The New York Giants are ushering in a new era as the team will have their third new head coach since 2016. The past two coaching regimes could not overcome the void of talent on the football field. Since the beginning of his tenure, Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman has desperately tried to upgrade the quality on the roster; and a few of those players do stand out from the others. They are the faces of the 2020 New York Giants and their impact in games will have a direct effect on team’s success in the Win-Lose column this season.
Faces of the 2020 New York Giants
One of the biggest surprises of the 2019 NFL draft was the Giants selecting Duke quarterback Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick. However, it did not take long for Jones to become the “Toast of New York” as he was outstanding in the preseason for the Giants.
Then, the franchise’s future turned directly to Jones when he replaced Eli Manning in the starting lineup for Week 3. His first start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was memorable as Jones threw for 336 yards, two touchdown passes and scored two rushing touchdowns. The results gave the Giants their first win of the season.
However, the remainder of his rookie campaign was a roller-coaster ride for Giants fans. At its high point, Jones had the look of a polished elite quarterback. He posted a five-touchdown and two four-touchdown passing performances in 13 starts. But the low points of his first NFL season include a high interception rate (2.6), 38 sacks and a league-high 18 fumbles.
2020 will be year two for Jones and he must show better consistency for 16 weeks this season. His success is all dependent upon him trusting his own quarterback skills and feeling more comfortable in the pocket. All of Jones’ deficiencies shown as a rookie quarterback are very fixable. Still, his success will come down to showing better ball security, especially when being pressured by on-coming pass rushers.
If improvement is shown, then Jones could become the face of the Giants for the next decade.
The season started off very promising for Barkley as he gained over 220 rushing yards in the first two games. However, a high ankle sprain against the Buccaneers left him sidelined for three weeks and ineffective in the lineup upon his return in Week 7. It seemed Barkley had no burst of speed coming off the line of scrimmage. You saw the frustration on his face with each disappointing carry. Then miraculously, Barkley’s big play potential came back to him for the final three weeks of the 2019 season. He was unstoppable as Barkley gained 539 yards from scrimmage and scored five touchdowns in those three games.
Under new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, the Giants are expected to have a more up-tempo offense with Barkley still getting the majority of the touches. The key to his success will be the Giants offensive line. The unit will have a three new starters for 2020 with the center piece being Andrew Thomas who was the fourth overall pick in last spring’s draft.
Still, Barkley is electric when carries the football and just needs a little bit of daylight off the line of scrimmage to have one of his patent game-breaking touchdown runs. 2020 could be the season that he establishes himself as the NFL’s top all-around back.
In a sports sense, what defines “the face” of a franchise? For the 2020 New York Giants it could be a player who is ready to take that next step as a team leader on-and-off the field. Jabrill Peppers is one of the players that fits this definition perfectly for the Giants. He relishes the opportunity to set the tone for a defense that was one of the worst in the NFL a year ago.
Peppers taking a back seat after being one of the pieces acquired by the Giants in the much-publicized Odell Beckham Jr. trade with the Cleveland Browns would have been very easy for him. Instead, he accepted the challenge of returning to his home state of New Jersey and become a foundation piece of the franchise’s rebuild.
Peppers’ time with the Browns was more about his return skills (averaged 22 yards on kickoff returns) then his play at the safety position. The team’s front office felt Peppers was an undersized defender who was constantly around the football. Despite being a promising prospect, the Browns thought Peppers was expendable if they could acquire Beckham Jr. in a trade.
Versatility is the key to Pepper’s game as he can defend the pass and provide an extra sure-handed tackler in box defensive formations. Peppers played very well in his first season with the Giants. However, if the Giants defense is going to show any signs of improvement, then Peppers is going to have to create more turnovers, which slants the field for the offense. Peppers’ performance is a work in progress, but he has already shown his value to the franchise.
2020 is the season for him to become a more complete player and the face of the Giants defense.