Training camps around the NFL are getting underway this week, and it has been a busy off-season for many teams, including the New York Giants (NYG). They will look to build on a 9-7-1 year, where they won a playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings before falling to the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round. NYG will look to get back there and possibly make a deeper playoff run this season.
Photo Cred: The Wall Street Journal
New York has taken steps in the right direction both through the draft and in free agency. They’ve added defensive pieces and weapons in the receiving game and bolstered their offensive line and secondary. In addition, RB Saquon Barkley agreed to a deal worth up to $11 million with incentives for the Giants. He has reported to training camp, which started this week. With that all being said, here is an off-season recap and 2023 season preview for the New York Football Giants.
A Giant Contract For A True Giants Quarterback
The Giants signed starting quarterback, Daniel Jones, to a hefty contract this past season: $160 million over four years. Jones has had issues with turnovers and consistency over the first few years of his career. However, after the Giants declined his fifth-year option, Jones had his best pro season so far. He threw for 3,205 yards and 15 touchdowns with just five interceptions in the regular season. Jones would then add 436 yards and two touchdowns and an interception in two playoff games.
Photo Cred: The Athletic (Daniel Jones)
Although Jones was rightfully believed to be overpaid by even the most diehard Giants fans, the long-term contract provides stability. It provides the expectation of future production from Jones. It also rewards him for a great season last year and provides a long-term commitment from the Giants for him to be their quarterback. Behind Jones, the Giants retain Tyrod Taylor, who has played snaps for the team when Jones got injured. They also have former Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito in a reserve role.
The Giants Ground Game- Saquon Barkley Leading the Running Backs
As I mentioned before, Barkley recently agreed to a deal worth up to $11 million and has reported to training camp. The deadline might’ve come and gone without Barkley signing a long-term deal but the Giants were still able to renegotiate his one-year contract. He will still play on the $10.1 million franchise tag and can make an additional $909,000 through incentives for good performance on the field. Barkley will also receive a $2 million signing bonus upfront, which will be part of the $10.1 million guaranteed for this season. The incentive money is evenly split between Barkley rushing for 1,350 yards, scoring 11 touchdowns, and having 65 catches. These are some high standards but certainly achievable for a generational talent like Barkley.
Photo Cred: Nittany Lions Wire (Saquon Barkley)
In addition to all that, the Giants have to make the playoffs for Barkley to be able to earn the incentive money. If the Giants can’t meet that expectation, Barkley will not be able to cash in even if he reaches the threshold for any or all of the three categories. Bringing Barkley back will vastly help the Giants, as he is by far the best running back on the team. He is expected to be a major part of the offense just on his own, in addition to being a selfless teammate. He will also open up the passing game for Daniel Jones and his receiving core.
Who Else Features in the Giants’ Ground Game?
Behind Barkley, the Giants have a variety of options at the backup and reserve running back positions. Veteran RB Matt Brieda returns to the Giants, which is key because he helped share the load backing up Barkley last season. The Giants also drafted rookie running back Eric Gray out of Oklahoma and recently signed free-agent James Robinson. Robinson split time between the Jets and Jaguars last season. Those will be the names to look out for in training camp to take practice reps behind Barkley as they battle for the backup spots. The Giants also have Gary Brightwell and Jashaun Corbin on their roster, although they are more in a reserve role. They will provide the team with depth but will likely not play a major role on the field this season.
Photo Cred: NY Post (Eric Gray)
Moving the Football Through The Air- The Giants’ New-Look Receiving Core
The Giants made significant improvements at the wide receiver position in the off-season. They signed former Indianapolis Colts receiver Parris Campbell in free agency and drafted deep-threat wideout Jalin Hyatt in the third round. Hyatt is one of the biggest steals of the 2023 NFL Draft. Isaiah Hodgins looks to see a starting role alongside Campbell after becoming a big part of the passing game last season. He also battled through a foot injury to score a touchdown and get 105 yards in the Giants’ playoff win over the Vikings.
Photo Cred: Giants.com (Jalin Hyatt)
Longtime Giant Darius Slayton will return and will be joined by Sterling Shepard, who is coming back from a torn ACL last season. In addition, the Giants brought back Wan’Dale Robinson, who stepped up as a slot receiver when the Giants needed receiver depth due to injuries. NYG also recently signed free-agent wide receiver Cole Beasley, who last played for the Buffalo Bills. On top of all of that, the Giants also brought in Darren Waller, who plays tight end, but can catch passes downfield and can be used as a weapon in the receiving game.
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Waller and Campbell were the two major acquisitions for the Giants on offense, and Waller will be backed up by Daniel Bellinger. Bellinger was also a force in the passing game at the tight end position this past season for New York. The wide receiver and tight end rooms are significantly improved from last year. This should take away the reliance on Saquon Barkley and the running game and bring some variety to the offense for 2023.
A Big Blue Wall- The Giants’ Offensive Line
Daniel Jones and the skill players will benefit from protection by a new-look offensive line that is also returning some high-level players. Second-round draft pick John Michael Schmitz will likely start immediately at center. He will replace Jon Feliciano, who left to join the San Francisco 49ers. All-Pro offensive tackle Andrew Thomas was recently extended for an additional five years and $117.5 million. He looks to continue his form protecting Daniel Jones’ blindside. At the right tackle position, Evan Neal will look to continue to improve and stay healthy after suffering a knee injury last year against the Jaguars.
Photo Cred: Big Blue View (Andrew Thomas)
Ben Bredeson also looks to return to the starting lineup at left guard after he suffered his own knee injury in the Jaguars game. Mark Glowinski looks to complete the starting lineup at right guard. Key reserves at the offensive line positions for the Giants include draft picks from recent years: Joshua Ezeudu (Giants’ 2022 third-rounder) and Tyre Phillips (Ravens’ 2020 third-rounder). They both saw time last season with the injuries to Neal and Bredeson.
Photo Cred: Getty Images (Ben Bredeson, Mark Glowinski, and Andrew Thomas)
The offensive line struggled at times last season, especially in terms of protecting Jones. For Jones to be able to perform at the highest level and complete passes to his new receivers, the O-line has to improve and give him the time he needs to throw. The OL will also be instrumental in opening up holes on the field for the running backs to break through. If this unit performs to its expectations, then Jones, Barkley, and the new-look receiving core will be able to rack up yards, catches, and touchdowns to help the team win games.
The Defensive Line and Linebackers- A Nightmare for Opposing Quarterbacks
On the defensive side of the football, the Giants went out and got players who will make the team better, both in free agency and the draft. They also retained many of their top defensive lineman and defensive backs. The Giants acquired former Los Angeles Ram A’Shawn Robinson at left defensive end. They have Leonard Williams to pair with him at right defensive end. Recently extended nose tackle Dexter Lawrence will play in between the two ends at the line of scrimmage. NYG also brought in Rakeem Nunez-Roches from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to back up Lawrence at the nose tackle spot.
Photo Cred: Giants.com (Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams)
New York also added another former Colt in linebacker Bobby Okereke this off-season. He will join rising star Kavyon Thibodeaux, who is going into his second year after a phenomenal rookie season. The linebacker core also includes recent-year draft picks Darrian Beavers and Azeez Ojulari in the starting spots. The Giants will also have Jihad Ward, Carter Coughlin, Micah McFadden, and Oshane Ximines in the backup roles.
New York Pass Defense- The Giants’ Secondary
In the secondary, Adoree’ Jackson returns for his second season with the Giants at left cornerback. He will be paired with rookie cornerback and first-round draft pick out of Maryland, Deonte Banks. Banks was a very solid cornerback in college, as he locked down opposing Big Ten defenders at Maryland and was also known for his speed. This cornerback duo will be supported by star free safety Xavier McKinney, who is one of the leaders of the Giants’ defense.
Photo Cred: Sportsnet (Xavier McKinney)
Jason Pinnock will likely shift to strong safety to make room for Banks after playing at cornerback for most of his career. Darnay Holmes and Cor’Dale Flott will be in the mix to play slot cornerback. Former Washington Commander Bobby McCain and recent-year draft pick Dane Belton look to be the backup safeties for the Giants. The defense was impressive for the Giants last season and they look to be even better this time as well. They have a formidable D-line, linebacker group, and a secondary with young, talented players.
Special Teams and the Coaching Staff- Putting it All Together
On special teams, Graham Gano returns to kick for the Giants, while Jamie Gillan will be back to punt for Big Blue. Gano made a season-long 57-yard attempt last year and converted on over 90% of his field goals and nearly 95% of his extra points. Gillan had an average of 46.8 yards per punt, with a 69-yard long and landing 26 punts within the opposing team’s 20-yard line. Both specialists bring a consistent, high-performance level to their positions. The fans cannot ask for much more than what they are getting from both Gano and Gillan.
Photo Cred: Giants.com (Graham Gano)
Casey Kreiter will handle long-snapping duties, while starting CB Adoree’ Jackson is projected to be the team’s primary punt returner. Backup RB Gary Brightwell is returning kicks this season for the Giants. Fan and player-favorite head coach Brian Daboll will return for his second season as the Giants’ head coach. He turned the team around from 4-13 to 9-7-1, getting them a playoff appearance as well.
Photo Cred: Giants.com (Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll)
General manager Joe Schoen will also return for his second season. He has been instrumental in putting together a playoff-contending team that is just getting started on the rebuild. Although the schedule looks tough this year, I can see the Giants at least qualifying for the playoffs as a wild card. They can possibly surprise people and win at least one playoff game this season, after already having done so last season against all odds.
2023 Giants’ Schedule Breakdown
The 2023 schedule looks tough for the Giants, especially with the NFC East division featuring two other playoff teams. All four teams were at .500 or better last season, and NYG also has to deal with the defending NFC champions… The Philadelphia Eagles’ roster looks as good, if not better, than last year… They also play a tough AFC East division, with games against the Aaron Rodgers-led New York Jets along with playoff contenders in the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins.
Photo Cred: Giants.com
The NFC West is a mixed bag, however. New York does have to play an away game against the NFC runner-up San Francisco 49ers. They’ll also face another wild-card team, the Seattle Seahawks. Easier games will come against some of the other teams out west, such as the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, and Las Vegas Raiders. Other NFC opponents like the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers should be easy to take on as well.
The Giants’ early schedule features four out of six road games, with three games of them in primetime. The first game is a divisional game against the hated Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. This should be a litmus test for the Giants to prove their worth against a rival who has had their number in recent years. NYG then goes on a two-game West Coast swing. They’ll visit the rebuilding Arizona Cardinals before a tough matchup on Thursday Night Football against the Niners.
Photo Cred: Pro Football Network
They return home after a mini-bye week to take on the Seattle Seahawks on the following Monday Night Football game. After three straight matchups against the NFC West, the Giants will then play two straight AFC East teams on the road. In Week 5, New York takes on the Miami Dolphins, led by Tua Tagovailoa and featuring star receiver Tyreek Hill. This will precede a visit to Buffalo to take on the Super Bowl-contending Bills on Sunday Night Football.
Photo Cred: Giants.com
A somewhat easier matchup against the division rival Washington Commanders will await the Giants a week later. That being said, the Commanders tied the Giants in East Rutherford last season in one game. Two weeks later, they lost a tough battle to Big Blue at home, though it was close. Week 8 features a battle of New York when the Giants play the Jets in a regular-season MetLife Bowl. Both New York City teams are on the rise and all of the tri-state area will be watching this one.
New York heads to Las Vegas a week later before visiting the Cowboys for a rematch in Dallas. The rematch with the Commanders in D.C. comes the next week, and then NYG has a home game against Bill Belichick’s Patriots. After a bye week, the Giants host the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football. Then, they visit New Orleans for a clash against the Saints in the Superdome.
Photo Cred: Giants.com
The Giants then play a special Christmas Day game for their first meeting with another hated rival, the Philadelphia Eagles. Their penultimate game will be hosting the rebuilding Los Angeles Rams on New Year’s Eve. To finish the 2023 regular season off, the Giants will host the Eagles at MetLife as both teams will likely either have locked up or will be finalizing their playoff seeding.
Photo Cred: Giants.com
2023 Season Predictions
My preseason prediction for the Giants is that they win somewhere between nine and 11 games, with 10-7 being the target. The Giants should be able to handle business against the Cardinals, Saints, Packers, Raiders, Rams, and Patriots, while also taking both games against the Commanders. I believe the Giants can get revenge on Geno Smith and the Seahawks coming off of extended rest and at home this season, which should push them toward nine wins.
Photo Cred: Giants.com
Games against the Bills, Dolphins, Jets, and 49ers will be tough for Big Blue. However, I do think the Giants have made enough off-season improvements that they can win one game against either the Eagles or Cowboys, if not both. New York will be ready to go for the season opener at MetLife under the lights and get up for a huge rivalry game against the Cowboys. With Saquon Barkley back and ready to go and a ton of new weapons on offense, the Giants will edge out the Cowboys in a gritty Week 1 win.
Photo Cred: Giants.com
Although the Cowboys will likely get revenge in Dallas, the Giants can really make a statement that they are for real this year and prove that last season was not a mirage. The reigning NFC champion Eagles will prove to be too much for the upstart Giants on Christmas. However, if the Eagles rest starters with the #1 or #2 seed locked up in Week 17, the Giants will have the chance to snag another win.
2023 Season Expectations
If the Giants can even win one game against Philadelphia and Dallas and beat everyone they are supposed to, they will end the season at 10-7. Losing all four games to the Eagles and Cowboys has the Giants at 9-8. Splitting both season series with the Birds and the Boys has the Giants at 11-6.
Photo Cred: Big Blue View (Giants vs Vikings playoffs)
In any of these cases, I see this team finishing the season in a wild card spot. The Eagles should win the division and the Cowboys will likely finish with the first wild card. I think the Eagles win the NFC championship rematch against the Niners and win the tiebreaker to repeat as the NFC’s #1 seed. The 49ers will finish as the second seed with an identical 13-4 record to the Eagles, but they will lose to the Birds in the regular season.
Photo Cred: Fast Philly Sports
I think the Vikings will edge the Lions to repeat as NFC North champions, but they will take a slight step back to an 11-6 record and the third seed. I predict Bryce Young to lead the Carolina Panthers to win a wide-open NFC South with a 9-8 record and the NFC’s fourth seed. The Dallas Cowboys lose a divisional race to the Eagles but finish with an 11-6 record and the NFC’s fifth seed. The Detroit Lions continue their resurgence and make the playoffs with a 10-7 record, just edging out the Giants on tiebreakers, who also finish at 10-7.
Photo Cred: Pride of Detroit
Playoff Prediction and Conclusion to the Season
The Giants compete closer than expected, on the backs of Jones, Barkley, and Waller. However, Brock Purdy will reclaim the starting spot from Trey Lance, thus helping the Niners to edge out the Giants 27-17. The bright side for the Giants here is they avoid running into the Eagles in Philadelphia. However, they take a slight step back and do not advance to the divisional round this year. A strong regular season and playoff push will show that the Giants’ rebuild continues to remain ahead of schedule. This team is close to competing for Super Bowls once again!
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