As the media puts out its preseason rankings, many teams use them as either motivation to prove the naysayers wrong or to show that they are worth the hype.
For the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants, however, these rankings will lean toward the former. As the two lowest-ranked teams on ESPN’s preseason rankings, they have the most to prove, or maybe they have the lowest expectations.
Whether these rankings are a blessing or a curse, Miami and New York can use these rankings however they please
New York Giants
Eli Manning has suddenly become an aging quarterback who is clinging to life in the NFL. Although he is a two-time Super Bowl Champion and part of an NFL legacy, Manning has not proven that he can go the way of Drew Brees or Tom Brady as he enters the twilight of his career.
Questions that have lingered throughout his career about his arm and his knack for interceptions only get louder as he gets older, and with a young quarterback in Daniel Jones ready to play, he may find himself out of the job.
Stack this on top of the fact that the Giants have moved on from superstar Odell Beckham Jr. in an ugly divorce. Although Beckham’s last two seasons in New York were marred by injury and underwhelming play, losing a wide receiver with his ability to catch seemingly impossible catches and run down the field with his speed will be missed.
This will likely be a transition year for the Giants in one way or another. If they go with Manning, anything short of the playoffs will likely be seen as a failure at nearly every level.
However, if they go with Daniel Jones, they have a year to try to develop the team around him and figure out what to do going forward. In this scenario, they don’t necessarily need to win, they just need to show they can in the future.
The Dolphins have a lot of question marks coming into the 2019 season and a history of failure that does not bode well for them. First of all, they have to pick between veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and young Josh Rosen.
Although Rosen is in the unenviable spot of being on his second team in as many seasons, he still has a lot to prove. If the Dolphins do exceed expectations, it could be with his young arms in a new system.
Another thing that could make the Dolphins hit or miss is their young head coach, Brian Flores. Flores has spent the last 15 years with Bill Belichick as his boss. Because of this, he knows a thing or two about winning. Still, for Flores to succeed, he will need his team to buy-in, and the Dolphins may not have the talent for them to do so. Not yet, at least.
For the Dolphins to succeed, it doesn’t necessarily mean they need to have a complete turnaround and make the playoffs. Instead, it will take players like Rosen (or Fitzpatrick) buying into the system early on and developing a culture that can bleed into the future. They have a young coach and some young talent, and with a few things going their way, they could begin something special.
The NFL is unpredictable. The wrong stretch of injury luck or the sudden retirement of a player like Andrew Luck can change a team before the season. Just because these two teams look questionable in preseason rankings, it doesn’t mean that they will throughout the season. All they need to do is figure out what is best for their teams’ futures and move on from there.