We have learned a few things about the 2022 New York Giants through the season’s first four games, including that maybe, just maybe, they are better than we thought. Here is a look at some of what we know, and don’t know, about the Giants at this point in the season.
We know that Saquon Barkley is SAQUON BARKLEY again. Barkley leads the league in rushing yards (463) and scrimmage yards (570). Barkley is on pace for 1,968 rushing yards and 2,423 total yards from scrimmage. At this rate, Barkley will break Tiki Barber’s 2005 single-season franchise records 1,860 rushing yards and 2,390 all-purpose yards. He is averaging 115.8 rushing yards per game, with Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns (114.8) the only other back in triple digits.
We don’t know how much longer Barkley will be a Giant. There remains the possibility that someone could overwhelm GM Joe Schoen with an offer he can’t refuse at the trade deadline. And yes, accepting such an offer would likely doom the Giants’ to a miserable offensive performance the second half of the season. The Giants could give Barkley a new contract at season’s end. They could franchise tag him. We’ll see.
We know the Giants, thanks to Barkley and Daniel Jones, can run the football. The Giants are No. 1 in the NFL in rushing yards per game (192.5) and rushing yards (770). They are second in the league in Expected Points Added (23.88) by the rushing offense. They are tied with the Browns for the league lead in runs of 10 yards or more with 25.
We don’t know if they will ever be able to pass the ball consistently. The Giants have yet to pass for 200 yards in a game. They are 31st in yards passing per game (139.5) and total yards (558). They are 28th in Expected Points Added (-14.44) from passing the ball. They are last in the league with only four passing plays of 20 or more yards. Sterling Shepard and Collin Johnson are gone for the year. Wan’Dale Robinson and Kadarius Toney have barely played, and we don’t know when we will see them again. Kenny Golladay has been unproductive, to be kind, and now has a knee injury. The only reliable wide receiver they have had thus far is Richie James, a career backup and kick returner. Realistically, there is little the Giants can do to upgrade the position until the offseason.
We know that Andrew Thomas has become an elite left tackle. Make the case for Tristan Wirfs of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers if you want, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to say that the Giants did the wrong thing in 2020 by taking Thomas No. 4 overall.
We don’t know yet about the rest of the offensive line. Evan Neal should be fine at right tackle, though there have been and will continue to be growing pains. The interior of the line, though, is a weakness unlikely to be substantially upgraded until the offseason. Jon Feliciano is a stop-gap at center. Maybe Mark Glowinski at right guard, too. Ben Bredeson is probably not the answer at left guard. Shane Lemieux might not be, either. Josh Ezeudu doesn’t seem ready. Marcus McKethan is on IR with a torn ACL. Nick Gates? Even if he comes off PUP this week as had been speculated there is no guarantee he will play this season.
We know that wide receiver Kenny Golladay makes a lot of money.
We don’t know what for.
We know that Kadarius Toney is immensely talented. We saw hints of what the 2021 first-round pick could do last season, particularly in an incredible 10-catch, 189-yard performance against the Dallas Cowboys.
We don’t know if Toney, who seems to be in a perpetual state of being injured and unable to practice or play, will ever get to reach his potential with the Giants.
We know that punter Jamie Gillan can bomb the tar out of the ball. He is averaging 51.1 yards per punt, fourth in the league.
We don’t know if Gillan has any idea where it’s going when he kicks it. He is 28th in the league in touchback percentage (15.8 percent), 23rd in inside the 20-yard line percentage (31.6). As a team, the Giants are 22nd in net yards per punt at 41.3. So, all that distance on Gillan’s punts isn’t really helping.
We know who the Giants’ return men are. Richie James handles punt returns and Gary Brightwell is the kickoff returner.
We don’t know if James and Brightwell are the answers in those roles. James is 21st in the league at 7.6 yards per punt return, with a fumble. Brightwell is 27th at 18.5 yards per return. Of course, the real problem might be whether or not the Giants have anyone on those return units who can throw a block.
We know that Daniel Jones has to prove a lot to GM Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll to remain with the Giants past this year. We know that Jones is doing everything he can. He’s running the ball more and better than ever. He’s playing with courage and increasingly gaining respect. He’s making pretty good decisions, save one unfortunate interception. We know he hasn’t had the opportunity to put up big passing numbers. We also know he’s hurt again, and that has to be part of the process of evaluating his future.
We don’t know if Jones is ever going to get the opportunity to quarterback the Giants with a fully functional supporting cast. We can and will speculate, but we don’t know the exact criteria the Giants will use to evaluate him. In truth, we don’t know if the Giants are any closer to a long-term decision on Jones than they were before the season started.
We know that the Giants are continuing to churn the roster to try and find answers at inside linebacker.
We don’t know if the answers at inside linebacker for 2023 or beyond are on the current roster.
We know that the Giants entered the season wondering if they had the answer at outside cornerback opposite Adoree’ Jackson.
We don’t know yet if the Giants have that answer. Aaron Robinson has missed two games and is now on IR with a knee injury. Rookie oCr’Dale Flott has a calf injury. Veteran Fabian Moreau has done a nice job thus far, but he is a journeyman and probably a stop gap.
We know that the Giants are off to a surprising 3-1 start. We know that feels good, even if you want to say they have been winning ugly and that the teams flaws — especially on offense and in terms of overall depth — are brutally apparent.
We don’t know if that surprisingly good start should make us alter our short-term expectations. I suspect not, but we will find out over the remaining 13 games.