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Five Things the New York Giants Do Not Want to See Happen in 2021

The Giants have big expectations of themselves for 2021, and if they're to reach those expectations, here are five things they definitely do not want to see happen.

Over the last four years, the New York Giants experienced some of the lowest moments a team can go through during their very own rebuild process. But in 2020, their long-term investments began to fall in place as the team took giant leaps with improving their defense and refining their offensive struggles. 

Finishing the season with a 6-10 record, the Giants had a firm sense of direction and grit that was lacking in recent years for the first time in a long time.

Fast forward to present day 2021, and the Giants are about to embark on their greatest challenge since 2016; clinching their first playoff berth in five years. However, this quest for glory comes with a catch.

Following an offseason that proved to be very bountiful for the Giants, acquiring a slew of talented players not only over free agency but also in the draft, the Giants have found themselves bearing a lot of pressure with their newly improved team and don’t have much room for error.

Although they were able to address critical areas of their depth, the Giants need certain cornerstone players and units to deliver in a big way this season if they aim to achieve their goals.

Despite so many important roles and players on this team, there are things the Giants do not want to encounter if they want to reach the playoffs this year.  

Here are the top five setbacks the Giants want to avoid at all costs in 2021.

New York Giants rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney (89) participates in drills on the first day of Giants minicamp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in East Rutherford.

New York Giants rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney (89) participates in drills on the first day of Giants minicamp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in East Rutherford.

No. 5. Kadarius Toney Has A Disappointing Season

First-round draft pick Kadarius Toney might have gotten off to a slow start this summer, but that hasn't dampened the expectations the Giants have of him and what he can bring to the offense.

What Toney brings in speed and quickness, he also brings in versatility. In fact, for the first three seasons of his collegiate career, Toney, a converted high school quarterback, was mostly a gadget player before re-establishing more of an identity as a receiver who saw most of his snaps from the slot.

The expectation is the Giants will be deploying him mostly out of the slot. However, they also have the option to insert him in the backfield and have him even partake in the special teams returning duties.

In short, Toney has the potential to be the Giants very own version of Tyreek Hill. But the way Hill rose to stardom was by capitalizing on nearly every opportunity tossed his way, be it punt returns, slant routes, or reverse plays in the backfield.

With the amount of depth and talent the Giants have at just about every position, especially at wide receiver, it's not yet known how much Toney will be deployed in the offense.

Whatever his weekly snap counts, a lot rests on Toney to live up to the expectations the Giants have laid out before him. And a bust season from their first pick in the draft is one thing the Giants don’t want to see.

New York Giants center Evan Brown, second from right, and the offensive line practice during Giants OTAs on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in East Rutherford.

Members of the Giants offensive line go through a practice drill.

No. 4. The Offensive Line Doesn’t Improve Enough

The Giants did not draft an offensive lineman this spring, and other than for a few veteran depth signings--two of whom (Joe Looney and Zach Fulton) have retired--they didn't add anyone of significance in free agency either.

Considering how much their offensive line struggled last season, there’s simply a lot of pressure mounted on many of the same starters to take significant strides with their improvement and growth.

Just about every projected starting offensive lineman is under the age of 25. Youth is a big plus when it comes to strength and athleticism, and the Giants brass is convinced this young group has its best days ahead. 

But experience is something a coach can’t teach; it has to be acquired through reps. Still, when you have three starters on your offensive line that are entering Year 2 in the league, the demand for them to improve significantly has become paramount for this Giants offensive to succeed.

Achieving this goal for these youngsters won’t be easy. We’re talking about sandwiching a lot of learning and development in one year, with some of it potentially coming on the fly--and that's assuming no one has to miss significant practice time due to injury.

All that said, this offensive line doesn’t have a choice. The offensive line is the foundation of this offense. Quarterback Daniel Jones needs better protection to succeed. And if it doesn’t get better, the Giants offensive setbacks could resurface once more and potentially cost them a playoff run.

No. 3. Daniel Jones Does Not Deliver in His Third Season

The Giants’ need for Daniel Jones to succeed beyond what they’ve seen from him so far surpasses his pressure exponentially.

When the Giants drafted Jones with the sixth overall pick in 2019, they selected him with the intention of him becoming the next face and leader of their offense. Though Jones has yet to reach those lofty expectations so far, he has all the skills, poise, versatility, and football IQ to rise to the occasion this season and fulfill the responsibility that comes with this position.

With an offseason dedicated to improving his supporting cast immensely, Jones has just about everything he needs to win and deliver on the expectations the Giants have of him this year. 

That said, if Jones comes up short and the Giants' hopes for a playoff run plummet, the team could be looking at having to start all over again with a new quarterback next year, something they don't want to have to do. 

Jul 29, 2021; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (right) talks with running back Devontae Booker (28) during training camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Jul 29, 2021; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (right) talks with running back Devontae Booker (28) during training camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

No. 2. Saquon Barkley Suffers Major Injury Setback

It would be one giant nightmare, no pun intended, if running back Saquon Barkley were to suffer any kind of setback that undid the months of hard work in rehab. 

Easily the Giants’ best player offensively since he stepped into the league in 2018, Barkley needs to do everything in his power to not push himself too far as he completes the final stages of his rehab.

However, the catch with football is that staying healthy is sometimes the hardest part of a player’s career, particularly the athletes that absorb the most physical contact. And the running back position just happens to be at the top of the heap when generating and receiving contact.

The Giants are a substantially better team offensively with their star running back, and if they aim to succeed in a big way, Barkley needs to be in the lineup every week.

That said, it will be interesting to see if Barkley's maneuverability has been affected in any way as he continues to ramp up. For his and the Giants' sake, let's hope that isn't the case as if Barkley isn't Barkley, that would not be a positive development for the Giants offense.

No. 1. The Giants Fail to Make the Playoffs 

Since winning the Super Bowl in 2011, the Giants have made the playoffs only once, that in 2016 when they logged an 11-5 record good enough for a Wild Card berth which they lost to the Green Bay Packers.

And except for the 2012 season in which they went 9-7, the last decade has been fruitless for the Giants in terms of having a winning record. From 2017-2020, they've won just 18 games, the best of the lot being last year with their six-win season that very nearly got them the NFC East title in a weakened division.

Making the playoffs only twice over ten years doesn’t speak very highly of this organization, and they know it. So this past off-season, the Giants went all-in on rebuilding their roster, adding marquis free agents like cornerback Adoree' Jackson, receiver Kenny Golladay and tight end Kyle Rudolph to help provide some more veteran firepower.

Team president John Mara didn't quite issue a "playoffs or bust" mandate, but he did make it clear that he'd like to see more wins. More wins should theoretically translate into a postseason berth, and considering all the Giants invested into the upcoming season, anything less than that would be very disappointing. 


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