The New York Giants have had a whirlwind offseason, but we still aren’t sure if any of it made any sense. To figure it out, you have two options. First, you could visit our friends at Big Blue View. Second, you can listen to the first installment of Eye On the Enemy brought to you by The Kist & Solak Show!
On The Kist & Solak Show #97, we attempt to explain what’s going on with the Giants, which is no small task. There were a few things that confused us when we looked at where the team was headed, such as:
- Where is the pass rush coming from?
- Will defensive coordinator Jim Bettcher turn the faucet back on and blitz like crazy like he did with the Arizona Cardinals?
- Why use Saquon Barkley the way they’re using him?
- How do you even begin to replace Odell Beckham Jr.’s production?
- Why is Pat Shurmur calling Eli Manning and Daniel Jones “fiery under the covers?”
- And much, much more!
Regarding the question about Barkley, we had a lot to say about the Giants misuse of him, notably in the passing game. This is not a new issue as it’s something I wrote about last last year before their second matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“Most of Barkley’s yardage came on screens. In fact, [against the Eagles] 68 of his 99 yards came on 4 screens. Those screens were actually progress for the Giants’ unimaginative usage of Barkley to that point. Leading up to the game he was averaging only 1 manufactured touch per game. If he was going to be used as a check down only receiver, at least get some blockers in front and see what can happen, right?” - It Me, Michael Kist
Saquon Barkley's Reception Charting:— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) October 10, 2018
- 97% from RB Alignment
- 74% Checkdown
- 81% Curl/Flat/Swing
Somehow he's managing a 55% success rate, but 1 reception from a non-RB alignment, 0 routes run from the slot & only 5 manufactured receiving touches in 5 games is maddening.
Barkley averaged 7.9 yards per catch in his rookie campaign while averaging 8.6 yards after catch. That means his average depth of target was -0.7 yards behind the line of scrimmage. It’s a travesty that such a dynamic weapon is used in such a basic receiving role, but one Eagles’ fans won’t be complaining about.
Flipping it over to the defense, defensive coordinator James Bettcher blitzed far less (26%, ranked 22nd) than he had in previous years when he ranked top 5 in three consecutive years. With a lack of pass rushing talent that returns a lead sack man with only 5.5 last year (BJ Hill), Bettcher is going to have to get back to his old ways.
Perhaps it was the concerns in the secondary holding him back, but how close are they to earning his trust back? In nickel sets, it’s likely that four of five starters will be new faces. It will take time for the unit to gel and develop, even if it’s as big of an upgrade as some think.
“...but quietly they have overhauled their secondary into a unit that could emerge as a strength next season. It starts with a player that they received back in the OBJ trade – Jabrill Peppers. Peppers thrived in a hybrid safety role for the Cleveland Browns last season, improving his overall grade from 60.5 in a rookie season where he lined up primarily as a deep safety to 77.6 in 2018... His improvement across the board in his second season should be a reason for optimism in New York.
Joining Peppers as additions in the Big Apple are two draft picks — Deandre Baker and Julian Love — who should both be able to make immediate impacts on the back end.” - Ben Linsey, Pro Football Focus
Looking at the overall picture, the Giants could see success early in the season, but the schedule stiffens towards the end. We both predicted them to end the season at a disappointing 5-11.
You can hear everything that went into that prediction and more on The Kist & Solak Show #97! Listen on the media player below or click here if the player doesn’t load! New to podcasts? Check out our guide on how to listen to BGN! FLY EAGLES FLY!