The New York Giants almost won the NFC East in 2020 at 6-10. Had the Philadelphia Eagles not thrown the game against the Washington Football Team, we would’ve seen our first 6-10 divisional winner. So if you bet on the Giants to win the NFC East, you almost pulled one off.
But, no 6-10 teams should be in contention to win a division. Ever.
And in 2021, you can make a safe futures bet that at least one of the NFC East teams will win the division with a winning record. That’s assuming Washington gets a decent quarterback not named Taylor Heinicke.
But why not the New York Giants?
Today’s post will outline whether the New York Giants can finish what they started in 2020 and become the best futures bet in the NFC East.
Don’t Worry About a New York Giants Quarterback Quagmire
It looks like the New York Giants will stick with quarterback Daniel Jones. Sure, Jones looked like his New York counterpart, Sam Darnold, in 2020. He threw for just 11 touchdowns, 10 picks, and 2,946 yards in 14 starts in 2020. He also fumbled 11 times and lost 6 of them.
Now, the one reprieve we will give Jones is that he fell victim to the wrath of Haason Reddick in Week 13, in which Reddick sacked him 4 times and strip-sacked him twice. But, Reddick did the same when Colt McCoy relieved the battered Jones. So we really can’t blame Jones for Reddick going into God Mode for a game.
These things happen.
He very well may. Listen, Jones is a quarterback who won’t elevate anyone’s talent. That much is settled about the sixth overall pick in 2019 from Duke. Give him his running back in Saquon Barkley to return at full strength, and you may see a different Daniel Jones in 2021.
It’s probably one reason the Giants, barring a massive knuckleball here, will stick with Jones. He struggled, but opponents never worried about the running game making much noise. Listen, when you’re obscure in the New York Media Market, something’s wrong.
Which is what you saw from the tragic duo of Alfred Morris and Wayne Gallman.
Morris was once a household name. Now, he’s a has-been who fills in wherever he’s needed. Gallman probably won’t make an NFL roster come September. That leaves Barkley, who tore his ACL early in 2020.
How much will Barkley impact Jones?
He’s a Queen on the NFL chessboard. Barkley can run, block, and catch. The guy is the offense’s true centerpiece. And you can bet that if Barkley’s at full strength and running hard again, that we can put Jones in the Kirk Cousins, Baker Mayfield, Ryan Tannehill category.
Jones won’t win you games. But when his running back carries the offense, he will perform better than his skill set advertises.
The New York Giants MUST Stay Healthy
The upside here is that the team stayed healthier in 2020, but it wasn’t enough.
And it started with Saquon Barkley going down.
However, the injury bug still hit the New York Giants. And as the San Francisco 49ers proved in 2020, it doesn’t matter who you are. If the injury bug hits you, your season will sink. Even if you’re, like the Niners, defending NFC Champions. Or then-defending NFC Champions.
For Jones to thrive and the team to pick up where they finished 5-3 following a 1-7 start, they must not allow injuries to cloud their season. Of course, this would land in the strength & conditioning slash practice realms.
In-game injuries are a thing. But often, it comes down to how physical a team practices. Yeah, you need a younger team in pads more often than, say, the Kansas City Chiefs. But when it affects your play on Sundays, or too many men are adding themselves to IR as the season wears, there’s a problem.
It crushed the Giants in 2019 and when their star went down in 2020, Giants fans everywhere (and you if you placed a futures bet on them) knew it was going to be a long season. And for a while, it was.
But given the team’s strong finish and near-division win, there’s hope for the beaten, battered, and bruised Giants.
Injuries weren’t the only factor stopping the Giants in 2020. Their pass rush didn’t go as planned.
The New York Giants Pass Rush Needs an Upgrade
The New York Giants had a fairly decent overall pass rush in 2020, ranking in the middle of the league in most categories. Defensive tackle Leonard Williams was especially disruptive, capturing 11.5 sacks. However, here’s the downside: Williams accounted for over 25 percent of the team’s 40 sacks.
No one else on the team recorded over 4.0 sacks. The theory heading into the season was this: The system would make the pass rusher. Therefore, the Giants passed on signing a blue-chip edge rusher, and the plan backfired.
Take Williams out of the equation, and the pass rush was less than mediocre.
That needs to change for 2021 for the Giants to take the next step and keep pace with Washington and even a healthy Dallas Cowboys team.
It’s clear the New York Giants need either a pass rush specialist defensive end or an edge rusher coming in from the outside. It’s great to have a man like Williams, who has developed into a poor man’s Aaron Donald. And considering Donald’s success, that says a lot about how well Williams plays.
But the Giants need more than just their defensive tackle making the big plays. They either need to look to free agency to find a legitimate rusher, or it should become a high priority in April’s NFL Draft.
Given the overall success of the pass rush in terms of knockdowns, hurries, quarterback hits, and pressures, it shows the Giants are just one dynamic edge rusher away from making noise in 2021.
And chances are, they’re just one dynamic pass rusher away from their defense taking a serious step forward. If they sign a legitimate pass rusher or draft a solid prospect, and you’re looking at a deep class in the edge category, they just become a solid NFL futures bet.
Are the New York Giants a Weak Link in the East?
But even if the Giants reduce their injuries, get Saquon Barkley back at full strength, and improve the edge rush category on defense, it’s still not set in stone that this team is anything beyond ordinary.
One reason is because the Washington Football Team and Dallas Cowboys will be far better than 7-9 and 6-10, respectively, in 2021, barring anything unforeseen.
Washington is just a quarterback away from becoming a dominant NFL team. Perhaps even a Super Bowl contender.
When was the last time you could say that about Washington?
They have one of the best defenses in football and arguably the league’s best defensive line. They also have a poor man’s Christian McCaffrey at running back in Antonio Gibson, and again, that’s saying a lot. Plus, Terry McLaurin is one solid WR2 lining up behind him away from becoming the league’s next dominant receiver.
If Washington traded even for someone like Sam Darnold, it gives them a stronghold in the division. It also makes them a much more attractive futures bet than the Giants.
Over in Dallas, Dak Prescott will probably be back, even if he and the Cowboys can’t get a deal done. And given Prescott’s play before an ankle injury ended his season, you can bet that he’ll pick up where he left off. The offense as a whole, including the line, backs, and receivers, will be rejuvenated with Prescott.
That leaves the then-porous defense, which improved as the season wore on. They were one reason the Cowboys finished the season at 3-1 after an abysmal 3-9 start. And this was with Andy Dalton at quarterback.
They already made moves on defense, firing coordinator Mike Nolan after just one season and hiring Dan Quinn. While Quinn’s known for blowing large leads, he had a good track record as defensive coordinator in Seattle.
The Dallas Cowboys and Washington will become the Giants’ top two barriers in the futures category. The Cowboys will come back strong, and Washington continues to develop into one of the league’s elite teams.
It also puts the Giants at the third most talented team in the NFC East, at most. The odds remain against the Giants, and even after the offseason, chances are the odds will continue to stack themselves against them. Especially if Washington fixes their quarterback situation.
The New York Giants have a lot of work to do before they become a solid futures bet option. They’re not the most talented team, and they have a lot of holes to fill on the roster. The jury remains out whether Daniel Jones is ‘The Guy,’ but it looks like he’s getting another shot to prove himself.
The Giants need to get healthier on both sides of the ball before you consider them as a team to bet on. And they need to sign or draft a marquee edge rusher if they plan on taking the next step. At least on defense.
What are your thoughts on the New York Giants? Can they make the adjustments to become a solid futures bet? Or are Washington and Dallas still better options?
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