2022 Team Reports
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New York Giants Writers
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After a swift end to the Joe Judge tenure, the Giants embark on a new era. Judge went 10-23 in two seasons, and the team lacked an offensive identity as Daniel Jones struggled under center, and the ground game lacked explosiveness thanks to Saquon Barkley's injury woes. The bar is set quite low after back-to-back seasons as the 31st-ranked offense, and improvement feels almost guaranteed under new head coach Brian Daboll. The good news is Daboll earned the Giants' head job after four seasons as the Bills' offensive coordinator, where he took a 30th-place offense in 2018 and turned it into a top-three unit in both 2020 and 2021. His system helped turn Josh Allen from an inaccurate, raw, toolsy college quarterback into an MVP candidate, and New York fans desperately hope he can do the same with Daniel Jones. The bad news is Daniel Jones isn't Josh Allen. Brian Daboll coordinated three teams - Kansas City, Cleveland, and Miami - with far less success before getting his hands on Allen. This year's expectations aren't for greatness, they're about establishing a new system and figuring out which players on the roster deserve to stay in 2023 and beyond as building blocks.
Daniel Jones is on thin ice in New York, for a good reason. Three seasons into his career, he has been one of the league's least productive starters. What's particularly troubling is the lack of growth, as Jones had a mildly encouraging rookie season (5.2% TD rate, 24 touchdowns) followed up by two terrible seasons. Among quarterbacks with at least 500 attempts over the last two seasons, Jones ranks 30th (out of 32) in touchdown rate (2.5%) and touchdown-to-INT ratio. Giants ownership hopes some of the blame lies with the departed coaching staff, and Brian Daboll's tutelage and system will unlock the potential they saw when drafting the former Duke Blue Devil sixth overall in 2019. The reality is the franchise isn't married to Jones, and he has a very short leash this year to re-work his way into the team's plans.
Tyrod Taylor joins his sixth team and fifth in six seasons to serve as Daniel Jones' safety valve. Given Jones' propensity for missing time and poor play, Taylor stands a good chance to start at least a handful of games in 2022. The veteran has better career numbers than Jones (3.8% touchdown rate, 1.6% interception rate, 7.0 yards per attempt), but he's no world-beater and, at 32 years old, stands little chance at figuring into the Giants' long-term plans.
General manager Joe Schoen inherits a poorly constructed roster and knows he faces a multi-year rebuilding effort. The prior regime's decision to pick up Saquon Barkley's fifth-year option gives the new staff little choice but to make Barkley the offensive centerpiece, provided he can stay on the field. Barkley is on a shortlist of the league's best ball carriers when healthy. As a rookie, he led the league with 2,028 yards from scrimmage and scored 15 touchdowns. He can run inside with power, break outside, is deadly in the open field, and is an above-average route runner with soft hands. Although Barkley has missed 21 games in the last three seasons, he's had another strong camp and should be a workhorse - and fantasy darling - this season.
Devontae Booker was effective as the No. 2 back last season but was a necessary cap casualty. Matt Breida impressed Brian Daboll enough in his short stint in Buffalo to warrant signing to a team-friendly deal as Saquon Barkley's new backup. Given Barkley's injury history, Breida has an opportunity to play an important role. He's a patient runner with above-average vision, but - like Barkley - has found it difficult to stay out of the trainer's room. The team's roster precluded vanity picks at running back in this year's draft, but the team did add a pair of unsigned rookies to the mix. The No. 3 role is completely wide open.
Last year, the Giants drafted Kadarius Toney in the first round and signed free agent Kenny Golladay to a 4-year, $72 million contract. Those moves were supposed to fix the receiving corps, but neither worked out as planned. The unit ranked dead last in the NFL with four receiving touchdowns and was 28th in catch rate (58.8%). Neither Golladay (37 catches, 0 touchdowns) nor Toney (39 catches, 0 touchdowns) earned their paydays. As if that weren't enough, veteran Sterling Shepard only played in seven games. The good news is Brian Daboll's system should do a better job at creating mismatches for the group. The bad news is Toney, Golladay, and Shepard are projected as the starters again. Golladay averaged 16.8 yards per catch in four seasons in Detroit and was a dynamic mismatch downfield. But as a Giant, he averaged just 14.1 yards per catch and caught less than half of his targets. There's a big difference between catching passes from Matthew Stafford and Daniel Jones. Toney has all the talent in the world but was more of a gadget player at the University of Florida. He'll need to tighten up his route-running to make Daboll and his staff happy, and also needs to prove his durability.
Darius Slayton's role declined in Year 3, impacting his play. After logging 75% and 87% of snaps in his first two seasons, he only played 64% last year, and his reception total plummeted (26), as did his catch rate (44.8%). Rookie Wan'Dale Robinson was a heralded recruit who struggled at Nebraska, but transferred to Kentucky and exploded with 104 receptions, 1,334 yards, and 7 touchdowns. He is small (5-foot-8, 178 pounds) and projects as a slot receiver. Like Toney, he's also capable of making plays off sweeps and as a ball-carrier. Robinson is already running with the starters, potentially as the slot receiver in place of Sterling Shepard. Shepard is talented, but his return from last year's Achilles injury clouds his role.
- Daniel Bellinger [R]
- Chris Myarick, Tanner Hudson
New York is embarking on a complete rebuild of the tight end group as Evan Engram signed with Jacksonville, and Kyle Rudolph wasn't retained. Rookie Daniel Bellinger will see time immediately, but is an inexperienced receiver. The rookie played in a run-heavy system at San Diego State (68 receptions in four seasons), but has soft hands and is comfortable making plays in traffic. A pair of veteran free agents - Ricky Seals-Jones and Jordan Akins - failed to impress in training camp. Seals-Jones was placed on season-ending injured reserve in late August. Akins was released a few days later. Chris Myarick is primarily a blocker and will see the field a lot, too.
- LT Andrew Thomas
- LG Joshua Ezeudu [R]
- C Jon Feliciano
- RG Mark Glowinski
- RT Evan Neal [R]
- G Shane Lemieux [IR], T Devery Hamilton, C Ben Bredeson, G Tyre Phillips, G Jack Anderson
Only left tackle Andrew Thomas returns from last year's group. This fully rebuilt line has added veteran free agent talent in center Jon Feliciano (Buffalo) and right guard Mark Glowinski (Indianapolis). There are also two new rookies in right tackle Evan Neal (First round, Alabama) and Josh Ezeudu (Third round, North Carolina). Ezeudu steps in at left guard after Lemieux' mid-August injury. This much change can be unsettling but this group has the chance to be solid.
Gano had a successful second season with the Giants, making all 17 extra point attempts (only 17?) and 29-of-33 field goal attempts, with only one miss from under 50 yards and a 7-of-10 success rate from 50+ yards. He is on the borderline of draftable kickers according to early draft ADP, with a shot at relevance if Brian Daboll and company can rehabilitate this offense in year one of their tenure. Gano is a viable target if you are the last one to take your kicker.
Last year's return specialist, Pharoh Cooper, is no longer around, but C.J. Board filled in admirably in his absence. Free agent Richie James has experience and could be the solution. Kadarius Toney was drafted in part for his potential as a returner, but he struggled to stay healthy as a rookie and never had an opportunity.
Pharoh Cooper and Jabrill Peppers are both gone, but cornerback Adoree' Jackson has plenty of experience as a punt returner from his time in Tennessee. Free agent Richie James has experience and could be the solution. Kadarius Toney was drafted in part for his potential as a returner, but he struggled to stay healthy as a rookie and never had an opportunity.
Patrick Graham is a talented defensive coordinator, and although the Giants' defense regressed in 2021, it was still competitive enough to compete for a playoff spot had the offense managed to get out of the league basement. But with a new head coach (Brian Daboll) comes a new defensive coordinator in the venerable Don 'Wink' Martindale. Martindale spent the last four seasons coordinating the Ravens defense, managing three elite seasons (top-3 points allowed in 2018, 2019, and 2020) before falling off in 2021 (19th in points allowed). Martindale's hiring guarantees seismic changes in how the defense is structured. Martindale believes in 'positionless football' and wants everyone on the field to be capable of covering downfield and rushing the passer. The Ravens ranked first in blitz rate for three straight seasons under Martindale, which involved bringing linebackers and defensive backs on nearly every play. The most significant change, and challenge, will be in the secondary, as Martindale's system only works with man coverage defensive backs. It's no surprise Logan Ryan, James Bradberry and Jabrill Peppers weren't retained as none are good in man coverage.
Leonard Williams is paid like one of the league's elite defensive linemen, but his play falls a bit short of his reputation. He's by no means a bad player, but he's never had an elite season and arguably is six years removed from his best year. Dexter Lawrence regressed a bit in his third season but remains a high upside force clogging the middle and commanding double teams. Justin Ellis brings familiarity with Martindale's system, but the 31-year-old only started eight games in three seasons in Baltimore. He's best suited as a rotational piece. Rookie D.J. Davidson was a three-year starter at Arizona State but is 25 years old and lacks upside, particularly if his conditioning doesn't improve.
- OLB Jihad Ward, LB Cam Brown, LB Carter Coughlin, LB Oshane Ximines, LB Tomon Fox [R], LB Austin Calitro
The surprise release of tackling machine Blake Martinez signals the coaching staff's push for a youth movement. Rookie Micah McFadden was considered a roster hopeful after being selected in the fifth round out of Indiana, but he was stellar throughout camp and the preseason, and now gets the chance to step into the center of the defense. Tae Crowder is the only experienced starter now, playing more than 1,000 snaps last season. But his availability was his only asset; he graded as one of the NFL's worst linebackers. Rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux was selected fifth overall after a dominant three years at Oregon. He was a unanimous All-American as a junior and led Oregon in sacks and tackles for loss in each of his seasons. He'll be an immediate starter and, unlike some of his edge-rushing peers, should stay on the field in obvious run downs. Azeez Ojulari had a promising rookie season as he logged more than 700 snaps, and racked up 49 tackles, 13 quarterback hits, and 8 sacks. He'll be counted on for further growth in 2022.
- CB CorDale Flott [R], S Dane Belton [R], CB Nick McCloud, S Jason Pinnock, CB Justin Layne
Veteran James Bradberry was released in early May after the Giants could find no takers in the trade market. He was a bad fit for Martindale's press man scheme. Unfortunately, the team didn't do a lot to bring in experienced man coverage options in his place. Aaron Robinson is a natural slot corner, and asking him to play outside in Martindale's man coverage system is problematic. Adoree' Jackson more than lived up to his 3-year, $39 million contract in his first season in New York; he graded out as the 15th best cornerback according to Pro Football Focus. Darnay Holmes projects as the other starter entering camp, but he's been a below-average contributor in two part-time seasons. Last year's Week 1 starting safeties, Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan, are both gone. Xavier McKinney should build off a breakout second season and could emerge as one of the league's best in the new scheme. Julian Love projects as the other starter, but his play last year didn't deserve a full-time role.