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Fact or Fiction: More sacks or touchdowns?

Posted Jul 7, 2017

Three Giants writers debate Big Blue topics as 2017 Training Camp nears:

The Giants will have more sacks than offensive touchdowns in 2017.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - Last year the Giants had 35 sacks and 32 offensive touchdowns. The two prior seasons the Giants had 41 and 43 offensive touchdowns. I would expect their 2017 offensive numbers will land closer to 40 than to 35 and I don’t think the Giants are going to top 40 sacks this season given where they landed in 2016. If the Giants do have more sacks than touchdowns, I think that’s a bad sign their offense hasn’t improve as much as they would have liked.

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DAN SALOMONE: Fact - This is tough because they were both really close last season, and I think both numbers will go up in 2017. I’m going to say the tie goes to the defense, just because of how dominant it was last season and essentially the whole lineup stayed intact. If the Giants can find another defensive end to help in the rotation, I think the Giants will get home more often. Having another year under everyone’s belt in Steve Spagnuolo’s system also helps.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - Last season, the Giants had 35 sacks and 32 offensive touchdowns.  They’re certainly hoping for more touchdowns, this season, considering of those 32, in 2016, just six were on the ground.  In 2015, Eli Manning and company had 41 offensive touchdowns and, given some of the new additions this offseason, I think this year’s crew can duplicate that type of production with the sack production coming in just under 40.

Sterling Shepard will score more touchdowns than Paul Perkins this season.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - Sterling Shepard’s eight touchdowns were inflated last year because the Giants could not muster a consistent red zone running game, or find a reliable tight end to target. As a slot receiver it is often hard to find open spaces in the close quarters in the end zone. Shepard doesn’t have the size to go up in the air and make contested catches consistently. I expect him to be closer to five touchdowns, while Paul Perkins should be able to get closer to seven or eight as the Giant try to rededicate to the running game.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - As you can probably tell, I’m pretty high on Shepard. And that’s not just because he was our guest rookie blogger last season. If Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t set the bar so high, we’d be talking about Shepard having one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history for a receiver. His eight touchdowns last year were tied for third in that department.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - In 2016, Sterling Shepard had a knack for finding the end zone collecting eight touchdowns as a rookie, second behind Odell Beckham’s ten.  In comparison, Paul Perkins had none but, keep in mind, he didn’t take over as the main running back until Week 14.  With Perkins now the starter entering 2017, he’ll have more opportunities to score but it still remains to be seen what the Giants’ game plan and personnel will be in the red zone or in goal line situations.  That wildcard leaves Perkins potential touchdowns up in the air.  Although the arrival of Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram could eat into Shepard’s numbers, I still think Shepard will reach the end zone more times than Perkins.

Landon Collins will not lead the team in tackles for a third consecutive year.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - Landon Collins will once again lead the team in tackles. He will be on the field on nearly every play on defense, and he often plays close enough to the line of scrimmage to have just as many chances to hit running backs as linebackers. Jonathan Casillas or Damon Harrison will probably be second but I don’t think either will be very close to Collins.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - A safety has led the Giants in tackles more often than not in recent years, and Collins is the best one on the team. So this trend will continue. His 125 tackles last year were the most by a safety in Giants history.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - Not only has Landon Collins led the team in tackles each of the last two seasons but he’s topped the charts in comfortable fashion.  In 2015, Collins finished with 24 more tackles than Jonathan Casillas and last season, he beat out Casillas again by 29.  Collins rarely comes off the field and made huge strides from his rookie season to his sophomore campaign, meaning he’s only going to get better moving forward.  When you take that into consideration and the fact that it’s unlikely one particular linebacker, on the team, will see the same amount of playing time as Collins, I think it’s safe to say the former Alabama standout is in great position to lead the team in tackles for a third consecutive season.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will lead the team in interceptions.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - I almost went with the Golden Sombrero of fictions, but in my opinion DRC is the best ball hawk in the Giants secondary. He has terrific instincts, and also pretty good hands. He often baits quarterbacks into mistakes and has the speed to make some ridiculous plays on receivers that often look open before he closes on them. I think Darian Thompson finishes second, given the likelihood he will be the Giants deep safety is pass coverage.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - He did it the last two years, and he’ll do it for a third time. Not only would he still beat anyone on the team in a foot race, but he has the veteran savvy to bait quarterbacks. He can match up with any type of receiver both inside and outside. He’s a major reason why the Giants boast one of the best secondaries in the league.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - Interceptions is such a fluky stat.  More often than not, it’s about being in the right place at the right time as opposed to any other factor.  With that being said, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been an opportunistic player since he joined the Giants and pretty consistent in collecting interceptions.  Last season, DRC led the team in that category with six and, in 2015, he had three, tied for the team lead with Trumaine McBride.  Based on that trend, I’ll go with DRC again this season but watch out for Darian Thompson, who set a Mountain West Conference record with 19 career interceptions.