By Michael Stewart/@golferbad
Introduction: The 2019 New York Giants are at the halfway point of the season and after eight games they find themselves at 2-6. Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones is now 2-4 since he replaced Eli Manning and he is going through the growing pains that one might except for a rookie quarterback.
Below I have assembled my grades at each position after eight games. There some surprises along with grades worthy of the Giant’s performance.
Quarterback: Daniel Jones is on pace with over 3000 yards of passing with 20+touchdowns and 14+interceptions. More importantly, he has fumbled 7 times in 6 starts. This flaw is fixable as Jones will learn to feel the pocket collapsing and run the ball instead of holding onto it too long trying to make a play. Grade B-
Running Back: The return of Saquon Barkley hasn’t been spectacular, but the 2nd year pro is still averaging 5.0 yards a touch along with 22 receptions for another 161 yards (7.3). Barkley is recovering from a high ankle sprain and perhaps that ankle is not fully healed and Barkley is not at 100%. Time will tell. Grade B-
Wide Receiver: Sterling Shepard has missed a number of games due to his second concussion of the season and Golden Tate has returned from his 4 game suspension and has contributed in 4 games. Both receivers have similar stats and more of a possession receiver. Rookie Darius Slayton is the Giants only bona fide deep threat and that ability has already been showcased in the 1st half of the season. The rest of the Giants wide receivers are all serviceable, but not worth mentioning. Grade C-
Tight Ends: Evan Engram is leading the Giants in receptions/yardage at the halfway point, but there were some games that talented tight end was invisible. The Giants are looking for Engram to be more consistent and to get to the next level as one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Grade C+
Offensive Center: Jon Halapio has not played at the same level as last season and could find himself losing playing time to Spencer Pulley if this continues. Last season, Pulley did a solid job filling in for Halapio during his injury and might be called upon to replace him due to poor play. Grade D
Offensive Guards: Will Hernandez has digressed a little from his rookie season; while Kevin Zeiter is the better offensive linemen for the Giants. Hermandez has shown flashes, but he needs to be more consistent and brings it to each game. Zeiter is as consistent as they come and a great role model for Hernandez to follow. Although there are some negatives at this position, the overall value at the guard position is a positive for the Giants. Grade B.
Offensive Tackles: Collectively; the Giants have more money invested at this position than any other linemen position on the roster and they are not getting equal value back in return. Nate Solder has struggled and looks extremely slow off the ball and has been overmatched against quicker edge rusher game in and game out. Mike Remmer has been at times overmatched and physically beaten by opposing defensive linemen whether it’s on running plays or defending the pass. Grade D.
Defensive line: The Giant’s top 3 starters; B.J Hill, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Dexter Lawrence have collectively played slightly above average with a combined total of 64 tackles and 3.5 sacks. However; the Giants need to more production out of them in terms of sacks and pressure on the quarterback. Against the run, there’s also a concern as the Giants are surrendering 122.4 yards per game on the ground. Grade C.
Inside Linebackers: This position should be a major concern for the Giants going into the 2nd half of the season as the team lacks a playmaker. Tae Davis has been a total mess and Alec Olgetree is strictly geared to be a run stuffer. David Mayo has not done that badly as he has displayed a nose for the ball. Rookie Ryan Connelly was impressive in his only two starters before a season-ending injury. Grade C.
Outside Linebackers: This group has been arguably the best among the defensive side of the ball as Markus Golden has 6 sacks at the halfway point and could finish in double digits. Second-year player Lorenzo Carter is displaying the potential of being a dual-threat (run and pass) with his explosiveness on the edge and his physical play against the run. Rookie Oshane Ximines has 2 sacks in his rookie campaign and is improving each week. Grade B
Cornerbacks: When you have your Cornerbacks ranked high in tackles for your team; that is a major concern. Jenkins, Haley and Baker all rank in the top 5 in total tackles and have given up big plays thus far in the 1st half. It’s highly likely Jenkins will be traded by the time this article is published; while Baker is young and should improve as the season progresses. Grade D-
Safties: At the safety position we have a tale of two cities as Jabrill Peppers is playing nearly at a Pro Bowl level in his first season with the Giants since being acquired in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. However; the same can’t be said with Antoine Bethea who often looks lost on the field despite leading the team in tackles (58). Bethea could also be traded by the time this article is published; if not, then during the offseason as the Giants need to find a solid safety to complement Peppers. Not sure if they view Chandler, Love or even Thomas as an option. Grade C.
Kick Returns: The Giants are getting suitable production from a variety of players such as Corey Ballentine, Darius Slayton and Cody Latimer as all are averaging more than 21 yards a touch. Grade B.
Punt Returns: The production from a group of candidates has been slightly above average for the Giants. However; there is always room for improvement here. Grade C.
Kicker: Aldrick Rosas is not having the same season in 2019 that he had in 2018 when he was named to the Pro Bowl. However; he has been consistent enough to not be considered an issue thus far. Grade B.
Punter: Riley Dixon has picked up where he left off in 2018 and is having a solid season for the Giants with a 45.0 average. Grade B+
Final Thoughts: With a 2-6 record at the halfway point, it’s hard to find positives among all the negatives that this team has displayed. However; there are some noteworthy signs that the Giants are going in the right direction. GM Dave Gettleman will have possibly somewhere between $60M to $100M in cap space (trades/releases/cuts/expiring contracts) along with possible 10+ picks in the draft (trades/compensation). Hopefully; he will find the needed pieces to improve this team’s chances in 2020 and beyond.
Overall Team Grade is a C+