(CBSNewYork)- After a fourth straight season of sub .500 football, Giants fans are hoping that 2021 is the season in which the team can make a push for the playoffs.
The organization spent plenty in free agency, bringing in wide receiver Kenny Golladay, tight end Kyle Rudolph and corner Adoree Jackson along with re-signing defensive lineman Leonard Williams to a big deal. They then looked to further bolster the weapons for quarterback Daniel Jones by selecting wide receiver Kadarius Toney with their first pick.
As you'd expect based on the signings, the team is looking to improve an offense that finished near the bottom of the league in most categories. Jones, entering his third season, has struggled to protect the football with 22 interceptions and 29 fumbles in his first two seasons. With an improved cast around him, the spotlight is shining ever more brightly on his development.
"A big question for everybody is going to be the development of Daniel Jones and whether or not, going into his third year, he takes that step that we saw from Josh Allen last year. Josh was kind of a bucking bronco for two years and then refined his game under Brian Daboll and got a huge contract this offseason. That's where Daniel Jones finds himself right now," The NFL Today analyst Boomer Esiason said on a conference call. "Do the Giants actually have a future with this guy at quarterback? That's going to be the big question going forward. They spent a lot of money in free agency and have enough weapons around him now with Saquon Barkley coming back, he should be able to be a much more positive influence on their offense and answer all of those questions going forward."
The return of Barkley to go with the addition of Golladay to a receiving corps that already had Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton should certainly help. But, the bigger need is improvement along the offensive line which has allowed Jones to be sacked 83 times already in 27 career games.
"If you want a good football team, you better have a good offensive line. If you look at the playoffs every year, the best offensive lines are always in there. That's the big question with the Giants," NFL Today analyst Phil Simms said. "If they can just straighten that out, it will just help so many people. And if Saquon Barkley is healthy, Daniel Jones is going to have a good year."
NFL on CBS game analyst Tony Romo agrees saying that a good offensive line can make the game "simple".
"The offensive line is a huge way to make everything simple. If you have a good offensive line, you can make this game so simple. We can just run simple plays and mash you for 40 yards and stay ahead of the chains and always put ourselves in an advantageous position," Romo said. "They've tried to allocate the resources to that, we're going to find out if that's actually been something that's improved or not."
The final preseason game against the Patriots didn't offer much encouragement in the way of offensive line improvement and the team responded by trading for guard Ben Bredeson and center Billy Price before signing veteran center Matt Skura to the practice squad. The starting five appears to still be in flux with just over a week before opening kickoff at MetLife against the Denver Broncos.
The opening game will provide a pretty good test of whether the offensive line can hold up as the Broncos piled up 42 sacks last season without edge rusher Von Miller in the lineup. Miller is back healthy with Bradley Chubb (7.5 sacks in 2020) on the opposite side.
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