Injuries are the surest way to fast-track a team to a disappointing season. Losing key playmakers or stars for multiple contests in a 17-game season is devastating for teams without great depth and coaching staff. This is the exact predicament the New York Giants have found themselves in this season.
The Giants are the most tragic team in 2021 and we're only entering Week 7. The G-Men entered the season with expectations of an elite defense and an ascending offense. For all the grief the regime of general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Joe Judge has received, this roster looked interesting and ready for a playoff push if the quarterback play was decent.
I thought the Giants were a sneaky contender to trade for Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, or Matt Ryan at some point. But six games into the season, the Giants sit at 1-5 and are owners of the 27th-ranked offense and 29th-ranked defense. It's easy to say change is needed but their bouts with injuries have made it difficult to evaluate the whole picture.
Injury After Injury In New York
Saquon Barkley injured his ankle on a freak misstep in Week 5, but his production has been usurped by some lost explosiveness from a torn ACL and a bad offensive line. Once considered a generational prospect, he's been limited to 195 yards on 3.6 yards per-carry. It's hard to imagine the Giants re-signing him this offseason, and they'd likely be better off trading him now to get some value.
Playmakers Kadarius Toney, Evan Engram, Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, and John Ross have all missed time so far as well. Toney broke out with a huge 189-yard performance against Dallas and looked like the star of the future for the franchise. One week later and he could miss several weeks.
Engram had seen a drop in his already disappointing impact prior to missing two games, averaging a career-low of 9.1 yards per catch and 31.8 yards per game. He's clearly on the outs this offseason after he failed to see an upward developmental curve post Year 1. Engram and Barkley are two young, athletic pieces who haven't really worked out for the Giants.
Golladay and Shepard are expensive receivers who are effective when on the field, but availability was a concern entering the season. Shepard is the key third-down piece to the unit as the second-leading receiver on the roster even after missing two games. Golladay, coming off a hip injury and signing a $72 million deal this offseason, has been dealing with a knee injury.
The Daniel Jones Era
Golladay and Slayton are key big-play threats for the Giants and are legitimately good starters. It significantly hurt the Giants' offense to miss them. And Daniel Jones, the mercurial third-year passer who is trying to prove his long-term viability, is now facing an uphill climb to keep his job for 2022 amid the lineup changes.
Jones has increased his aggressiveness in going downfield but the results haven't come. His air yards have risen to a respectable 8.8 per attempt, and his overall accuracy of 75% is solid. However, a 7% drop rate and 17.4% bad throw rate, virtually the same as 2020, despite facing pressure 10% less often than last year, plagues Jones' outlook.
Joe's Lack Of Judgement
Independently, Judge has done a poor job coaching this team. The situational play calling and time management have been a disaster, and the staff has mishandled what is certainly a decent enough roster to compete in the NFC East. How this defense dropped from an analytically strong unit in 2020 to a true weakness must be asked when determining Patrick Graham's job after 2021.
A unit with Adoree' Jackson, James Bradberry, a great defensive line, and some raw talent at both edge and safety should be average again. Instead, they've given up 30 or more three times already and were blown out by the Broncos Week 1. The defense has been far from the opportunistic bunch they were built to be.
The Giants have lost 2021 already and have entered the important evaluation phase. Jobs are on the line from the top decision-makers to the quarterback. That is a tragic reality for a franchise that wanted to find their Mike Tomlin and pride themselves as a respected, stable situation.
As of now, with how everything has played out, the Giants have clearly had the worst luck this season.
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