Former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson believes the New York Giants have the potential to go from worst to first in the NFC East this season.
Last year, we saw the Cincinnati Bengals make that leap in the AFC North. After three straight fourth-place finishes in that division (2018-2020), Cincinnati won the AFC North with a 10-7 record last year. The Bengals then went on to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LVI, where they ultimately fell to the Los Angeles Rams by a final score of 23-20.
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When asked recently on ESPN’s Keyshawn, Will & Max show to rank the teams that could be this year’s Bengals, Johnson ranked the Giants No. 2. Below is a video clip of Johnson’s analysis (h/t u/shadow_spinner0 on Reddit).
Kellerman: Who could this year’s Bengals be, right?
Johnson: Your New York Giants, Max.
Johnson: They sit there at No. 2. They could shock some people! We don’t know Brian Daboll as a head coach, but we also know him as a quarterback — I guess, so-called — whisperer. They fixed Josh Allen. First couple years, Josh Allen in Buffalo struggled a little bit. Then, all of the sudden, he caught fire. He’s been doing well so far, got a couple MVP votes a year ago. He wasn’t the reason the Kansas City Chiefs wind up beating them in the end and going on to the AFC Championship game. But we’ll see if Danny Dimes and Saquon Barkley can all of the sudden live up to what their billing was when they were drafted. We’ll find out.
Only one NFL team has more potential than the Giants to go from worst to first this season, according to Johnson. Here is his complete ranking:
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- New York Giants
- Denver Broncos
- Miami Dolphins
- Carolina Panthers
Now, let’s dive a little deeper into what Johnson actually said about the Giants.
Here’s What Keyshawn Got Right
Johnson correctly identified the three individuals who are most responsible for the Giants’ level of success this season: head coach Brian Daboll, quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley.
Daboll is in his first year as a head coach. He had a lot of success as an offensive coordinator with the Buffalo Bills, but now he’s running an entire team. First-year general manager Joe Schoen (also from Buffalo) has helped him turn over the roster with fresh talent. Now, he must mold that talent into a winning team.
The biggest factor in that formula is Jones. Daboll oversaw a massive transformation in Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who went from raw passer as a rookie to one of the best players in the game a season ago. Jones may not have as high a ceiling, but he doesn’t need as much work as Allen did coming out of college. If Daboll can devise a system that sets Jones up for success, the Giants will win more games than they did last season.
There’s also a ton of pressure on Barkley to perform, as he’s a former No. 2 overall draft pick and probably the biggest superstar on the team. His level of production needs to match the level of hype that surrounds him. Maybe that means using him more as a wide receiver.
Here’s What Keyshawn Forgot
Revamping the offense is just part of a winning formula. As bad as they’ve been on that side of the ball in recent years, the defense also needs to take a leap this season. The Giants ranked 23rd in points allowed per game and 21st in yards allowed per game in 2021.
The addition of defensive coordinator Wink Martindale should help the Giants drastically transform their defense in 2022. Martindale spent the past four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, and in three of those four years the Ravens ranked top three in the league in terms of points allowed per game.
The selection of outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux with the fifth-overall pick in this year’s draft gives the Giants a potential superstar in the front seven, but they still have a lot of questions to address in the secondary. Two team captains from last year — safeties Logan Ryan (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Jabrill Peppers (New England Patriots) — are no longer with the team.