Where does your squad stand in 2023? Adam Rank sets the table by providing a State of the Franchise look at all 32 teams, zeroing in on the key figures to watch and setting the stakes for the season to come.
Members of the Giants organization, Giants fans around the world and those who feel Patton Oswalt should have received an Oscar for his work in "Big Fan" ...
The Giants went into last season flying under the radar with a first-year head coach, a quarterback playing for his job and nary any expectations. But a run to the playoffs (and a postseason win) has New Yorkers feeling pretty good about their team. With that comes expectations. Are the Giants ready for the challenge?
One high from last season: Making the playoffs and beating the Vikings. I know a lot of people talk about you making the playoffs, but they don't extend the conversation to say you went on the road to Minnesota and took out the 13-win Vikings on Super Wild Card Weekend. I know, it's the Vikings, the NFL version of a hamburger between two slices of white bread. Still, it was a playoff win, and you should be proud of it.
One low from last season: Losing by 31 points the following week to the archrival Philadelphia Eagles. OK, so it probably wasn't the most enjoyable way to end a season. It doesn't negate the fact the Giants far exceeded expectations for 2022. It's like when you were in school and the teacher handed out a placement test that had no bearing on your actual grade, so you just sat there in the back with the long-haired guy in the Metallica shirt who said, "This [expletive] doesn't matter, so I'm not even going to try." You took your grade and went home.
Quarterback: Daniel Jones. Most people will say 2022 was the best season of his career. Now, we should keep that in perspective -- we're talking about Daniel Jones, not Peyton Manning. Jones only threw 15 touchdown passes, after all. More importantly, though, he cut his interception total to five, second-lowest in the NFL among those with 250-plus pass attempts. He also rushed for 700-plus yards and seven touchdowns. Then, roughly a year after the Giants declined the fifth-year option on Jones' rookie contract, they signed him to a four-year, $160 million extension.
You have to love the fusion between Jones and head coach Brian Daboll, who had similar success with Josh Allen during his time as offensive coordinator in Buffalo. Bills fans will laugh at you if you compare the two QBs, but it's apt. There is a reasonable expectation Jones could take an Allen-esque leap in his second year with Daboll. It's just a shame the Giants didn't get him an established Stefon Diggs-like wide receiver to help with that. But we will talk more about his weapons in a moment.
Projected 2023 MVP: Saquon Barkley, running back. He's back. One of the keys for the Giants' success was Saquon putting up a full-length, Pro Bowl-caliber year for the first time since 2018. He rushed for 1,300-plus yards and 10 touchdowns. He also led the team in pass targets (76). I mean, when the other options are guys like Darius Slayton, it's not a shock. No disrespect or anything, but the Giants didn't have a true No. 1 receiver in 2022. Saquon came through with 57 catches. Then he was franchise-tagged. As for the question of whether Saquon is going to get a big-money deal or not, stay tuned.
New face to know: Darren Waller, tight end. I mean, I just told you a running back led the team in targets and receptions last year. General manager Joe Schoen had to go out and do something, so he traded for Waller. While that's not exactly the Diggs-like acquisition I was pining for in the Jones blurb, Waller is a pretty good upgrade at tight end. And aside from DJ Moore, it's not like there were a ton of big-name pass catchers changing teams this offseason. I like the move a lot. The 30-year-old has battled injuries in recent years. But when he's healthy, he's one of the best in the league. We aren't too far removed from him being mentioned with Travis Kelce and George Kittle.
2023 breakout star: Kayvon Thibodeaux, outside linebacker. The No. 5 overall pick was one of the stars of the 2022 NFL Draft class and made some big plays during his rookie campaign as he dealt with injuries. Yes, the sack total (four) ended up being kind of mid. (I realize I shouldn't be using words like "mid," so I will move on.) But three of those came in his last five regular-season games, one of which was a Week 15 contest in which he smoked the Commanders, making 12 total tackles and scoring a touchdown. It was the kind of game that made you think: Yes, this is the guy we drafted. Look forward to seeing more of that this season.
|Head coach||Brian Daboll|
|General manager||Joe Schoen|
|Offensive coordinator||Mike Kafka|
|Defensive coordinator||Don "Wink" Martindale|
|Special teams coordinator||Thomas McGaughey|
- The Giants hired one of the hot offensive coordinators on the market to be their head coach last January, and guess what? It actually worked. Daboll went out and won AP NFL Coach of the Year. The Giants won five more games than they did in 2021 and reached the playoffs. Jones looked great at times. Daboll put together a great coaching staff, starting with Martindale. There are a lot of reasons to be excited for Year 2 of the Daboll era. And as a Bears fan, I will tell you that you should in no way think he's going to be the modern-day version of Matt Nagy, another one-time hot offensive coordinator-turned-coach who also won Coach of the Year after leading Chicago to a postseason appearance right off the bat with an athletic-but-not-elite-level QB. Just get that thought out of your mind. No way that happens.
- The Giants seemed to have nailed it with Schoen, who has worked perfectly with Daboll thus far. The selection of offensive tackle Evan Neal seventh overall last year might need some time to pan out, but it looks like Thibodeaux has a high ceiling. The Giants also received high marks for their draft picks this season, and the GM's efforts to stockpile more weapons for Jones should provide a boost.
Below is a rundown of the Giants' most notable roster developments for the 2023 season, including this year's draft class, as well as key acquisitions and departures via free agency and trade.
|Draft class (round-pick)||Key additions||Key departures|
|Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland (1-24)||Parris Campbell, WR||Kenny Golladay, WR|
|John Michael Schmitz, OL, Minnesota (2-57)||Jamison Crowder, WR||Richie James, WR|
|Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee (3-73)||Darren Waller, TE||Jon Feliciano, G|
|Eric Gray, RB, Oklahoma (5-172)||Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DL||Nick Gates, C|
|Tre Hawkins III, CB, Old Dominion (6-209)||A'Shawn Robinson, DL||Jaylon Smith, LB|
|Jordon Riley, DL, Oregon (7-243)||Bobby Okereke, LB||Fabian Moreau, CB|
|Gervarrius Owens, DB, Houston (7-254)||Bobby McCain, S||Julian Love, S|
Three key dates:
- Week 1 vs. Dallas Cowboys. There will be a lot of people (not me, obviously) who will be skeptical of the Giants after their playoff run last season. But that's what makes this Week 1 game against the division-rival Cowboys so exciting. And on Sunday Night Football? Let's go.
- Week 4 vs. Seattle Seahawks. The Giants are going to play in prime time in three of their first four games, including this one on Monday Night Football. Things could be rather painful if this stretch doesn't go well for them.
- Week 16 at Philadelphia Eagles. Another prime-time game, this time on Christmas Day. This will be the kind of game that sets the tone for the NFC playoffs. Or it will be as unwelcome as that thing you ordered on Amazon months ago at 3 a.m.
Will the Giants be able to ...
... rely on one of their wide receivers? Saquon and Waller are amazing. And there is no shame with these two guys leading the way offensively. But somebody else needs to step up. The team brought back Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton and signed free agents Parris Campbell and Jamison Crowder to go along with Isaiah Hodgins and Wan'Dale Robinson. But all eyes will be on third-round pick Jalin Hyatt. The Tennessee product was expected by many to go off the board in the first two rounds of the 2023 draft but managed to fall to the 10th pick in Round 3. Great fortune for the Giants. Think of him as a DeSean Jackson-type who can be the ideal field-stretcher for Jones.
... look to John Michael Schmitz to anchor the offensive line at center? We like Schmitz, chosen No. 57 overall in April's draft. It's interesting to have a rookie stepping into such a crucial position on the offensive line. He's a talented guy for sure -- but he's still a rookie. The Giants' offensive line in general has some pieces. We love Andrew Thomas, one of the best young tackles in the NFL. Evan Neal struggled in his rookie season, allowing seven sacks in 2022, per Pro Football Focus. In fact, there might be more pressure on Neal than Schmitz; either way, the offensive line as a whole sat low in PFF's final rankings last season and has some work to do.
One storyline ...
... people shouldn't overlook: Who replaces Julian Love? Love was far and away the leading tackler for the Giants last season -- his 124 total was nearly 40 more than next-closest player, Jaylon Smith -- and he signed a free-agent deal with the Seahawks during the offseason. It was one of those moves that's not going to make a ton of headlines, but it could have a huge impact on this team moving forward. He was a difference-maker in run support. The Giants will be looking for somebody out of a group that includes Xavier McKinney and Dane Belton to take over.
... people shouldn't overthink: How much money Daniel Jones is making. We always seem to freak out when a quarterback receives a huge contract (four years, $160 million, in Jones' case). I mean, that's just the cost of doing business. Your choices were to give Jones his money or, I guess, tag him and kick the can down the road again. It's like, I didn't want to throw down as much money as I did for Blink 182 floor seats in Los Angeles, but I did it. And once Blink 182 opens up with "Anthem Part Two," I'm not going to care about how much money I paid.
For 2023 to be a success, the Giants MUST:
- Get back to the playoffs. Wait, is that fair? Can I do that to the Giants? A lot of things went right for this team to reach the playoffs last season. And you could argue New York's postseason triumph against the Vikings, who won 11 games by one possession in 2022, barely counts. Here's my thing: The Giants could regress in the win column but have an amazing season from Jones, confirming that the quarterback continues to be on track. That's pretty good, right? All that said, in a kind-of-wide-open NFC, getting back to the playoffs is a more concrete target than continuing to head in the right direction. This could be a somewhat weird season.