A new era of New York Giants football is underway. After hiring Joe Schoen as general manager, New York tabbed Brian Daboll as its head coach. Two outstanding hires is a great start to the offseason, but there is a lot more work to be done.
Looking to model the Giants’ organization after the Buffalo Bills is a smart approach. Schoen played a crucial role in building one of the best NFL rosters, identifying talent both in the NFL Draft and free agency. As for Daboll, he is an outstanding play designer and could be the key to unlocking New York’s dormant offense.
After taking two huge swings in the hiring pool, many will wonder if the quarterback could be next. There are plenty of quality signal-callers available via trade this spring, upgrades over starter Daniel Jones. But if the Giants want to do this thing the right way, there is a better approach to take.
After hiring Daboll, here are three offseason moves the New York Giants should do.
Start Daniel Jones, sign viable backup quarterback
No one is still defending the Daniel Jones pick nor arguing he is a franchise-caliber quarterback. But John Mara was right, the Giants’ organization hasn’t done very much to help Jones have a shot at success. But that seems to be changing this offseason and it’s why he deserves a chance.
“We do feel Daniel can play. We’ve done everything possible to screw this kid up.”New York Giants co-owner John Mara on QB Daniel Jones, via Mike Garafolo
It’s true that quarterbacks deserve a ton of responsibility for sacks taken. But New York’s offensive line surrendered the eighth-most pressures (190) in 2021 and ranked 24th in PFF’s pass-blocking efficiency. On top of that, New York finished 28th in ESPN’s pass win rate (54%). With Jones constantly under pressure, he stood little chance of finding a rhythm in a poorly-designed offense.
Daboll will change the latter. There are few NFL coaches better at creating a playbook that is tailored to the quarterback’s strengths, reducing the chances for his weaknesses to be exposed. New York’s passing attack will look modern, with play designs and routes to get pass-catchers open.
This isn’t to say Jones shouldn’t be challenged in free agency. Mitch Trubisky showed flashes with the Chicago Bears and during the 2021 season, with Daboll calling plays. Jacoby Brissett, Marcus Mariota and Ryan Fitzpatrick are also steady fill-in quarterbacks who can start multiple games. Quality competition for Jones and a better environment are two keys to 2022. If he fails, then New York can devote all its resources to upgrading in 2023.
Cut three starters, sign an edge rusher
Currently, the New York Giants cap space for the 2022 offseason looks bleak. According to OTC, New York is an estimated $10 million over the elevated NFL salary cap. Restructured contracts will help drop that number a bit, but cuts are the best option.
It starts on the offensive side of the ball, releasing veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph ($5 million) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard ($4.5 million). Clearing nearly $10 million off the books is a start, but releasing Blake Martinez will also shave $8.525 million off the sheet. That gives New York $7 million, not including extensions or restructures.
Once enough room is made, New York can pursue an edge rusher in free agency. It’s the biggest need on defense and one potential match stands out. Haason Reddick, a New Jersey native, recorded 44 pressures and 15 sacks in 2021. Add in 27 tackles for loss and 34 quarterback hits over the past two seasons, Reddick is ready to get paid and fills a huge need for New York.
Reshape New York Giants offense through 2022 NFL Draft
This is the fun part. Thanks to the Justin Fields trade, New York is in the unique position of holding two top-10 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. While Schoen could go a number of directions with his top picks, his comments in an interview with Ralph Vacchiano push us in one direction that would be great for this team.
“If you want to see Daniel Jones put his best foot forward, he’s got to be on his feet. If you want to see what Saquon can do, it would be nice if we could block guys.”New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen on why the offensive line is a huge priority, via SNY.tv
Dominating the trenches is everything. New York needs to win at the line of scrimmage to have a shot, especially with a quarterback under center who has already been sacked 105 times in 38 games. It’s that need that influences our draft strategy.
New York Giants mock draft
- 1st round, 5th overall: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
- 1st round, 7th overall: Tyler Linderbaum, iOL, Iowa
- 2nd round, 36th overall: Drake London, WR, USC
- 3rd round, 67th overall: Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin
- 3rd round, 81st overall: Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M
Evan Neal can come in and start at right tackle immediately. It’s a position he is familiar with from his time at Alabama and that’s crucial since switching from one side to the other can be challenging. At 6-foot-7 with absurd athleticism and only 22 pressures allowed across his last two seasons, per PFF, Neal would be a wall on the right side.
This is where we take a different approach than typical mock drafts. There are quality edge rushers available and New York could grab the best defensive back available. But this team needs to be strong on the interior and Tyler Linderbaum is a rare prospect at center. Ask the Los Angeles Chargers how invaluable Corey Linsley is or the Kansas City Chiefs about the impact rookie Creed Humphrey made. Linderbaum can be a perennial Pro Bowl center in his prime. Linderbaum can pass protect, opens up lanes for running backs and brings the leadership teams covet in a center.
While we’re excited to see Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney in Daboll’s offense, three-receiver sets are routine. In 2021, per Sharp Football Stats, Buffalo used three-receiver sets on 71% of its snaps (5th in NFL). With Toney in the slot, London becomes the imposing threat outside who snags 50-50 balls (18 contested catches in 2021). This gives Jones a great offensive line and three receivers he knows will make plays if his throws are on target.
We now turn to the New York Giants defense. Opponents averaged 4.4 ypc against New York in 2021 and this team missed a linebacker like Chenal. At 6-foot-2, Chenal brings the sledgehammer when he hits ball carriers. Put him at inside linebacker and if the defensive line eats up the blocks, Chenal will decleat the running back.
Even if the New York Giants don’t make the playoffs with these moves, it creates a foundation. The next quarterback they bring in will walk into the perfect settings to enjoy success for years to come.