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‘Valentine’s Views’: Reasons to be optimistic about the Giants

A couple of offseason ‘things I think’

NFL: New York Giants OTA USA TODAY Sports

As the New York Giants near the conclusion of their offseason program, here are a few ‘things I think’ heading into the 2021 NFL season.

Reasons to be optimistic

Friday’s ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast was a ‘Friday Five style one with Patricia Traina of Giants Country.

The final question we discussed was whether or not everything that has happened for the Giants this offseason should leave fans optimistic or pessimistic heading into the 2021 NFL season.

To me, it’s obvious that the offseason should leave you optimistic.

  • The Giants had an excellent free agency period. They got Leonard Williams to sign a multi-year deal, added a big-time wide receiver in Kenny Golladay, a quality cornerback in Adoree’ Jackson, an accomplished veteran tight end in Kyle Rudolph and some other smaller pieces that could pay dividends.
  • If the Giants did really want Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith — and they’ll never tell — that didn’t happen. They did maneuver the board impressively and come away with several players who could help make them better, both in 2021 and beyond.
  • Quibble about the offensive line if you want, but in my view when you look at the roster there is both front-line talent and capable depth at every position on the roster. Yes, even the offensive line, where Nate Solder, Jonotthan Harrison and Zach Fulton are all accomplished veterans.
  • Joe Judge is settled in now as head coach, and while it may have been abbreviated did still have the benefit of an on-field offseason program to work with players this time around.
  • Patrick Graham is still the defensive coordinator. Graham could have interviewed with the New York Jets and maybe elsewhere for a head-coaching gig, but chose to stay with the Giants. Players love him, he’s a creative mind and an excellent teacher. The longer the Giants can keep him the better.
  • This is a team that seems to have excellent locker room leadership, starting with Logan Ryan. They seem to buy in to Judge’s “team-first” mentality, and there seems to be an upbeat feel around them.
  • We can argue about the strengths and weaknesses of the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Football Team, but in my view neither of those teams is clearly better than the Giants entering the season. Washington may have the better defense and Dallas the better offense, but the Giants might well be the NFC East’s most balanced team.

Of course, that’s all well and good and none of it means they will win games unless Daniel Jones plays well, the offensive line blocks well and the receivers and defense are as good as we think they are.

Joint practices

Giants coach Joe Judge says he is a “big fan” of joint practices with other NFL teams during the preseason. I am, too. I think the quality of work and competition is raised, and that helps teams get ready for the regular season.

We know the Giants will hold joint practices in Ohio with the Cleveland Browns before their preseason game. We are also pretty certain the Giants and New England Patriots will hold joint workouts before the Giants host the Patriots in their final preseason game.

I do not at all understand why those practices will be held at the Patriots’ facility in Massachusetts when the game will be played in New Jersey at MetLife Stadium.

Here is Judge’s explanation:

“The thought process is it’s a opportunity to get our team on the road through training camp, stay together, but also with the change in the preseason schedule, both organizations thought it would be a good idea to exchange a little bit year by year and that way the fans would have two exposures to really deal with each team. We’ve got two home games this year. We’re fortunate. New England has got the one. Next year it will flip. This will give us an opportunity, especially when we have fans, for our fans to see us exposed against another opponent.”

Sorry, but Judge has me completely lost on that one.

NFL teams are about to embark on a 17-game season for the first time. For the Giants, that will include an extra week of travel as their 17th game will be in Miami against the Miami Dolphins.

There is so much attention paid nowadays to keeping players fresh, to not over-working them. I simply don’t get why you would add an extra preseason road trip when you could simply hold the workouts in New Jersey. Instead, the Giants will travel to Cleveland, probably come back to New Jersey, go to Massachusetts for a couple of days of practice, then come back to East Rutherford to play.

That’s unnecessary preseason wear and tear on players. I do not get it.