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‘Valentine’s Views:’ Random thoughts about the Giants as the 2019 season begins

Things I’m thinking about today

NFL: New York Giants at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning and happy game day, New York Giants fans!

First two games are critical

The old saw is that starting 0-2 in the NFL is basically a death knell to a team’s playoff hopes. Only 30 of 230 teams (13 percent) start 0-2 have made the playoffs since 1990. So, yes, the Giants would be well-advised to win a game either today against the Dallas Cowboys or next Sunday vs. the Buffalo Bills.

The other reason, though, is the whole Eli Manning-Daniel Jones dynamic. A pair of season-opening losses will crank up the decibel level on the whole “when does Jones play” debate. Shoot, a loss on Sunday to Dallas might do that.

Are the Giants really better?

They believe they are. There are a few areas where that is probably correct, and a few questions that will determine whether or not the record reflects that in the end. Here are a few thoughts on that, and perhaps just a few other random “brain dump” thoughts as the 2019 season begins.

  • Antoine Bethea might be 1,000 years old but he’s still a better football player than Curtis Riley. So, that’s a plus for the Giants.
  • Kevin Zeitler and Mike Remmers are infinitely better than any combination the Giants used on the right side of their offensive line a season ago.
  • Young cornerbacks often have growing pains, but I think by season’s end we will see that the Giants investment in DeAndre Baker, Julian Love and Corey Ballentine is paying dividends. I think that might be a microcosm of how things work out for the Giants’ young defense overall.
  • Evan Engram is the key figure in the Giants’ revamped passing attack. If he can stay healthy the bet here is that Engram leads the Giants in receptions and receiving yards. If he can’t stay healthy, the Giants are going to have issues.
  • I think that if Lorenzo Carter takes the step forward he seems poised to make and Markus Golden stays healthy the Giants could be OK in the pass rush department. Besides, I think much of the pass rush is going to come from the imagination of defensive coordinator James Bettcher. It could be fun to see if he unleashes a more aggressive blitz package than he did a year ago.
  • The Giants drafted Ahmad Bradshaw in the seventh round in 2007. Obviously, that’s a home run with a pick that late in the draft. You can argue, though, that since Bradshaw the Giants really haven’t hit on a Day 3 pick. Linebackers Jonathan Goff, Devon Kennard and B.J. Goodson all, arguably, had brief success. That’s about it. I think it’s a pretty safe bet that out of Julian Love, Ryan Connelly, Corey Ballentine and Darius Slayton the Giants are going to hit on at least one — probably more — of those players.
  • I think Dexter Lawrence is going to be a fascinating study all season. Has a 340-pound man ever been a dominant pass rusher? I don’t know if Lawrence will ever be that, but I do think he can become an impactful pass rusher. My guess is you aren’t going to see the 17th pick in the draft put up huge numbers this season. I think you will have to watch very closely to see the impact his size, strength and athleticism has on everything that happens around him.
  • I’m intrigued to see what the Giants do with their 53rd roster spot, the one they created by cutting Nate Stupar a few days ago. Pat Shurmur said the Giants are “going to try to find the best player available.” That makes me think about a guy like linebacker Brandon Marshall. My guess, though, is the move ends up being a smaller one. But you can hope for a splashier move, right?

About Antonio Brown

What happened with Brown in Oakland is a big part of the reason the Giants bailed on Odell Beckham Jr. The relationship, as we have learned, wasn’t good and the Giants got out before things escalated to Brown-Raiders level. As for Brown ending up with the New England Patriots, just wow. Seriously, though, you knew that was going to happen when the Raiders cut bait on Saturday. Makes you wonder if that wasn’t Brown’s end game all along.

Offensive explosion?

I thought we were in an era where offenses were supposed to dominate, what with all the rules favoring the passing game. Then, you look at Thursday’s Bears-Packers season opener and it kinda looked like we were back in the 1950s.