New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman opted to retool the team’s roster in his first offseason rather than rebuild a franchise coming off a 3-13 season.
He had his reasons, believing the New York Giants weren’t far removed from their 11-5 campaign in 2016. The G-Men were also decimated by injuries the following season, and Gettleman believed he saw enough on tape to stay the course with quarterback Eli Manning.
In his first draft as general manager of the New York Giants, Gettleman selected a running back with the franchise’s highest draft selection since 1981. The decision drew both praise and criticism.
New York Giants
Saquon Barkley was considered the top overall talent in the draft. However, his position is inherently less valuable in the NFL than that of a quarterback, left tackle, edge rusher, or cornerback. Barkley has quickly showcased his ability to be a game-changer at the next level. He has also yet to change the outcome of a game for Big Blue.
His 68-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1 helped make the game interesting, but the Giants still fell short in their home opener. Barkley also set a running back franchise record in Week 2, reeling in 14 passes against the Dallas Cowboys. It didn’t help the team win.
Barkley has shown he can be a valuable asset, but the collective moves made on the offensive side of the ball this offseason have yet to pay off. The Giants wanted to take pressure off their 37-year-old quarterback by revamping the offensive line and building a ground game.
Through two games, all Manning has been is under pressure. The Giants had to know this plan wouldn’t succeed if they couldn’t block up front, and so far none of the personnel changes made this offseason have improved Big Blue’s offensive line.
The entire unit has struggled. Only Will Hernandez has lived up to expectations, and even he had a missed assignment against the Dallas Cowboys that resulted in a strip-sack.
Both Nate Solder and Patrick Omameh were expected to elevate the group’s play as veteran free agent acquisitions. They have yet to make the impact needed, and it’s not going to get easier with starting center Jon Halapio out for the season with a broken leg and ankle.
The Giants were hoping to build a ground game centered around Barkley, but so far, the rookie running back has found little if any running room behind this newly constructed offensive line.
Ereck Flowers remains the only starter from last season, and his transition to right tackle has not gone smoothly, to say the least. Through two games, the Giants have the league’s 28th rushing attack, and Manning has already been sacked eight times.
The return of a ground game was expected to open the offense to play-action passes deep downfield, similar to New York’s offense when Manning and the Giants made two Super Bowl runs. It hasn’t happened, and with each loss, the decision to take a running back No. 2 overall seems to only draw more criticism.
Not because of Barkley’s talent, but because the offseason plan hasn’t come to fruition. There’s still plenty of time with the Giants sitting one game behind all three other teams in the NFC East. Barkley still believes they will figure it out, via New York’s team website.
"“We’ve got to continue to better on the offensive side of the ball as a team. We’ll find a way to figure it out and I believe we will.”"
It starts up front for the Giants. Manning must also play better. But the premise of retooling this roster around the two-time Super Bowl MVP was all about blocking and establishing a ground game.
That has yet to happen, and until it does, the Giants will continue to struggle.