Typically when a team finishes 6-10, the following year's expectations are kept relatively low.
And while their 2020 record doesn’t show it, the New York Giants are one of six teams with losing records last year that appears ready to challenge for a seat at the postseason table, writes Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr.
The Giants are well-coached and have a rising star defensive coordinator in Patrick Graham who, while he’s there, could potentially have a top-seven or -eight defense this year if his best players stay healthy. Saquon Barkley is back, yes, though our bullishness on the Giants stems mostly from a surge in general optimism around Daniel Jones. While it is difficult to predict a star rise based on his film, in particular, some around the league are seeing Jones as a diamond in the rough who will benefit from stability at the coordinator position and a bolstered weapon set. Will Jones be Offensive Player of the Year good? Probably not. Could he be Garoppolo-plus in 2021? Absolutely.
Indeed, from the Giants’ perspective, they have their eye firmly on making the postseason, as they do every year. But unlike recent years, when there wasn’t much to support that hope, this year, there is.
It starts with the defense, which despite lacking a true edge rusher, a consistent No. 2 cornerback, and the personnel to deploy more man coverage, still finished as the 12th best overall unit in the league in 2020.
So imagine what this group’s potential is this year now that they have added cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson, Aaron Robinson, and Rodarius Williams to an already loaded defensive backfield. Imagine what Ifeadi Odenigbo, Azeez Ojulari, Elerson Smith could bring to the pass rush when mixed in with rising youngsters Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines, and the “Big Cat”—Leonard Williams—who is coming off a career-high 11.5 sacks.
Talk about scary…
Meanwhile, on offense, there are still some unresolved questions that can go either way. The biggest is quarterback Daniel Jones’ development and whether he’s ready to have that breakout season the team’s been hoping to see since drafting him sixth overall in 2019.
As Orr noted, there is optimism that Jones will take that step forward now that the team has added more weapons to his arsenal, such as tight end Kyle Rudolph, and receivers Kenny Golladay, John Ross, and Kadarius Toney to join holdovers Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton.
The Giants are also expecting running back Saquon Barkley back at some point—whether that’s in Week 1 remains to be seen, but Barkley will be back at some point, and the Giants are certainly going to need him. Until Barkley is ready for a full workload, the expectation is that the team will lean heavily on free-agent acquisition Devontae Booker.
And the team is bullish on their young offensive line, a group that last year went through a rather painful process in cutting their collective teeth and gaining experience that should help them in Year 2. Add to that the stabilization of the coaching at that spot, and it’s not hard to see why the Giants believe their offensive line has a chance to be among the team’s strengths this year.
Of course, it all looks very promising on paper, but we obviously won’t know until the pads go on and the hitting starts in late July/early August.
But it’s been quite a while since anyone has thought of the Giants as a potential playoff team, which in itself is a promising development.
More from Giants Country
- Giants Eyeing Quantum Leap for Offense in Year 2 Under Jason Garrett
- Running Back Saquon Barkley Offers an Update on His Rehab
- Giants Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham Ready to Feast on Defensive Backs Talent Buffet
- What We Learned from the Giants' Off-season Practices
- Giants' Young Edge Rushers Turn to MMA to Improve Hand-Eye Coordination
Be sure to keep it locked on Giants Country all the time!