In what might be the most anticipated Organized Team Activities (OTAs) in quite some time for the New York Giants, more questions than answers remain for one of the worst teams in football last year. That doesn’t mean, however, that the Giants will be a bad team as they head towards 2018.
Far from it. This team, in fact, is closer to being the group that made the playoffs two years ago than last year’s 3-13 monstrosity. They are improved in several areas on the field and return a very strong core and spine. It isn’t hype, it's just reality.
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That doesn’t mean, though, that things are completely settled for this team heading into training. And it doesn’t mean that they will make the postseason. Just simply that this team is closer to being the one that did so well in 2016 than the dumpster fire last year.
Three Major Questions for the Giants Ahead of OTAs:
1. Flowers and the offensive line
The offseason signing of left tackle Nate Solder in free agency from the New England Patriots is an instant upgrade for the Giants, who have struggled mightily in protecting quarterback Eli Manning and opening holes for the running game.
Solder and guard Patrick Omameh upgrade this unit and if Ereck Flowers can take a step forward in his fourth year in the league, then this unit has hope. Right tackle might be a better fit for Flowers and if he can develop this year, then the Giants can move the ball offensively.
Can Flowers improve? Are the Giants settled at center? A return to the playoffs likely hinges on how these questions are answered.
2. The 3-4 defense
Switching up the defensive front isn’t as big of an issue as some might think, especially since defensive end Olivier Vernon has played standing up before. There will be a transition, however, and the smoother things go these next few weeks for the Giants, the better it will be heading into training camp.
The good news is that Damon Harrison played nose tackle in a 3-4 with the Jets and has a comfort level there. And interior defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson has good size to play inside or on the edge. Changes are happening and this remains a huge sticking point for the team.
3. The vibe of this team
Head coach Pat Shurmur inherits a Giants team that, a year ago, set the dubious mark for the most losses in franchise history. They did this, despite the fact that they were (on paper) one of the most talented teams in the league.
This isn’t an easy tightrope for Shurmur to walk. There are a lot of veterans in this group as well as young stars. Some have tremendous egos, some are immature and some felt disgruntled at points last year. He will need to manage personalities and expectations while trying to collectively get this group moving forward as one.
Not an easy task but not impossible.
OTAs are a key time for Shurmur to build a line of communication and trust with this team. The sooner he can get them to buy into his vision and bring their lunchpails to work every day, the sooner this team can turn around.