John Fennelly, Lead Writer
During this break, Giant fans will be reflecting on, and looking forward to, the progress the club has made since last season. Dan Salomone of Giants.com posted his “9 reasons Giants fans should be optimistic” this summer:
1. Jon Beason stabilized the middle of the defense.
2. The return game has special players.
3. The offensive line was addressed.
4. Jason Pierre-Paul is healthy.
5. The Giants added a playmaker in Odell Beckham Jr.
6. New blood is shaking things up.
7. Rashad Jennings solidified the backfield.
8. Young players are now ready to step up.
9. The Giants planted seeds.
He’s got most of it right. There are still some things to be decided, but let’s do a rundown..
1. Beason did stabilize the defense. He’s an excellent addition – making both the calls and the tackles. He’s a solid locker room guy and the perfect player to take over the helm at defensive captain. But right now, he’s got a broken bone and ligament damage in his foot and could miss the beginning of the season.
2. Agree. Trindon Holliday and Quentin Demps are two proven entities. So is David Wilson, should he be cleared for duty. Finally, the Giants have some game-changers on special teams.
3. Agree. Geoff Schwartz is a huge addition. So are JD Walton, Weston Richburg and Charles Brown. Brandon Mosley is stepping in for Chris Snee, who the team hopes can play this season. Justin Pugh is a year older. Now if Will Beatty can only return and play the way he did two years ago, the Giants’ offensive line woes may be behind them.
4. Is he? The offensive tackles on the Giants’ schedule will answer that. JPP is lighter and healther, true. But he still has to show Giant fans he can return to being a level above the competition. He knows he will have to rely on tact and guile more than on just plain ability going forward. He has to be more heady. So far, he appears to have realized that. We’ll see.
5. If you’ve watch Beckham’s highlight reel, you’ll see some resemblance to Hakeem Nicks. You’ll also see that he’s faster than Nicks. Younger and healthier, too. He can make a play anywhere on the field in any situation. Most Giant fans wanted a different player in the first round of the draft, but instead they got themselves a difference-maker.
6. The new blood is not only on the roster, but in the coaching ranks as well. Kevin Gilbride, Sr was replaced by Ben McAdoo at OC, a move long overdue even if Gilbride does have two Super Bowl rings. Another move that needed to be made was at QB coach, where Danny Langsdorf takes over for Sean Ryan. Langsdorf and McAdoo plan to rewire QB Eli Manning so that “Good Eli” prevails over “Bad Eli” this season.
7. Yes, Jennings has all the trappings of that featured back that can do it all. He is above average at all aspects of the position. He is a fine scrimmage runner that can get chunks of yards, breakaway and also get the short yards. In addition, he can block and is an excellent receiver. He has a tendency to get nicked up, but that is why the Giants retained Peyton Hillis and drafted Andre Williams. Jennings probably wont have to be that “bellcow” that Jerry Reese alluded to this week, but he can be if needed.
8. The Giants have no choice but for their youngsters to step up. WR Rueben Randle and TE Adrien Robinson are the primary candidates on offense while Damontre Moore, Jon Hankins and Jacquian Williams are expected to contribute heavily on defense. It would also be a huge relief for the Giants if Ryan Nassib won the backup QB spot.
9. The Giants did well for themselves in the draft this year, taking high-character, mature players that will eventually evolve into leadership roles. We’ve already seen how quickly most of them have adapted to the pro level.