Eli Manning's consecutive starts streak is the most untouchable Giants record
John Schmeelk: Fact – I would really like to go with something obscure like Eli Manning's fourth quarter stats from 2011, but his consecutive starts streak is truly extraordinary and will probably never be beaten. Manning's 222-game consecutive start streak is the third longest in NFL history. The only other player that may someday beat Manning must be a quarterback, since no other position could survive through the wear and tear of starting every game for nearly 14 consecutive seasons. The quarterback would also have to avoid getting rested in the final game of a season where the Giants have their playoff positioning wrapped up. The most important factor, of course, is the quarterback has to be good enough to hold the job for that long. It isn't easy and won't happen again. It is one of the reasons Manning was truly unique.
Dan Salomone: Fact – Michael Strahan's 22.5 sacks in 2001 are not only a Giants record but also a league record. Emlen TunnelI's 79 career interceptions also won't be reached anytime soon. So, I think those two are the biggest competition to Manning's 222 consecutive starts. But the ironman records always do it for me, especially in a sport like football where availability is the best ability.
Lance Medow: Fact - Eli Manning made 222 consecutive starts between November 2004 and November 2017, and remember, his streak didn't even end due to injury. To put things in perspective, Daniel Jones missed two starts as a rookie because of injury. On top of that, in the entire history of the NFL, just four quarterbacks (Brett Favre, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Eli) have reached 200 consecutive starts. The league just celebrated its 100th anniversary. It's going to take an immense amount of luck and durability for someone to approach Eli's record.
Football players dreaded facing Lawrence Taylor more than basketball players did with Michael Jordan.
Schmeelk: Fact – Michael Jordan would challenge you both mentally and physically and do everything he could to beat you. Defeating him when he was at the peak of his powers was near impossible. He wasn't Lawrence Taylor, who struck actual fear into the players he faced. Football is a far more physical game than basketball. While Jordan could embarrass opponents with his sheer athleticism, Taylor could physically dominate opponents and make them concerned for their well-being. He was scary. He was a force of nature. He inspired dread more than any basketball player could. If Lance doesn't select fiction on this, I will eat his Air Jordan's for breakfast.
Salomone: Fact – I'm going to keep this short. Opponents feared losing when they played Michael Jordan; opponents worried about their health when they faced Lawrence Taylor. That's a big difference. That will keep you up the night before games – and afterward, too.
Medow: Fiction – On a side note, I know it absolutely must have killed Dan Salomone to include this statement in this week's edition of Fact or Fiction because he rarely opens the door for me to discuss the greatest basketball player of all-time. John Schmeelk is a completely different story. Jordan caused him plenty of nightmares throughout his childhood because the Bulls with MJ eliminated the Knicks all five times they met in the postseason (1989 Eastern Conference semis, 1991 quarters, 1992 semis, 1993 ECF, 1996 semis). That fact never gets old. So, although he may not admit it publicly, Schmeelk absolutely dreaded having to watch Jordan face his team, and I enjoy reminding him of that. Now that all those important factors out of the way, let's address the topic at hand. It goes without saying both Lawrence Taylor and Michael Jordan had a significant impact on their respective teams and were two outstanding athletes on a level far above the rest of the competition.
Taylor's impact was limited to one side of the ball, whereas Jordan played both. When opponents played against Jordan, they had to worry about defending him and trying to solve his defense. Opposing defensive players didn't have to worry about LT so much. While Taylor helped the Giants win a pair of Super Bowls, five other teams (including two division rivals) claimed Lombardi Trophies, three on multiple occasions. Jordan dominated the '90s and is responsible for depriving many Hall of Famers and even more All-Stars a ring. The only team to win a title during the Bulls dynasty when Jordan was on the court was the Rockets in 1995, but that came in a season when Jordan had just returned from baseball and played in only 17 regular season games and had no training camp. I'm sure many players, especially opposing offensive linemen and quarterbacks, dreaded facing Taylor, but every single player on the opposing roster had to deal with Jordan. No exceptions. No shortcuts.
The best photos of Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who was named to the NFL 100 All-Time Team
The player you're most anxious to see on the field whenever they return is QB Daniel Jones.
Schmeelk: Fact -- There is no more important position in any sport than quarterback. Coming off a strong rookie season, Jones will be playing in an offensive system much different than Pat Shurmur's west coast based scheme. Even without spring workouts, Jones' diligent work ethic and intelligence should allow him to learn Jason Garrett's offense. I am anxious to see how quickly he is able to transfer that knowledge to the field. I'm even more curious to see how Jones' skillset fits into what Garrett asks him to do. Jones taking a big jump in his second season, specifically cutting down his turnovers, will be the most important factor in whether the Giants have an improved season.
Salomone: Fact – There's too much agreement between the three of us this week. That can't be good for me. But yes, DJ is the man to watch whenever players return to the field. He broke pretty much every franchise record for rookie quarterbacks, and now he is learning an offense under Jason Garrett, whose system produced eight top-10 finishes in yards with him as either coordinator or head coach in Dallas. That includes a No. 1 finish last year. On top of that, it will be interesting to see the dynamic between Jones and Joe Judge, who had a front row seat to the most accomplished head coach-quarterback tandem in history in Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
Medow: Fact -- As Daniel Jones enters his second season in the league, he is again learning a new offense, working with a new offensive coordinator and building a relationship with a new head coach. That fact alone makes him the player to watch once the team returns to action. With no on-field work and the offseason limited to virtual means, it's going to be interesting to see how he adapts to the new scheme and how quickly that translates to the field. Offensive production is based on several factors, but Jones has the reins so his decision-making and performance will determine the ceiling for that facet of the team.
Jabrill Peppers is the Giants' top candidate to have a breakout season.
Schmeelk: Fiction -- I do think there's an opportunity for Peppers to have a breakout season, but I am going to go with Dexter Lawrence. The big man will have a chance to play beside Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson on the defensive line, which should limit the attention he receives on a down by down basis. He is a monstrous man with the agility of a smaller one. I would expect him to approach five sacks and be a dominant force in the run game. There were times in practice last year, even against a veteran like Kevin Zeitler, he looked nearly impossible to block one on one. With some more refinement of his technique, I think he may be able to bring that dominance to regular season games.
Salomone: Fact – What has been the theme of the offseason not only for the Giants but also around the NFL? Versatility. Judge needs players who can adapt week to week, possession by possession, and play to play depending on the game plan. Peppers can play a variety of roles on defense and special teams. It's going to be fun to watch what he does with this coaching staff.
Medow: Fiction -- I'm going with another member of the 2017 draft class. Last season, Evan Engram was on pace for a career year, but he was once again struck by the injury bug. 2019 had breakout season written all over it for Engram and I think he will have a great shot to accomplish that feat in 2020, given how much the Cowboys involved the tight end in their offense during Jason Garrett's tenure. If you look at Jason Witten and Blake Jarwin's production under Garrett, that's a promising sign for what Engram can do this season. Last season through the first five games, Engram accumulated 33 receptions, 373 yards and two touchdowns. Just think what he can do if he stays healthy and plays a full season.
View photos of Giants safety Jabrill Peppers.