The New York Giants made the hotly-debated decision this offseason to build around 37-year-old quarterback Eli Manning rather than begin the process of building a future without him. The primary goal was to give Manning much-needed help, to surround him with as much talent as possible.
How did GM Dave Gettleman do on that score? According to ESPN’s ranking of offensive arsenals heading into the 2018, the answer would be “very well.”
In ranking those arsenals, ESPN puts the Giants No. 2 in the NFL behind the Kansas City Chiefs. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell says:
Nobody can say that Eli Manning lacks an arsenal. The Giants ranked low on this list last year out of pessimism against their running backs, fears about Brandon Marshall after a rough year with the Jets and the slim likelihood of rookie tight end Evan Engram having an immediate impact. The first two turned out to be legitimate, but Engram -- in part because he was the last man standing after injuries -- had a wildly productive debut season. The first-round pick finished with 722 receiving yards, which ranks fourth among rookie tight ends since the merger and is the most since Jeremy Shockey had 894 yards for the Giants in 2002. He was a top-five tight end by fantasy points in 2017, and he should be in the running again this season.
The expectations for Saquon Barkley, meanwhile, are Offensive Rookie of the Year. Outside of concerns about his offensive line, it shouldn’t take much convincing to believe that Barkley will be a leading back from the outset, both as a runner and a receiver. Odell Beckham Jr. also should be healed from his fractured ankle and playing for a new contract, which could give the Giants a reasonable shot at having a top-five contributor at running back, wide receiver and tight end. The wideout depth chart is thin, and there’s going to be an adjustment period for Sterling Shepard as the Giants get away from using 11 personnel on every snap and move the third-year wideout out of the slot, but the Giants are going to have moments this season in which they make defenders look absolutely stupid.
In terms of the individual players, there is really nothing here we haven’t talked about.
Beckham had a broken bone. Those heal. We haven’t seen it and he needs to prove it, but he should be fine. Engram will be star for a long time if he drops fewer passes. Shepard may have something to prove to some as an outside receiver, but I believe scheme and formation will often put him up against the opposition’s third or fourth corner — a nightmare for defenses. Barkley, right long-term pick or not, provides the Giants with the kind of dual-threat back they haven’t had since Tiki Barber.
It has been written that Manning and the Giants offense should have no excuse this year. That is hard to argue with, provided the offensive line is good enough.
The Giants have done about as well as they could to build around Manning. Provided they stay healthy, scoring points should not be the problem for Big Blue in 2018.