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Giants look to utilize weapons, both new and old

The New York Giants had their worst season in franchise history last year. They finished 3-13 and looked more and more dysfunctional as the weeks went on. Eli Manning was benched halfway through the season and replaced with Geno Smith. Obviously, that didn’t sit well with Giants fans and eventually Ben McAdoo was fired as head coach, and Jerry Reese was fired as General Manager. It was as big of a cluster as you can have.

The biggest issue that hindered the Giants last season (disregarding injuries) was the incompetence and lack of flow within the offense. Before Odell Beckham Jr. got hurt, there was no continuity with him in the offense. Without him and the usual cast of characters, Eli Manning looked like a fish out of water, chucking the ball into the middle of the field, getting sacked every other play, and having balls tipped off the hands of Roger Lewis Jr. into the opponent’s arms.

The offense failed to score 30 or more points the entire season and “offensive genius” Ben McAdoo was the scapegoat for it, rightfully so. After McAdoo and Reese were fired towards the end of the season the Giants were looking for an offensive minded coach. They did not find their replacement immediately but were able to snag Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur after a lengthy search. The Giants also found a new offensive coordinator in Mike Shula, previously of Alabama.

The Giants now have a new offensive system and if there’s any indication it’s that the number one goal of the offseason was to protect Eli Manning. The Giants went out and grabbed reliable left tackle Nate Solder, formerly of the Patriots, and drafted bully Will Hernandez in this year’s draft.

What does all this mean? It means that the Giants still believe given the proper protection that Eli Manning is an elite quarterback. If he has time in the pocket and is able to step up he can still be a dynamic passer. Is that true? We shall see, but he most certainly has the weapons around him to do something special this year.

The first and most important of those weapons is Odell Beckham Jr. Beckham is on a contract year and is looking to prove to everyone in the Giants organization that he’s not injury prone and that he can be trusted as an ambassador for the team. The biggest reasons why he hasn’t been given a giant contract yet is because the Giants don’t have faith in his stability on and off the field. He is an erratic player but is so supremely talented that a deal should get done before the season starts, if he’s smart.

The second biggest weapon for the Giants’ offense is Evan Engram. After an impressive rookie campaign where Engram nearly reached the 800 yard mark, he’s looking to improve upon his blocking and become the surefire number two option in the passing game. He wants to be what Jimmy Graham was to the Saints. If Engram can repeat what he did last year and use his big body to create space for the other receivers and Saquon Barkley, the Giants will have a dynamic offense.

Manning will have plenty of other options to throw to and to utilize. Saquon Barkley was touted as one of the best running backs to come out of college and he looks to live up to the hype of a number two overall pick. He is a speedy back with some size and if he can successfully adjust to the pro game he should have a good year, although people need to understand he’s still a rookie. Secondary and tertiary options for this Giants’ offense are Sterling Shephard and Jonathan Stewart. Shephard is also coming off an injury, and Stewart has a lot of tread of his tires but is still useful in a limited role.

The Giants have a lot to prove this season, and it all starts with the offense. If the Giants are going to make a run at the NFC East, they’ll need to score 24+ points per game. They have plenty of weapons to do so and if they sputter to start the season it will disappoint Giants fans everywhere. The key to this offense is the ability of Eli Manning to stay accurate while under pressure. The offensive line is better but still not great, and Manning isn’t a spry chicken in the pocket. It could be a year of greatness, or it could be a year of constant turnovers, sacks, and negative gains. With Manning, you never truly know.

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