2018 NFC East Rivals Preview: New York Giants

You have heard it before: the NFC East has not had a repeat division champion since the 2003 & 2004 NFL seasons. It has the most Super Bowl victories out of any division, and now is the only one in which all four teams have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.

The NFC East is one of the most competitive and hard fought divisions in football. We spend a lot of time here at Eagles Frenzy looking at one of those four teams in particular, but let’s take a deep dive into the other three for the upcoming 2018 season:

New York Giants

New York Giants v Washington Redskins
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

2017 Record: 3-13

2017 NFC East Finish: 4th

2017 Record Against the Eagles: 0-2

2017 Recap

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Even by New York standards, the Giants had high hopes entering the 2017 season. Off the back of their 2016 campaign, one powered by a free-agency stacked defensive unit that finished 2nd in Defensive DVOA per Football Outsiders, New York finished 11-5 and made the playoffs for the first time since their 2011 Super Bowl Championship season. Eli Manning was expected to continue his late-career renaissance under the offensive-minded, promising second-year head coach Ben McAdoo, Odell Beckham Junior was paced to maintain his record breaking receiving statistics from seasons past, and this was to be all backed up by their All-Pro caliber defense.

Well, OBJ missed the final 10 games of the season with a fractured ankle, Manning was benched for Geno Smith in Week 13, McAdoo was subsequently fired, and the locker room fell apart spectacularly.

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The Giants defense fell 22 spots to 24th overall in Defensive DVOA. New York finished the season 3-13, their worst winning percentage record since 1974.

Despite Big Blue’s memorable implosion, it’s safe to say most Philly fan’s lasting image of their season will just be one field goal by a replacement rookie Eagles kicker:

What’s the same?

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Holding the second overall pick in the 2018 draft and given Manning’s struggles the season prior, many speculated the Giants would use their draft pick on Eli’s heir apparent. However new General Manager David Gettleman elected instead to go elsewhere, demonstrating his confidence in Eli Manning (or second-year, 3rd round backup Davis Webb) for at least one more season.

In 2017, Manning threw four-year lows in completion percentage (61.6) , yards per game (231.2) , yards per attempt (6.1) , total touchdowns (19) and Passer Rating (80.4). Although his week 13 benching was universally panned by the football community, the fact Geno Smith was at least considered a more viable replacement is not exactly inspiring. Manning has demonstrated an ability to revive his career in the past, but at 37, time- and front office patience- will be running thin.

OBJ is back from injury, and that is definitely terrifying. Off/on-field antics aside, Beckham is a supremely talented wide receiver and one of the league’s most explosive athletes. He is capable of changing any game in an instant with his dynamic speed and play-making abilities.

Against the Eagles, Beckham averages over 7 receptions and 86 yards per game, scoring two touchdowns in two of the last three match-ups. The status of Beckham’s impending new contract with the Giants is unclear. If the two sides cannot reach an agreement by the start of the season, expect a healthy OBJ to perform at his awe-inspiring best to prove his market value in a contract year.

What’s different?

Strap in. The New York Football Giants completely revamped their coaching staff and front office during the latter weeks of the 2017 season and the offseason. After firing Ben McAdoo (we dodged a bullet there, Eagles fans), 2017 Assistant Coach of the Year Pat Shurmur was hired as his replacement. The Minnesota Viking’s offensive coordinator was credited with their positive offensive turnaround and backup quarterback Case Keenum’s surprising career-best form. He’ll be tasked with doing the same for Eli Manning and his offense, unifying a disjointed locker room, and maybe most importantly, reigning in star wide receiver OBJ.

General Manager Jerry Reese was fired alongside McAdoo/McAdon’t following the Geno Smith debacle, and replaced by former Panthers GM (and Giant’s front office staffer) David Gettleman. Gettleman set out trying to revamp a completely broken offensive line. A task that, as Eagles fans know (do I hear a Danny Watkins?), can be long and arduous. The team’s marquee signing of the off season was long-time New England offensive line staple Nate Solder to a 4 year, 62 million dollar deal. The track record of Patriot Pro Bowl players following their release by head coach/Sith Lord Bill Belichick isn’t a pretty one, so the 30 year-old’s contributions should be one to keep an eye on.

The Giants brought in new defensive coordinator James Bettcher and his 3-4 base from the Cardinals to replace Steve Spagnuolo. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was traded to Tampa, while Josh Mauro joins Bettcher from Arizona for a better schematic fit. Former ‘Dream Team’ Eagle, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, was cut from the team after the two sides could not resolve a pay-cut to keep the DB.

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Getty Images

If I was a betting man (I am), my money would be on Saquon Barkley for Offensive Rookie of the Year. The rookie running back’s talents are undeniable. The second overall pick of the draft, he is the prototypical modern-day dual threat NFL back. If you could form an RB in a laboratory, your finished product probably wouldn’t look too different. I promise this will be the first and last time I post an image of a naked man’s thighs on Eagles Frenzy.

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Photo: ESPN

Ridiculous. And Eli Manning agrees.

After finishing 23rd, 26th and 29th in rushing DVOA the past three seasons from their carousel of mediocrity featuring Rashad Jennings, Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen,  Big Blue will be looking to the Penn State product for improvement, and a lot of it. Whether his output can match his draft position in the long term remains to be seen, but look for Barkley to make a sizable impact immediately.

Las Vegas Westgate SuperBook win total: 7.5

Prediction: Over

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