The award for most controversial offseason goes to… The New York Giants! It seemed the Giants had all types of controversy this offseason; from trade decisions, to draft picks, to suspensions. The Giants had been in the pit of mediocrity for a while and have now descended into the pit of misery. However, this past couple of years the Giants have looked to draft franchise players to climb their way back into competition for the crown of the NFC East. What have they done this year to help in their quest? Well, let’s take a look.
- Odell Beckham Jr.
- Olivier Vernon
- Damon Harrison
- Landon Collins
No surprise here, but the first thing we have to discuss is the massive deal that the Giants struck with the rising Cleveland Browns. Understandably, many people are sick of hearing and talking about it, but in this type of analysis, it has to be mentioned. It seemed like a typical March day in the offseason until news rippled through the league and fans alike about one of the biggest blockbuster trades in recent memory. The Giants had traded Odell Beckham Jr., their shining star, to the Cleveland Browns. This dealt a massive blow to New York’s wide receiving core as OBJ had established himself as the Eli Manning’s primary target for 5 years. If the Giants wanted to use this offseason for improvement it seemed they may have gotten off to a poor start: however, a silver lining emerged. Throughout the rest of the offseason and the entire preseason, reports about trouble in the Giants’ locker room never surfaced, in fact, it looked to function better. While Beckham was the Giants best receiver he was a lightning rod for controversy and after his departure, the locker room went back to being a respectful, quiet, and well-run place. Before OBJ’s departure, the Giants defense had also suffered a monumental loss, this one in the form of Damon “Snacks” Harrison. While this loss came via trade, in mid-October of 2018, and not the offseason, it should still be noted here as he was undoubtedly the biggest presence in the Giants d-line. Snacks single-handedly transformed the Giants’ run-block ability as he was, and still is, the most dominant run-blocker in the entire league. Losing him created lots of vulnerability to opposing team’s run-game, an issue the Giants failed to patch up for the rest of the season and, as a result, one that other teams constantly exploited. As if the Giants defense couldn’t take enough hits, Olivier Vernon also flew out of New York, something many people seem to forget amid the wild OBJ move. The Giants decided to give the Browns DE Olivier Vernon in return for G Kevin Zeitler. While this trade wasn’t as controversial it dealt another large blow to the Giants’ d-line as it lost a key member of their pass rush this time. Now both their pass rush and run-block were left crippled in the wake of two of the most important players opposite opposing quarterbacks were gone. Vernon was an explosive and powerful force off of the line in New York and, unfortunately for fans of the Big Blue, he departed leaving the Giants with massive gaps in their defensive line. As if their defense couldn’t take any more hits, their secondary was crippled back in early March, after three-time Pro-Bowl safety Landon Collins hit free agency. Collins was by far the Giants most important man in the secondary and, when he left, the secondary instantly began yearning for somebody to step up and take his place. The Giants quickly looked to patch the hole, though it’ll be hard for somebody to step up as much as Collins did. While they still weren’t great, he transformed the Giants pass-coverage into a fairly powerful force. However, like the majority of the other losses, this one happened in the offseason, so fans have yet to see the benefits and repercussions of each move, but at this point, they won’t have to wait long. Though the Giants lost a lot of good men they also gained quite a few as well, let’s check them out.
- Golden Tate
- Daniel Jones
- Jabrill Peppers
- Kevin Zeitler
- Dexter Lawrence
The Giants made quite a few acquisitions this year as well, first off they signed Golden Tate in an attempt to plug the hole OBJ left with his departure. While Tate may not be as dynamic or explosive as OBJ was, he will be able to step into a bigger role. Tate’s experience will allow him to better anticipate defensive schemes and coverage, meaning he should be able to successfully adapt and make himself open more frequently. Additionally, Tate will be the mature, veteran player that the other, younger wide receivers look up to and learn from. He will also be able to keep a tight ship and make sure that the receivers stay in line and don’t become a source of controversy again. Unfortunately, his on-the-field talents won’t be useful until week 5 after Tate suffered a 4-game suspension for violating the NFL’s drug policies through fertility treatment. Now the two trades the Giants struck with the Browns weren’t total losses, in the process, the Giants also gained veteran G Kevin Zeitler and S Jabrill Peppers. The addition of Zeitler is a great move for the Giants who’ve had an extremely weak offensive line for a long time now and beginning to patch up the holes should make for a more successful offense as the defense won’t instantly break through, getting to the running back or quarterback or putting enough pressure on Manning where he’s forced to make a poor throw to avoid being sacked. As for Jabrill Peppers, he’ll have a daunting task ahead of him trying to fill the role left by Landon Collins. While the other more experienced players in the secondary, like Janoris Jenkins, will have to step up, Peppers will be a more vulnerable target for opposing teams as he’s replacing such a powerful safety. Expect Peppers to falter early before beginning to get comfortable and step up in a big way. It may take a few seasons before Peppers can get to Collins-level play but have high hopes that Jabrill will be able to do a respectable job fixing the gap left in the secondary. Another bonus the Giants got from the Browns trade was their first-round pick: which they used on Clemson DT Dexter Lawrence. Lawrence is a powerful, explosive force on the line that should do a good job multitasking and filling up both holes left in the d-line. He tears through offensive lineman and successfully gets to the running back frequently meaning he should do fairly well stuffing the run and fixing the exploitative vulnerability Harrison left in his wake. Additionally, Lawrence often demonstrated his ability to pressure the quarterback while at Clemson. Though he may not get as many sacks as fans expect he will easily be able to pressure the quarterback forcing quick decision making and mistakes that the rest of the defense can capitalize on. Finally, in the most controversial pick of the draft, the Giants selected Duke-alumni Daniel Jones with the sixth-overall pick, one fans should’ve been in full support of. However, Jones blew away expectations in training camp and preseason, showing everyone who hated on him before giving him the chance to prove himself. Jones demonstrated his pinpoint accuracy, quick decision-making ability, and fairly strong mobility throughout the preseason. Hitting 29 of his 34 targets for 2 touchdowns and a 137.2 passer rating, Jones proved himself as a strong successor for Eli Manning, only if he was starting this season.
Whilst the Giants suffered some monumental losses recently they have found very impressive, dynamic, and young players to fill most of those slots. They also found a couple of veterans who can bring their experience and knowledge to the team and help bolster the wide receiving core and offensive-line. While the younger players need some time to develop don’t be surprised if, in a few seasons, those players become the next big-names of their position as they all have tremendous raw talent to be developed and soon the Giants should be able to reap all their benefits.
The Giants will likely go 4-12 or 5-11 by defeating the Redskins twice, the Dolphins, the Buccaneers, and possibly the Cardinals. Though the Giants have a fairly bright future they will likely need a couple more seasons, at a minimum, for many of their young players to develop and improve. Don’t give up hope just yet Giants fan, you may very well soon return to competition!