Last week, we took your through the New York Giants’ Week’s 1-3 of the 2019 season, as they face off against the Dallas Cowboys (A), Buffalo Bills (H) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (A). Missed Part 1? Click here! Anyway, on to part two, and games four, five and six of the campaign!
WEEK FOUR: WASHINGTON REDSKINS (HOME)
I’d go as far as saying that this will be one of the most hotly anticipated games of the Giants season, as some familiar faces come back to Met Life Stadium, along with one man who many thought would have been suiting up in Giant blue this year, rather than the burnt red of the Skins. The two division rivals split the pair of games they played last season, each winning away in the others’ own back yard. We’ve started most of these early previews by looking at the quarterback, and lets get this one out the way early. New Jersey born rookie signal caller, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins will be in town, the man many fans thought was the future perennial Pro-Bowl calibre QB of the Giants’ future, and the successor to Eli Manning. Right, now that’s out of the way, we shall briskly move on.
Despite competition from the experienced Case Keenum, Haskins may very well be thrust into the limelight very early, and looking at the rest of the team around him, there’s been some significant changes both incoming and outgoing in DC. The biggest acquisition is undoubtedly the signing of Giants Pro-Bowl safety Landon Collins, a sore topic for Big Blue fans still to this day. Collins was arguably the cornerstone of the Giants D, the gem amongst pebbles, and a real success story for a player who wasn’t a first round draft pick. However, as the season ebbed away, it seemed as though the front office were less and less keen on him, and ultimately opted against even franchise tagging him, allowing the Redskins to snaffle him up and lock him down to a staggering six-year $84 million contract, making him the highest paid safety in the league. He’s not the only ex-Giant on the Skins roster, which also boasts flop Ereck Flowers and defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
In terms of players leaving, the two stand out guys to move on from Washington were both on the defensive side of the ball. The Redskins released line-backer Zach Brown, who was promptly snapped up by divisional rivals the Philadelphia Eagles, while safety Haha Clinton-Dix negated on the opportunity to play alongside Collins and returned north, with the former Green Bay Packer joining rivals the Chicago Bears on a one-year $3.5 million deal.
In terms of the NFL Draft 2019, many pundits believe the Redskins absolutely smashed it with the value they got for their picks. They sat back all the way to #15 to get their new QB in Haskins, and smartly traded back into the first round at #26 to snatch edge rusher Montez Sweat out of Mississippi State, a generational talent who only fell that far because of an apparent misdiagnosed heart issue. To give Haskins a helping hand, they drafted his friend and Ohio State team-mate Terry McLaurin at wide receiver, adding other noted names during the process like NC State wide-man Kelvin Harmon and Alabama center Ross Pierschbacher.
WEEK FIVE: MINNESOTA VIKINGS (HOME)
The New York Giants’ most recent memories of playing the Vikings aren’t good ones, in fact, they lost both of the last two meetings between the sides in 2015 and 16. In 2016 in Minneapolis, the G-men were comfortably dispatched 24-10 with Sam Bradford at the helm of the Vikes’ offence. In happier times, the last time the Giants played host to the Vikings they actually won in a 23-7 win where the visiting Purple & Gold failed to build on a first quarter touchdown, failing to score a single point for the rest of the game as the Giants put 23 straight on the board. It’s no longer Bradford, or Keenum calling the shots on offence now though, it’s the one-time highest paid QB in football, former divisional rival Kirk Cousins.
So close, yet so far, the Vikings did not make the playoffs under Cousins in 2019, narrowly losing out on a wild card spot in Week 17. However they’re back and ready to take another shot at the NFC North title, and still controversially have star line-backer Anthony Barr on their roster, who came within a hair’s width of being a New York Jet for Week One. They did lose defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson however to the Cleveland Browns, as well as cutting right tackle Mike Remmers, who will likely be lining up against them after putting pen to paper on a one-year deal with the Giants.
Looking at players who will need to have a big season, it’s hardly difficult to look past Cousins and his need to shake that first season disappointment off his back. Adam Thielen had a terrific 2018 and Stefon Diggs combined with brutish tight end Kyle Rudolph make for a very solid receiving corps for Kirk. In terms of the draft, it seems the priority was to give Cousins as much help as possible by drafting center Garrett Bradbury out of NC State, as well as guard Dru Samia from Oklahoma. For their second round pick, the Vikings opted for highly recommended Alabama tight-end Irv Smith Jr. Reports have suggested that they could move on from Rudolph to make way for Smith Jr, but having them both on the roster is a frightening thought for any defence in the league.
WEEK SIX: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (AWAY)
Oy vey! Not this age old rivalry again. Week six will see the Giants head north to play old foes, and current Super Bowl Champions the New England Patriots in Foxborough. Minus one very rowdy tight-end (we’ll get to him later), the Patriots without a shadow of a doubt will be heavily backed to go back-to-back in 2019, hopefully minus one win to Big Blue. The Giants have indeed won three of their last four games against the Pats, two of which being Super Bowl’s in 2008 and 2012, however New York will want to forget their last meeting at Met Life in 2015 when Stephen Gostkowski scored a field-goal with one second left to go to snatch a 27-26 win for the visitors.
Free agency wasn’t particularly kind to the Patriots this year. Most famously, perennial All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski decided to hang up his boots and call it a day, while a number of key players from around the team left for pastures new, as well as big pay days. Defensive End Trey Flowers (Detroit Tigers) and offensive tackle Trent Brown (Oakland Raiders) were the two biggest Patriot casualties to earn pay days elsewhere, with the pair earning $90 million/5 years and $66 million/4 years respectively. Other players to move on included Malcolm Brown (New Orleans Saints, $15 million/3 years), Cordarrelle Patterson (Chicago Bears, $8.5 million/2 years) and Chris Hogan (Carolina Panthers, $1.45 million/1 year).
To replace those outgoing, the Patriots signed a number of players to keep them within a shout of the 2020 Super Bowl in Miami. Most significantly, they signed defensive tackle Mike Pennel (New York Jets, $5 million/2 years), receiver Demaryius Thomas (Houston Texans, $2.9 million/1 year) and tight end duo Benjamin Watson (New Orleans Saints, $3 million/1 year) and Matt LaCosse (Denver Broncos, $2.8 million/2 years).
Looking at the draft to round things off, the Pats used the final pick of the first round (#32) to give Julian Edelman some help, drafted wide receiver N’Keal Harry from Arizona State, which was quite a surprise with combine destroyer DK Metcalf sitting right there. Other notable pickups include Vanderbilt cornerback Joejuan Williams, Michigan defensive end Chase Winovich, West Virginia offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste and Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham.