The start of training camp is rapidly approaching. The possibilities seem endless for all 32 NFL teams. No other franchise (with the possible exception of the Cleveland Browns) epitomizes that hopefulness more than the New York Football Giants. Hope is definitely in the air for Big Blue coming off an abysmal season where everything that could have possibly went wrong did.
That sentiment doesn’t just start and end with the players and fans as co-owner John Mara has stated the he is expecting a “competitive team” for the 2018 season. Still, the chances of a 3-13 team to climb from the NFC’s basement and be competitive may not seem realistic.
The in-season firings of head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese highlighted the disappointment of 2017. Ownership brought in former Giants pro personnel director and Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman to succeed Reese. They also hired Pat Shurmur, most recently Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator, as the 18th head coach in franchise history. Gettleman and Shurmur are tasked with leading the team back to relevance.
None of the Giants’ draft picks from 2011-13 are currently on the roster. Of course, not all of Reese’s picks in recent years are busts. Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram have met or exceeded expectations. Unfortunately, for every OBJ there is an Erick Flowers. That is why the hope in the building started to dim. The drafting of stud running back Saquon Barkley and mauler guard Will Hernandez show the Giants’ determination to turn things around quickly.
Naturally, many will see a team still in disarray. A new coaching staff, an aging quarterback, and adjustments to new offensive and defensive schemes may be too much to overcome in the span of one season. The Giants were a playoff team in 2016 but the naysayers will quickly point out that 11-win team won a lot of close games that could have went the other way.
Will the 2018 Giants resemble the 11-5 playoff team of ’16 or the 3-13 bottom feeder we saw a season ago? At the start of training camp hope is in the air. The drafting of Barkley and the signings of tested vets like Nate Solder are symbolic of that hope. The renewed confidence in 37-year-old Eli Manning and the direction of this far more experienced coaching staff also provide hope that the Giants and their fan base can hang their collective helmets on.
The idea of going from a non-playoff team to a contender, all within the span of a single offseason, is not as far-fetched as it seems. There hasn’t been a repeat NFC East champion since the Philadelphia Eagles won four in a row from 2001-04. Five of the 2010s division champs finished dead last the previous season.
This is one of the many reasons the NFL is so popular. Regardless of your team’s level of success in the previous campaign, a new season always brings that hope of better things to come.