Top Ten

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No Drama.  Just The Facts.

by John Esposito @jespo56


     Top Ten Keys to the 2021 Season


  1. Special Teams

Joe Judge has built his career and reputation on special teams.  Graham Gano was a true highlight of the 2020 free agent class. He made 31 of his 32 kicks including 5 over 50 yards. Riley Dixon had a down year as his average dipped from 46.1 (2019) to 44.8 in 2020. The return game has also been a rung of contention. Jabrill Peppers handled most punts averaging 12.5 yards a return; while Dion Lewis and Corey Ballentine struggled with kickoff returns.  Hopefully with the addition of CJ Board and maybe a Dante Pettis or a healthy John Ross that can improve

  1. Slot Corner

The Giants defensive backfield is stacked at the outside corner position and throughout the safety position.  The slot corner still has some questions surrounding it.  Last year they tried everything, staring with at the time rookie Darnay Holmes. They played Julian love there, Logan Ryan there, everything.  Dave Gettleman used another draft pick as he did in 2020 by drafting Aaron Robinson.  He was supposed to compete with Holmes for the spot, he unfortunately has not seen the field yet. They also traded for Josh Jackson and Keion Crossen to add some depth to the position.  Someone will need to step up and solidify that spot.

  1. Jason Garrett

Anybody who knows me, knows I am not a fan of Jason Garrett.  He has struggled in his role of Offensive Coordinator.  His play calling is bland and generic, being borderline predictable. Now to his defense he has dealt with a young offensive line, a young quarterback turning the ball over, and a star running back being hurt.  All that being said he has the pieces in place this year to make some noise and has to.  The Giants cannot finish in the bottom of the league offensively if they expect to compete.

  1. Rookie Contributions

The Giants led the NFL with the number of plays played by rookies.  There were some growing pains all around, no doubt, but as the year moved on things began to come together.  There are some rookies this year to be very excited about.  1st round pick receiver Kardarious Toney has had quite the auspicious start to his Giants career and has not been a factor.  2nd round pick Azeez Ojulari should be a force on the defensive side of the ball and help in several areas later listed here.  Toney and Ojulari, along with Robinson once of the PUP list need to be a factor.

  1. Win turnover battle

The Giants turnover woes are well documented.  Daniel Jones worked on it on his second year and drastically improved on turning the ball over.  Barkley does not fumble so we are good there.  The defense needs big plays from other than James Bradberry, the addition of Adorre Jackson should help there.  With ball hawking safety Xavier McKinney primed and healthy for a full camp, the defensive turnovers should come.

  1. Sacks

A franchise built on sacks.  The names go on and on, LT and Strahan.  Tuck the only player with multiple sack Super Bowls.  Leonard Williams became a fan favorite last year by hunting the quarterback and putting them down 11.5 times.  He needs that same kind of production and he cannot be alone.  The edge guys have to come through.  We spoke of rookie Ojulari, the defense needs a healthy Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines to live up to the billing and bot bring the heat onto the opposing QB.

  1. Top 10 defense

Sack, turnovers, and slot corner play all leads to #4.  The Giants are top ten defense “on paper”, they need to be that on the field.  DC Patrick Graham is poised and ready, as with Garrett on offense he has the weapons to do so. Already proven stars in Peppers, Williams, Bradberry, and Blake Martinez.  The Giants need the supporting cast to play as they are hyped and the defense will top ten on the field. Defense wins championships as the saying goes and this franchise is built on DEFENSE. Sacks and turnovers.

  1. Daniel Jones

The former Duke standout has taken so much criticism from not only “experts”, but his own fans.  A guy who broke 4 rookie franchise records that stood for the test of time and Giant fans (some not all) hate the guy.  I agree he does some frustrating things, so did Phil Simms, guess what so did Eli.  I would not trade either of those guys for anything.  Jones is in third year and the game should be slow enough know for him to see everything around him and make smart decisions.  He has the weapons around and if the offensive line plays well (foreshadowing…) he will be ok. I have said before he does not need to win an MVP, but he needs a big 3rd year jump for the Giants to be successful.

  1. Offensive Line Improvement

Daniel Jones improvement is mostly on him, yes; but if he gets no blocking it is all a moot point.  The Giants rolled out three rookies last year and a guy in a position change. The beginning of the year was not good, but it got better. Andrew Thomas settled in, Shane Lemieux and Matt Peart showed some flashes. Nick Gates in the center position played very well for someone who’d never played there before. Wil Hernandez did regress and he needs to be much better this year (and has been so far). The line needs to cohesiveness and the they need to improve upon everything they improved upon from last year.

  1. Health

Last year was a disaster when it came to the injury front. Barkley gone for the year, Jones was hampered, Carter gone. Injuries can derail a season quicker than anything.  Now the Giants are already fighting that bug this year. Prize free agent Kenny Golladay has been sidelined with injury, Toney who knows is he hurt?  TJ Brunson tore an ACL. The Giants have to stay healthy; they do not have the depth in key areas to survive. The offensive line drops off significantly as does the running back, quarterback, and linebacker position.