Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus came out with best- and worst-case scenarios for every NFL team ahead of the 2020 season. Naturally, my eyes journeyed down the list until I located the NFC East to find that the Giants are actually ranked last in the division. The list was produced by simulations and PFF’s research and development team based on win projections of the high end (90th percentile) and the low end (10th percentile). This only accounts for 80 of 100 percent, so it’s not necessarily the highs and lows for the teams. Here’s the excerpt from Linsey’s article:
New York Giants
10th percentile outcome: 4-12
How they get there: Daniel Jones’ tendency to produce negative plays and mistakes doesn’t improve. He’s coming off a rookie season where he was one of just four quarterbacks with over 30 turnover-worthy plays and one of only nine quarterbacks to take at least 40 sacks on the year. Yes, the offensive line played a role, but so did Jones’ internal clock and obliviousness to bodies flying around him. A lack of improvement in that area, paired with a non-existent pass rush and depth concerns at cornerback, could lead to a team in rough shape in 2020.
Nick says: There’s no doubting the importance of Daniel Jones’ ability to learn and grow from the rookie mistakes. Development isn’t always linear and we hope that Jones can mature enough to make the second-year leap. I personally feel he has the tools, athletic ability, and arm talent to overcome and grow, but he still needs to be more cognizant of his internal clock which will hopefully manifest itself in a more stable situation.
However, the truncated off-season, with a new coaching staff and a new scheme, poses a problem for a young player with a mended, yet questionable, offensive line. The Giants are relying heavily on either scheme pressure, the swift development of Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter, for Kyler Fackrell to regain his 2018 form or a combination of the three. The Giants have addressed the cornerback position well, but the young players haven’t proved consistent enough to be difference makers just yet.
90th percentile outcome: 9-7
How they get there: Jones keeps the high-end plays and the ability to create with his legs, and he also cuts down on the mistakes. That leads to a much-improved offense that may not have a true top option in the receiving game but offers plenty of solid contributors in Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Darius Slayton, Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley.
Defensively, the Giants can create enough of an interior pass rush with Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence to keep quarterbacks uncomfortable, while the additions of James Bradberry, Blake Martinez and Xavier McKinney give some structure to the linebacking corps and secondary.
Nick says: It’s not unreasonable to think that Jones improves with his decisiveness when going through progressions, especially against zone type coverages, and it’s not asinine to think that he can improve ball security in terms of limiting the fumbles. Former coach Pat Shurmur’s insistence and predictability with the inside zone put Jones in a lot of third-and-long situations; the new coaching staff can alleviate some of these issues and bring a bit more diversity to the rushing attack, and the play-calling as a whole. This can allow Jones to stretch the field a bit more vertically with Darius Slayton and Evan Engram, while players like Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate operate well in the short to intermediate game. Defenses’ main focus is to stop Saquon Barkley, so a more vertical based attack if the protection can hold up, can lighten the boxes for Barkley.
How Patrick Graham employs the pressure packages is another way that this team can have more success than predicted. Graham blitzed frequently in Miami last year. If the secondary can hold up, then the Giants can have success with 5 man pressure plays, along with stunts/twists to help free up rushers. 9-7 isn’t crazy, but the variables that surround a young team, in an unprecedented year like 2020, are big hurdles to jump. Maybe the Giants can channel their inner Aries Merritt and overcome those hurdles.
Here’s what the rest of the division looked like:
10th percentile: 5-11
90th percentile: 10-6
10th percentile: 6-10
90th percentile: 11-5
10th percentile: 5-11
90th percentile: 10-6