Saquon Barkley. (Photo: Getty Images)

Training camp starts this week and the hope for the New York Giants is that they can rebuild after a terrible 2017 season where their 3-13 record was good for the most losses in franchise history. But 2018 should be a better year for the Giants.

 

 

 

And here are three reasons why:

 

 

 

The Giants were better than their record

This is a team that last year boasted the best wide receiver in the league, a two-time Super Bowl MVP at quarterback and a pretty decent defense that allowed the second-fewest points per game in 2016. And yet somehow, a combination of injuries, poor coaching, even poorer roster construction and a locker room that splintered apart came together to create the worst season in Giants history.

 

The fact that the Giants return talents such as wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and that quarterback Eli Manning is just a year removed from 4,000 passing yards gives hope for this team to turn things around.

The Giants have more talent than the second-worst record in the NFL a year ago. In fact, this team has the type of talent that, with a break or two, could see them contending for a playoff spot this year.

 

The running game will be improved

All the buzz about Saquon Barkley is a bit much as the No. 2 player taken in the NFL Draft still will have a learning curve during his rookie year. But make no mistake about it, the total package that is Barkley gives the Giants the most talented running back in terms of raw skill set that this franchise has seen over the past half-century.

 

He instantly will help provide a spark for an offense that struggled to run the ball much of last year and he is a receiving option out of the backfield as well. The addition of free-agent left tackle Nate Solder and guard Patrick Omameh, as well as the drafting of guard Will Hernandez, will all help to spark things for the Giants. Barkley will have holes and will be productive in his rookie year, making the offense more balanced then in years past.

 

Even if Barkley doesn’t live up to the hype — which truthfully he may not during his rookie year — he will be a drastic improvement for the Giants in the backfield. This will not only balance the offense but help the Giants sustain drives, eat up clock and keep their defense off the field a bit more – all three of which were major issues last year.

 

Culture change

Last year, it was obvious that the Giants were falling apart as a team. A storied franchise was taking its lumps off the field, with several players suspended and teammates pointing fingers at each other. The entire culture was simply toxic.

 

In comes general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur, changing the feel of the organization. They talked about a clean slate, about giving players a new chance and a fresh start. They’ve meant it to date.

 

There is talent on this team, a combination of veterans with Super Bowl experience, rising stars and some very exciting young talent. This isn’t last year’s team. The record won’t be close to the same either. There is reason to believe that the Giants will be better, more balanced and a more mature side in 2018.

 

Are they locks to return to the playoffs? Far from it. But they will be better and they should be playing competitive football deep into the regular season. From there, who knows?