A quick look at the New York Giants
Last year: 5-11. Showed a little life midseason, highlighted by a scintillating win over the Bears, but couldn’t overcome a 1-7 start.
2018 vs. Eagles: Lost both meetings, extending their losing streak to the Birds to five games and nine of the last 10.
2019 vs. Eagles: Week 14 at the Linc, Week 17 in North Jersey. Full schedule below.
He’s here: QB Daniel Jones, WR Golden Tate, DT Dexter Lawrence, CB DeAndre Baker.
He’s gone: WR Odell Beckham Jr., S Landon Collins, LB Olivier Vernon.
NFL Network top 100: RB Saquon Barkley (16th).
I was in a Manhattan bar the night the Giants drafted quarterback Daniel Jones ahead of pass rushers Josh Allen and Ed Oliver. It was similar to the reaction Eagles fans had in 1999 when the Birds drafted Donovan McNabb and not Ricky Williams.
Make no mistake: Giants fans wanted a quarterback. They just didn’t want a Duke guy at No. 6 when they also had the 17th pick (and later the 30th) in the first round.
But that was April.
Jones looked terrific in training camp and in preseason games, which carries a blessing and a curse. The fans are no longer angry, but now the coaches have to temper expectations for the kid. Fans want Jones to play now.
Eli Manning, his 38-year-old legs, poor body language, and 8-23 record the last two years will start his 16th consecutive season opener.
“I’ve said it all along, Eli’s our starter and we’re getting Daniel ready to play,” head coach Pat Shurmur said. “I think he’s done a good job in the preseason, as I’ve mentioned all along. He’s getting better, and he’s going to continue to do that so that at whatever time we need him to play, he’ll be ready.”
Odell Beckham Jr. won’t be lifting his leg like a dog in opposing end zones nor making spectacular grabs for the Giants any longer, but that’s not the only void in the wide receiver room.
Golden Tate III, who spent the second half of last season with the Eagles, is suspended for the first four games after failing a PED test. Sterling Shepard, the presumptive No. 1 receiver, broke his thumb on the first day of camp and did not play in the preseason. But he’s OK for Week 1.
After Shepard, it’s a mediocre group that includes Bennie Fowler, Cody Latimer, and Reggie White Jr.
White is not the son of the former Eagles great, but he is the son of former Chargers defensive lineman Reggie White, who played on San Diego’s 1994 Super Bowl team.
Cornerback Sam Beal missed all of last season with a shoulder injury and most of this summer with a hamstring injury, but he wanted no parts of being shelved for another season.
“I’m not going back on IR,” Beal said in August. “I’m not. I’ll be killed before I go back there.”
The Giants placed him on IR anyway.
After taking Jones at No. 6, the Giants spent their next five picks on defensive players. They also acquired safety Jabrill Peppers from Cleveland in the Beckham trade, as they try to turn around a defense that gave up more than 25 points in six of the last eight games last season.
With Beckham gone and Manning in the December of his career, Saquon Barkley has taken on a more assertive role. The 22-year-old is coming off one of the greatest rookie seasons and is comfortable being the face of the storied franchise.
“I think he’s got a generational spirit, and it shows up on game days, it shows up in the locker room, it shows up behind the scenes,” Shurmur told the Allentown Morning Call. “He leads by example, but he’s also willing to say things that are important to him.”
The Giants don’t play the Eagles until December. If Jones is not starting by that time, then Eli has recaptured some magic and Barkley has 1,500 yards already. Love Saquon, but the guess here is that Jones will be starting.