Getting Ready for the Giants Next Game - Comeback Predictions and Fun Facts
It’s no secret that the last few years have been rough for the New York Giants. Ahead of the 2020 campaign, the G-Men are just 12-36 over the last three seasons, leading to plenty of cheap Giants tickets being available. But a new season brings new hope for the Giants, who are betting that 2020 is the year they turn things around. If you’re wondering about roster changes, the team’s next opponent, when the Giants play, or want some predictions for the 2020 season, here’s everything you need to know about how to get ready for the Giants’ next game.
The 2020 season begins with the players from last year’s team that won’t be back with the Giants this season. The biggest name, of course, is quarterback Eli Manning, who retired in January. Manning only played in four games last season after the Giants decided to give rookie Daniel Jones a chance to play and develop. But the 2020 season will be New York’s first since 2003 that Manning won’t be a part of the team, so seeing the Giants without Manning on the field or on the sidelines could take some getting used to for fans.
In addition to Manning, the Giants also lost offensive lineman Mike Remmers, who signed with the Chiefs. Remmers only spent one season with the Giants, although he was the starter at right tackle for 14 of the team’s 16 games last season. While he wasn’t a standout player, Remmers provided some stability to an offensive line that has been problematic for the Giants over the last few seasons.
The Giants also lost cornerback and key special teams player Antonio Hamilton, who also signed with the Chiefs this offseason. Hamilton spent the last two seasons in New York and played in all 16 games during the 2019 campaign. While his time on defense was limited, he was an important figure for the Giants on special teams.
Linebackers Alec Ogletree and Kareem will be two more notable absentees for the Giants in 2020. Ogletree served a team captain during the past two seasons, starting every game in which he played during that span. However, his play had started to decline, especially in pass coverage, leading the Giants to release him in February to avoid paying his $10-million salary, saving them $8.25 million against the salary cap. Martin was also released with one year left on his contract. He played in just five games last season due to injury.
While they made a few subtractions, the Giants made a lot more additions during the offseason, both through free agency and the draft. New York’s biggest addition in free agency was cornerback James Bradberry, who signed a three-year contract with the Giants in March. Bradberry was initially drafted by Giants GM Dave Gettleman when he was serving in that role with the Panthers. During his time in Carolina, Bradberry was one of the top tacklers among cornerbacks in the NFL. He figures to step in as New York’s primary cornerback right away.
Via free agency, the Giants added two more potential starters on defense in linebackers Blake Martinez and Kyle Fackrell. Oddly enough, both players spent the last four seasons with the Packers and will be comfortable playing alongside one another. Martinez figures to be the more impactful addition, signing a three-year, $30 million contract to come to New York. He will help to fill the void left by Ogletree after amassing at least 144 tackles in each of the last three seasons while being a starter on Green Bay’s defense. Meanwhile, the Giants hope to get pass-rushing help from Fackrell, who was limited to one sack last year but is two years removed from accumulating 10.5 sacks during the 2018 season. Despite being a reserve with the Packers, Fackrell will have a chance to become a regular starter with the Giants.
On offense, the Giants did make any major additions in free agency, but they added some much-needed depth. For instance, running back Dion Lewis signed with New York to serve as the backup to Saquon Barkley. Lewis has had an up and down career, but he’s proven to be productive when given regular playing time. The Giants also made a key signing to their offensive line in Cameron Fleming. While there’s no guarantee he’ll be a starter, Fleming has experience playing both left tackle and right tackle, adding both depth and flexibility to an offensive line that’s been the main cause of New York’s problems on offense over the last few seasons.
It was during the 2020 NFL Draft that the Giants made some of their biggest additions this offseason. The team had 10 draft picks, starting with offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, who was the fourth overall pick in the draft. Thomas was a three-year starter at Georgia and has experience at both left tackle and right tackle. With veteran Nate Solder penciled in at left tackle, the Giants are hoping that can step in right away as the starter at right tackle and give the offensive line an immediate upgrade.
Even after taking Thomas, the Giants weren’t finished with adding offensive linemen via the draft. In the third round, the team selected offensive tackle Matt Peart of UConn. Peart will likely be a backup at first but could become a starter down the line. The Giants also took offensive guard Shane Lemieux out of Oregon in the fifth round and signed guard Kyle Murphy of Rhode Island after the draft to give their offensive line even more depth.
The Giants also made substantial upgrades to their defense during the draft. In the second round, they selected Alabama safety Xavier McKinney. He will compete with second-year player Julian Love as the starter at free safety. McKinney was the first safety selected in the draft and should see significant playing time as a rookie. If things work out, the Giants could end up with one of the best safety tandems in the NFL with McKinney and Jabrill Peppers.
During the rest of the draft, the Giants made significant additions to their defensive depth. Darnay Holmes of UCLA and Chris Williamson of Minnesota will provide additional depth at cornerback. Meanwhile, the Giants drafted linebackers Cam Crown of Penn State, Carter Coughlin of Minnesota, TJ Brunson of South Carolina, and Tae Crowder of Georgia, giving them plenty of depth and potential at that position.
New Coaching Staff
Even amidst a slew of new players and a promising draft class, the biggest change to the Giants ahead of the 2020 season might be the coaching staff. Pat Shurmur was fired after the 2019 season and replaced with first-time head coach Joe Judge. Unlike most new head coaches, Judge hasn’t even served as a coordinator in the NFL. However, he comes from the Bill Belichick coaching tree, serving as an assistant for the Patriots from 2012 to 2019, coaching primarily on special teams. He was also a special teams assistant at Alabama under Nick Saban from 2009 to 2011.
To help make up for Judge’s lack of head coaching experience, the Giants have surrounded him with assistants who have experience being a head coach in either the NFL or at the college level. Of course, the most notable name on New York’s coaching staff is new offensive coordinator Jason Garett, who joins the Giants after nearly 10 years as head coach of the rival Cowboys. In addition to his insight on Dallas, who the Giants will play twice in 2020, Garrett is one of the smartest and most respected offensive coaches in the NFL and should be in a position to succeed as an offensive coordinator.
The rest of New York’s coaching staff is filled with recognizable names as well. Former Browns head coach and offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens is the team’s new tight ends coach. Derek Dooley, who was a head coach in college for six years at Louisiana Tech and Tennessee, is a senior offensive assistant for the Giants. Finally, former Wisconsin and Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema is New York’s senior defensive assistant and outside linebackers coach.
The Schedule Ahead
After all of the changes during the offseason, the 2020 season should be an exciting one for the Giants. The schedule lined up for them, especially their home games at MetLife Stadium, would suggest an entertaining season ahead. It all starts with a Monday night game in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. While the Giants and Steelers aren’t traditional rivals, they are two of the oldest and proudest franchises in the NFL. Also, while Pittsburgh has missed the playoffs the last two seasons, they should provide a good barometer for where the Giants stand early in the season.
New York’s schedule gets even better from there with the Giants hosting the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers at MetLife Stadium in Week 3. In October, the Giants will play three straight games against their NFC East rivals, culminating in a Thursday night road game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Giants return home the first weekend in November for another Monday night game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Of course, the Bucs are now led by longtime New England quarterback Tom Brady, who has lost two Super Bowls to the Giants. Later in November, the Giants get to host the Eagles in Week 10 before the team gets a rest with their Week 11 bye.
Coming out of the bye, the Giants have a compelling six-week slate to close the season. That stretch includes difficult road games against the Seahawks and Ravens, as well as a home date against the Cardinals, a former division rival. Of course, the season comes to an end in Week 17 when the Giants play host to the Cowboys in a game that could have serious playoff implications if both teams are in the hunt for a postseason spot.
So, what does the 2020 season have in store for the Giants? It might be a little too early to tell, but it’s never too early to start making predictions. With a new coaching staff, a second-year quarterback, and a lot of new pieces on both sides of the ball, the Giants might be one of the most difficult teams in the NFL to forecast this season. But that could make it all the more fun to try.
First, let’s take an optimistic view and predict the Giants have a winning record inside the NFC East. If the Giants can earn a sweep of Washington, they would just need to split the season series with both Philadelphia and Dallas to go 4-2 inside the division, which isn’t that far fetched.
Next, we’ll have to balance out that optimism with a little pessimism about New York’s chances on the road this season. In addition to their three road games inside the NFC East, the Giants have two long road trips to the West Coast this season, visiting the Rams and Seahawks. They also have a late-December trip to Baltimore, who figures to be an AFC heavyweight yet again. The two remaining road games are against the Bears and Bengals, which are a toss-up at best. With that in mind, we’ll go ahead and predict that the Giants have a losing record on the road this season.
Going back on the optimistic side, we’ll predict that Jones makes noticeable progress in his second NFL season, asserting himself as New York’s quarterback of the future. The improvements the Giants made along the offensive line should benefit the young quarterback. It’s also important to keep in mind that New York has one of the most talented running backs in the NFL in Barkley. With Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard the primary wide receiver and tight end Evan Engram still in the mix, Jones has enough help around him to show significant improvement in 2020.
Finally, we’ll predict the Giants to miss the playoffs for the eighth time in the last nine years. On the bright side, the G-Men will double their win total from last year and finish 8-8. The Giants only play five games in 2020 against teams that went to the playoffs last season. Even if they struggle to win games on the road, they have a favorable home schedule, including two Monday night games at MetLife Stadium. A vast majority of their games are toss-ups on paper that could go either way. With better coaching and some upgrades in talent, the Giants could enjoy an entertaining and promising 8-8 season in 2020.