The times are a-changin’ for the New York Giants in 2016.
The long, occasionally brilliant reign of coach Tom Coughlin is over, with his offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo stepping up to the big chair as the Giants prepare to open their season Sunday afternoon at the Dallas Cowboys.
For those who haven’t been dialed in this offseason, here are three things to know about this year’s G-Men.
Expensive new defense
The Giants went on one of the biggest spending sprees in the NFL to upgrade it’s languishing defense.
Defensive end Olivier Vernon, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and defensive tackle Damon Harrison were given five-year contracts which add up to nearly $200 million, with more than $100 million guaranteed. The pressure in on them, and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, to turn around the worst defense in terms of yards allowed from a season ago.
On the line
There’s reason for optimism about the Giants’ offense, but the jury remains out on their offensive line.
Left tackle Ereck Flowers struggled as a rookie in 2015, but there’s time for him to develop. But the rest of the group has struggled to the point that the Giants recently re-signed former starting left tackle Will Beatty, who missed all of last season and was released by Big Blue early in the offseason.
If the unit flounders, the offense will be inconsistent.
All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will, of course, remain quarterback Eli Manning’s favorite target. He’ll have help, though.
Victor Cruz, who has battled various injuries the past couple seasons, is poised to play his first regular-season game in nearly two years. The Giants also drafted Sterling Shepard, a 5-foot-10 receiver out of Oklahoma, in the second round.
If Cruz is even half as good as he was pre-injuries, this should be Manning’s best set of wideouts in several years.