Wondering if and how your NFL team can make the playoffs in the coming season? Adam Rank and Marc Sessler have you covered in this ongoing series, as they provide five reasons why each of the league's 32 teams will make an appearance in the 2018 postseason. Today, Rank examines the New York Giants.
The Giants went 3-13 last season, the franchise's lowest point since the 4-12 campaign in 2003, Jim Fassel's last season with the club. In fact, you would have to go all the way back to 1983 (Bill Parcells' first year) to find the last time this organization won just three games.
But fans in New York should be excited for this season, because I really do believe they have a realistic shot for the playoffs. And you know why. It's because of that receiver and running back everybody has been talking about. That's right: Cody Latimer and Jonathan Stewart. Oh, wait -- I might be thinking of two other guys. Let's get to it. Five reasons why the Giants will make the playoffs.
1) Odell Beckham Jr. is back, baby!
Nobody is more excited about this than Eli Manning. He's a completely different dude with his star receiver on the field. Eli is like The Shield version of Roman Reigns when OBJ is on the field. A dominant performer we can all get behind. He might as well wear one of these tactical vests. Without? He's a lot like Roman Reigns the singles wrestler. You can tell us that he's a superstar, but we're just going to have to go ahead and rebuke that as we boo the hell out of him. Let's take a look at the numbers.
ESPN's Bill Barnwell tweeted out this spring that Eli has thrown 66 touchdowns with 29 interceptions and a 91.5 passer rating with OBJ. Without, though, he has 14 touchdowns against 14 picks and a passer rating of 75.0. So while everyone was writing think pieces about Eli being past his prime last year, now they are going to have to do more rebirth Eli stories as we question if he can play another 10 years. And it's all because of OBJ. Well, not all ...
2) Saquon Barkley
It seems almost unfair that the Giants will get one of the best receivers on the planet back, and then pair him with the best running back prospect in generations. This kind of strikes me as the same thing the San Antonio Spurs enjoyed when they drafted Tim Duncan and were able to pair him with the G.O.A.T. -- Bruce Bowen.
I don't want to overstate this because I've been told I'm prone to hyperbole. But Barkley is going to have a similar impact to what Ezekiel Elliott had with the Cowboys a few years ago. He's that good. In fact, he'll probably have a bigger impact for the Giants as a receiver out of the backfield than Elliott had for the Cowboys. Book it.
3) And it all starts up front
But Elliott and the Cowboys had a better offensive line. No doubt that's what a Cowboys fan is thinking to himself/herself right now. Typical Cowboys fan, amirite? Not wanting to give the Giants credit. But let me throw down this hot take for you. Will Hernandez will have a bigger impact on the Giants this season than Barkley. All right, I don't really believe that. I just needed to grab your attention, kind of like the way that commercial on Pandora is much louder than the music you listen to. But I do want to illustrate just how much I love this move for the Giants. Obviously, getting Barkley is amazing. But when you are able to sign Nate Solder and bring in a first-round talent like Hernandez in the second round, it's incredible. If Ereck Flowers can mend his feelings, this is going to be a menacing offensive line.
4) The defense can't be that bad
The Giants were near-last in just about every defensive category. But I would write that off as more of an anomaly, especially when you consider just how bad the offense played last year. The Giants' defense looked like a depleted bullpen you see that gets over-taxed because of injuries (Mets fans feel me) and starters not getting out of the fourth inning.
James Bettcher was an inspired hire at defensive coordinator. He did a great job for the Cardinals, who finished in the top 10 in total defense for the third consecutive year in 2017. The only other team to finish in the top 10 throughout that entire span? The Denver Broncos. The Giants could use some help getting to the passer, and this is a specialty of Bettcher, whose Cardinals had the second-highest blitz rate in 2017. So I'm a huge fan of all of this.
5) Pat Shurmur
This was a good hire. I'm not sure what you think of the hiring of GM Dave Gettleman, but the two complement each other. Which means you won't have to worry about power struggles, and you have a GM who can quickly fill the needs of the head coach. Shurmur also has some success in the league and he's been a head coach previously (Cleveland Browns, 2011-12). Now, you could point to his stint with the Browns and laugh (which would be pretty gutsy for a Cowboys fan, really, with your coach?), but I really like this metric when you think of some of the former Browns coaches who have gone on to great success. Marty Schottenheimer, Bill Belichick, Romeo Crennel ... all right, two out of three isn't horrible.