The Giants are about to take the training wheels off the new edition of Big Blue 2020.
While everything about 2020 is a complete disaster we can still look forward to New York Giants football; however, this team, the coaching staff, and this season will look and feel much different than any in recent memory.
Joe Judge is young and inexperienced at running an engine this big, this fast, and this powerful. However, Coach Judge seems to understand one specific thing…he’s not here to make friends. This is a big job made for someone that will refuse to comprise their beliefs, someone who will sacrifice everything to win the way he has been taught to win.
Let not kid ourselves. Joe Judge survived under Sabean and Belichick only because he’s cut from the same cloth. He has football in his blood as Joe Judge Sr. played ball at Temple. He’s grown up around and in the game his whole life. Coaches like Saban and Belichick have molded his adult football path and the New York Giants should benefit greatly from his journey.
The Giants might be the youngest team in the NFL and yet this team has stars just like any NFL team. Some of these “stars”are still on the rise and some have had a taste of success along the way. Their names are Barkley, Jones, Tate, Shepard, Dexter Lawrence, Slayton, Martinez, Bradberry, and Engram.
Barkley, one of the six captains is already a superstar in this league. He’s run around, by and up-and-over defenders for two years. With an improved OLine Barkley should be able to shine. His reception game/screen game should flourish in this offense as he models his game after Walter Payton and Marshal Faulk.
Jones as a rookie surprised a ton of people. He didn’t say much playing in Eli Manning’s shoes, but he stood tall in the pocket delivered a great ball and on occasion took off downfield capturing the fan’s attention and admiration. His biggest issue will be to curve his fumbling problem. If this continues, it will the difference whether Jones and the Giants succeed.
Tate and Shepard have both been in the league a few years now and both have made some big catches. Sadly, they both seem to be a play away from being on the sideline. Tate is a fun player when on the field. Suspensions and injuries have stopped the fans from fully embracing him. On the other hand, Shepard who is a fan favorite for his tough catches and big smile hasn’t fully had a breakout season yet. His history of concussions looms in the background with every snap.
Engram has a world of talent but because he’s been on the sideline so much, fans have only gotten a glimpse of his skills. He could literally be a top 5 Tight End in the game. He needs to stay healthy and out of the training room. Garrett has Engram’s career in the palm of his hands. If Garrett uses him like Witten was used in Dallas, Engram will finally be a superstar.
Lawrence and Slayton need to continue to progress and grow. While Slayton dropped in the draft and DexLaw went 1st, it doesn’t matter at this point. The Giants are depending on both of them to win. Lawrence went out and got quicker and slimmer in the offseason. Monday night Lawrence needs to make plays, including pressure up the middle. Slayton’s success is simple. Continue to work on speed, crisp route running, and downfield blocking. The chemistry between Jones and Slayton is good. The Giants will be depending on Slayton to become the No. 1 at one point over the course of this season.
Lastly, Martinez and Bradberry simply put…got paid now they need to show Giants fans everywhere that they were worth the investment. With Covid it could and should deter players for playing in the city to the sun comes up. This will increase focus and results on Sunday’s. Martinez and Bradberry are in the perfect position to win the fans over with big plays. While Bradberry will have experienced secondary help like Peppers, Ryan, and Love…Martinez is on his own with a handful of unknown free agents and rookies.
The Giants were terrible in 2019 against the run giving up 19 rushing touchdowns. Martinez should be an enormous factor in shutting this down and forcing teams to throw. There is no reason to think Martinez couldn’t have 128 tackles | 4 sacks | 2 picks and a handful of fumble recoveries.