Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 05-16-22

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he was one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls up until last year. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.


By Aaron Klein
The shopping has finished, aside from a few odds and ends. The grill is going, the smoker ready, the oven at temperature. Can you guess what general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll are cooking?

No, not yet but we are starting to get an idea.

Offensively, the Giants were an abject disaster in 2021. Injuries, poor play, turnovers, penalties ... all worked to keep the scrappy team down. Scrappy means nothing, but it was tough to spot any quit in the team, just lack of, well, everything.

This year, the Giants have done plenty to bolster some parts of the offense - Schoen's is really a two-year plan - but are they ready to turn things around, score some points and win some games?

Let's talk about it.

Schoen - and everyone who has seen the Giants play over the last eight seasons or so - wanted to rebuild the offensive line, though he would leave cornerstone left tackle Andrew Thomas in place. In his first season at the helm, Schoen added 10 new offensive linemen and it is widely expected that four of them will start the season: free agent left guard Max Garcia, free agent center Jon Feliciano, free agent right guard Mark Glowinski and first-round pick Evan Neal at right tackle.

There is depth, too, highlighted by third-round guard Joshua Ezeudu, who might even be starting by the end of the season, veteran Shane Lemieux, who's coming off a horrific broken leg, and tackle Matt Peart, who suffered a torn ACL late in the season, veteran tackle Korey Cunningham, veteran guard Ben Bredeson and free agent lineman Matt Gono.

Will that be enough? Well, you can't say that the team didn't try, but the veteran free agency class is not quite a murderer's row of starters and Neal, who has a bright future, is still a rookie, no matter how talented. Thomas, who progressed like a comet last season, maybe wasn't challenged as much as a left tackle on a top-shelf offensive line because defensive coaches saw how weak the Giants were on the right side and sent their best players to that side.

The Giants also needed help at wide receiver and tight end and, well, didn't really address those positions with elite talent. Yes, they are hoping for success from gadget third-round receiver Wan'Dale Robinson, who will likely get a Tyreek Hill-type of role, and fourth-round tight end Daniel Bellinger, but signed veteran free agent Ricky Seals-Jones and a bunch of Undrafted Free Agents (UDFAs) after letting veteran Evan Engram walk (not much of loss, but not much improvement, at least in paper).

Aside from Robinson, the Giants retained free agent Kenny Golladay, whose lost 2021 season has mostly been blamed on a terrible offensive scheme. We'll see. Thanks to the previous regime, Golladay has a huge cap number and something to prove, but will he be featured in the offense? If you watched him in Detroit, and if you look at the Giants' current roster, Golladay should be No. 1 all year.

He could even take on some tight end-type routes based on size alone. However, the depth chart at the position shows the same-old: Sterling Shepard, working to get back after suffering a late-season torn Achilles tendon last year; Darius Slayton, who was almost traded in the off-season; the mercurial Kadarius Toney, last season's first-round pick; David Sills, CJ Board and few more.

All of which brings us to the key to making the Daboll offense succeed. The Giants declined quarterback Daniel Jones' fifth-year option, which would've cost nearly $23 million for 2023 (a year with several potential highly-coveted quarterbacks) but pledged loyalty and big plans as Jones enters a contract season. If the line is as improved as the team hopes it is, Jones should see more success, though whether that would be enough to earn an extension will hinge on more than a few extra touchdowns.

Publicly, the team feels strongly that Jones has the goods and made no moves to bring in legitimate competition via free agency or the draft. Free agent pickup Tyrod Taylor will surely have a chance in camp, but it is widely expected that he was signed mostly because of his familiarity with Daboll's schemes (the two were in Buffalo together), his veteran standing and to vastly improve the depth chart from last year.

Make no mistake, this is Jones' year to make or break his future. If the team sees what it wants from a franchise quarterback, he'll likely get an extension and the team will march on. If he doesn't show what Schoen and Daboll want, then the Giants will move in a different direction via trade, the draft and/or free agency next year, and it's hard to imagine a quarterback putting it all together and proving to be a franchise quarterback in Year Four.

Simple as that.

There is, however, another player with everything on the line this season: running back Saquon Barkley, who was unfairly saddled with the pressure of being the No. 2 pick overall and has suffered two season-ending injuries in four years, having only shown what a franchise running back should in his rookie year. It wasn't all his fault (few work harder), but as a victim of circumstance, maybe even more so than Jones, Barkley has a lot to prove. Yes, the team could've moved on this year as the running back's cap hit is relatively low at $7.5 million, and a slew of potentially solid running backs in the draft, but the Giants, perhaps at the behest of ownership, are sticking with Barkley, though Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell can produce some modicum of support.

It's not that Barkley has as much to prove as Jones, though the former would be the first to admit that he must improve in all facets of his game, but he must show that the injuries are behind him, and he can return to his rookie form.

Another factor that worked against Barkley last year was, in no uncertain terms, the absolute waste of his skills by the offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. Dive to the guard, dive up the middle, dive again, a swing pass with no blocking help ... it was painful to watch. Daboll, apparently, has plans to use Barkley as a wide receiver more often than we've seen previously.

Getting Barkley into space, either as a running back or a receiver, is the right move, assuming he can fully bounce back from a high-ankle sprain in 2019 and a torn ACL in 2020 ... and, like Jones, get over the hurdle of playing under his third head coach in his third offense in five years.

It has been a long, 10-year journey since Super Bowl XLVI. Are the Giants finally emerging from the wilderness, the dark forest of losing? Stay tuned.

Questions? Comments?
Send it all over to and follow me on Twitter @_AaronKlein
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