The New York Giants had what seemed to be a rough offseason. They only won five games in 2018, traded one of the best receivers in the league for 75 cents on the dollar, and drafted an underwhelming rookie to be the next franchise quarterback. Vven keeping all that in mind, it’s possible the Giants could surprise the NFL and be better than expected in 2019. Here are three reasons.
They were better than their 2018 record indicates
According to ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, the Giants outperformed their record last year. Their point differential indicated they should be a seven-win team and they won five games. That’s a larger disparity than any team in the league. That means they should improve on their record in 2019 if history is any indicator — and in Barnwell’s opinion, it will be:
“When you look at the 50 teams since 1989 with the most similar gap between wins and expected wins to last year’s Giants and see how they did the following year, 42 of the 50 teams improved. The 50-team subset improved by an average of 2.7 wins over their previous season’s record. Teams with that large of a gap between their implied performance and actual performance almost always produce a better record the following season.”
The assumption here is that some breaks that did not go the Giants’ way last season may fall their way this year. The Giants strength of schedule in 2019 is tied for 27th in the league. Their opponents had a 2018 winning percentage of .473. They don’t have a hard schedule compared to most of the teams in the NFL. Within the division, only the Washington Redskins have it easier.
The offensive line is much improved
The Giants’ offensive line started 2018 putrid and got increasingly better as the season progressed. Here’s their depth chart for 2019:
- Left tackle: Nate Solder
- Left guard: Will Hernandez
- Center: Jon Halapio
- Right guard: Kevin Zeitler
- Right tackle: Mike Remmers
Zeitler came from Cleveland while Solder should improve after a mediocre first season as a free agent acquisition. They’ll look to ride the wave they started in last season’s second half, where the team went a respectable 4-4 in their final eight games.
While the team dealt receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. and lost Golden Tate to a suspension, they’re looking to rely more on the run and Saquon Barkley. An ever-improving offensive line will help them do that and could add a new dynamic to a once-dormant offense.
Daniel Jones might be better than originally thought
The Giants’ offensive line is also critical to keeping the quarterback on his feet — whoever that quarterback may be.
The Giants replacing Eli Manning with Daniel Jones is a matter of when not if. That said, the team doesn’t appear eager to do it this season. They may be smart to do so, however.
Jones was mediocre in college at Duke. In two preseason games, he’s played reasonably well. He went 5-for-5 in his first preseason outing against the Jets with a touchdown. He went 11-for-14 with 161 yards and a touchdown against the Bears, though he fumbled twice. Jones looked better than expected. Granted, these are preseason games. But the performances were solid enough.
The bottom line is that Jones may not be that great of an option at quarterback, but he may still be better than Manning. Manning has been on a steady decline for the past several seasons. Jones is younger and more athletic. Even if Jones isn’t spectacular, he could still be better.