Searching for silver linings in the Giants’ bleak season start

Despite a 1-5 start to the 2021-22 NFL season, New York Giants fans can still feel optimistic about the future.

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Manasa Gudavalli

Many New York Giants fans have been disappointed in the team’s performance during the first six weeks of the NFL season. But fans should not lose hope — there is still a chance for a comeback. (Staff Illustration by Manasa Gudavalli)

By Daniel Haas, Contributing Writer

For fans of the New York Giants, the first six weeks of the NFL season have been a major disappointment. The Giants (1-5) have lost to such struggling squads as the Atlanta Falcons (3-3) and Washington Football Team (2-5) and they were demolished by their biggest rival, the Dallas Cowboys (5-1). To make matters worse, their offense has been ravaged by injuries, with Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Andrew Thomas and Sterling Shepard all missing playing time. However, fans should keep their heads up, as Big Blue has displayed some promising signs.

In Kadarius Toney, the Giants finally have a receiver who can fill the void left by Odell Beckham Jr. Their play styles are eerily similar: Both are extremely quick and elusive runners after the catch. While OBJ was definitely a more polished route-runner coming out of college, Toney has shown flashes of elite route-running and he is a more dynamic ball carrier. One can argue Toney is already one of the hardest players to tackle in the NFL. During Week 5, Toney lit the Cowboys’ defense on fire with 10 catches for 189 yards, breaking the team record for receiving yards by a rookie, which was previously held by Beckham Jr. Toney is going to be a problem for opposing teams for years to come, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he is a top-10 receiver in a couple of years.

The Giants’ offensive line has been a problem in the past, but Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart have taken major steps forward in their second seasons. Thomas has locked down the left side of the line, not allowing a single sack in his first four games. After a rookie season with plenty of ups and downs, he looks capable of being a cornerstone left tackle. On the other side of the line, Peart played an excellent game during Week 5; Peart had the second-highest offensive PFF grade for that game. While he’s going to need time to polish his game, illustrated by the two sacks he allowed against the Los Angeles Rams (6-1), his raw size and athleticism are promising.

After being drafted sixth overall by the Giants in 2019, quarterback Daniel Jones’ first two seasons were plagued with major turnover problems. With 22 interceptions and 29 fumbles prior to this season, he seemed incapable of holding onto the ball when it mattered most. However, Jones is a completely new player this year. Through the first six weeks of the 2021 season, he only had four interceptions and five fumbles; his passing and rushing yards per game have increased by 43.8 and 12.0 respectively. Last week, however, the old Jones was on display, as he turned the ball over four times. If he has more performances like last week’s, he won’t be starting at MetLife Stadium next season. But one week shouldn’t change the overall outlook on a player. Before last week, Jones looked confident at the helm of this Giants offense. This should give fans hope that he can turn into a franchise quarterback and transform the Giants into a winning team.

A version of this story appeared in the Oct. 25, 2021, e-print edition. Contact Daniel Haas at [email protected]