Episode 1 of HBO’s Hard Knocks “Offseason with the New York Giants” debuted on July 2nd. For the historical fear the Giants ownership has had of being on Hard Knocks at all, GM Joe Schoen and his staff displayed a candid, no-nonsense approach to the start of the offseason.  And it’s clear, GM Joe is in charge.  It’s also clear Schoen is giving QB Daniel Jones his last opportunity to be the QB for the Giants in 2024.

While there was significant discussion about whether to sign Saquon Barkley, arguably the face of the franchise since Eli Manning retired, Schoen was determined not to exceed his price point to retain Barkley.  There were too many other higher priority needs for this team.  Schoen laid his analysis out for Owner John Mara: 1.  No franchise tag; 2. Let Saquon hit free agency and hope Barkley gives the Giants a chance to match; 3.  Sign one of the remaining top 5 free agent RBs.  You can surmise that Schoen underestimated the market given what the Eagles offered Barkley.  But you can also surmise that Schoen valued upgrading the offensive line as his top priority with the cap funds he had to spend.

The pivot away from Barkley means the spotlight is squarely on QB Daniel Jones now.  Schoen stated this about Jones, “We’re not paying him $40Million to hand the ball off to a $12Million running back.”  Clearly, the Giants front office, coaching staff, and ownership are expecting bigger things from Daniel Jones.  And for Jones to succeed, he needs an offensive line that can protect him.  Schoen’s comment that even Patrick Mahomes wouldn’t succeed behind last year’s offensive line was an exclamation point to the firing of last year’s O-Line Coach Bobby Johnson.  The Giants added multiple free agent linemen to the 2024 roster, including G John Runyan, G/T Jermaine Eluemunor to be prominent starters along with LT Andrew Thomas, C John Michael Schmitz, and RT Evan Neal.  Several depth signings also added G Jalen Mayfield, C Jimmy Morrissey, OL Austin Schlottmann, and OL Aaron Stinnie.  The biggest risk and question mark on the O-Line is RT Evan Neal.  But Eluemunor is the insurance policy at RT, if needed.

Joe Schoen was also very direct in talking about Jones’ injury history.  With three major injuries (two neck and one ACL) in the last four years, there hasn’t been enough time on the field for Jones to gel with his offensive weapons (Slayton, Robinson, Hyatt, Bellinger and Barkley).  Now, the Giants have added a top WR, rookie Malik Nabers, RB Devin Singletary, and rookie TE Theo Johnson to Jones’ offensive weapons arsenal.  

Look for the Giants to make a major change in their offensive approach in 2024.  With protection, Jones will be leading an aerial attack the Giants fans haven’t seen since 2016.  

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