EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 30: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants in action against the Dallas Cowboys on December 30, 2018 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Cowboys defeated the Giants 36-35. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The New York Giants went into last season with high expectations but their performance was underwhelming. The offense was never able to click and be an effective unit despite all of their weapons. Saquon Barkley‘s incredible rookie year and his potential is a light at the end of the tunnel for Giants fans who have suffered through the past six years. Aside from an improbable playoff run in 2016, the Giants have had losing seasons in five of the last six years. The 2019 season will be critical in determining if Daniel Jones is, in fact, the quarterback of the future. Below are some New York Giants question marks heading into the 2019 season.

New York Giants Question Marks Heading Into 2019 Season

Quarterback

Eli Manning will be the starter for the New York Giants week one. Daniel Jones will most likely see the field at some point this season but just how short is Pat Shurmur’s leash on Eli Manning. When asked about the quarterback situation, Shurmur said:

“We feel good where Eli is, he’s our starting quarterback, and we’ve got a young player that we think is going to be an outstanding player getting himself ready to play.”

With this statement, Shurmur confirms that Manning will start week one but he leaves the door cracked for Daniel Jones to eventually start. It doesn’t seem likely that Manning will survive the whole season as the starter and Jones will most likely take over at some point. Reports out of training camp have been extremely positive in regards to Daniel Jones and he is the first real competition that Eli has had in a long time. The preseason will be critical for seeing Jones’ decision making and accuracy against NFL defenses. If Jones performs well in the preseason and limits his poor decision making, he could be starting by mid-season. The position of quarterback is definitely one of the New York Giants questions marks heading into this season. 

Offensive Line

The next of the New York Giants question marks is the offensive line. Dave Gettleman made strides to improve the offensive line this off-season when bringing in Kevin Zeitler via trade. Pairing Zeitler with Will Hernandez will create an elite guard tandem that should help open up holes for Barkley. Nate Solder has been regressing but is a long time starter in the NFL and adds a veteran presence along the line. Mike Remmers was brought in to fill the glaring hole at right tackle last season. Remmers played poorly at guard in 2018 and hopes for a resurgence with the Giants at his old position.

In a list of five rising stars in the NFL, Pro Football Focus listed Giants center Jon Halapio. Halapio only played in the first two games of the 2018 season before he suffered a season-ending injury. But he played well in his limited time on the field, according to PFF “In those snaps, he didn’t allow a single pressure, despite almost 50 pass-blocking snaps against the Jacksonville Jaguars and their array of pass-rushing weapons.”

The interior of New York’s line seems to be a strong point but the tackle situation will likely be the downfall of this line as a whole. Whoever is playing quarterback for the Giants will struggle mightily with the pressure off the edge. Remmers and Solder will both need to take a step forward from their play last year for this to be an above average group. 

The Defensive Backfield

Janoris Jenkins will certainly start as an outside corner week one. But who will secure the other outside corner spot? Sam Beal was selected last season in the supplemental draft with a third-round pick, but he missed the entire 2018 season with an injury. Beal will have to battle for his starting spot with rookie Deandre Baker. Reports coming out of camp are that Baker had a very strong spring and is looking promising. With Jenkins’ costly price tag and the Giants young promising corners, it seems reasonable for the Giants to part ways with Jenkins. Grant Haley started last season as the slot corner but he will have very strong competition this off-season. Rookie Julian Love is a playmaker and slot corner seems like his best fit on this defense and is his most natural position. Corey Ballentine is also a talented young corner that is going to push for playing time in this crowded secondary.

Jabrill Peppers will replace Landon Collins as the strong safety and he offers unique versatility. He can set the edge against the run and cover the slot receiver in man coverage. Look for Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher to showcase Peppers’ versatility and play him all over the field with different assignments. Antoine Bethea is a 14 year NFL veteran and should secure the free safety job. Free safety was a huge hole in the defense last year and Bethea provides consistency but he is aging and doesn’t have the same athleticism he used to. Although, in 2017 Bethea played free safety with the Arizona Cardinals when James Bettcher was their defensive coordinator (Bettcher is now the defensive coordinator for the Giants) and he had a career year, finishing as a top-10 safety in PFF’s grading system. Dave Gettleman made major strides to improve the secondary this off-season and it will be interesting to see how Bettcher manages to find roles for the talented young corners on the team. 

Primary Outside Receiver

Despite adding veteran playmaker Golden Tate and rising star Sterling Shepard still in New York the Giants are lacking an outside receiver. Both Tate and Shepard are primarily slot receivers and don’t have much experience playing on the outside and beating press man coverage. Shepard began to play more outside receiver in base formations last year but he thrives in the slot and making plays over the middle. The Giants will have to test both Tate’s and Shepard’s versatility this year by playing them both outside and inside.

Cody Latimer is the most obvious candidate for the outside receiver spot and he doesn’t have very strong competition. Darius Slayton was a sixth-round pick and has blazing speed which can take the top off of the defense but he struggles with catching and route running. Bennie Fowler is also a candidate for the outside receiver spot but there isn’t a receiver on the roster outside of Shepherd and Tate with legitimate NFL experience. 

Edge Rusher

The last of the New York Giants question marks is edge rusher. The Giants pair of edge rushers that had the vast majority of snaps last year were Kareem Martin and Olivier Vernon. Despite being strong against the run, Martin is not an effective pass rusher. The only edge defender that could generate pressure on the quarterback was Olivier Vernon. Now that Vernon has been traded, someone in that locker room will have to step up and consistently rush the passer.

The improved secondary won’t matter in the slightest if the defense can’t get pressure on the quarterback. Lorenzo Carter could take a huge leap in 2019, or he could fail to show refinement in his game as a professional. He is extremely athletic and another season under his belt could improve his consistency when pass rushing. Carter needs to add counter moves to the inside and more pass rushing moves overall to his game. Markus Golden was a key part of James Bettcher’s defense in Arizona so he will most likely start at defensive end in 2019. Oshane Ximines is a promising edge rusher and will push Golden and Carter for playing time at the edge position. This is an athletic and young edge group but they fail to consistently win against their blocker and generate pressure against the pass. 

Those are the New York Giants question marks heading into the 2019 season. If they want to make the playoffs or win the NFC East they will need to answer these questions.

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