We have returned with another FY 2016 NFL team preview! Rather read about a different team? Jump to Arizona; Atlanta; Baltimore; Buffalo; Carolina; Chicago; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Dallas; Denver; Detroit; Green Bay; Houston; Indianapolis; Jacksonville; Kansas City; Los Angeles; Miami; Minnesota; New England; New Orleans.
Where They’re Coming From
The final season of Tom Coughlin’s miraculous run as coach.
Coughlin was the only NFL head coach Eli Manning had ever played for, and every time it seemed the oldest coach in the league was about to become unemployed, Manning would rally the team and win a Super Bowl. But there was no rallying last year. In a division replete with flawed teams, the Giants were eliminated from the playoffs by Week 16.
Where They’re Going
In a new, hopefully more consistent direction.
In his second year running the offense, Ben McAdoo’s system finally took off, as the Giants finished top-ten in yards and points per game. But while the offense made great strides, the defense fell off a cliff.
This year it was the D’s turn to get an offseason makeover. The Giants head into the season with at least four new starters on that side. Improvement on defense should get the G-Men back to competing for a playoff spot consistently. Perhaps their days of sporadically winning a title are over; week-to-week, this team should be better equipped to win under McAdoo.
Key Offseason Moves
Additions: DE Olivier Vernon, DT Damon Harrison, CB Janoris Jenkins
Losses: CB Prince Amukamara, DE Robert Ayers, G Geoff Schwartz
What to Watch For
The offensive line struggling.
Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, Sterling Shepard: that’s a loaded receiving corps that Manning will continue to overthrow unless New York can shore up protection up front. The Giants have been abysmal blocking for Manning this preseason, causing full-scale panic among the usually placid New York media. The run blocking hasn’t been any better, and Rashad Jennings isn’t a dynamic enough back to find success without better play in front of him.
The struggles have come across the board, with even the tight ends shouldering some of the blame for their shortcomings on the edges. Left guard Justin Pugh should return for the season opener, which comes against a hapless Dallas pass rush. If New York has trouble blocking in that game, it won’t be a good omen for the rest of the year.
Who to Watch For
Olivier Vernon, DE
When you get paid J.J. Watt-type money, you better prepare for some Watt-like expectations. Vernon’s five-year, $85 million deal means he’ll be counted on to lead the New York pass rush (30th in sacks in 2015) back to the upper echelon of the league. While Vernon’s mere presence should mean fewer double teams for Jason Pierre-Paul, his season won’t be deemed a success unless he sees a big increase in his 7.5 sack total from 2015.
Of course, Vernon is touted as a great defender against the run game, notching 35 stops last year. Not surprisingly, the feeble Giants D also needs an upgrade in that department. New York’s linebackers are the weakness of this defense, so Vernon and Damon Harrison will need to penetrate the gaps in order to help the lesser talents behind them.
What Could Go Wrong
Eli is elite … at turning the ball over.
Obviously life will be hard enough on the Giants offense if the line proves to be as leaky as this preseason would suggest. That pressure could also be a contributing factor, should an odd Eli trend persist this season.
Every three seasons, Manning completely loses his mind and leads the NFL in interceptions (see 2007, 2010, and 2013). He’s right on track for another regression this year. Even in the weak-looking NFC East, a milestone like that would wreck this team’s chances.
Where They’ll End Up
Playing for the division down the stretch.
The door to the NFC East was already wide-open and now Tony Romo’s injury has knocked down the surrounding wall. Let’s just say, the Giants would have to be downright abysmal to not enter Week 14’s tilt against the Cowboys with their playoff fate still squarely in their hands.