The 2016 New York Football Giants: A Reflection

Frank Wilton, Editor-in-Chief

The Giants defense, the team’s most valuable asset, destroys Dallas RB Zeke Elliott. Courtesy Getty Images

As the New York Giants left the field in Washington, D.C. last week after triumphing over the Redskins and capping their regular season at 11-5, many felt that would their winning would continue well into January. The team was rolling, their offense doing just enough to support the defense that led them to the NFC’s second-best record.

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, however, had other plans. Their Super Bowl LI dreams are alive and well after routing the Giants 38-13 at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

Things didn’t start out too bad for Big Blue. They got themselves out to a 6-0 lead, but end zone drops by Odell Beckham, Jr. and Sterling Shepherd (who spent their Monday partying with Justin Bieber and Trey Songz in Miami, much to the chagrin of many on the outside of the situation) left an extra eight points on the table. Green Bay answered back with a touchdown and, on the first half’s final play, scored another, thanks to a miraculous 42-yard Hail Mary pass to Randall Cobb (albeit aided by an ill-timed lapse in leaping by rookie corner Eli Apple)

So, the Pack entered the second half up 14-6. Things were bleak, but far from over. The defense had 4 sacks, Eli Manning looked good, and these are the Giants. They have a knack for winning postseason games in Wisconsin.

The second half saw New York creep within a single point of Green Bay thanks to the first NFL touchdown reception by Tavarres King, but thinks went downhill from there.  Rodgers and the Packers went on a 24-0 run to end the game, and as quickly as you can say, “boating with Bieber,” the Giants were heading home.

Despite the bitter taste the loss left in the mouths of many across the tri-state area, Giants fans should hold their heads high when thinking about the season that was. Consider that at this time a year ago, the Giants were on the heels of a 6-10 season that cost Tom Coughlin his job and equipped with a defense that, to put it lightly, stunk.

Then, the Giants promoted offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo to head coach, a move that gave the team a familiar yet stern voice at the helm. Thanks to GM Jerry Reese hauling in Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, and Janoris Jenkins in free agency to bolster the defensive corps, many penciled the Giants in for a winning year and a postseason berth.

Despite the early expectations for Big Blue, not all went swimmingly. With veteran kicker Josh Brown on the shelf serving a domestic violence suspension, first-round draft pick Ereck Flowers playing some of the worst offensive tackle anyone has ever seen, the loss of utility man Shane Vereen, and wideout Victor Cruz struggling to regain his old form, the Giants found themselves at a not-too-impressive 2-3 after 5 weeks of action.

Then, things started to click. Starting with a 27-23 trouncing of the Baltimore Ravens, the Giants rattled off six straight victories. They were the only team to beat the Dallas Cowboys twice this season (and if Dallas put forth any effort in Week 17, they would’ve been the only squad to take them down). Consider that if they had managed to scratch out victories in Week 3 against Washington and Week 16 against Philadelphia, both of which were highly winnable games, they would’ve had a bye this week and would be sitting at 13-3 and atop the division.

Such hypotheticals are but dreams now. The season is over and the offseason shall now begin. As the team heads toward next year, they should hold their heads high, thankful for the emergence of OBJ and Shepherd as one of the best young receiving cores in the game, the dominance of players like Robbie Gould, Brad Wing, and Dwayne Harris on special teams, and a defense for the ages.

Now, the focus turns to the draft and free agent market. Hopefully, the Giants will fill the gaps on their offensive line (might I suggest a one year deal with Elon Musk to address the pressing need to build a rocket to send Ereck Flowers to some distant celestial body) and in their ground game.

The new year should treat the Giants well. With another year of maturity for Beckham and Co. on offense, another year to build on what is already an elite defense, and Ben McAdoo deeply entrenched in the system, fans should be optimistic for what’s to come.