<
>

New York Giants roster: Midseason strengths and weaknesses

play
Canty not letting Greeny get away with his non-QB MVP pick (1:46)

Chris Canty calls out Mike Greenberg for taking Saquon Barkley over Tyreek Hill as his pick for non-quarterback MVP. (1:46)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The legendary Bill Parcells always said you are what your record says you are.

Well, in that case, the New York Giants (6-2) are one of the best teams in the NFL midway through the season. Only the Philadelphia Eagles (8-0) and Minnesota Vikings (7-1) have better records.

This isn't a supremely talented roster that overpowers opponents. These Giants have been outgained by a total of 200 yards this season and have won six of their seven one-score games. It's a credit to coach Brian Daboll, general manager Joe Schoen and the players.

Let's take a mid-season look at the good, the average and the ugly through eight games.

The Good

Saquon Barkley, RB

Barkley is back to his rookie form. His 1.1 rushing yards over expectation (RYOE) per carry is on par with his 2018 season, when he was considered a generational player.

He's also returned to form as a threat to break a long run every time he touches the ball. Barkley has six 20-plus yard runs already this season.

"He scares the s--- out of you," one NFC scout said. "He keeps you on your heels. He can score at any point."

Daniel Jones, QB

Jones has played well -- even if the traditional stats (1,399 yards, 6 TDs, 2 INTs) don't blow you away -- with insufficient receivers. His 58.0 QBR ranks him 12th among all quarterbacks and is the highest of his career. He also leads the NFL with four fourth-quarter comebacks this season.

"I think Daniel's done a good job," Schoen said. "Those 'got to have it' moments -- third downs, fourth quarters when you've got to have it ... I think he's answered the bell in a lot of those situations."

Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka have gotten the best out of Jones, who has just three turnovers in eight games and is 70 yards shy of a new career high in rushing with nine games remaining.

Dexter Lawrence, DL

Lawrence has been the Giants' best defensive player by a wide margin, leading the team with 23 pressures. His 14.7% pass rush win rate is 12th among interior rushers and is easily the best of his career, having never previously reached 9.0%.

The jump in production can be attributed to coordinator Wink Martindale's defense, which puts a lot of men at the line of scrimmage and allows Lawrence to get 1-on-1 matchups.

Kayvon Thibodeaux, OLB

Thibodeaux missed the first two games but has come on in recent weeks. His 17 pressures is second on the team, per Next Gen Stats. The No. 5 overall pick has not disappointed, despite recording just one sack.

"Everyone is excited how he gets better week to week and part of that was health," outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins said.

The entire group of outside linebackers

Oshane Ximines has provided some pass rush (second on the team with 2.0 sacks), Jihad Ward has been a force against the run (team-high six tackles for a loss) and even rookie Tomon Fox and second-year man Quincy Roche have made timely plays when called upon.

Fabian Moreau, CB

Moreau was signed right before the start of the season and began on the practice squad. He's been their best cornerback.

Moreau has allowed only 42.9% of passes to be completed when he's the nearest defender, per Next Gen Stats. His completion percentage over expectation (CPOE) is an excellent minus-11.5%. He leads the Giants with seven passes defended.

"He's playing some good football," Daboll said.

In fact, everyone in the Giants secondary -- Moreau, Adoree' Jackson, Darnay Holmes, Julian Love and Xavier McKinney -- has a CPOE below zero. The Giants have even gotten contributions from late summer pickups Nick McCloud and Justin Layne, along with rookie Cor’Dale Flott.

"The coaching staff and the pro scouting staff," Schoen said, "have done a great job of bringing players in that have answered the bell when their number was called. ... I think we've upgraded the backend of the roster."

Andrew Thomas, LT

Thomas has proven to be the lone high-end starter on the offensive line. He's 12th among tackles in pass block win rate (PBWR) at 92.3% and eighth in run block win rate (RBWR) at 82%.

"The weakness box is going to be close to empty," Schoen said.

After a slow start to his career, the Giants have their left tackle position settled for many years to come with Thomas. The remainder of the line remains a work in progress.

The Average

The rest of the OL

Rookie right tackle Evan Neal struggled (46th of 67 tackles in PBWR) even before hurting his knee. The interior of the line, from center Jon Feliciano to guards Mark Glowinski and Ben Bredeson to rookie Josh Ezeudu, has been serviceable.

They've been better in the run game than in pass protection. The Giants are fifth in the NFL in rushing, averaging 161.5 yards per game.

Fortunately, reinforcements have arrived with Nick Gates (leg) returning and Shane Lemieux (foot) getting close.

Leonard Williams, DL

Williams, who missed three games with a knee injury, has been good -- not great -- when on the field. Veteran Nick Williams had also been a solid contributor, but is out for the season after tearing his biceps in the loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

The tight ends

Rookie Daniel Bellinger (16 receptions, 152 yards, 2 TDs) was showing flashes before fracturing his eye socket.

"He's a good blocker. He's an in-line player," the scout said of the fourth-round pick. "He does enough in the pass game to take advantage of the looks you're going to get because you're going to get run looks."

Behind him, Tanner Hudson and Chris Myarick have been serviceable. That's the best they could've hoped for with this group.

The Ugly

The wide receiver corps

This season has not gone as planned for the wide receivers. Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney combined for four catches and 22 yards in the first half of the season. Toney was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, Golladay has been sidelined with a sprained MCL and Sterling Shepard tore his left ACL in Week 3.

That has left the Giants relying on Darius Slayton, David Sills, Marcus Johnson and Richie James. They don't have a receiver with more than 20 catches or 232 yards, and rank 29th in passing offense.

Rookie Wan’Dale Robinson returned in recent weeks from a knee injury, while Slayton has turned into a steady contributor after being buried on the depth chart this summer.

The inside linebackers

All you need to know about this group is that Austin Calitro started two of the first three games and has been inactive three times since. Jaylon Smith, meanwhile, began the season on his couch and has started the last three games. Tae Crowder was the only constant in the middle until his playing time was slashed in Seattle.

"If you have a slow [middle linebacker], you have a slow defense," Martindale said earlier this season of his inside linebacker group.

Martindale has made it work to a degree, but they're 25th against the run (137.3 yards per game) for a reason. Rookie Micah McFadden and former safety Landon Collins could see their roles increase in the second half of the season.