New York Giants fans are upbeat after new front office hires and coaches and the 2022 NFL draft. The arrow appears to be pointing up.
Not if you’re the New York press corps covering the Giants, though. Jeremy Portnoy has posted links to several stories making predictions about the Giants’ 2022 record. Here are the results:
Zack Rosenblatt, NJ.com: 5-12
Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv: 6-11
Dan Duggan, The Athletic: 5-12
Finally, The New York Post’s Mark Hale predicts that “the Giants are going to be the worst team in the NFL next season.”
That’s little better than the 4-13 2021 team, which basically waved the white flag on offense towards the end of the season. Only BBV’s Nick Falato is optimistic about the Giants in 2022, predicting they will go 7-10. While that wouldn’t make her a juggernaut, it would be her best record since the 2016 playoff season.
Are the Giants better, worse, or the same in the short term? Here are a few things to note:
Here’s a comparison between the 2021 and 2022 Giants offensive rosters. The 2021 roster has been fluid to say the least, and the 2022 opening week roster is far from settled, so I only have what I consider to be my top 20 offensive players on the team Listed 2021 entering this season and made an educated guess on 2022:
Offensive roster comparison
|QB||Daniel Jones||Daniel Jones|
|Mike Glennon||Tyrod Taylor|
|OIL||Andrew Thomas||Andrew Thomas|
|Shane Lemieux||Shane Lemieux|
|Nick Gates||Jon Feliciano|
|Will Hernandez||Markus Glownski|
|Nate Solder||Evan Neal|
|Matt Peart||Joshua Ezeud|
|billy price||max garcia|
|Ben Bredeson||Matt Gono|
|WR||Kenny Golladay||Kenny Golladay|
|Kadarius Toney||Kadarius Toney|
|Sterling Shepherd||Sterling Shepherd|
|Darius Slayton||Darius Slayton|
|John Ross||Wan’Dale Robinson|
|TE||Evan engram||Ricky Seals Jones|
|Caden Smith||Daniel Bellinger|
|RB||Saquon Barkley||Saquon Barkley|
|Devontae Booker||Matt Breida|
QB: Daniel Jones, with or without Tyrod Taylor replacing him through injury, needs to be better than 6+ games from Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm. Taylor played for Buffalo for three years, had a 22-20 record during those years and led them to the playoffs once.
OIL: Fixing the Giants’ OL is a multi-year endeavor. But Mark Glowinski is an upgrade over Will Hernandez at RG, and Evan Neal, even if he suffers from rookie growing pains, can’t be worse than Nate Solder or Matt Peart at RT last year. The Giants have several options at LG, each of which should be as good as or better than Matt Skura or Ben Bredeson. Jon Feliciano shouldn’t be any worse than Billy Price, who played at C for most of the season.
WR: The line-up for the frontline players is pretty much the same as last year with one exception. Will Wan’Dale Robinson be a more productive player than John Ross could be?
TE: Perhaps the Giants’ tight end space has taken a step back this year. Or, one could argue that Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph produced little despite their higher ancestry, and that Kaden Smith, while a fan favorite, met his career end through injury. Fourth-round pick Daniel Bellinger is the wild card.
RB: Saquon Barkley, now fully healed, will get another chance to prove what he can as a starting RB. Anything even remotely close to its 2018 season would be a major upgrade. Devontae Booker did a good job last year, but he remains a free agent for a reason. Matt Breida is a more explosive backup option.
With the same approach to defense, here is the comparison between 2021 and 2022:
Defensive Squad Comparison
|EDGE||Lorenzo Carter||Kayvon Thibodeaux|
|Azez Ojulari||Azez Ojulari|
|Quincy Roche||Quincy Roche|
|Oshane Ximines||Elerson Smith|
|IDL||Leonard Williams||Leonard Williams|
|Dexter Lawrence||Dexter Lawrence|
|Danny Shelton||Jihad Ward|
|ILB||Blake Martinez||Blake Martinez|
|Tae Crowder||Tae Crowder|
|Reggie Ragland||Micah McFadden|
|Jaylon Smith||Darrian Beaver|
|cb||James Bradberry||Adore Jackson|
|Adore Jackson||Aaron Robinson|
|Darnay Holmes||Darnay Holmes|
|Aaron Robinson||Cordel large|
|Rodarius Williams||Rodarius Williams|
|S||Xavier McKinney||Xavier McKinney|
|Logan Ryan||Julian love|
|Jabril Peppers||Dane Belton|
EDGE: Will Kayvon Thibodeaux be better than post-Achilles Lorenzo Carter who has only produced in the last 5 games? Will a year of experience make Azeez Ojulari, Quincy Roche and Elerson Smith more effective? The answer to both questions is probably yes.
IDL: Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence return. Austin Johnson may have been better than his successor Justin Ellis, but Johnson dropped out after a strong start to 2021. Jihad Ward should be better than Danny Shelton, who gave the Giants almost nothing despite significant playing time.
ILB: Blake Martinez is returning after missing 14 games, the first time he hasn’t played a full season in five years. That alone makes the LB Corps better than 2021. Tae Crowder is the other incumbent, but Micah McFadden and Darrian Beavers could be pushing him for game time. Jaylon Smith, the only Giants ILB to be good at coverage in 2021, remains a free agent.
CB: This is the biggest potential weakness for 2022. James Bradberry didn’t have a great 2021, giving up 8 TDs and a 93 passer rating and missing 21.7 percent of his tackles, all career highs. But for now, his replacement appears to be Aaron Robinson, who hasn’t played enough at the border in 2021 to show if he can be a successful CB2. Darnay Holmes returns to the slot; will Cor’Dale Flott oust him? Will Rodarius Williams be an effective option for Border returning from an ACL?
S: Xavier McKinney returns after a successful second season and is showing all the signs of being a top S. Safety space is sparse following the release of Logan Ryan, but Ryan has played poorly for the Giants for most of the past year. Julian Love’s game in 2022 was as good as Ryan’s. Dane Belton will get the chance to show he can do what Jabrill Peppers has done.
The Giants lost more man games to injuries in 2021 than any other NFL team. They are also the team with the most injuries in the NFL from 2009 to 2021:
Is it MetLife artificial grass? Perhaps, although many of the 2021 Giants sustained serious injuries in training camp or on the road. The chart above does not show a strong association of injuries with turf. Was it the training methods used by Joe Judge and his staff? Perhaps. Do the Giants only have injury-prone players? That can be said of the WR Corps despite Kadarius Toney playing a full year in Florida last year without missing a game and Darius Slayton not missing a game this year either.
Aside from Blake Martinez, Aaron Robinson and Elerson Smith did not emerge healthy from training camp and did not return until mid-season. Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates, Kaden Smith and Rodarius Williams barely played.
Injuries are usually unpredictable. A reasonable assumption for 2022 would be that the Giants won’t have as many key player injuries as they did in 2021. For what it’s worth, the Buffalo Bills were the least injured team in the NFL last year. Maybe Brian Daboll and company know something, or maybe they got lucky.
The Giants’ beat writers don’t seem to believe that coaching and play-calling are hugely important to a team’s performance. Nevertheless, the Giants’ coaching changes are considered one of the main reasons for optimism about the future. Brian Daboll, Mike Kafka, Wink Martindale vs. Joe Judge, Jason Garrett, Patrick Graham. Think of Martindale vs. Graham as a wash, although their coaching schemes differ dramatically. On offense, however, the combination of Daboll and Kafka should be a dramatic improvement over what Garrett and Freddie Kitchens did last season. And expect Daboll to use analysis more often than Judge when it comes to those 4th and 3rd calls inside opponent’s territory.
It takes time to adjust to new offensive and defensive systems, and certainly the Giants will be hard on the edges for most of the season. But the same goes for some of their most punchable opponents (Jaguars, Bears, Texans). In 2020, despite limited contact due to the pandemic, it didn’t take long for the defense to learn Patrick Graham’s plans — the Giants nearly beat the Rams in Game 3.
Daboll and Kafka emphasize route combinations (high-low, rubbing) that open up spring receivers, as opposed to the isolation routes that Garrett favored. Chris Pflum has attempted to read the tea leaves to divine that the Giants may be using more inside zone blocking to give Saquon Barkley better running lanes in an offense that may use more spread or air attack concepts. It’s hard to imagine that the Giants will not have a better offense in combination with at least a slightly better OL 2022.
A simpler schedule
The Giants are expected to have the easiest schedule in the NFL in 2022:
You’re going to see a lot of “strength of schedule” tweets today. Most are based on total wins of 21. Throw those away. For example, they treat the Steelers as better opponents than BAL or DEN.
The better SoS formula is based on the 22 Vegas win totals. https://t.co/ZbQ48ePsug pic.twitter.com/pzUM9XVJLY
— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) May 12, 2022
That’s just a projection. Every year, some teams surprise and others disappoint. But last year, the Giants ended up with one of the tougher schedules in the NFL (which is why they drafted No. 5 despite sharing the same record as the 4-13 Texans and Jets).
The division opponents are always the same. The Eagles can be an improved team. It’s not obvious that Dallas and Washington are.
The other NFC opponents are Chicago, Green Bay, Detroit, Minnesota, Carolina, Seattle; Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Atlanta, Carolina, Chicago, Los Angeles in 2021. Overall difficulty is similar.
The AFC opponents are Tennessee, Indianapolis, Houston, Jacksonville, Baltimore vs. Kansas City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver, Miami. Two very beatable opponents against none in 2021 (despite the Giants beating Las Vegas).
This isn’t a year to expect playoffs, but it doesn’t look like a year to give up either. I’m with Nick Falato: 7-10. Giants fans, what do you think?
What will the Giants’ record be in 2022?
9-8 and playoffs baby!
A total of 689 votes