With the New York Giants set to start another season we thought it would be time to sit down at the Big Blue View Round Table and discuss how many games we think the Giants will win this year.
Here is the question, or questions, we set out to answer:
How many wins will the Giants have this season? Why are you so optimistic or pessimistic?
Now, here are your answers.
The Giants could have a wide range of outcomes heading into the 2021 season. The upgrade in offensive personnel should assist Daniel Jones as he heads into his second-year in this Jason Garrett coached offense. Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph project to fit well into the offense with Golladay as the true “X” and Rudolph as a more traditional type of tight end. The defense could also take a step forward with the return of Lorenzo Carter, and the additions of Azeez Ojulari and Adoree Jackson.
However, question marks at incredibly important positions are still unanswered. The offensive lineman I’m most confident in is transitioned second-year center that was just named captain. I remain optimistic about Will Hernandez and his transition from left guard to right guard, but his career has been inconsistent. The remaining three starting spots are question marks at the moment. Thomas, Peart/Solder, and an injury Lemieux may be prone to mistakes with a quarterback who has struggled with that same issue.
Jones has the weapons, albeit the Giants have been missing a lot of these weapons throughout training camp, but will he have the time to throw the football? The third-year quarterback has shown development in his short career, but he enters a pivotal season. A healthy Saquon Barkley will take pressure off Jones, but the offensive line has to take necessary development steps for this Giants team to really take the next step in their overall development.
The three biggest question marks that could affect this 2021 Giants’ team are the offensive line’s effectiveness, Daniel Jones development, and Jason Garrett’s play-calling. It’s well within the range of outcomes for this team to win more than eight games, but I think the offense will struggle again. The defense will keep games tight and there will be a lot of 20-17 type of affairs, but I have the Giants finishing 8-9 this year.
New York is an improved team that already had a good defense. They get their starting running back from injury in Saquon Barkley and they added a few key pieces for quarterback Daniel Jones, including wide receiver Kenny Golladay. I believe Jones will improve this year and the offense will be middle-of-the-pack to upper-middle in production. All of this translates to a 9-8 season for me.
However, the offensive line remains a true concern. I’m not sold on the current starters on the Giants depth chart. Nate Solder and Andrew Thomas holding down the tackle spots is a real question mark and I don’t think it’s going to be pretty when they go up against defensive fronts like Washington’s. Chase Young might just destroy Andrew Thomas’ self-esteem. Solder is just as big of a question mark after taking the year off. On the interior, we’re going to see if Will Hernandez, Nick Gates and Shane Lemieux have what it takes to be real NFL starters.
That said, I think Patrick Graham’s defense will give Jones and the offense opportunity.
After an abysmal 6-10 performance last season, the Giants made a conscious effort this offseason to add playmakers. The additions of wide receiver Kenny Golladay and tight end Kyle Rudolph will bolster the offense, while newly-acquired cornerback Adoree’ Jackson adds depth to an already-strong secondary. These additions, among others, should provide a lift on both sides of the ball.
But there remains some major question marks for New York heading into the regular season. The health of star running back Saquon Barkley is unclear and we do not yet know what type of season Daniel Jones is going to have in his third year in the league. A thin offensive line does not help Barkley or Jones and further calls the strength of the offense into question. Patrick Graham’s defense will be the highlight of this team, but is that enough to win games if the offense cannot get enough points on the board?
Because of the quality of the NFC East, I think that 10 wins will result in a division title. And because of New York’s continued uncertainties, that feels like a difficult milestone to reach.
I’ve maintained all offseason that the Giants have the highest ceiling of any team in the NFC East. However, too much needs to go right for them to reach that ceiling. Daniel Jones has to cut down on turnovers; Saquon Barkley needs to return to rookie-year form; Andrew Thomas has to make one of the biggest Year 2 leaps in recent memory. Taken individually, each of those things seem reasonable enough. But the odds of all of them coinciding to produce 10+ wins feels unlikely, especially with road games against the Chiefs and Buccaneers plopped right in the middle of the schedule.
The defense is in the same precarious situation. They have the potential to be a top-ten unit but there’s limited depth, especially in the secondary. An injury to cornerbacks James Bradberry or Adoree’ Jackson would derail New York’s entire season. Leonard Williams also needs to repeat his breakout performance from last year for the Giants to have any semblance of a pass rush. His 11.5 sacks were more than a quarter of the team’s total, 5.5 of which came in just two games.
(5 to 8 wins)
There are good reasons to be both optimistic and pessimistic regarding the Giants this year.
The biggest reason for optimism, for me, was the increased sense of self-awareness the Giants showed this past offseason. They didn’t behave like a team that was “just a piece away from making the jump”, but rather a team that recognized they needed to make a leap to hit a moving target. They invested heavily in their passing game and recognized that different players have different skill sets and positions at which their skills are used best. They recognized that while their defense was good last year, it could be better. Likewise, they recognized that they lacked a natural pass rush and their cornerback personnel limited their coverage options in ways better offenses could exploit. At least on paper, the Giants shored up weaknesses at receiver and EDGE, while improving on strengths in the secondary.
There are also reasons for concern, the most obvious of which is the offensive line. Plenty of ink (both literal and figurative) has been spilled regarding the Giants’ OL already, and I don’t need to belabor the point.
Stepping back a bit, it’s also remarkable to me just how many players the Giants are counting on to have career years. They’re paying Kenny Golladay and Adoree Jackson to match their career best from two and three years ago (respectively). The Giants are expecting Leonard Williams to match a year in which he nearly tripled his average production from before 2020 (even leaving out his half-sack from 2019 as an outlier in the other direction). Historically, most players who have “career years” tend to regress afterward. Some crater back to Earth, but others regress slightly but still maintain good (if not great) levels of play.
Likewise, the Giants are counting on Saquon Barkley, Golladay, Jackson, Daniel Jones, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Kadarius Toney to stay healthy — something which has been a problem for each throughout their respective careers.
Realistically, not everything is going to come up roses for the Giants, but things are unlikely to completely crumble as well. Players will get hurt, they’ll underperform, and the team probably made some miscalculations along the way on which players will maintain high levels of play. By the same token, there will probably be players we don’t expect who step up and surprise us, and other players who stepped up will continue to play well.
Ultimately, the Giants’ win total will come down to just how many of those questions get answered in their favor.
Eight seems like the popular number almost all of our staff has landed on for the 2021 Giants. I am not going to be any different.
I see this Giants team as a middle of the road one, a 7-9 win team if it has what you might consider an average year.
I think this Giants’ roster is deeper and more flexible than any in the last few seasons. If all goes according to plan, the defense wil be really good. The Giants have gone above and beyond to try and create a difference-making special teams unit. They gave quarterback Daniel Jones everything they could.
Now, do they over perform and win double-digit games? Do they under-perform, win five, and get a bunch of people fired?
We are about to begin finding out. In terms of answering our question I will settle right in the midde at 8 wins.