The New York Giants were one win away from winning the NFC East and despite going 6-10. Their record had a lot to do with their quarterback Daniel Jones and his regression in his second year. But now the Giants used the offseason to surround Jones with talent on offense, making this season possibly a make-or-break year for the former 2019 NFL Draft first-round selection.
After throwing for 24 touchdowns in his rookie season, Jones took a step back by only throwing for 11 touchdowns the following year. A major reason for his decrease in touchdown passes had to deal with the lack of playmakers on offense. Giants general manager Dave Gettleman decided to help his quarterback by adding Kenny Golladay and Kadarious this offseason.
In 2020, the Giants receivers lacked in big play ability, combining for only 2,126 receiving yards (5th-fewest in the league) and nine touchdowns (tied for 3rd fewest). Insert Golladay, one of the best big-play receivers in the NFL since being drafted in 2017.
Golladay struggled with injuries in 2020 only appearing in five games, but when healthy their are few receivers better at coming up with a big play. Since entering the league in 2017, Golladay 16.8 yards per catch leads the league in that span (min. 150 receptions). He really showed his playmaking ability in 2019 as he led the NFL in receiving touchdowns with 11. According to Next Gen Stats, in that same season on passes of 20-plus air yards, Golladay tied for the league lead with five touchdown catches and was second in receiving yards with 546.
The Giants added Golladay to help fix their vertical passing attack, but they also struggled with creating yards after the catch last season. In 2020, the Giants receivers combined for only 524 yards after the catch, tied for second worst in the league. Insert their first-round rookie receiver.
At Florida, Toney was known for his ability to break tackles after the catch. According to Pro Football Focus, Toney forced 20 missed tackles on receptions, fifth-most among receivers in the FBS. Combined of all the Power Five schools, Toney ranked 4th in receptions (70), fifth in receiving yards (984), and tied third in receiving touchdowns (10).
Golladay and Toney are big additions for Jones and the Giants offense, but the biggest addition will be the return of Saquon Barkley. In week 2, Barkley tore his ACL, ending his 2020 season early. The lost of the dynamic running back made things harder for the Giants offense to have an efficient offense.
The Return of Saquon
Since 2019 when Barkley plays, the Giants have averaged 21.5 points, 345.9 yards, and 6.4 big plays per game. When he is out, the averages decrease to 17.6 points, 295.4 yards and 5.1 big plays per game. Jones is also a different quarterback when he has his backfield partner with him.
In the games Barkley plays with Jones, he has thrown for a total of 23 touchdowns, nine interceptions and has a passer rating of 91.5. Without Barkley, Jones has only thrown 12 touchdowns, 13 interceptions with a passer rating of 77.1. It makes sense why Barkley has such a huge effect on the Giants offense being that he is of the most explosive backs in NFL history.
Barkley’ 114.9 scrimmage yards per game ranks fifth in NFL history (min. 30 games), which is also the third-most in the NFL since 2018. In his 31 career games, Barkley has achieved 100-plus scrimmage yards in 20 of them, the seventh-most in the NFL. That is also the fifth-most in such games in a player’s first 30 career games since 1950.
Do-Or-Die for Jones
With Barkley, Golladay, and Toney, Jones has the offensive firepower to take the Giants to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. To do that, Jones has to take better care of the football. Over the past two seasons Jones leads the NFL in total giveaways with 39. His 17 fumbles lost are the most in the league since 2019. His 22 interceptions are tied for the eighth-most.
If Jones limits some of his turnovers and gets the ball to his playmakers, the Giants should be in contention to win the NFC East and his starting quarterback job should be safe for the following seasons.