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Barnwell: Giants among most likely NFL teams to improve

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Mind you, Barnwell still isn’t saying the Giants will be good

NFL: AUG 03 Giants Training Camp Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Despite all of the gnashing of teeth over the unpopular and difficult to understand moves made by GM Dave Gettleman this offseason, perhaps some are beginning to see the arrow as pointing up for the Giants entering the 2019 season.

After a training camp visit on Saturday, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah tweeted that the Giants have “a quiet confidence” and are “enjoying lack of national attention.”

I would agree with both of those sentiments after the time I have spent around the team this spring and summer.

Now, Bill Barnwell of ESPN has listed the Giants as one of the five NFL teams most likely to improve in 2019.

Reading thru Barnwell’s post, part of his reasoning seems to be that after three- and five-win seasons, the bar isn’t all that high.

Here is part of what Barnwell wrote:

I can hear you laughing. I can’t blame you. The Giants are a punching bag after trading away Odell Beckham Jr. GM Dave Gettleman passed on a handful of quarterbacks in 2018 to take a running back with the second overall pick, talked up a crumbling Eli Manning, then drafted a guy who wasn’t very good in college to take over as the team’s quarterback of the future this past April. The Giants bandwagon is bare and empty right now, and with good reason. Nobody should be excited about this team.

At the same time, there’s reason to think the Giants were better than their 5-11 record in 2018. They finished 16th in the league with a perfectly average 0.0% DVOA, which was actually the best mark for any of the four NFC East teams. By point differential, the Giants played like a seven-win team, and the two-win gap between their win total and expected win total was the largest in the league. The argument here is that things that were out of their control might go their way in 2019, and that a less talented Giants team might still be likely to improve on their record from a year ago.

Here is a little more:

I don’t think the Giants are going to be very good this season. This isn’t a column predicting whether teams will be good, though; it’s merely about whether a team’s record will improve from the prior season. They have been aggressively stupid in public for most of the past two years. They brag about ignoring positional scarcity and appear set on chasing an offensive game plan that most of the league has tossed aside because it’s not as effective at scoring points.

They are blessed to face low expectations in two ways. One is that they play in the same market as the Knicks and can’t possibly be run worse. The other is that they need to get to only six wins to improve on their record from a year ago. The Giants can get there.

So, Barnwell isn’t expecting a lot. Just more than last year.

Valentine’s View: I have written before that “improvement” might be a hard thing to quantify this season. If the Giants play poorly at the beginning of the year and there is a quarterback transition, that could skew the record. Judging improvement might come down to signs that the Giants are pointing in the right direction for 2020.