while his price was still high. That was a move that looked quite ridiculous at the moment but now seems to have been the smart move.

Regardless of whether or not the Giants were right to trade Odell, they are still lacking an explosive receiving threat. You could even argue the Giants’ best receiver is their running back.

Amani Toomer and I agree- there is potential in one of the Giants’ receivers to emerge as that true threat. Toomer said he thinks Slayton is the guy that “has the most upside.’’ Darius Slayton had an excellent rookie season. If he can take that next step in 2020 then he can blossom into a legitimate threat as New York’s number one wideout. But Slayton is more likely to thrive as a really good number two receiver.

Amani’s next criticism is again, highly accurate. When discussing the duo of Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard, Toomer stated, “I think Golden Tate is just a tougher version of [Shepard]. Basically they’re the same receiver, but Golden Tate is a tougher version of him.’’

Toomer tells no lies. Shepard and Tate are both similarly-sized slot receivers. Neither of them is particularly great at separating from defenders, but they both are sure-handed and reliable. Both receivers are explosive after the catch, Tate a little more than Shepard, though. Overall, Toomer is right. Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate are essentially the same players. One could argue that having two players so similar in the same offense creates dysfunction. Both of these players excel in the slot, but more often than not they are forced to alternating playing outside where they are less effective. This is something that the Giants will need to fix in the future to give Daniel Jones a more consistent offense.

Amani’s Peculiar Criticism Of Sterling Shepard

Amani Toomer did make one point that I do not necessarily agree with, though. When discussing Sterling Shepard, Amani said “I’m a little disappointed with Shepard, I don’t know.” He then continued, saying, “My dad always used to tell me, ‘He’s hell when he’s well, he’s just sick all the time.’ That’s what I think when I think of him. He’s just always, there’s always something hurt, or something.”

The reason I disagree with Amani here is that Shepard is not at fault for this. Sterling has not disappointed me by being concussed. Sure, he missed a lot of time in 2019 dealing with injuries. But those injuries were concussions that could have dramatic effects on Sterling’s long-term health. It’s not like he’s missing four weeks with a sore hamstring. He’s been dealing with bruises on his brain. In fact, Shepard, in my opinion, is one of the tougher players on the Giants.

In 2017, the Giants were ravaged with injuries. In the same game, Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, Dwayne Harris, and Sterling Shepard were injured. Beckham, Marshall, and Harris’s injuries were all season-ending. Sterling managed to recover rather quickly from his injury and come back three weeks later. It was a pretty nasty ankle sprain for Sterling, and in a completely lost season that ended in a 3-13 record. Sterling plays through injuries when he can.

Overall, Amani Toomer was harsh, but he was accurate. He gave his opinions and I do not agree with everything he said, but he is correct in stating that the Giants’ wide receiver corps is “lacking.” Hopefully, in a new offensive scheme, Daniel Jones and the Giants can get the best out of their receivers and find success on offense in 2020.

New York Giants: Sterling Shepard’s career is on the line after concussion riddled 2019

New York Giants receiver, Sterling Shepard.

The 2019 season was a problematic one for New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Having signed a four-year, $41 million extension last off-season, Shepard was expected to make a significant impact moving forward, but injuries could derail his career prematurely.

Extending Shepard was a byproduct of trading away Odell Beckham Jr., along with signing Golden Tate, who played for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018. Last season saw many negatives and positives, but one of the major deficiencies was the loss of Shepard on two separate concussions, forcing him out for six total games.

Why the New York Giants should be concerned over Sterling Shepard:

After taking a hit to the head in the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys, Shepard missed the following game with a concussion. Fast forward to week five, And he suffered another head injury, missing the next three games. He was cleared by an independent neurologist but eventually succumbed to more concussion symptoms and was forced out for another two games.

While Shepard was able to return to the field and finish the season, these concussions are quickly adding up and could become too significant to ignore. Shepard has suffered concussions in the past, notably at Oklahoma and in high school, and with two young daughters, risking his long-term health is risky.

Moving forward, the New York Giants will have to find a way to better protect their top slot receiver, which could indicate more reps and targets for Darius Slayton and Tate. We can also expect a heavy dosage of Saquon Barkley in the run and passing game after his recovery from a high ankle sprain. They also have Corey Coleman on the back end of the wide receiver unit, who could make his presence felt after tearing his ACL during training camp last season. He was re-signed to one year deal, and while this is probably his final chance at leaving his mark in the NFL, he could supplement some of Sterling’s reps.

However, Shepard is an integral part of the offense, and his chemistry with Daniel Jones is an essential factor in the offense’s success. I don’t anticipate them limiting Shepard over the long run, but one more concussion could spell the end of his career. This is a genuine issue that we’ve seen impact players down the road and hurt their families in the process. Avoiding this reality is for the betterment of his life and should be prioritized over the game.

Should the New York Giants be worried about their wide receiver corps?

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

A look at the New York Giants’ wide receiver corps and if we should be worried about them in 2020:

On paper, the New York Giants seem to have an adequate wide receiver corpse composed of veterans and new faces. They have a blend of slot receivers and boundary options that can make plays and extend drives.

However, none of them are categorized as elite, which reflects back to the Odell Beckham Jr. trade and how general manager Dave Gettleman supplemented his loss. Gettleman went out and signed Golden Tate, to a four-year, $37.5 million deal.

Following the 2020 season, Tate will be 32 years old and have a potential out in his contract. The Giants can cut him for a $5 million dead cap hit. Otherwise, they can retain him and pay him $11 million in 2021. Saving $6 million might be beneficial for the Giants who could look to add a better wide receiver in free agency or the NFL draft.

While Tate has been productive in some areas, he missed four games last season due to a PED suspension. He tallied 676 yards and six touchdowns, the most scores he has earned since 2015. However, his catch rate was the lowest it has been since his rookie season in 2010 (57.6%). He dropped three passes last season, notably against the New England Patriots in which he scored the first receiving touchdown against their defense through six weeks.

Aside from Tate, the Giants also have Sterling Shepard, who they signed to a four-year, $40 million deal in 2019. Shepard played in just ten games, suffering two concussions that have put his career at risk. He earned his lowest yards total through four seasons and scored three touchdowns on 83 targets. Shepard is a consistent receiver with solid hands, but if he sustains another concussion, he could be forced out of the game prematurely. One wrong move and the Giants could be without another talented pass catcher.

Looking to the outside, the Giants have second-year player Darius Slayton covering the position. Slayton had a stellar rookie campaign, earning 740 yards and a touchdown, leading the team in both areas. He only dropped 2.4% of his attempts, showing off solid hands after a problematic rookie minicamp. His 57.1% catch rate was a little low, and he could use an uptick in that category, but he showed the potential to be the Giants’ top wide-out for the foreseeable future. His chemistry with quarterback Daniel Jones will prove to be essential moving forward.

Overall, the Giants have a decent wide receive a corps going into 2020, but Shepard is on the verge of a career-ending injury, and Tate is not the same player he once was. A lot of expectation is riding on Slaton to produce and see a big jump in his second year, but I believe the unit in 2021 will be a bit different.