The Giants are coming off their first double-digit win season since 2010. After being historically awful on defense in 2015, New York spent major resources on Steve Spagnuolo’s unit and reaped the benefits last season.
But while the defense was good, the offense was not. Ben McAdoo’s unit ranked 27th in offensive points per game. Eli Manning struggled behind a shaky offensive line.
The good news for Manning is that the Giants gave him some more weapons to work with thanks to the addition of Brandon Marshall and first-round pick Evan Engram. The bad news is that New York didn’t do much to fix their offensive line, so it remains to be seen how they expect the 36-year-old Manning to dramatically improve this season.
Some might argue the Giants are the favorites in the NFC East. The Cowboys won the division last year, yes, but New York beat them twice. Besides, Dallas looks poised to take a step back this season.
Personally, I don’t buy the Giants as some great team. Manning is declining and he’s working behind shoddy protection. New York’s defense could still be good, sure, but the team as a whole overachieved last year. Their pythagorean win total was 8.98 yet they finished with 11 wins. Like the Cowboys, I expect the Giants to not be downright terrible this season, but they should be poised to take a step back.
Here’s a more in-depth look at the Giants from our SB Nation associates over at Big Blue View.
Notable free agent additions:
WR Brandon Marshall, TE/FB Rhett Ellison, RB Shaun Draughn, OL D.J. Fluker, DE Devin Taylor, DT Corbin Bryant, CB Valentino Blake
Notable free agent departures:
DT Johnathan Hankins, WR Victor Cruz, TE Larry Donnell, RB Rashad Jennings, CB Coty Sensabaugh, CB Trevin Wade, DB Leon Hall, OT Marshall Newhouse, QB Ryan Nassib
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:
TE Evan Engram, Round 1 -- Could be the starter. Should join Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard in a dynamic receiving corps. The Giants didn’t have a big tight end who could threaten the seam or be a consistent red zone threat last season. They believe Engram can do those things.
DT Dalvin Tomlinson, Round 2 -- Could start in Hankins’ spot next to Damon Harrison. In fact, almost certainly will start.
RB Wayne Gallman, Round 4 -- An all-around back who could become part of the team’s running back rotation.
QB Davis Webb (Round 3), DE Avery Moss (Round 5) and OT Adam Bisnowaty (Round 6) are further down the depth chart right now.
Biggest offseason addition:
The single transaction that has gotten the most attention is the addition of Brandon Marshall. Perhaps the answer, though, is the combination of Marshall and Engram. That gives the Giants size and a multitude of options in their passing attack that they did not have last season.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp:
The fact that the Giants, with a stationary 36-year-old quarterback and possibly the worst offensive tackle tandem in the NFL last season, did nothing to upgrade that position this offseason. They are depending on improvement from Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart. If they don’t get it, that will be a major problem.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:
Contract stuff. Odell Beckham is due what everyone knows will be a monster contract after the season. Offensive linemen Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg can also be free agents. It’s an under-current, but the Giants are heading toward critical -- and expensive -- decisions on many key players.
Notable injuries heading into training camp:
No major ones that occurred in the spring. Rhett Ellison missed time with a calf issue that is worth monitoring. Darian Thompson missed 14 games with a foot injury last year, and his status is a bit of a mystery as the Giants haven’t really turned him loose. Eli Apple had a hamstring that kept him out of mini-camp.