One of the questions that comes up at the start of a new season is what would qualify as a good year? With the New York Giants beginning training camp this week, let’s look at that question.
Rather than just give you my view, which I will below, we will use the Round Table format to get the perspectives of several Big Blue View contributors. So, let’s get started.
From a pure “You are what your record says you are” point of view, I would put the bar for a “good” season at an 8-8 record — or better.
But more than that, I want to see the Giants finally play up to the talent on the roster.
In 2016, an “Odell or Famine” offense was carried by a dominant and healthy defense which feasted on an uncharacteristically weak schedule to achieve their 11-5 record. Despite the obvious flaws in that team, I refuse to believe that that same team is so bad, so untalented, as to earn a 3-13 record the very next year. Obviously injuries played a huge part on both sides of the ball, but to me, last year was still an embarrassing under-performance.
So for me to count the 2018 season as a success I’ll need to see the team perform up to its talent level. I want to see an offensive scheme that is varied and at least somewhat unpredictable, that actually schemes to put players in position to succeed. I want to see the offense play as though it actually IS littered with first and second round round draft picks. I want to see the defense play fast, aggressively, and as a unit. As much as it is about winning and not losing, how they play the game is important to me, too.
Sitting here, I don’t know how the season will shake out. You can’t anticipate every possibility and things happen. But I do know that this team is talented enough to break .500 — daunting schedule or not.
I see three outcomes that could labeled a “success” at the end of the season. The first is a playoff berth. That means everything the Giants did to go all-in on the 2018 season paid off. Eli Manning bounced back in a new offense and at least two of the next three happened: the offensive line was better than expected, Saquon Barkley was a big part of the offense, and James Bettcher coordinated a successfully aggressive defense.
Option 2 is the Giants struggle through a difficult first half of the season, but Davis Webb or Kyle Lauletta look like legitimate NFL starting quarterbacks in the second half. 7-9 would be a welcome result if the future at quarterback seems to be figured out. 7-9 or 8-8 is a failure if it’s still 16 games of a mediocre or worse Manning.
Option 3 would be a success for the future, but not exactly 2018 and that’s if this team completely bottoms out with bad quarterback play but enough hope at other positions. This wouldn’t be a tanking situation, this team just wouldn’t be good enough to consistently compete. Manning struggles through the first half and neither Webb nor Lauletta show enough to be considered options to open the 2019 season.
That would force the Giants to address quarterback and build a roster through youth instead of throwing money at older short-term vets. 2018 would be rough and it would bring to question some of the moves over the past few months, but it would give the team a clear path for next offseason and a route to future success.
The obvious answer would be double-digit wins and a Super Bowl victory. But first this team needs to learn to walk before it runs given that it’s literally starting from scratch with a new coaching staff, new players and new systems in all three phases of the ball.
Still, I can dream, right?
Ok, so what would I consider a good season for the Giants?
I’m looking for better continuity, which is something I don’t think this team has had in quite some time. By that I mean when it’s time to pass the baton to the next generation of players, often times in the past, that generation either moved on or never panned out.
Some excellent examples of the poor continuity can be tied to the draft classes of the past and how they haven’t worked out. At this point you would have hoped the Giants had at least some players from their 2010-2013 classes, yet they have zero.
That’s a big reason why they have struggled to remain consistent year in and year out; if you have to spend on free agents to replace talent you should have been developing, you’re not going to be a consistent contender.
By the end of this season, I want to see signs of continuity.
I want to know that the quarterback position is in good hands for when that day comes where Eli Manning is no longer under center.
I want to see someone step up and show he can handle the workload that Damon Harrison has handled with similar results.
I want to feel good about the future of this team and see it become a constant presence in the postseason. I think they have the right folks in place; they just need to do it.
My BBV cohorts have talked in vague terms, using words like “continuity,” talking about “playing up to the talent on the roster,” or offering multiple ways to consider this a good season.
I am going to be more simplistic — and blunt. It’s called “The Playoffs.” That thing the Giants have missed five of the past six years.
The Giants’ new decision-makers made it very clear they still believe Eli Manning can be a winning quarterback. Everything that was done this offseason, from drafting Saquon Barkley to hiring James Bettcher as defensive coordinator was done to maximize the Giants’ chances of winning with Manning. Sure, they are also trying to set up for long-term success, but the primary objective is to win with Manning.
So, guess what? Now they have to win with Manning. That doesn’t mean winning the Super Bowl. It means being a competitive, playoff-caliber team. And it means Manning showing that the faith Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur are showing is not mis-placed.
Sure, good things can come out of the season if the playoffs are missed. Barkley could show that he was worth the No. 2 pick. Odell Beckham Jr. could have a monster year. One of the young quarterbacks could show promise for the future. Other young players could show that they are long-term building blocks.
Foe me, though, the Giants went all-in with Manning for the short term. So, plain and simple it’s time to win some games and get to the playoffs.