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.
ON SECOND THOUGHT: WITH THE DRAFT DONE, FREE AGENCY BASICALLY OVER ...
HAS THE OFFENSE IMPROVED ENOUGH TO WIN?
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Send it all over to firstname.lastname@example.org
and follow me on Twitter @_AaronKlein
forget to follow us on Twitter @E_Giants
can be sent to: email@example.com
can subscribe Dave's newsletters which run much more frequently than what is available
here. - Team Giants
- Send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org
for a free week's worth of news!