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10 reasons to feel good about the direction the Giants are heading

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Here is a look at why there are indeed sunny skies ahead for this franchise.

Chicago Bears v New York Giants Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

We’re about halfway through the Giants preseason, and I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m feeling pretty good about what I’ve seen from the team so far.

Now that doesn’t mean that I think this team is ready to push for a Super Bowl just yet—let’s take thing one step at a time, after all.

But I do think that the Giants have rid themselves of the losing stench that infiltrated their locker room just two short years ago and have a lot to look forward to.

Like what, you ask?

1. For the first time in years, the Giants no longer have to worry about what happens if quarterback Eli Manning is injured or falters.

For years, Manning always was the best option for the team at the position. However, the arrival and subsequent rapid development of Daniel Jones has suddenly presented an intriguing option that makes one believe that the season doesn’t necessarily have to be declared over if something should happen to Manning.

2. The defensive front finally has some quality depth. In the past, the Giants might have had one or maybe two quality players upfront, but as we all know, the teams with the most success tend to rate their defensive linemen to keep them fresh throughout the game.

The problem the Giants had in doing this is, for example, if they took one of their starters off the field for a breather, there was a noticeable drop in the depth.

Now, however, those days are over thanks to the emergence of second-year man R.J. McIntosh and the promise shown by rookie Chris Slayton and veteran Olsen Pierre.

3. The defense’s back end is solid. Raise your hand if you love the attitude and swagger this young and rebuilt defensive secondary has brought to the party.

The safety duo of Jabrill Peppers and Antoine Bethea appear to be a match made in heaven as far as youth and experience, and how about these young defensive backs like Julian Love, DeAndre Baker, and Corey Ballentine, all of whom while rookies are playing more and more like seasoned veterans every day?

4. Saquon Barkley. Does this really require an explanation?

5. A revamped passing game philosophy. For those who were upset with the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, the silver lining here is that the Giants have a passing game that’s no longer predicated on forcing the ball to one guy.

Just take a look at the opening drive last week against the Bears when Manning connected with four different pass targets.

This is just a small sampling of what we can expect to see with this passing game, which should no longer be predictable or easy to stop, especially if the Giants get the production they’re expecting from tight end Evan Engram and receivers Sterling Shepard and, when he returns from his 4-game suspension, Golden Tate.

6. A budding pass rush. Some lament the fact that the Giants shipped their only established pass rusher (Olivier Vernon) to Cleveland this off-season.

No disrespect to Vernon, but in the three years he was here, the Giants were never ranked in the top-10 league-wide in sacks—the best they were able to do was in 2016 when they were tied for 14th.

Since then, the Giants have finished tied for 29th (in 2017) and 30th last year. No, Vernon wasn’t the lone problem per se, but the Giants recouped the money they were spending on him to use elsewhere and now have three promising replacements, including youngsters Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines, both on rookie deals, and veteran Markus Golden, who hopes to bounce back to his pre-injury form.

7. A better offensive line. Gettleman wasn’t messing around when it came to his beloved hog mollies. Instead of experimenting with guys who either didn’t play on one side much during their careers (see Ereck Flowers and Patrick Omameh) or who just weren’t very good (see Flowers and Bobby Hart).

Last year, he added proven veteran left tackle Nate Solder, and rookie left guard Will Hernandez, both of whom have formed a dynamic partnership on that side.

This year, Gettleman added guard Kevin Zeitler and tackle Mike Remmers, both experienced players, to complete the rebuild and give the Giants what looks like their best offensive line since the days of David Diehl, Rich Seubert, Shaun O’Hara, Chris Snee, and Kareem McKenzie.

8. A boring locker room. No, this isn’t a slight on the players, many of whom have been quite entertaining and engaging during media sessions.

I’m referring to the lack of drama, be it from contract issues, promotion of branding deals gained because of football, or explosive interviews given to major media outlets.

Pat Shurmur and Dave Gettleman wanted a professional locker room focused on the task at hand, which is being a football player first. They finally seem to have that.

9. A promising salary cap picture. We all know about the $50+ million in projected salary cap space the Giants could have next year thanks to their two-year purge of bloated contracts and their replacement of those deals with more affordable veteran and rookie contracts.

But how about Gettleman’s foresight in locking up receiver Sterling Shepard in the final year of his rookie deal and not running the risk of his value skyrocketing out of their price range considering Shepard is thought to be in line for a more significant role on offense this year?

10. The tight ends. If you need to look at a position on the offense that is a strength, look no further than the tight ends—Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, Scott Simonson, and (probably) C.J. Conrad.

With the Giants deploying just as much 12-personnel as they did 11-personnel last year, this group is a vital cog in the wheel that makes this offense go, both in the passing game and in run-blocking. If they can all stay healthy and give 16 games apiece, even better.