EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – There has been a welcome change watching New York Giants‘offense at minicamp this week. It’s almost as if your eyes do not know where to look after years of seeing paint dry. Now, instead of sad spots, there are bright spots scattered all over the field with more enticing opportunities to come this summer.
Flanked wide on one game during 11-on-11 drills Wednesday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center field was wide receiver Kenny Golladay, the expensive, valued offseason addition. On the other hand was Darius Slayton. These are two players who can stretch and intimidate opposing defenses, which on average had more than 15 yards a reception in 2019 and oozes great play potential.
In slot on this same game was Sterling Shepard, who has averaged 63 catches a season since being selected as No. 40 in 2016 NFL Draft. Tight end Evan Engram was also bowed out to Shepard on this game. Despite all his struggles, Engram does not lack talent and potential. He was the best offensive player on the field this spring (think Michael Jordan in shorts and shoulder pads), looked faster than ever and caught everything that was thrown in his direction after a season filled with fallen passes.
That made up four legitimate pass-catching goals for the quarterback Daniel Jones, a luxury he rarely enjoyed last season. And that did not even include elections from the first round in 2021 Kadarius Toney, a wide receiver who made an impression a few pieces later. He worked as a backup quarterback Mike Glennon and most of the projected non-starters when he got a pass, spun and stepped high apparently in one motion. It was a move made at perhaps three-quarters speed that stood out on a strong afternoon for the rookie.
This was a glimpse of what the Giants and their fans have been excited about after seeing an offense that scored fewer points (17.5 per game) last season than any team other than Adam Gase-led New York Jets.
“We have a lot of talent,” he said continuously Saquon Barkley, who is not yet working with his teammates as he rehabilitates the knee injury that knocked him out in Week 2 last season. “I think we have a chance to be really special.”
The possibilities had Barkley daydreaming in the cafeteria and staring out the large windows while his teammates practiced. At this point, with his unknown return date, he can only dream.
But Barkley should be back at some point this summer or early in the season. So should also tight end Kyle Rudolph, a skilled passer and a target for the red zone, recovering from a foot surgery he underwent after signing as a free agent. Even backback Eli Penny catches the ball better than almost anyone in his position if the Giants decide to use it to their advantage.
That’s talent enough to allow offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to open the playbook. This week’s training only confirmed that there is no reason why this offense is stagnant or uninspiring. Garrett seems to understand the expectations and pressures that exist after the Giants went out of their way to burden the players this offseason.
Golladay with one hand 🔥 pic.twitter.com/lYjQE3v39E
– New York Giants (@Giants) June 9, 2021
“Every time you add pieces, whether it’s in the draft or free agency, you do it naturally to help improve your team, create competition, get guys out there who can help you and make plays and become more explosive,” said Garrett. “We are excited about the additions we have. We are trying to get these guys acclimatized. We are also excited about the guys who were with us before and they have a year behind them. They will learn from these experiences and hopefully continue with growth. That’s the process we’re in right now. “
After the coronavirus pandemic affected the 2020 season, hope is another season under Garrett under more normal circumstances that will benefit the offense.
Golladay presented the most obvious difference in the training field at minicamp. His size (6 feet 4, 213 pounds) and ability to play ball in the air are rare. He possesses a set of skills that Jones had not previously worked with.
The easy comparison is that Golladay could be for Jones what former Giants-wide receiver Plaxico Burress was for Eli Manning, though it’s hard to tell at this point considering Golladay and the receivers have caught undisputed passes this spring. There are no live periods at the minicamp and organized team activities under coach Joe Judge, but Jones likes what he sees.
“It’s pretty easy, I think, just to tell it [Golladay’s] stature, his size and height, his athletics. “He’s a big goal and had great success in this league that went up and caught balls over guys and won the contested catches,” Jones said. So yes, that’s something you can tell as soon as you get on the field. “
Toney, who was excused from practice on Thursday for dealing with a family accident, has also stood out – though for a different reason. His skill set is unique from the rest of the recipients. He moves in a way that the others cannot.
Jones described him this week as “pulling and explosive.” He is more of a playmaker than an equally wide receiver with his ability to stick his foot in the ground and change directions before his quarterback can even knock the football in his pocket. The potential is there for Toney to have an immediate impact, even as a fourth recipient.
While there is reason for optimism about this offense, right now it is only potential.
“In terms of knowing what we have, we really don’t want to know until we get to training camp and the pads are on and we are actually playing football,” the referee said.
The coach may try to lower expectations in the spring and summer, but it does not work this time. There was too much money and draft capital invested this offseason.
All that is required is a look at the offense on the court to realize that this group can be as special as Barkley imagines.