New York Giants: Is Sterling Shepard The Real Deal? The Patriots Thought So.

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

Sterling Shepard is now the main receiver on the New York Giants, along with Golden Tate. Few thought that would be the case after Odell Beckham Jr. signed a huge contract extension less than a full year ago but here we are anyway, after the Giants moved Beckham to Cleveland and signed Shepard to a large extension this week to secure the player who will now effectively have to take over for the former number one receiver.

Did the team make the right move putting this much trust in Shepard, however? The question is still up for debate. Shepard has never had to be more than the number two receiver playing in the same starting lineup with an established superstar. It remains to be seen whether paying Shepard like a star is the right move, but at least one other team agrees with the Giants in their assessment.

That team is the New England Patriots, who by now are very well-known for having some of the best player scouting in the entire league. According to the New York Daily News, the Patriots previously wanted to make a trade to acquire Shepard.

Bill Belichick and the Pats had interest in Shepard this offseason, according to a source, as a deadly new weapon for ageless six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady.

But while the trade was stated to be a real possibility, the fact that the Giants moved on from Beckham practically shot down the hopes of it happening. The team has enough question marks at the receiver position without moving Shepard, and a trade with the Patriots would have only served to increase the amount of time a rebuild will take.

Shepard is going to be a Giant for years to come, and based partly on the fact that the Patriots, a dynasty that isn’t known to trade often for big name receivers, also had interest in the player, they just might have made the right call on signing the extension.

BREAKING: New York Giants Extend Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

The New York Giants have secured one of their best young players for the future. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard has signed a 4 year, $41 million extension with the Giants. The deal features $21.3 million in guaranteed money.

Sterling Shepard was drafted by the Giants in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He has been a dependable slot receiver for the Giants. In 2018, Shepard played all 16 games and totaled 872 receiving yards and 4 receiving touchdowns on 66 catches.

The Giants are committing to Shepard as their primary receiver for the next 4 years. Over the past 3 seasons, Shepard has had multiple games where he played as the primary receiver, filling in for Odell Beckham Jr. whenever he was injured. Sterling proved he can play outside, as well as his usual slot position.

This signing solidifies the Giants’ receiving corps for the next 4 years. Last month, the Giants signed veteran receiver Golden Tate to a 4-year deal. Shepard and Tate will lead the Giants’ receiving attack for the foreseeable future.

The Giants’ offense looks to be deadly in 2019. Shepard and Tate will make a fearsome receiving duo, but the offense’s main superstar, Saquon Barkley, will look to improve on his incredible 2018 rookie season. Shepard and Barkley are close friends, so Gettleman has definitely made his best player happy with today’s signing.

Now that Dave Gettleman has decided to commit to some in-house talent, the question is, who is next? Will other young stars, such as Evan Engram, receive an extension too? The signing of Sterling Shepard gives Giants fans a reason to be even more excited for their future.

New York Giants: Eyeing The Positives in a Beckham-less Giants Offense

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants organization changed drastically the night of March 12th when General Manager Dave Gettleman traded away star player Odell Beckham Jr. Whether that change is positive or negative remains to be seen, the reality of the situation is that it’s simply too early to come to any rational conclusion.

The claims suggesting the Giants will be in a worse position after trading Beckham are premature considering we are still 6 months away from watching the 2019 Giants hit the field on Sunday.

One could argue that the Giants offense will be just fine without Beckham considering that the offense performed better in the four games he missed due to a season-ending quad injury. Despite an abysmal shutout to the Titans in week 15, the Giants still managed to average 26.4ppg. That production came out to over a 4 point increase from their 22.2ppg when Beckham was in the lineup. Erasing the outlier in week 15, the Giants averaged a total of 33ppg in the 4 other games they played without Odell to end the season.

It has been proven time and time again that a star receiver is not a necessity to a championship roster. What’s more important is to distribute that wealth among a variety of solid NFL players, modeling the New England Patriots.

A Look At What’s Left:

For starters, there’s All-Pro running back sensation Saquon Barkley, who is now considered the face of the franchise with Beckham’s absence. There is not much else that needs to be said about the Rookie of the Year and Ground player of the Year… The Giants landed an absolute stud. Now let’s consider the following:

Love it or hate it, what is often forgot about the offense is that former GM Jerry Reese prioritized drafting skill position players during his tenure. Electric tight end Evan Engram (‘17 Rd1) and receiver Sterling Shepard (‘16 Rd2) have both shown tremendous upside while wearing blue. When healthy, Evan Engram is a top tight end in the NFL. For the 2018 season, his grade of 76.5 was the third highest on the offense. Trailing only Odell Beckham (90) and Saquon Barkley (85.9), according to Pro Football Focus.

Engram would have graded much higher had the season been split in two. From weeks 1-8, while plagued with all sorts of injury, Engram’s average PFF grade was a 54.8. After the bye week, a healthier Engram performed at an elite level, earning a 91.7 overall grade for his performance during weeks 9-17.

As for Shepard, he finished 5th on the offense with a PFF grade of 67.3. Aside from his receiving, it is also his effort in blocking which makes him a valuable piece to the offense. Check out his key blocks against the Redskins when the Giants cruised to a 40-17 win in week 14:

The Addition of Golden Tate:

After letting the dust settle the first day of free agency, the Giants made their splash signing established wide receiver Golden Tate to a four-year deal, worth up to $37.5 million with $23 million guaranteed. Tate, who essentially played on a half-season rental for the Eagles, played his previous four seasons with the Detroit Lions. In Detroit, he was a force to be reckoned with tallying over 90 catches in each of those years. Tate finished the 2018 season with 74 catches and 4 touchdowns. While playing in two separate offenses, Tate earned a respectable 71.1 PFF grade.

No wide receiver has accumulated more yards after the catch (1,672) than Tate over the past three seasons, making it obvious why he is widely recognized as the #YACKing.

The Kevin Zeitler Trade:

In perhaps the most successful move of the offseason, the Giants acquired premier right guard Kevin Zeitler from the Cleveland Browns in exchange for edge rusher Olivier Vernon. With trades trending upward in the NFL, this certainly qualified as a win-win for both the Browns and the Giants. The Giants, whom everyone assumed would cut Vernon, got exceptional value from him in Zeitler. The right Guard graded out as PFF’s #1 pass protecting guard in the NFL with a 91.7.

For reference, guards Patrick Omameh and Jamon Brown allowed a combined 39 pressures in only 14 games last year. Zeitler allowed just 11 pressures through 16 starts.

Zeitler brings stability to an offensive line that was already greatly improved from years prior. GM Dave Gettleman has made countless promises to revamp the offensive line, and bringing in an elite guard like Zeitler does just that.

Bottom Line:

While the jury is still out on whether or not the New York Giants need Odell Beckham Jr, it’s more important to understand that the offense is only going to go as far as the offensive line takes them. We have seen over the years that it is not so much the players around Eli, but the ones who protect him that dictate which version of “Eli” we are going to see on a game to game basis.

While a young quarterback is ultimately in the works, the Giants have put themselves in position to have a very respectable supporting cast for whoever is under center in the future.

 

New York Giants: The Only Way Trading Sterling Shepard Makes Sense

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

Before we get this article kicked off, let’s get one thing out of the way – The New York Giants shouldn’t be ‘actively’ shopping slot receiver Sterling Shepard. His value to the team and offense specifically is significant, but there is a scenario where trading him would make sense.

The Giants made a dire mistake in 2018:

One of the mistakes general manager Dave Gettleman made in 2018 was not trading star safety, Landon Collins. Teams looking to add value trade players that they know will be too expensive to re-sign. Collins was seeking record-breaking money, and he received it from the Washington Redskins.

As much as it would’ve hurt at the time, trading Collins for even a third-rounder would have made sense, and teams were calling. Sending Damon Harrison and Eli Apple on their merry way was ultimately a good move, as the Giants added draft capital and are in a position to address both sides of the ball with plenty of talent.

Shepard offers a similar scenario, as the team in its current state is not a deep playoff contending team and likely won’t be for another two seasons. A young defense, an offensive line needing chemistry, a veteran quarterback in the final year of his contract – the outlook on 2019 isn’t as positive as most fans would like, and that’s the honest truth.

So, with that being said, we must prepare to trade Shepard if the team finishes the first half of the season with a sub .500 record. It’s about extracting value from existing resources and turning it into future assets. Shepard will command big-money next offseason, and with Golden Tate being signed to compete as the top slot option, it makes Shepard’s services expendable.

The New York Giants need to draft a big-bodied wideout:

My objection against trading Shepard would be the lack of talent at wideout. I don’t have faith in Bennie Fowler, Corey Coleman, and Cody Latimer to replicate the influence of Odell Beckham Jr. on the outside, not even in a combined effort. Drafting a player like Hakeem Butler or N’Keal Harry would be a solid move to establish a young red-zone/deep ball threat. This would make Shepard a trading piece given the team isn’t in a position to compete for the playoffs.

To wrap up, we shouldn’t expect Shepard to be traded this offseason, but from a business perspective, he could be on the table if the Giants aren’t winning football games.

Alternatively, Shepard did earn outside reps in 2018 and will likely work out of that position alongside Tate. If they can operate at a high level in that dynamic is yet to be seen.

 

 

New York Giants Collapse In The Final Minutes And Lose To The Colts 28-26

The New York Giants traveled to Indianapolis to play the white hot Colts in week 16. The Colts had won 7 of their last 8 games and were fighting for a playoff spot. The Giants came into this game already eliminated from playoff contention, but refusing to quit. The Giants started the game strong, but ultimately could not finish it off and took a one point loss against the Colts. The Colts improve to a strong 9-6 record on the season while the Giants sink to a lowly 5-10.

Dynamic Offense Leads The Giants To A Strong Start

The Giants had a lead up until the final minute of the game. The offense struggled to get going on the ground, but the passing attack was consistently excellent throughout the majority of the game. The Giants jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter from a strong connection between quarterback Eli Manning and wide receiver Sterling Shepard. With Odell Beckham Jr. out this week, Shepard stepped up and had his best game of the season. Shepard finished the game with six receptions for 113 yards, including multiple third down conversions and one beautiful double move 57 yard completion down to the six yard line. This set up a Scott Simonson three yard touchdown reception.

Another stand out player on offense this week was tight end Evan Engram. Engram struggled to get going during the first half of the season. He dealt with a couple of injuries and was not used much in the offensive game plan. However, in the past few weeks, Engram has been receiving an influx in targets and therefore an increase in production.

Head coach Pat Shurmur called many plays for Engram including two end around rushing attempts that gained a total of 26 yards. However, it was through the passing game that Engram made a real impact. He hauled in all six of his targets for 87 receiving yards. He got the Giants down to the one yard line twice to set up easy touchdowns for his quarterback, once on a rushing attempt, and once on a deep pass down the seam.

Second Half Collapse

The Giants went into halftime up by 10. The score was 17-7, but the Colts quickly cut it down to a three point game as quarterback Andrew Luck connected with receiver Dontrelle Inman for a touchdown on third and goal. The Giants responded with a touchdown of their own as Manning converted his seventh rushing touchdown of his career on a quarterback sneak from the one yard line.

However, the Colts were able to put together a comeback after this. Running back Marlon Mack rushed for a touchdown to make it a three point game again. The Giants were able to muster up one more field goal, but their inability to score a red zone touchdown in the fourth quarter would ultimately be their demise. The Colts were able to put together a game winning drive on the struggling Giants defense.

They made their way down to the 20 yard line with two minutes remaining. On first and goal, Luck threw an incompletion to the end zone, however, Giants cornerback B.W. Webb was called for pass interference, giving the Colts a first and goal from the one yard line. This would result in a touchdown from Luck to receiver Chester Rogers with under a minute remaining. The Giants would get the ball back with 55 seconds left with the opportunity to score, but they would have the game end with an Eli Manning interception.

The Aftermath Of The Loss

The Giants record is now 5-10 with one game left to play this season. Eli Manning and the Giants offense played a solid game but came up short in the end. The defense struggled to stop the Colts offense in the second half, driving home the tenth loss of the season. With this loss comes a portion of good news. The Giants showed they have multiple young players to build upon for their future, such as Shepard and Engram. In addition, the Giants moved up in draft positioning ahead of the Jaguars and to the seventh overall pick. This loss has potential to be a positive for the Giants in the long run.

Giants’ Sterling Shepard Backs Up Eli Manning After Talks Of Mutiny

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants are in a delicate state right now, and the media has a ton of influence on the emotional balance of the team in the locker room. Letting the outside noise in is what helped cause a meltdown with former head coach Ben McAdoo leading the way in 2017.

Recently, reports have emergered detailing the frustration of various players, especially in regard to the play of Eli Manning and his ability to be successful in the NFL at this point in his career.

Wide receiver, Sterling Shepard, came to the aid of Manning, stating:

“I have total faith in Eli. I haven’t heard that once in this locker room. I haven’t heard that from an individual player. That’s just outside noise and stuff trying to break us apart.”

Well, maybe not in the locker room, but we have certainly heard it in the ESPN studios. Odell Beckham Jr.’s comments about Eli in his infamous interview with ESPN did not go unnoticed. He made it apparent that Manning isn’t going to be moving out of the pocket and that he hasn’t been getting the ball down field to the star receiver.

This could be taken several ways. Either, it’s Manning’s fault for not giving the offense a chance downfield, or it could land in the lap of HC Pat Shurmur and his play calling. No matter the blame, it’s still a negative shot at someone, and that’s unacceptable. Shepard said the right thing in defending his quarterback and ensuring that there’s no issue behind the scenes, but can we really believe him? A 1-5 start, a star’s wayward comments, and a clear lack of effort against the Eagles would indicate otherwise.

New York Giants: Manning and Shepard Highlight Positives After Loss

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

Now that we’re a little bit removed from the first New York Giants game of the season, it’s somewhat easier to look at it objectively and figure out what went right and what went terribly wrong in the loss. The negatives after the first game are easy to point out. Offensive line problems were likely the reason behind the loss, and much of the discussion following the game has centered around that.

But not everything went wrong. Both Eli Manning and Sterling Shepard pointed out different positives that could be found in the losing effort.

What did they have to say?

“We went against a good team, a good defense. We had some big plays, we had some opportunities. We got to hit a few more of them. We had a chance to win the game at the end, and we just didn’t quite make enough plays,” said Eli Manning. His point about the Jaguars having a good defense is accurate, and makes the point output a bit more tolerable.

The Giants had one of the worst offenses in the league last year, and the Jaguars were a top three defense.  The offensive production in this game represents an improvement from the offense that took to the field last year, especially after the injury to Odell Beckham Jr. early in the season. Additionally, the big plays that Manning mentioned were absent most of the time last year, and it never seemed like fans should expect them to happen.

Manning did say, however, that everyone knows they need to improve. “I thought, obviously, guys were disappointed. I think everybody knows that each one of us individually has to play a little bit better… You’re going to follow the direction of the head coach. I think he expressed it’s not good enough, but I’m proud of the way you guys fought, competed, and hung in there until the very end, and found a way to kind of stay in the game.”

Sterling Shepard had similar comments. “If you look at the game, we were a few plays away from coming out with a different outcome. But guys do a good job around here just bouncing back and kind of brushing it off, and fixing the things we need to fix and I feel like that’s what we’ll do this week. Be ready for Dallas,” the receiver stated. Shepard was targeted seven times in week one, coming away with five receptions and 48 yards.

The Giants take on the Cowboys in the second game of the season, and it will be a game surrounded by huge pressure. Not only is it a major rivalry game, but it will be broadcast nationwide on Sunday Night Football. After a disappointing result in week one, Giants fans can only hope that the team bounces back on this major stage to pull off a 1-1 start to the season.

Giants’ Sterling Shepard Preparing To Take On Bigger Role

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

As the New York Giants move forward through the offseason after finishing mini-camp, some players expect to see an increased role in the months ahead. Primary slot receiver Sterling Shepard is one of those players.

Shepard is the Giants’ go-to pass-catcher in the slot, providing a dearth of talent for Eli Manning to revert back to in the interior. Slot receivers usually expose shallow routes toward the middle of the field or the boundaries. That has been his calling calling card since his inception in the NFL in 2016.

Interestingly enough, Shepard has enjoyed a lot of work as a wide-out for the Giants this offseason. His role on the team is changing, and after the departure of Brandon Marshall, he might be expected to make a big jump in 2018. It’s also possible Cody Lattimer plays the exterior role as Shepard remains inside, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him begin to take on some of the league’s more experienced cornerbacks.

“I’ve been doing a lot on the outside,” Shepard said during OTAs when he was lined up alongside Hunter Sharp and/or Cody Latimer most of the afternoon with the first-team offense, according to ESPN.

Shepard has enjoyed 330 snaps as an outside receiver – a bunch of them during the 2017 season where Odell Beckham Jr. and Marshall went down with injuries.

All 10 of the young receivers touchdowns have come from the slot, attesting to the narrative that coins him as a short yardage, crossing pass-catcher. Shepard believes he’s worth more and is out to prove his expanded value this season.

“That’s been that way since college,” Shepard said. “I feel like I’ve proven that I can play outside and just try to handle my business. I know that I can play outside, and we will soon see.”

Sterling has already racked up 1,141 yards on 124 receptions with 10 touchdowns in his two year career. With running support and a developing Evan Engram taking on a big role, he will get the opportunity to show his worth in more than just the slot.

 

 

New York Giants: Sterling Shepard Raves About Saquon Barkley

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

Rookie running back for the New York Giants, Saquon Barkley, is already taking on a leadership role for his new team… Despite the fact that he hasn’t even taken a meaningful snap at the professional level yet.

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard raved about his new teammate after OTAs this week, going as far as to say (in regard to his actions on the field), “That’s not really what you see from a rookie.”

Here’s the full quote, via Big Blue Interactive:

“The way that he handles himself, he comes into every huddle dapping everybody up and just trying to get us going. That’s not really what you see from a rookie, but he’s been doing a great job out here learning the schemes and bringing energy.”

The change in energy is exactly what you want from your first-round player, especially for a team that was plagued by negativity in the season prior. The Giants have enjoyed four full-team practices, and Barkley stuck beside Eli Manning for a majority of them – learning as much as humanly possible about the new offensive schemes and placements.

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Expectation are high for the young running back – amongst the fan-base, media, and coaches. Barkley’s influence on the team has been nothing but beneficial, and his attitude towards success has revitalized the fan-base.

Where has Barkley lined up?

Barkley has played as a tradition running back in the “I” formation, as well as from the shotgun, which he frequently experienced in Penn States’ offense. During OTA’s, Barkley also split out as a wide receiver, playing a dynamic role that put the defense on their heels. According to the rookie, he had worked on developing his route running and pass catching abilities with Odell Beckham Jr.

Dave Gettleman stated:

“The thing that makes him different is he has the feet and speed of a little guy, with the power and strength of a big guy. That’s what makes him so darn unique. He’s different. It’s like he was touched by the hand of God, frankly.”

Trying to take down a 230-pound running back with 4.3 speed is nearly impossible. Barkley had some of the most impressive measurables dating back to the beginning of the NFL Combine, making him a near sure-fire generational talent. If he can reach his potential at the professional level, we might be seeing one of the best running back and wide receiver duos in the history of the game.

 

New Giants Regime Not Committal On Veteran Receiver, Physical Pending

The New York Giants still need to clear up a bit of cap-room and one way of doing that is releasing veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

Marshall struggled in 2017, failing to gain traction with Eli Manning which led to two dropped passes in key moments; two games the Giants should have won. Marshall has spent a majority of the offseason recovering from a season ending ankle injury; even spending some time with quarterback Davis Webb.

What are the benefits of cutting Marshall?

If the Giants decide to cut the veteran receiver, they will be down one big-bodied target. But, they will also be retaining $5 million in cap-space that would allow them to address the secondary or sign a cheaper alternative.

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New head coach Pat Shurmur was vague on the potential retention of Marshall, who is looking for a bounce-back year in Blue.

Giants’ WR Brandon Marshall has been working at the team facility, “trying to get healthy,” Pat Shurmur said. He hasn’t passed a physical yet. As for his place on the team, Shurmur stated, “We’ll have to see.” 

Not very convincing from the Giants’ head coach, but again, they would have to find a replacement if they decide to let him walk.

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Marshall signed a two-year, $12 million deal in 2016, making him the complement to Odell Beckham Jr. while Sterling Shepard worked primarily out of the slot. When both Marshall and Beckham Jr. went down with ankle injuries, Shepard took over the starting role on the outside, showing improvement and ability to handle a decent size workload.

Shepard finished the year with 59 reception for 731 yards and two touchdowns, all in 11 games. He was Manning’s primary target for a majority of the season and will likely be looking to make a jump into a significant role in 2018.