Here it is, Big Blue boys & girls. The start of a new season & the new McAdoo era. With Tom Coughlin gone along with over $200M spent to overhaul a defense that was historically bad last year, the Giants look to flip the script on their 0-for-5 opening day past against a familiar foe. The Dallas Cowboys. The team responsible for 3 of those 5 L’s – none more gut-wrenching than last year’s infamous 3rd-and-goal-at-the-1 toss with about 90 ticks left that allowed Tony Romo just enough time to march down the field for victory. If the G-Men want to make a statement in a wide-open NFC East that a return to postseason football is in the cards, stomping the broken Cowboys Week 1 is the way to do it.
The Giants spent big bucks on Olivier Vernon as one of the best, most durable edge rushers in the game to bolster a non-existent pass rush opposite JPP playing on a “prove-it” contract after almost pissing his career away with bottle rockets. Damon Harrison also got paid as an elite run-stuffer to pair with Johnathon Hankins who’s making his return after 2015 was ended for him barely halfway through. Although they should be able to handle the rookie duo debut of Prescott & Elliot, the Dallas offensive line is one of the best in the game. Winning this trench battle will go a long way towards proving Jerry Reese’s spending spree was well worth it.
A secondary decimated by injuries that allowed the most completions & yards in the NFL last season also got some new toys. Spags has himself another ball hawk in Janoris Jenkins who will take Prince’s place opposite DRC. A lot of pressure will be on this tandem to ensure they produce more takeaways than big plays allowed. Big Blue also brought in Eli Apple with their 10th overall pick & veteran Leon Hall for some veteran versatility. Meanwhile, Landon Collins has a full year under his belt & rookie Darian Thompson has shown good things at safety despite injury. A pair of expected 2015 contributors Nat Behre & Mykelle Thompson, who ended up spending the year on IR instead, should help as well. There’s still question marks in the middle of the field, but overall fans can’t ask for much more in an attempt to bring a laughable defense back to respectability.
Offensively, not much has changed & that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Eli Manning posted his best individual year thanks in large part to Odell Beckham Jr. ODB will be put to the test this season for sure. After the Josh Norman fiasco he showed he can be taken out of his game much easier than you’d like from your superstar receiver. Opposing players will be in his face all season long & he’ll have to prove he’s learned no one is bigger than the team. Victor Cruz makes his long-awaited but I’m not expecting much & Sterling Shepard is a sure-handed option to give Beckham some space. I AM expecting a lot out of Rashad Jennings though. With Andre Williams finally sent packing to no longer inexplicably take series away, Jennings should be the workhorse. Not a lot of mileage on his 31 year-old tires & I expect McAdoo to ride him often. 1000 yards wouldn’t surprise me at all.
OK yes it would – but not because of Jennings’ ability. The biggest question mark on this squad is their offensive line & if Jennings hits 4 digits he’ll need a little help from them. Yeah it was only preseason but the line has been so bad that Will Beatty is back. It was more of the same from rookie disappointment Ereck Flowers while the Giants could do nothing to upgrade the right side from John Jerry & Marshall Newhouse. With as many roster holes as the 2015 squad had it was impossible to expect every single one to be plugged. Luckily for NY, Dallas opens the season without sack leader Demarcus Lawrence along with Rolando McClain & Randy Gregory – all serving suspensions. Their line simply HAS TO hold their own today.
Besides a weak division, Big Blue has plenty of favorable matchups against the AFC & NFC North. There’s no reason they can’t push for 10 wins – but before fans can talk big picture these Giants have to come out of the gates and dominate this shell of a Cowboys team. They have a bit of a history making inexperienced QBs look like John Elway & choked away several sure-fire wins a year ago. If this is indeed a different team, there needs to be a different result on one of the greatest sports days of the year. Happy NFL Opening Day.
LET’S. FUCKING. GO.