Can the Giants challenge the Eagles, Cowboys for the NFC East?

Daniel Jones, New York Giants. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Daniel Jones, New York Giants. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

The New York Giants hope to be a surprise team in the NFC East.

It’s been an ugly last eight years for the New York Giants.

One playoff appearance, zero postseason victories. But with a new decade, and a new coach, comes renewed optimism.

Joe Judge has taken over on the sideline for Pat Shurmur, who spent two years chasing his tail. Judge inherits a seemingly overmatched general manager in Dave Gettleman but a roster with intriguing pieces on offense.

Running back Saquon Barkley is arguably the game’s best, and the receiving corps boosts a pair of young, talented men in Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard alongside veteran Golden Tate. The offensive line was also bolstered with the selection of left tackle Andrew Thomas with the fourth-overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Yet, the Giants’ fate rests on three things; Judge’s abilities, the defense improving and Daniel Jones.

Can the Giants battle with the Eagles and Cowboys in the NFC East?

Let’s start with Judge. After coaching the New England Patriots’ special teams for eight years, the 38-year-old has his first opportunity as the head man at any level. The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t helping matters, as Judge can’t spend time evaluating players at OTAs or minicamps. It’s a hurdle he’ll have to clear.

With the defense, there’s less hope. While the signing of cornerback James Bradberry helps, the secondary remains a mess. Bringing in Blake Martinez is an upgrade at linebacker, but only against the run. Looking at the depth chart, New York doesn’t have a single Pro Bowl-caliber talent.

However, hope resides in Jones. As a rookie, Jones started 12 games and posted 3,027 yards (6.6 YPA) with 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Jones also completed 61.9 percent of his throws despite constant pressure behind a leaky front.

If the Giants are going to be a surprise in the NFC East, it’s because Jones elevated his game to another stratosphere. A big step? Cut down significantly on the 18 fumbles.

New York likely won’t be a factor come Thanksgiving and beyond in the division. Both the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles have terrific rosters and proven quarterbacks with title-winning coaches on the sideline.

Yet, if Big Blue gets a good season from Jones and positive reviews for Judge, the 2020 season has been a success.