The New York Giants certainly aren't the same team they were just a couple years ago. The Giants got a new quarterback in 2019 and now they have a new head coach in 2020. Eli Manning, Odell Beckham and Landon Collins are gone. Dave Gettleman is now the team architect and he has brought in quarterback Daniel Jones and Head Coach Joe Judge as the Giants try to climb out of a hole that has seen them win just 12 games over the past three seasons combined.
Jones got his baptism by fire last season, as the sixth-overall pick in 2019 draft took over for the now-retired Manning, a franchise icon, just a month into the campaign. Jones had some impressive moments, particularly when he won his first career start in Tampa, beating the Buccaneers 32-31 when the home team missed a potential game-winning kick at the end of regulation. Jones then threw seven picks in his next four games but righted himself to have two four-TD/zero-INT games and one five-TD/zero-INT game in the season's second half.
Obviously, a good young quarterback is the most valuable asset an NFL team can have, and the Giants think they found one in Jones. They also think Judge, a former Patriots assistant, is the right person to get the most out of Jones and his teammate, lauding Judge at the time of his hiring for his work ethic, leadership skills and confidence.
The Buccaneers will find out in Week Eight if Judge is on his way to turning the Giants around, and they'll do it in front of a national audience. The two teams will meet at New York's MetLife Stadium on Nov. 2 to cap the NFL's Week Eight slate of games on Monday Night. The game will be in the middle of three straight prime-time appearances for the Buccaneers.
New York Giants
2019 Record: 4-12
Scoring Offense: t-18th (21.3 points per game)
Total Offense: 23rd (338.5 yards per game)
Rushing Offense: 19th (105.3 yards per game)
Passing Offense: 18th (233.2 yards per game)
Scoring Defense: 30th (28.2 points per game)
Total Defense: 25th (377.3 yards per game)
Rushing Defense: 20th (113.3 yards per game)
Passing Defense: 28th (264.1 yards per game)
Turnover Margin: t-31st (-17)
The Giants have some enviable weapons around Jones, including running back Saquon Barkley, the second-overall pick in the 2018 draft. Barkley lost some time to injury (also an occurrence from that game in Tampa) and saw his league-leading total of 2,028 yards from scrimmage in his rookie season fall by about 600 yards, while his touchdowns were cut from 15 to eight. He still averaged 4.6 yards per carry, however, and remains a dual threat who can put up big numbers in the passing.
The Giants also have a dynamic pass-catching tight end in Evan Engram, another former first-round pick, and a collection of reasonably productive receivers in Sterling Shephard, Golden Tate and Darius Slayton. Where New York has had some trouble on offense in recent years it has been in putting together a sturdy offensive line. It hasn't been through a lack of effort, including the big-ticket acquisition of left tackle Nate Solder and a trade for guard Kevin Zeitler, but Football Outsiders had the Giants as the 25th-best run-blocking line and the 17th-best pass-blocking line in 2019. That was an improvement from 2018, but not by much. New York might have found the missing piece, however, when they used the fourth-overall pick in this year's draft on Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas. The Giants also used their third-round pick on another tackle, Matt Peart, and may have gotten a steal in the fifth round in Shane Lemieux, who can play guard or center.
Giants' 2020 Draft Class: T Andrew Thomas (Round 1, 4th overall), S Xavier McKinney (Round 2, 36th overall), T Matt Peart (Round 3, 99th overall), CB Darnay Holmes (Round 4, 110th overall), G Shane Lemieux (Round 5, 150th overall), LB Cam Brown (Round 6, 183rd overall), LB Carter Coughlin (Round 7, 218th overall), LB T.J. Brunson (Round 7, 238th overall), CB Chris Williamson (Round 7, 247th overall), LB Tae Crowder (Round 7, 255th overall)
New York obviously made the O-Line a priority in the draft, which is hardly surprising given Gettleman's oft-cited love for "hog mollies." However, the Giants arguably needed more improvement on defense, and that is reflected in the Xavier McKinney and Darnay Holmes picks. McKinney, an all-around playmaker who was the first safety drafted, will try to make Giants fans forget about the departed Collins, the three-time Pro Bowl safety who left for Washington last year.
New York needed help in the secondary after giving up the fifth-most passing yards per game last year, and the third-most per pass play. That contributed to the Giants allowing the third-most points in the league, more than 28 per game. Gettleman began addressing that issue well before the draft, signing his former Panthers cornerback James Bradberry away from Carolina in free agency. The Giants also helped the middle level of their defense with the additions of linebackers Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell in free agency before aiming a host of day-three picks at the same position. The front line got some help before last season ended when the Giants traded for former Jets first-rounder Leonard Williams, who was subsequently given the franchise tag. Beyond the retirement of Manning, the Giants didn't lose much from their 2019 roster.
Key Veteran Additions: CB James Bradberry, RB Dion Lewis (FA), T Cameron Fleming (UFA), LB Blake Martinez (UFA), LB Kyler Fackrell (UFA), QB Colt McCoy, TE Levine Toilolo
Notable Departures: QB Eli Manning (Retirement), T Mike Remmers (UFA), WR Cody Latimer (UFA), S Michael Thomas (UFA)
The Giants know they have to do a better job of holding onto the football in 2020 after they coughed it up 33 times last year, third most in the NFL. That was largely the result of a rookie quarterback playing behind an inconsistent offensive line – Jones fumbled 18 times and lost 13 of them to go along with his perfectly reasonable rookie total of 12 interceptions in 12 starts. New York also hopes some of its defensive additions can add to their takeaway total on the other side; the Giants had just 16 of them last year, tied for the league's third-lowest total, leading to a net-differential of -17 that was tied for NFL's worst.
The Buccaneers and Giants have been frequent opponents of late, and they've produced some exciting contests. This will mark the fourth straight season and the fifth time in six years that the two teams will meet. Tampa Bay's comeback against Jones' Giants last year fell short when Matt Gay missed a 34-yarder at the end, and the two teams had 869 yards of offense (510 by the Bucs) in a 2018 meeting that also went to New York, 38-35. The year before that, the Bucs won on Nick Folk's field goal at the end of regulation after a huge catch by Cameron Brate. Overall, the Giants lead the series, 15-7, and Tampa Bay will be looking for its first win in New York since 1997.