An anticipated playoff run is over, but there are still valuable lessons to learn for Big Blue this season.
Everything points to the New York Giants season being beyond saving at this point. Yet there remains the scope through which to examine certain players and positions to avoid a repeat in 2018.
Valuable insights and lessons beckon for Big Blue during a campaign that has seen overwhelming struggles easily shield any positives worth taking confidence from.
Head coach Ben McAdoo finds himself firmly planted on the hot-seat. With nine games remaining to inject some inspiration, he must distinguish between the roster mistakes and those capable of taking the organization forward. In addition, he can try to regain some respect of his own.
If a 1-5 record didn’t already do so, a 1-6 deficit certainly gives the Giants boss the free rein to take some added risks.
With Steve Spagnuolo’s defensive unit showing few signs of dropping the intensity, any salvaging mission is coming at the hands of the offense – the hands that have been the Giants’ costly flaw.
It isn’t a mission to reignite a playoff charge, but instead to ensure the next few months aren’t wasted.
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Evan better than predicted
Evan Engram tops a worryingly short list of Giants with the right to hold his heads high this season.
The rookie tight end has been a shining light on an otherwise disjointed offense. He has emerged as a crucially versatile option for quarterback Eli Manning.
He has risen to the occasion well in the absence of the injured Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall. Right now, he’s established himself as the team’s No.1 receiving weapon.
A team-high six catches for 60-yards plus a touchdown in Sunday’s 24-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks justifies perceptions of the first-round pick as McAdoo’s undisputed playmaker.
Anything good the New York Giants do between now and the end of the season looks likely to come via Engram. The freedom to turn a focus towards the 23-year-old will give Manning the chance to put his physicality, his route-running, his handling and, given the Giants’ unreliable offensive line, his improvisation all to the test.
Losing key receiving targets has already started his trial run as the team’s ball magnet. A dreadful season for the team won’t stop Engram from making significant strides.
Enhancing a Sterling resume
The same can be said for wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Upon his return from injury, Shepard will likely match his teammate’s value in the passing game.
Shepard was the NFL’s most productive slot receiver before being sidelined. Hopefully, he will step back into the lineup as a leader on offense.
It is a chance to prove that the notorious competitive edge of his won’t disappear when things get tough, and that he has the talent to consolidate the No.2 receiver role behind Beckham next season.
Both Engram and Shepard performing at a high standard will also be useful in challenging the capabilities of their veteran two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback and his infamous resilience.
The New York Giants’ rushing attack may have teased signs of life, but it still faces the task of showcasing some consistency. Torrid times have seen fans swiftly orientate towards Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. This gives more reason for McAdoo’s running backs to play with a training camp mentality.
Former starter Paul Perkins finds himself under enormous pressure. He may not have the chance to relieve himself of it for a few more weeks due to injury. After being named as starter during the summer, the 22-year-old endured an unproductive start to the season. He then allowed backup Orleans Darkwa to close the gap between them with ease.
The latter has since spearheaded an improved running game and starred in the recent 23-10 win over the Denver Broncos. Darkwa had 117 rushing yards on 21 carries in the win.
He now has the chance to consolidate his prominent role and his position in New York ahead of an offseason bound to play host to a number of drastic roster adjustments.
Rookie Wayne Gallman is also breathing down Darkwa’s neck. The pair shared the workload impressively during the win against the Denver Broncos.
The Clemson product has penetrated defensive lines with far more conviction and purpose than seen by Perkins in the early stages of the season. He already has 141 rushing yards on 36 attempted runs to his name.
Who knows if Barkley will arrive? Who knows if a new running back will even arrive? Working with the belief that one will just might fare well as an insight for the Giants hierarchy.