The New York Giants open 2020 NFL training camp on July 28 at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Here's a closer look at a few storylines:
What can we expect from quarterback Daniel Jones in Year 2, learning a new offense without an offseason program?
You can start with a manageable learning curve. Jones, 23, showed last summer he can easily digest an unfamiliar scheme. He picked up coordinator Pat Shurmur's offense -- as a rookie -- with relative ease and should be able to do much of the same with new coordinator Jason Garrett's scheme, even without the benefit of any on-field practices under the guidance of coaches this spring. Jones, however, did manage to get some work in with his receivers this offseason. He had some of them at Duke in the winter and organized workouts in Austin, Texas, while the coronavirus pandemic was keeping players away from team facilities. Jones will take on a much larger leadership role in Year 2 with Eli Manning's shadow no longer hanging over him. Jones admitted last season was a bit "awkward," even if he thought it was a great learning experience working alongside the Giants' legend. This is Jones' team now.
Let's throw wide receiver Darius Slayton into this mix, too. He had an eye-opening rookie season as a fifth-round pick, and the potential there is limitless. ESPN's Bill Barnwell recently had the Giants seventh among all teams in his rankings of the NFL's best weapons. Combine that with an offensive line that added Andrew Thomas with the No. 4 overall pick along with the addition of Garrett, and this should be a pretty potent offense -- much better than the unit that ranked 25th in offensive efficiency last season. In Garrett's first year as Cowboys' offensive coordinator in 2007, Dallas ranked fourth in offensive efficiency; he had a strong group of weapons (Tony Romo, Terrell Owens, Jason Witten and Marion Barber). Fielding a top-10 offense with this year's Giants group is hardly out of the question. Of course, the big caveat is if the Giants stay healthy. Jones didn't play a single snap with his top weapons all of last season.
What kind of challenges does Joe Judge face as a first-year head coach and what is a realistic expectation for 2020?
What challenge hasn't Judge faced already might be the better question. Judge couldn't have dreamed his first NFL offseason would be during a pandemic that forced spring work to be done virtually. That alone is unprecedented. Adding to the list of challenges includes starting cornerback DeAndre Baker being arrested on armed robbery and aggravated assault with a firearm charges and kicker Aldrick Rosas arrested for an alleged hit-and-run. Enough already! Getting everyone up to speed will be of high priority, and it will be tougher for Judge to get a thorough evaluation of all the young players on his roster before the start of the season. Judge's first year as a head coach doesn't appear to be getting easier.
Who is the player to watch on this young defense?
Man, the Giants really need someone to step up. Leonard Williams is the only player on this Giants' defense with a Pro Bowl selection on his résumé, and that 2016 season seems like forever ago for the former New York Jets defensive lineman. Safety Jabrill Peppers is a candidate to break out, and so is defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, who looks like a star player in the making after a promising rookie season. But maybe the biggest question mark on this team is the pass rush. The Giants signed Kyler Fackrell as a free agent from the Green Bay Packers this offseason and Markus Golden could still return. But there will be plenty of opportunity for Lorenzo Carter in his third year and Oshane Ximines in his second to shine. As one coach said, Ximines "has the best tools" of the bunch; he's someone to watch on a defense desperately looking for legitimate playmakers.