Analysis

What Do the Giants Have to Prove in the Preseason?

Daniel Jones and Brian Daboll at practice

Throughout the past three seasons, the New York Giants have struggled to climb into the NFL playoff picture.

The 2018 season was supposed to be a productive year for their talented, young core. They had Odell Beckham Jr and drafted Saquon Barkley second overall, giving them two dynamic playmakers to build around. With Eli Manning in the twilight of his career, they followed up the Barkley selection with their quarterback of the future Daniel Jones at sixth overall the next year. Instead of seeing substantial growth during the last three seasons, the Giants have continued to miss the playoffs and struggle.

The Daniel Jones Decision

Giants’ new Head Coach Brian Daboll comes to the franchise from Buffalo with new General Manager Joe Schoen. They inherited a rough situation from both a roster and salary cap perspective. They came in ready for a challenge.

That challenge is presenting itself already, and that challenge is centered around Jones. The Giants have made a point to surround Jones with talent. They signed Kenny Golladay last offseason and have invested two top-50 selections at receiver with Kadarius Toney and Wan’Dale Robinson. Since the Giants declined Jones’ fifth-year option, everything rides on this season for the fourth-year signal caller.

“It’s all about Daniel Jones for the Giants,” said TJ McCreight, The 33rd Team’s Head of Scouting. “Regardless of injuries, a new staff, new players—whatever obstacles are in front of him—Jones has to put the team on his back and win games. Essentially, he needs to prove that he is a franchise quarterback. If he doesn’t show that, then the Giants will be another team searching for ‘that guy.’”

Proving he can be “that guy” starts this week. Daboll said the starters will play on Thursday night, a possible sign he isn’t happy with the team’s performance in camp, and the starters haven’t been finalized yet.

Help From Others

It isn’t just Jones that needs to step up, Barkley needs to do the same. The second-overall pick from 2018 has flashed brilliance but has struggled to stay on the field. McCreight put it simply. “Saquon Barkley needs to stay healthy.”

Throughout camp, Barkley has looked good. He has shown explosiveness in both the running and passing games. Barkley even sparked a fight that included Giants offensive line coach Bobby Johnson.

On defense, the Giants have a lot of talent They beefed up the trenches on both sides, but spent their first selection this year on edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux. A star at the University of Oregon, adding Thibodeaux gives defensive coordinator Wink Martindale a talented pass rusher to utilize. Why is his presence so important?

“Quarterbacks and pass rushers move the win needle,” McCreight said. “Kayvon Thibodeaux needs to hit the ground running and sack the passer.”

The biggest question here: can Daboll impact the Giants in a similar way that he did the Bills? He has a track record of developing players like Josh Allen who developed an elite connection with Stefon Diggs. That is why the Giants were enthusiastic about hiring Brian Daboll.

Here’s a breakdown of each Allen and Diggs connection vs Jones and Golladay’s in Passer PPG and Receiving Total PPG.

Josh Allen Passing PPG

  • 2018: 1.32
  • 2019: 2.45
  • 2020: 8.09
  • 2021: 8.50

Stefon Diggs Receiving Total PPG

  • 2016: 1.17
  • 2017: 1.40
  • 2018: 1.33
  • 2019: 1.21
  • 2020: 2.91 (BUF)
  • 2021: 1.70 (BUF)

While he has struggled, Jones has still improved each season in that same metric in a similar way to Allen did from year one to year two.

  • 2019: 1.57
  • 2020: 2.46
  • 2021: 3.48

Golladay has also shown the ability to be an elite receiver by producing his best season in 2018. Unfortunately, he hasn’t duplicated it with the Giants. Under Daboll, Golladay could get back to his old self.

  • 2018: 2.04
  • 2019: 1.18
  • 2020: 1.11 (Hurt)
  • 2021: 1.03

The Giants have a lot to prove this season, and it starts on Thursday night.

Tyler Forness contributed to this report. 

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