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Fact or Fiction: Keys to Giants' 2021 season


The crew is presented with four statements and must decide whether they are Fact or Fiction.

The offensive line is the biggest key to the Giants making a leap in 2021.

John Schmeelk: Fact - The easy answer here is Daniel Jones, but since the effectiveness of the Giants quarterback will be directly impacted by the performance of the offensive line, let's go with "fact" here. It is fair for everyone to have a high level of confidence in the weapons around Jones with the return of Saquon Barkley and additions of Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Kyle Rudolph. There are also reasons to believe that in his third season and second straight year in the same offensive system that Daniel Jones can take a major step forward.

His improvement can only happen, however, if the offensive line gives Jones a chance to read the defense, make his decisions and get the ball to those weapons. If the linemen make a big jump in their consistency and pass protection, the Giants could be a double-digit win team.

Dan Salomone: Fact - This is factual for any team in any season, but it is especially true for the Giants this year. General manager Dave Gettleman has made it clear he believes in the returning players and that at some point you just have to let the young players play.

Lance Medow: Fiction - The offensive line is very high on the list but slightly behind the player they need to protect - Daniel Jones. He's entering Year 3 and the Giants added some weapons at wide receiver and tight end to provide him with even more firepower. Now, it's a matter of whether they can all put it together with Jones at the reins. The Giants had just 12 total passing touchdowns and averaged 17.5 points per game in 2020.

WR John Ross was the most underrated addition of the off-season.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - Let's go with Kyle Rudolph. The most basic thing the Giants need to do more of this year is score touchdowns. In addition to scoring more by generating more explosive plays, the team also has to be more consistent in the red zone. Rudolph is one of the best and most consistent red zone players in the NFL. Rudolph scored four or more touchdowns in every one of his seasons since 2015 except for one (he missed four games last season). Rudolph will also give the Giants another two-way tight end to pair with Evan Engram in two-tight end formations. He should be a nice addition that helps Daniel Jones in important situation, and allows Jason Garrett more freedom in his personnel packages.

Dan Salomone: Fact - Edge defender Ifeadi Odenigbo, whom Lance writes about next, is also in this conversation. But Ross is certainly an intriguing player that people – and defenses – will need to watch. Like running back, you not only need numbers at wide receiver but you also need different types.

"The other guy that's going to be interesting is John Ross when he walks in the door because he gives you the take-off-the-top, oh-my-gosh speed," Gettleman said this offseason. "Yes, again, you want touchdown-makers, it's what you're looking for on offense and we feel like we added them."

Lance Medow: Fiction - John Ross' speed could prove to be a key addition to the receiving corps but he also has to prove he can stay healthy after only appearing in double-digit games once in his first four seasons. That's why the most underrated addition is former Vikings edge rusher Ifeadi Odenigbo, who proved to be a nice complement to Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffin in Minnesota. The Giants need someone to assume a similar role opposite pass rusher Leonard Williams. Odenigbo had seven sacks in 2019. Although his total dipped to 3.5 last season, he also recorded 15 quarterback hits, three tackles for loss and a safety. He's capable of being a disruptive player. It's all about opportunity within the Giants' scheme.

With training camp here, view photos of every move made by the Giants this offseason.

Daniel Jones will not use his legs as much this season because of the added weapons in the passing game.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - Daniel Jones should and will be a big factor in the running game. He doesn't have to keep the ball on read-options more than a couple times a game to keep defenses honest. Just the threat of him keeping the ball and popping out on the weak side of the play will hold the defensive end or linebacker for a second or two. Those extra beats could help turn a 5-yard Saquon Barkley run into a 30-yard run.

Dan Salomone: Fiction - Joe Judge believes in playing to players' strengths, and a major thing that sets Jones apart is his ability to scramble and run for significant yardage. The addition of weapons on the outside, in addition to the return of Saquon Barkley, could open things up more for him on the ground.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Given the fact that Daniel Jones has missed at least two games in each of his first two seasons, it's unlikely the Giants want to expose him to additional, unnecessary hits. That combined with the return of Saquon Barkley provides enough reason to keep the volume of his runs around the same number as 2020, when he collected 65. So let's go fiction here even though his opportunities on the ground may not diminish.

DL Leonard Williams will again lead the Giants in sacks.

John Schmeelk: Fact - Who else it would be? There are so many potential edge rushers who could split playing time, who would you pick to finish with more sacks than Leonard Williams? No interior defensive lineman has finished with 10 or more sacks in consecutive seasons in recent history except for Aaron Donald, so perhaps Williams finishes with around eight and leads the team.

Dan Salomone: Fact - Williams has found a home with the Giants. He said he likes how the coaches challenge him, which led to him having a career year in 2020. He's not slowing down anytime soon.

Lance Medow: Fact - Leonard Williams led the Giants with 11.5 sacks in 2020. The next-closest players were Dexter Lawrence and Kyler Fackrell with four apiece Fackrell is no longer on the team and Lawrence will have to help fill the void left behind by Dalvin Tomlinson. Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are both returning from injury and Azeez Ojulari certainly has the ability to top the list. But based on what we've already seen on the NFL level and the unknown regarding snap counts for some of the young pass rushers, it's hard to go with anyone other than Williams.

View photos of the New York Giants' active 53-man roster as it currently stands.

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