Embarrassment, we’ve all felt it. After last Sunday night, the assumption would be that the New York Giants have felt it as well.
The hype behind the Giants was REAL. The made a splash by trading for Las Vega Raider’s tight end Darren Waller. They finally worked out a short-term deal with Saquon Barkley, ending his holdout. Both assistant coaches returned after several interviews for head coach positions following their successful rookie year. Most importantly, Daniel Jones was coming off a career year and a big pay day.
Most assumed that the Giants would put up a fight against the rival Dallas Cowboys. That was not the case. In the main event of opening day, in their own building, the Giants lost 40-0. In front of Queen Latifah, too.
It was rough. Jones was mauled by Dallas’ defense, which led to Waller and the wide receiver corps never really gaining any traction. Barkley also struggled to do anything of note against the very aggressive defense. Majority of defense aside, we can blame just about everyone.
No crew more is guilty than the offensive line. Which I feel like we can chalk it up to them just shitting their pants. Hey, it happens. And it’s embarrassing, I know.
Sometimes as a youth you order chicken tenders from IHOP, being blissfully ignorant to how they would devastate your stomach. Then, your mother decides to take the long way home and Mother Nature reminds you how unforgiving she is. A fart turns into a problem and next thing you know, you are stopping at your aunt’s house to clean up the crime scene.
Now sure that’s a little embarrassing, but when you hear the doorbell ring and a car load of people are asking to coming in to use the phone, it grows. Like the Grinch’s heart on Christmas morning. My embarrassment grew and grew. As I heard these poor people gagging as they called Triple A, I knew changes needed to be made.
There is a point to this story. Sometimes you shit your pants and you get embarrassed in front of a lot of people. While I didn’t do it in front of millions, Evan Neal just played bad. I think it evens out a bit.
I never wore khakis to go out to eat and never ordered something that wasn’t breakfast food from IHOP again. Just like I did, Brian Daboll and company will make adjustments and learn from their mistakes.
Daboll was vocal this week about making the changes needed to fix the problems that they saw during that bloodbath. Many expect to see a bit of a revamped offensive line come Sunday’s game with the Arizona Cardinals. Hopefully they remember not to order the chicken fingers in Arizona.
The preseason is over for the NFL and the New York Giants are headed to the regular season. While the first meaningful game action is nearly two weeks away, these next two days are integral to the Giants’ season. Roster cut downs are important and often lead to surprise cuts, signings, and even trades.
Then there’s the question of how many players per position are retained. Do the Giants keep a large swath of receivers? Do they claim a pass rusher off waivers to bolster that group? It remains to be seen. But until then, I’m taking a crack at the final 53-man roster, which will be officially determined by Tuesday, August 29th at 4:00 PM.
Giants 53-Man Roster Projection: Offense
Quarterback (2): Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor
Our projection of the Giants’ final 53-man roster starts at the top: Quarterback. We all know Daniel Jones is a given, but the real question was how the Giants’ backup job would work out. Tyrod Taylor is a long-time veteran at the position in the league, but rookie Tommy DeVito from Illinois flashed this preseason with a solid arm and good athleticism. Taylor, on the other hand, looked gun shy and very panicky, oftentimes resorting to using his legs at the immediate sign of pressure.
My prediction is that the Giants will lean on the veteran to take the backup wheel, considering he played mostly with second-team players. What would Taylor do with the new starting offense? That’s a great question. DeVito, though, should easily make the practice squad given his gameplay.
Running back (4): Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, Eric Gray, Jashaun Corbin
This may be the easiest position to observe on roster cutdowns given the proven talent at the position. Barkley is a guarantee, Breida is a high-quality backup who flashes as a pass blocker, and rookie Eric Gray is a 2023 fifth round pick with return ability. Jashaun Corbin flashed on some reps and James Robinson was recently released. Gary Brightwell had injuries and hasn’t seen much playing time, despite his special teams ability.
So far, this is the largest group of players to be retained. The first four are nearly guaranteed, but the uncertainty rests with those last three roster spots. I think Sterling Shepard makes it given his veteran leadership and excellent play — so long as he’s healthy. Cole Beasley boasts great play as a slot player and has familiarity with Brian Daboll. Wan’Dale Robinson was last year’s second round pick, so he’s also a near given to make it. I do believe Bryce Ford-Wheaton makes the practice squad.
Tight end (4): Darren Waller, Daniel Bellinger, Lawrence Cager, Chris Myarick
Darren Waller is a bonafide threat to be the Giants top target all season, with Bellinger serving as a solid second option on two tight end sets. Cager presents a similar profile to that of Waller, as a receiving threat more than a blocker. While Tommy Sweeney knows coach Daboll from their time in Buffalo, he recently had a “medical event”, plus Chris Myarick has an entire season of play and knowledge of the playbook that I think gives him an edge. Add in Myarick’s play as a fullback at times, and he presents some backfield versatility for running schemes.
This is the first position that could potentially earn a pickup off the waiver wire or via trade, so Myarick isn’t a guarantee to make it.
Offensive line (9): Andrew Thomas, Evan Neal, John Michael Schmitz, Ben Bredeson, Mark Glowinski, Joshua Ezeudu, Tyre Phillips, Marcus McKethan, Shane Lemieux
I fully expect the first five players listed here to be the starting offensive line come Week 1, although Joshua Ezeudu is definitely competing for a guard spot given his run game prowess. Tyre Phillips presented promising swing tackle play and spot performances when Neal was injured last year. Marcus McKethan had a solid preseason. The last roster spot is a toss-up between Jack Anderson and Shame Lemiuex, especially given Wyatt Davis’s injury in the final preseason game.
This is a position that I fully expect the Giants to pursue off waivers or via trade. The tackle spots behind Thomas and Neal are frighteningly thin, and those who played performed horrifically all preseason.
Giants 53-Man Roster Projection: Defense
Defensive line (5): Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, A’Shawn Robinson, Jordan Riley
The Giants defensive line may be one of the easier to predict. Lawrence and Williams are absolutely on the roster, and Nunez-Roches and Robinson were free agent additions that helped to bolster a strong interior group that lacked depth last year. Jordan Riley is a late draft pick who flashed plenty this preseason.
EDGE/OLB (4): Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, Jihad Ward, Tomon Fox
This is another position that I could see the New York Giants looking to pursue via waiver wire, free agency, or trade. Thibodeaux and Ojulari are no doubt the starters with Ward coming in as that rotational EDGE who provides solid run defense. Ximines and Fox battled for a spot but, for my money, Fox edged Ximines out. I could see the Giants keeping Habakkuk Baldonado, an undrafted free agent this year, on the practice squad.
Inside linebacker (5): Bobby Okereke, Micah McFadden, Darrian Beavers, Isaiah Simmons, Carter Coughlin
Okereke and McFadden are the front-running starters to this point, but don’t be surprised if Simmons overtakes McFadden given his rare athletic ability. Based on their preseason outing against the Jets, I could also see Simmons playing some outside linebacker as a pass rusher, furthering his value to the team. Darrian Beavers also presents good depth and has competed with McFadden. Carter Coughlin will make it off his special teams talent, plus a few flashes against the Jets.
Cornerback (6): Adoree Jackson, Deonte Banks, Tre Hawkins III, Cordale Flott, Darnay Holmes, Nick McCloud
While carrying only five defensive backs may be tricky, the Giants have already let go of two defensive backs and those remaining outside of the above names weren’t playing well enough to earn a roster spot. The trio of Jackson, Banks, and Hawkins will likely see plenty of time on the field, with Flott boasting versatility for inside and outside play. McCloud will definitely make it given his versatility as well, stepping up last season on the boundary and flashing some safety play too.
Safety (4): Xavier McKinney, Jason Pinnock, Dane Belton, Gervarrius Owens
There’s a chance that Bobby McCain doesn’t make the roster in favor of a different defensive back, especially given his injury this past weekend. McKinney and Pinnock are definitely the starters and Dane Belton provides solid depth at both positions, with some hints of ball hawking ability. Gervarrius Owens, a 2023 draft pick, should make it especially with the injury to McCain.
Giants 53-Man Roster Projection: Special Teams
Kicker Graham Gano, Long snapper Casey Kreiter, Punter Jamie Gillan
Ultimately, plenty of these positions could see changes in the players retained, but what matters is that the Giants keep on the best 53 players they possibly can to pursue their wins week in and week out. There may be some tough decisions to make at the end of the roster, but I think much of the team is clear from position-to-position. Let’s see what head coach Brian Daboll decides on.
The year is 2002. It’s my sophomore year in high school. At this point in life my money goes to two things: wrestling and rap. I was still big into buying these things called CDs at the time. This particular Friday, I had my mind set on purchasing Nappy Root’s debut album “Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz”. I go to FYE, or whatever it was at the time. I discover another CD while I was there. For the life of me I can not tell you what the name of that CD was. This is very important to the story.
See, I was a dummy who over-thought everything, including this purchase. I walked out of FYE that night with this easily forgettable album instead of the sure thing. To this day I will still listen to “Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz”. It’s a comforting album, with plenty of hits and a familiarity that I know and love. See, on that day at the mall I overthought a sure thing and, well, I missed on a sure thing. Now, when I apply that unfortunate scenario to my fantasy draft and ask myself “do I draft Darren Waller?”, the answer isn’t to over-think. It’s to just draft.
Waller is going to be that comforting “get out of jail free” card for Daniel Jones all season long. These two have been connecting and building chemistry on, and off, the field since the Giants trade for him back in March. It’s been no secret that Jones enjoys having a good tight end around. Last season he ranked in the top five in quarterback rating, completion percentage, and first down rate when targeting a tight end. Targeting Waller should be no different, and may even help improve those numbers for the second year, Mike Kafka-run offense.
During his stint with the Raiders, Waller surpassed 1,000 receiving yards twice. However, I can’t bring up the past with out talking about the injuries. He’s only played in 20 out of his last 34 games due to injuries. I, too, call out of work more often when I hate it there.
Darren Waller Fantasy Draft Outlook
From the eyes of fantasy football, Waller has been great over the last three seasons. On average he ran 32 routes per game, with 7.6 targets, 5.3 receptions, and 62.5 yards, which have him ranking as a top four tight end. This is prior to an entire offense being built around him.
Waller is going to see a lot of targets; I would even step out on the ledge and say he leads all tight ends. This man has been unstoppable so far in training camp. The mad scientists that are Kafka and Brian Daboll have him lining up in every position that isn’t quarterback.
With a chip on his shoulder and something to prove, it should really be a no brainer to target Waller in your fantasy drafts. I say forget the “If I don’t get Travis Kelce” narrative and draft Waller as your first overall tight end. Don’t be sophomore Dan sitting in the rap isle of FYE overthinking a no-brainer pick of Darren Waller and go home from your fantasy football draft happy.
Ideally I’d be deciding the most perfect duo in Giants history via a Mortal Kombat style tournament. The overlapping and blood made me save that idea for something less complex than this. There are several duos in contention for this made-up award, I’d list them but do you really want to read that?
I’ll save the time and effort for both of us and list my five finalists for this truly honorable award: Eli Manning and Shaun O’Hara; Brandon Jacobs and Ahmed Bradshaw; Lawrence Taylor and Leonard Marshall; Lawrence Taylor and Bill Parcells; and finally Phil Simms and Mark Bavaro.
I’m sure I left off plenty of your favorite duos. It’s bound to happen; not everyone can eat at the adult table for this meal, folks. Now, it’s time to start trimming the bird. I’ve got a series of requirements that will weed out the undeserving until we finally end up with just one duo left. I will then crown them “The Most Perfect Duo in Giants History” (insert firework sounds).
The first requirement is going to be incredibly harsh. Would Barry Allen go back in time to save you and mess up the entire timeline?
Brandon Jacobs & Ahmed Bradshaw were both incredible backs, truly some of the best they’ve ever had not named Saquon Barkley or Tiki Barber, but we need to keep it real here. They are running backs, and for that reason we have to chop them. Farewell boys.
The next requirement: Did they need each other? Are they WHAM! or are they Mobb Deep?
Lawrence Taylor and Leonard Marshall were going to be their own men regardless if they played with the other one. Marshall also fits the role of Andrew Ridgeley perfectly, because only the most diehard fan remembers his name — Even though he is talented in his own right.
Now we have three duos left it’s time to get to the meat and potatoes of this thing.
Who actually changed the franchise?
Phil Simms and Mark Bavaro are a fine QB/TE tandem. Arguably one of the best of their time. They did great things on the field, but in the long run they didn’t impact the franchise like the other two.
Eli Manning & Shaun O’Hara are the duo that I expected to pick to win this, but then I started to think about it. Can I give this duo the credit for what Eli and the skill positions did? I was trying to get too cute, and well, you can’t get cute in football.
The winners of the “Most Perfect Duo in Giants History” award are of course Lawrence Taylor & Bill Parcells.
Parcells isn’t going to be getting a Christmas card from Taylor, and vice versa, but what these two were able to create was legendary. Actually, I would use the word iconic. Bill Parcells is known as one of the greatest coaches of all-time, and his ability to create the Taylor-led defense showed that off. His ability to channel Taylor’s feral energy and turn him into one of the most vicious linebackers of all time was game changing.
The Big Blue Wrecking Crew is the identity of this team still to this day. There is no duo in franchise history that deserves this award more than those two for setting the standard for New York football.
The 2022 NFL season saw the New York Giants achieve something they had not done since 2016: Make the playoffs. It also included their first playoff victory since 2011, a year in which they won the Super Bowl. General manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll have made a flurry of moves in an attempt to recapture that glory, including the signing of new and familiar faces that could be impact players for the Giants in 2023.
Between new linebacker Bobby Okereke and the return of quarterback Daniel Jones, there’s a lot of expectation as for who could play a major role for the Giants in a 2023 playoff run. But which players aren’t exactly jumping off the page to be impact players? Who are dark horse impact players to succeed for Big Blue?
Giants Potential Impact Players: OFFENSE
Running back Eric Gray
The running back position has slowly become a committee approached position in the NFL and the Giants have talent to do that. Although Saquon Barkley just re-signed, the Giants added veteran James Robinson and have several others that can contribute to the ground game from Week 1. One stands out as a potential Giants impact player: 2023 fifth round pick Eric Gray.
The former standout from Oklahoma never averaged fewer than 4.9 yards per carry in his collegiate career, along with nothing less than 5.5 yards from scrimmage. He amassed over 3000 rushing yards, as well. Gray possesses fine speed, good one-cut burst, and the natural hands to present a threat in the passing game. Additionally, he presents good pass blocking skills. That versatility as a back can allow the Giants offense to be productive even while giving starter Saquon Barkley a break. And being a rookie won’t necessarily hold Gray back.
Since 2012, there have been 21 players who aren’t first round picks that have produced 800+ yard seasons. Of those 21 players, 12 were Day 3 picks or later, much like Gray. What constitutes a “good” season is subjective, of course, but it’s possible he can become a productive part of the offense without having to be the lead back.
Wide receiver Darius Slayton
Much to the potential surprise of some Giants fans, Darius Slayton should be considered a dark horse to be a key cog impact player for the team. Why? Simply put, Slayton has been a consistent threat on the perimeter for Daniel Jones since his rookie season. Slayton has accrued 700+ yards in three of his four seasons in the NFL, and has two years with a 96.0 or higher passer rating. This includes a career year in 2022, where he notched career highs in yards per catch and yards per target.
While some may point to his lack of seasons with 50+ catches or 1000+ receiving yards, those same detractors should understand the lack of offensive efficiency over the course of Slayton’s career. From Pat Shurmur in Daniel Jones rookie year, to the Joe Judge era featuring an incredibly simplified offense that didn’t take advantage of his speed, Slayton produced despite such poor schemes. He’s easily been the Giants’ most valuable target on offense.
Now in his second year with Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, along with additions like tight end Darren Waller and rookie Jaylin Hyatt, Slayton will again be just another weapon fans may not pay attention to, but will produce when it’s necessary. He’s absolutely on track to be an impact player again.
Giants Potential Impact Players: DEFENSE
DL Leonard Williams
Defensively speaking, there are plenty of candidates who can contribute and become important pieces to the Giants. Young players like EDGE defender Kayvon Thibodeaux and defensive back Cordale Flott, who are both entering their second season, are prime examples. However, there are veterans who may become X-factors to the roster, even though they’re considered more established.
Enter Leonard Williams as a potential impact player for the Giants.
Williams has been a key cog in the defense since he was traded for by former general manager Dave Gettleman. Considering he hasn’t been asked to take a pay cut nor has been dealt again by the new Giants regime, it’s safe to say he has their confidence. With that being said, the Giants saw Dexter Lawrence take a massive jump to become one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league. With Lawrence as a Giants impact player, that attention will no doubt become advantageous for Williams when blocking schemes develop on plays and open up one-on-one matchups for him.
Additionally, the team added veterans Rakeem Nuñez-Roches and A’Shawn Robinson, along with drafting former Oregon lineman Jordan Riley in the sixth-round. This depth provides a rotation of guys to keep bodies fresh, especially on run downs with that size, and allow someone like Williams to stay energized all game.
The most important fact, however, is that Williams is a versatile player that presents not just run-stopping prowess but pass-rush ability. With the added bulk at the position, he’ll definitely be looked to as a pass rusher more heavily. I wouldn’t be surprised, barring health, if Williams has a good year and sees more snaps on passing downs than run downs, increasing his sack total from last season.
Whomever replaces Julian Love
While Julian Love’s departure, and even contract with the Seattle Seahawks, may suggest otherwise, the defensive back’s absence is a hole needing to be filled. Who will fill it is the question, but also the possible answer to another dark horse, key cog.
Newly acquired defensive back Bobby McCain seems to be in prime position to be the replacement, given his versatility and veteran experience. But could someone like Dane Belton, a former 5th round draft pick, step up in place of Love, especially since he did so for Xavier McKinney already? How about Jason Pinnock, who has seen his share of starts in the league as well?
My pick to be that Giants impact player is Nick McCloud. Acquired from the Bills last year, McCloud stepped in when Adoree Jackson was hurt, and played admirably. But more recently, he started at safety during OTAs this offseason, suggesting his small edge in the competition department.
Jackson referred to McCloud in an interview as a “Swiss Army Knife”, capable of doing whatever is asked of him. That value, along with his frame and athleticism, could make him an ideal Love replacement at safety full-time.