The 2020 NFL season sees the New York Giants heading towards training camp to similar expectations as they had in 2019, at least when it comes to their win totals with the sportsbook. After making anyone who took under six wins very happy in 2019, as they limped to just a 4-12 record that included two wins in the final three weeks, is 2020 set to be more of the same?
With a new coaching staff on board, and a fresh face as their opening day starting quarterback for the first time since 2005, the 2020 version of the Giants will at least look somewhat different when they take to the field. However, can they translate those changes into immediate success, having won more than six games just once in the last six years?
Pro Football Network’s betting podcast broke down the entire NFC East this past week, and went into detail regarding the Giants and their win total. Make sure to check it out here and continue on for what my breakdown of the team.
Did the New York Giants do enough to surpass their win total?
For a team that has won just nine games in the past two years, the 2020 offseason was somewhat quiet in terms of additions on the field. The 2020 NFL Draft saw a balanced focus, with their first six picks alternating players on offense and defense. They focused heavily on their offensive line, with the additions of Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart, and Shane Lemieux. On the defensive side of the ball, the focus in the draft was improving their linebackers and the defensive backs, with the likes of Xavier McKinney, Darnay Holes, and Tae Crowder having been brought in.
In free agency, their splash addition was cornerback James Bradberry on a three-year deal. Outside of Bradberry, the Giants added two former-Green Bay linebackers in Kyler Fackrell and Blake Martinez and defensive line depth in Austin Johnson from Tennessee. Offensively the most significant addition in free agency was Cameron Fleming, who could either be the opening day start at tackle or provide valuable veteran backup to rookie Thomas.
The biggest loss in terms of name-value is Eli Manning, who retired after 17 seasons in New York. However, Manning had already lost his job, and therefore, the impact on the field of his departure will be negligible. Some other somewhat notable departures are linebacker trio Alec Ogletree, Markus Golden, and Deone Bucannon. Further back on the defense, they parted ways with Antoine Bethea as they look to get younger and more athletic on defense in 2020.
Significant Coaching Changes
The coaching changes are where there was a significant movement for the Giants in 2020. Pat Shurmur failed to find improvement in his two years as head coach, and the Giants decided it was time for a new direction heading into a new decade. After many rumors that they were to hire former-Baylor head coach Matt Rhule, they were usurped at the final hour by the Carolina Panthers. Instead, they turned to the coaching tree of their one-time defensive coordinator Bill Belichick, as they surprisingly hired the Patriots special teams coordinator Joe Judge to be their new head coach.
Judge brings limited experience to the role, but the hope is that he can bring a culture to the Giants organization similar to which is seen in New England. Bringing in a rookie head coach comes with its risks. Last year, four of the leagues’ five rookie head coaches were winless through their first four games, with only Kliff Kingsbury avoiding being 0-4, thanks to a Week 1 tie.
Judge has brought in some head coaching experience in the form of former-Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. Garrett was head coach of the Cowboys for 10-years, finishing with an 85-67 record but only making the playoffs three times. He will bring with him as his role as the offensive coordinator, an Air Coryell scheme than has been much criticized in recent years. In three of the past five years, the Cowboys ranked outside the top 10 in yards and points offensively, twice ranking outside the top 20 in both categories. There is also the added element of a rookie quarterback in Jones having to learn a second scheme in as many years, which is never ideal.
Defensively, Judge brings in a familiar face to lead the defense as well as being his assistant head coach, Patrick Graham. Graham spent seven years with the Patriots, and has familiarity with the Giants, having served as a defensive line coach in 2017. He was the defensive coordinator by name for the Miami Dolphins last year, but it was pretty clear that Brian Flores ran the Dolphins defense. The expectation is that the Giants will run a similar hybrid type defensive scheme that we have seen run by the Patriots, Lions, and Dolphins in recent years.
The addition of James Bradberry will hopefully reinvigorate the Giants’ pass defense, which ranked in the bottom third of the league in most categories in 2019. However, with question marks now surrounding Deandre Baker, the Giants may well be looking at their 2018 supplemental draft pick Sam Beal as the cornerback opposite Bradberry, which is a huge unknown. Martinez and Fackrell’s additions to the linebacker group should reinforce a group that looked sluggish and struggled in 2019.
Early Round Rookies
As stated earlier, the biggest name defensively in the draft was Alabama safety McKinney. McKinney will compete with Julian Love to partner Jabrill Peppers on the back end of the Giants defense in 2020. A combination of Peppers and McKinney has the potential to be one of the best safety pairings in the NFC if they can get on the same page. That strength on the back end will hopefully help to cover any struggles the corner opposite Bradberry has in 2020.
The offensive highlight in free agency was arguably the addition of offensive lineman Cameron Fleming, which, given he might well be a backup in 2020, is not saying a lot. There were depth additions, including running back Dion Lewis and tight end Levine Toilolo, but for the large part, Jones will head into the 2020 season with similar offensive weapons to 2019.
Early Round Rookies
The focus of the 2020 NFL Draft offensively was always going to be at the linebacker position. Despite starting just 12 games, Jones was sacked the joint-ninth most times, with a sack percentage of 7.6. Therefore, it was no surprise when the Giants opted for the safe and steady Andrew Thomas with the fourth-overall pick.
They then backed that up by adding another tackle in Matt Peart, out of Connecticut in the third round. In the fifth round, they added Shane Lemieux, an interior offensive lineman out of Oregon, to provide much-needed depth inside. The Giants need at least one of these three offensive linemen, alongside free-agent acquisition Fleming, to add stability to a line which ranked in the middle of the pack according to Football Outsiders in 2019.
Continue to see what the New York Giants schedule looks like and if there is a win total bet worth jumping on.