In theory, success in the NFL is straightforward – you’ve just got to cross into the endzone more times than your opposition.
Of course, there is a devil in the detail and having the right quarterback feeding the right runners – and the right defensive personnel protecting your lead – is all-important.
The New York Giants made great strides during the 2020 season, and while they missed out on the playoffs clear and tangible progress was made.
As for taking things to the next level, and perhaps even challenging for a postseason place in 2021, there is no doubt that the offensive unit has to improve. Defensively, the Giants were in decent order, yielding just 22 touchdowns – the tied fifth-best record in the NFL. Guys like Leonard Williams are capable of performing at an elite level, and this is an area of real strength for the franchise.
But crossing the whitewash into the endzone? That proved all the more difficult, and improvement may be hard to come by given that Saquon Barkley looks likely to miss the majority of the campaign. The former Rookie of the Year and Pro Bowl pick has blown out his ACL, and those take a heck of a long time to fully heal and rehab – Joe Judge will have to plan for life without the 23-year-old.
So what options do Judge and his back office team have in improving that offensive unit?
Keep the Faith in Gallman
If Wayne Gallman continues the kind of output he showed in 2020, the Giants can continue to improve and make a mockery of their National Football Conference NFL odds on bet365, where they are considered a longshot behind the likes of the Packers, the Saints and even Washington.
Stepping up to the plate in the absence of Barkley, Gallman delivered six rushing touchdowns, caught 21 passes and carried on average 4.6 yards per reception, with 3.63 yards gained after contact marking him down as the fourth-best in the NFL – that is a high-quality performance by any measure.
He might just benefit from being the go-to guy in the absence of the headline-making Barkley, and the Giants must act swiftly to bring his free agency to an end as soon as possible.
Give More Chances to Slayton
Spreading the playbook beyond just Gallman may give others a chance to shine, and those writing off young guys like Darius Slayton do so at their peril.
The wide receiver had a hot hand during his rookie season, crossing for eight touchdowns in just 14 games in a remarkable spell of form that also yielded 48 receptions for 740 yards.
It’s fair to say that he was unable to hit those heights in 2020, although Giants receivers coach Tyke Tolbert believes that was to do with a lack of opportunity as much as anything else.
“He hasn’t had opportunities to make plays. We’ll try to, you know, call it the best plays possible to help our offense, and it’s just opportunities to make a lot of plays are not there right now for him for whatever reason,” he said.
Give the ball to Slayton more and see what he can produce: variety will be key to the Giants improving their offensive output.
Throw a Curveball with Harris
If Giants can’t re-sign Gallman, they might need to broaden their scope during the Draft. There’s a talented pool of running backs up for selection, and of those, it’s Najee Harris that catches the eye.
The Alabama senior has an outstanding turn of pace and reliable hands, and as a big old unit he has the size to break tackles and carry hard after the initial contact.
It would be a curveball if the Giants took an RB in the Draft, but it could yet prove to be a masterstroke as the outfit looks to replace the unreplaceable in Saquon Barkley.
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