We’ll continue a series of opponent preview posts for the New Orleans Saints opponents in 2018. Next, we’ll go to the home of local product Odell Beckham Jr., the New York Giants. Dan Pizzuta of Big Blue View took some time to give us Saints fans the scoop another of our NFC East opponents.
Week 4: at the New York Giants
What were the biggest additions and/or subtractions (not via the draft) to the team’s roster from last year?
There was a lot of player movement this offseason, but the biggest moves might be on the coaching staff. An addition by subtraction is the firing of Ben McAdoo. It’s something that happened before the 2017 season ended, but having a new coaching staff is a big step forward for this team. We can’t really have any idea how Pat Shurmur will be as a head coach — he was a great offensive coordinator in Minnesota last season, but his first go-round as a head coach in Cleveland was poor, even if the Browns have been worse since he left — but to move on from a coach who appeared to be in over his head at just about every step is a move that needed to be made.
New defensive coordinator James Bettcher might have the most potential to have a big impact even if the defensive personnel is still a work in progress. In his three years as defensive coordinator in Arizona, his defenses were no worse than fifth in yards allowed per drive and 11th in points allowed per drive.
What was the biggest surprise move the team made - or didn’t make - this offseason?
Probably the all-in approach on a 37-year-old Eli Manning. A big focus of the offseason was improving the players around Manning. Nate Solder was made the highest paid offensive tackle in the league. The Giants drafted Saquon Barkley second overall and got guard Will Hernandez in the second round. Everything the front office and coaching staff has said since taking over has centered around the idea that Manning still has a few years left in the tank, even if that might be a questionable decision.
There’s not really a concrete backup plan in case it’s shown there’s not as much left in the tank as believed, especially against a first-half schedule that’s one of the toughest in the league. There’s last year’s third-round pick Davis Webb, who got no time last season even after the year was lost, and this year’s fourth-round pick Kyle Lauletta, but either would have to be a fairly decent outlier to be considered a true quarterback of the future.
What is the biggest storyline heading into Week 1?
It’s definitely what this offense is going to look like and how productive it can be. All the moves on the offensive line, drafting Barkley, the return of Odell Beckham from injury… if those don’t work, there’s going to be a full recalibration of what the pan was this offseason. Week 1 specifically comes against the Jacksonville Jaguars, which brings the highest degree of difficulty for a team trying to work out any kinks on offense.
What is the outlook for the team? Are the playoffs in sight?
To answer those second two: no, but also still probably not. Just above every move this offseason suggests this isn’t a rebuild. There were some moves that have the future in mind — trading Jason Pierre-Paul to clear his cap hit past 2018 was one — but the majority came with this season in mind. You don’t make a 30-year old the highest paid tackle in the league on a rebuild. Barkley over a quarterback or a trade back that could have built more depth is also a win-now move. The Alec Ogletree trade feels like it happened so long ago, but that’s another big contract brought on for the short-term.
But the problem is this schedule is so rough, especially in the beginning, they might be at a disadvantage from the start — Jacksonville, at Dallas, at Houston, then home against the Saints. 1-3 or 0-4 wouldn’t be surprising in that stretch.
Final answer: what’s your prediction for the team’s final record?
6-10. That would be disappointing to a lot of people around the organization, but it’s still double the wins from last season. There’s enough questions between the schedule, what Manning has left, and the depth on defense that make viewing this team as a legitimate contender a struggle.
A big thanks to Dan for taking the time to answer our questions. Make sure you check out his work and the rest of the good folks at Big Blue View for tons of Giants content. You can follow Big Blue View on Twitter @bigblueview, and of course you can always follow me @dunnellz.
So what says you, you unbiased Saints fans? Will the Giants offense put up another set of highlight reel plays against the Saints defense? Vote in the poll. Explain in the comments. And make sure you also check out DraftDividends.com, a website for a new book I’m writing currently titled Draft Picks and Dividends: A Fantasy Football Player’s Guide to Understanding the Stock Market.
How will the Saints fare against the Giants?
This poll is closed