In the blurry photograph above, I am flashing a cheeky grin because I, at the ripe age of 16, am watching my G-men defeat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl for the SECOND time.
But the purpose of showing of this photograph is not reminiscing — it’s foreshadowing, because the Giants have a serious shot at winning the Super Bowl (again) this season. (Knock on wood).
OK, so last season wasn’t pretty. But it’s a new year, a new coach, a new team. As a lifelong Giants fan, I may be a *tad* biased, so I am going to let the facts speak for themselves. Here are just a few reasons why the Giants are going to destroy everyone this season, starting with the Dallas Cowboys.
Two words: Ben McAdoo
If football games had ended just two minutes earlier, the Giants would have been 11-5 last season (instead of 6-10). Five of their losses came from games where they were leading with two minutes left in the fourth quarter. That statistic ties the NFL’s previous record set by the 2001 Chargers.
We can blame part of that on New York’s lackluster defense, but you also have to deal some of the blame to poor time management late in the fourth quarter by Tom Coughlin (who resides with technology and Waffle House on my list of love-hate relationships), prompting criticism from fans and from The Onion.
The replacement of Coughlin with former offensive coordinator Ben McAcadoo shows some promise for fixing this problem. He isn’t rocking the boat too much, but he is still making changes where needed, according to CBS New York: a good combination of change and stability. Granted, McAdoo is less experienced on the defensive end. But so far, his strategy (he told WFAN he is encouraging the defense to be more aggressive) is pretty sound. And don’t forget Steve Spagnuolo heads the defense, so we don’t have to worry about leadership there.
Eli is at the top of his game
Thanks to working under McAdoo, Eli Manning has taken off the past couple of years.
He completed more passes in the 2015 season (387) than he has in one season his entire career (per ESPN). His 63.1% completion rate in 2014 was the highest of his career. Coincidentally, that was also Ben McAdoo’s first season with the Giants.
McAdoo played a huge role in Eli’s development the past two years, and Eli will have a similarly dominant performance this season.
Remember how inconsistent he was in the years he racked up his Super Bowl rings and MVP titles? (On that note, the dude kills it when he’s under pressure). Think about how good he would be in that situation now if he had a good team around him, which brings me to my next point…
The wide receivers are stacked
The only problem for Eli in 2015 was that the rest of the team (Besides Odell Beckham, of course) played terribly. So we didn’t see Manning’s performance translate into wins. Furthermore, with Victor Cruz injured, Manning didn’t really have anyone reliable to throw to besides Beckham. We saw that in the 49-17 loss to the Vikings, when Beckham served his suspension and the offense reeked like a corpse flower.
But that won’t be a problem this year. For one thing, Victor Cruz is slated to return healthy this season. Though his injuries and time off leave cause for doubt, he will still add nice depth to the roster. And don’t forget Sterling Shepard. You know, the second round draft pick who is currently killing it at training camp?
Odell Beckham said Shepard will be a “phenomenal player. He can run routes, he can catch, he can pretty much do it all. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing him develop.”
Sure, Reuben Randle peaced out and for the Eagles (gross). But I don’t see anyone on the Giants losing sleep over that. New York has two excellent receivers coming in to give Eli more options. Who cares about the cocktail of mediocre running backs that will make up our rushing when the passing game has this much potential?
Overall, the offense is going to be explosive.
We have Vernon (and other fresh faces on defense)
But if there’s anything we learned from the Super Bowl, it’s that explosive offense doesn’t make championships — defense does. And last season, the Giants were a defensive disaster.
The Giants were last in the NFL in total yards and total passing yards allowed. Against the Saints, they allowed 614 yards, the most in team history since 1943. 1943! They broke a record that was older than sunscreen. Oh, and they were ranked worse in the NFL. This is the team of Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson. What the heck happened?
Whoever came up with the the adage “Forget the past, and focus on the future,” was probably a Cleveland Browns fan, but we Giants people can still learn from this. The days of embarrassing defense are over, because our GM was making big moves in the offseason…
And we have Vernon!
And that’s just the start of it. The Giants resigned Jason Pierre Paul, who was probably our best defensive player last year with a giant cast/club on his hand. And don’t forget that they picked up Damon Harrison and Janoris Jenkins from free agency. When you thought the offseason moves couldn’t get better, they went ahead and signed Leon Hall.
But there’s more. Seven of the Giants’ eight draft picks were defensive players. In fact, while some did not like the Eli Apple first round choice, pretty much everyone agrees that the Giants did well in the draft department (Sports Illustrated, USA Today, ESPN, you get the picture).
Closing thought: The future is bright
I know most people will disagree, aside from fellow Giants fans. But in these moments when you doubt their Big Blue abilities, just remember this valuable advice from my friend Laurelle:
The best thing to be is underestimated.