Written by: Glenn Warciski and Alexander George
With much optimism, the Giants begin their 2018 campaign. What is our outlook about this team?
This is Glenn.
Obviously, they will be more competitive this year than last year. Well after going 3-13, and losing your first 5 games of the year, I hope they can win more games this year. But how many games will they win?
One would think, after last year’s putrid 3-13 record, the NFL schedule makers would have been much kinder to the Giants. Taking a look at the Giants first eight games: Home vs Jax, at the Cowboys, at the Texans, home vs the Saints, at the Panthers, home vs the Eagles, at the Falcons, home vs the Redskins.
On paper, this is a tough eight game stretch, to begin their season. As Steve Young is quoted as stating, “September is the new preseason”. Meaning with the abbreviated training camp and players not getting many reps in preseason games, players are still rusty when the season begins. Additionally, with the NFL hard salary cap, turnover of roster is a concern. Especially, this year with the Giants, they have a new coaching staff with new schemes for the players to learn. Will the players understand and integrate the new systems to perfection in a short period of time? Furthermore, the Giants made changes which appeased the fan base. Will these changes engender more wins for the Giants in 2018? Several years ago, NPR correspondent Shankar Vedantam discussed this topic. The topic why NFL teams should re-consider giving coaches the heave-ho.
According to this study, replacing your head coach does not correlate more wins the following year. But in the Giants case it was much bigger than the coach, it was the owner who blundered. The situation created by Giants CEO John Mara for allowing Ben McAdoo to bench Eli Manning was a flash point. Because of the firestorm which it created, this blew up like an imprecation in Mara’s face. Expecting a fan revolt which would have embarrassed him and the Giants franchise, he fired Ben McAdoo and Giants GM Jerry Reese on December 4, 2017. This move exonerated Mara for any wrongdoing for last season. Although much after the fact, Mara has accepted blame for last season’s debacle. His thinking, in my opinion, is flawed on turning this team around in one season. As I have written here and spoken about this on several podcasts, the Giants are at a crossroads similar to 1979. When Ray Perkins took over in 1979, the Giants were optimistic about getting things turned around for the better. They did but it took a couple of years, 1981 to be precise. I see the same repeating itself. Like 1979, the 2018 Giants will have a 6-10 record.
As an aside for today’s game: This is Tom Coughlin’s revenge game. Unfortunately, he was unceremoniously fired after the 2015 season. This is his payback today. Jacksonville is on a mission to humiliate the Giants. I foresee a Jaguars rout. Jaguars 31 Giants 13.
The nucleus of the New York Giants offense is already set. Two time Super Bowl MVP, Eli Manning (4,424 pass attempts out of 7,396 completions for 51,682 yds, 339TDs and 228INTs), will be entering his fifteenth season with the Giants. Along with Pro-Bowler wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. (313 REC for 4,424 yards and 38TDs career), wide receiver Sterling Shepard (124 REC for 1,414 yds and 10 TDs – 2016 & 2017 seasons), tight end Evan Engram (64 REC 722 yds, 6TDs – 2017) and first round draft pick Saquon Barkley (3,843 yds rushing & 43 TDs; 102 REC 1,195 yds 8TDs receiving – college career), the team has the potential to be a surprising top ten offense.
The problem for Big Blue will be their defense. They are switching their defensive scheme from a 4-3 to a 3-4; the first time in about a generation. It will take time for this newly formed defense to adopt this system. Also, a lot of pressure will be placed on their defensive line (Harrison, Tomlinson, Hill) to stop the run and pressure the quarterback because the Giants do not have the personnel to lead an effective pass rush or provide adequate pass protection beyond their starters. Case in point, their leading pass rusher, Olivier Vernon (44 sacks, 1INT career) is currently injured with a high ankle sprain and will not play in the 2018 season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
This will be a difficult season for the New York Giants. With a completely new coaching staff and only 27 players returning from last season, they have to get familiar playing with themselves as well as top notch opposing offenses. The explosive quarterbacks Big Blue’s D will have to face this season are the following: DeShaun Watson (Texans), Drew Brees (Saints), Cam Newton (Panthers), Matt Ryan (Falcons) and Andrew Luck (Colts). If everything breaks right for this Giants team, they can win eight games; nine if Andrew Luck is not playing.
My prediction for the New York Giants 2018 season: 7-9.