5 Dynamics Supporting a New York Giants’ 2021 Playoff Bid
The New York Giants fans haven’t had much to brag about since the 2011 Super Bowl. It’s been four years without a playoff berth and in that same period, the team has shared the dubious distinction of having one of the worst records in pro football with their cross-town rival, the New York Jets.
However, this year may be different. Here are five promising signs that the NY Giants have a good chance of making the 2021 playoffs.
1. Saquon Barkley Returns.
If running back Saquon Barkley stays healthy this season, he will provide the dominant ground game necessary to lead his team to the playoffs. Essentially, his big-play running ability allows the NY Giants to run a multi-dimensional offense with more scoring potential.
Barkley’s short professional football career has been choppy. After completing a record-breaking rookie season with 1,300 rushing yards, a Pro Bowl selection, and an Offensive Rookie of the Year award, the Giant’s star running back limped through the last two seasons with a series of injuries before suffering a severe ACL tear. However, Barkley’s reconstructive surgery and intense rehab have prepared him for a potential return to top form.
In addition, the NY Giants are trying to give Barkley more running room by adding key players to the offensive line, and they plan to ease his workload with more impact players in the receiving corps.
2. Daniel Jones Can Throw Deep.
Being able to complete long pass plays is a vital weapon for an NFL team seeking to make the playoffs, and Giants quarterback Daniel Jones will keep opposing defenses on alert with his ability to throw the long ball. Ranked as the best deep passer of 2020, Jones’ completion percentage of expectation (CPOE) was an impressive 14.8 percent last year, and his passing rating on deep throws was a league-leading 134.3.
With the return of Saquon Barkley, a more balanced offensive attack should give Daniels more time to improve on his 2020 passing totals of 2,943 yards and 11 touchdowns. Plus, he will have an elite receiving corps with Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Kadarius Toney, Evan Engram, and Kyle Rudolph.
3. Promising New Additions.
General Manager David Gettleman took a bullish approach during the last free-agency period. With a four-year $72 million contract, he landed the top player on the NY Giants wish list with former Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay. He also made another big-money move in acquiring cornerback Adoree’ Jackson with a three-year, $39 million contract.
With these two major free-agency signings, quarterback Daniel Jones acquired a number one wide receiver and a speedy cover man to the defense’s secondary. Gettleman also gave Jones another big target by signing former Minnesota Viking tight end Kyle Rudolph to a two-year, $14 million deal.
4. A Strong Patrick Graham Defense.
One of the bright spots in the NY Giants’ 2020 season was the excellent play of the G-Men defense. While the offensive unit struggled, the Patrick Graham-directed defense provided the main force behind the team’s four-game win streak. In each of those games, the defense held the opposing teams to 20 points or less.
Entering his second year as the NY Giants defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham has proven that he is one of the best defensive strategists in the game. His adjustments and leadership helped last year’s defensive squad move from ranking 20th to 10th in points allowed. Also, the defense ranked 12th in yards allowed, with 349.2 yards per game. This stat earned the team its best NFL ranking in this category since 2016.
With the addition of cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, Graham will have the option of using man-to-man coverage more often. He will also have the benefit of outstanding returning veterans like safety Logan Ryan, inside linebacker Blake Martinez, and cornerback James Bradberry.
5. The NFC East Offers a Winning Opportunity
When you look down the list of NFC East contenders, there isn’t a clear-cut favorite. There hasn’t been a consecutive winner in years, and the Washington Football Team won the 2020 division with a 7–9 record. With a combined 2020 record of 23–40, there is some assumption that the NFC East is wide open.
With a 6–10 record last season, the NY Giants were just one game shy of making the playoffs. So, combining a well-balanced offense with its consistently tough defense can make the divisional winnable for the NY Giants.
Is This the Year for the NY Giants?
From a Super Bowl high to almost a decade of letdowns, the NY Giant fans have patiently waited for a turnaround. Finally, their wait may be over with the return of a franchise player, smart front office moves, recent personnel additions, a strong-armed quarterback, and a division full of winning opportunities.