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Fact or Fiction: Identity of Giants' offense in 2021


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

Despite adding weapons to the passing game, the Giants will still heavily focus on the run game.

John Schmeelk: Fact - If you go back to Jason Garrett's offenses in Dallas, he always kept a balanced offensive attack whether it was with Julius Jones, Marion Barber, DeMarco Murray, or Ezekiel Elliott. Similarly, Joe Judge has preached toughness as the foundation of his team, which is reflected in a team's ability to run the ball. The Giants still have Saquon Barkley and their offensive line is better at run blocking. A strong running game will also make things easier for Daniel Jones by keeping him in more advantageous situations entering his third season.

Dan Salomone: Fact - When you have Jason Garrett, Saquon Barkley, and even Daniel Jones with his legs, this will always be a factual statement. And you must remember that adding weapons in the passing game opens things up for the running game. Everything works together.

Lance Medow: Fact - It's no coincidence that during the Giants' four-game win streak from Weeks 9-13 in 2020, they had their four best rushing performances of the season. Whether it's Saquon Barkley or someone else doing the heavy lifting, New York needs to emphasize balance on the offensive end. You don't want your quarterback attempting about 40 passes per game because, regardless of the experience of the signal caller, the more times you put the ball in the air, the more times you give the defense an opportunity to make a play on it. Let's also not overlook the fact that four of the top six teams in the NFL in rushing yards per game in 2020 advanced to the postseason. Despite playing without Barkley for all but two games last season, the Giants were able to run the ball effectively. With Barkley coming back, it wouldn't make much sense to now abandon the run and go pass-happy simply because of many weapons in the aerial attack.

The Giants will have two skill players with double-digit offensive touchdowns.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - I think they will have one but not two. There is a real chance that both Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay finish with double-digit touchdowns, but I think one of them will finish just short of that total. The Giants have so many weapons on offense, and another elite red zone threat in Kyle Rudolph who should get at least five touchdowns on his own. In the end, it doesn't matter how the touchdowns are distributed, just that the Giants score a lot more than they did last year.

Dan Salomone: Fact - Saquon Barkley is a shoo-in between running and catching. So, who is the second player to hit double digits? The Giants have plenty of options with their additions in free agency and the draft. A sleeper pick is tight end Kyle Rudolph, whose basketball background makes him a weapon with jump balls in the red zone. He will be a major help for Daniel Jones, who was a noted hoops player at Charlotte Latin High School.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Last season, the Giants had 25 total offensive touchdowns, and Wayne Gallman led the way with six. Saquon Barkley collected 15 touchdowns in his rookie year in 2018, but that total dropped to eight in 2019 while he missed three games. I think Barkley is a good bet to get to double-digit touchdowns because of his versatility and ability to do damage multiple ways. But with so many different weapons in the passing game, including Barkley, it's going to be hard for someone to reach double figures. Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph are all threats to reach the end zone. While Toney, Shepard and Engram have shown the ability to score on runs, I'd be surprised if they all receive many opportunities that way this season with the return of Barkley. I'm leaning toward one skill player accomplishing that feat because I think it may be a spread-the-wealth type of mentality through the air.

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Linebacker Blake Martinez will make his first Pro Bowl.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - This does not mean that Blake Martinez won't be deserving, but I'm not sure how his stats can improve so much that he will change voters' minds when they haven't elected him before. His best chance of making it to the Pro Bowl is for the Giants' defense to be so dominant it will motivate voters to put him in the game for the first time.

Dan Salomone: Fact - He is the only player in the league with at least 140 tackles in each of the past four seasons. While he deserves to get his first Pro Bowl nod on his individual merits, we also know team success often leads to personal accolades. Both the defense and team as a whole are trending in that direction.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Blake Martinez led the NFL in tackles in 2017 and has had at least 144 tackles in each of the last four seasons, yet that still hasn't earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl. If that resume along with a solid first campaign as a member of the Giants isn't enough, then I'd be surprised if anything changes this season. It's really a numbers game for Blake. They only select two inside linebackers for each conference. In 2020, Seattle's Bobby Wagner and Fred Warner of San Francisco represented the NFC at that position, and they're both still with the same teams. Wagner has also made the Pro Bowl in each of the last seven seasons. I don't think the landscape will dramatically change at that spot.

Andrew Thomas is the Giants' offensive X-factor heading into the 2021 season.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - Andrew Thomas is an X-factor, but he is not THE X-factor. The only X-factor is Daniel Jones. He does need his offensive line to play well, but when all is said and done, the most pressure in any offense is on the shoulders of the quarterback. Jones made progress in his second season by improving on his efficiency, cutting down on his turnover-worthy plays and becoming a much more accurate passer on deep balls. If he can take the next step, the Giants have a great chance of being in the playoffs.

Dan Salomone: Fact - The offensive line is the X-factor for the season, and last year's first-round pick will be a major key to its success. If he can make a leap in Year 2, so can the unit and so can the team.

Lance Medow: Fiction - You can make a case for Andrew Thomas, but one offensive lineman alone can only make so much of a difference. Most teams in the NFL have really good pass rushers on each side. That's why the entire offensive line is really key and will play a significant role in determining the ceiling for this offense, but the true X-factor is Daniel Jones. He's entering Year 3 with a lot of weapons at his disposal. His decision-making and level of productivity will be critical in dictating how big of a jump an offense that averaged just 17.5 points per game in 2020 can make.

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