One of the bright spots in an otherwise dismal season for the New York Giants has been rookie wide receiver, Darius Slayton. He has emerged as the lone deep threat in the passing game and has found the end zone (eight touchdown receptions) more than any other offensive playmaker on the roster.
Slayton accomplished all of this with little fanfare or anticipation of his arrival to New York. Now, Giants fans expect him to be part of the solution in getting the franchise back to their old winning ways.
New York Giants Darius Slayton Emerges as Deep Threat in Pass Game
Giants Red Zone Efficiency Aided by Slayton’s Rise to Prominence
It’s crazy to think that Slayton’s NFL debut wasn’t until Week 3 of the regular season. But that didn’t stop the Auburn rookie to lead all Giants wideouts with 690 receiving yards and averaging 15.7 yards-per-catch. You could make an argument that if Slayton was healthy from the start of the 2019 season, he would be very much in the offensive rookie of the year conversation.
Slayton’s outstanding rookie campaign has been overshadowed by the Giants’ disappointing season. They’re 4-11 and currently on a two-game winning streak after losing nine in a row. Critics of Giants head coach Pat Shurmur’s offense won’t deny that the unit can move the ball downfield, but the offensive flow usually ends once they enter the red zone. But that statement may soon become a misnomer.
Heading into December, the Giants found themselves ranked 19th in red-zone scoring efficiency at 55 percent. But that number has risen over the last month as the G-Men are currently ranked 11th at 60 percent in red-zone scoring efficiency. And over their last three games, that percentage has risen to 87.5 percent, which also coincides with the emergence of Slayton in the passing game. You can’t argue with the recent success, especially since Slayton has established himself as a viable scoring option in the end zone.
Jones/Slayton Partnership Is Key to Giants Success
Stretching the defense with a certifiable deep threat was the Giants’ biggest need after trading Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns last March. Giants general manager Dave Gettleman quickly rectified this problem by drafting Slayton in the fourth round of last spring’s NFL Draft.
He came to training camp with little fanfare. Yet in preseason games, Slayton opened some eyes by running precision pass routes that allowed him to make plays in heavy traffic. Also, a budding partnership was developed between Slayton and fellow rookie Daniel Jones in the preseason as well. With each completion, you sensed that Jones began trusting Slayton more in winning 50-50 throws against defenders by utilizing the wideout’s athleticism in catching the football.
This connection was briefly preempted by Slayton’s lingering hamstring injury that delayed his regular-season debut until Week 3 on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The young wideout caught three passes in Jones’ first win as Giants starting quarterback. Then came his breakout game against the New York Jets in Week 10. Slayton was targeted 14 times and caught 10 passes for 121 yards with two of those catches being touchdowns.
As the season progressed, you sensed that Slayton was gaining confidence with his own ability to make plays downfield. You get the feeling that there is still untapped potential in the vertical passing game.
Right now, it’s wise to offer a disclaimer to all Giants fans that they need to be patient in the development process of Jones and Slayton. This partnership should blossom with more reps and game action together. Give kudos to both for responding to the challenge that was ahead of them at training camp last summer. Slayton was a relative unknown who became a full-time starter by exhibiting the type of work ethic expected from established playmakers.
What Lies Ahead For Slayton
The goal for the final week of the 2019 season is to get Slayton two more touchdown receptions, which would give him double-digits for his first year in the NFL. Plus, Slayton would become the first Giants receiver to achieve this mark since OBJ in 2016. This accomplishment would be a fitting exclamation point to an outstanding rookie season.
In 2020, Slayton should have a bigger role in the passing game because of his breakaway speed to gain separation from corners on deep routes. Plus, his work ethic in practice and games is the type of mentality needed to turn this franchise around.
No question, 2019 has been a very frustrating year for the Giants, but it has been quite a start to Darius Slayton’s career. The hope is for more continued success.