The Green Bay Packers’ 2016 schedule features a frustratingly early bye week, coming in week four, which means that the team will close out the season with 13 straight games. Their first contest coming out of the bye will be at home against the New York Giants, the subject of this opponent preview.
The G-Men struggled last season, finishing 6-10 in one of the poorest divisions in the NFL. Following head coach Tom Coughlin’s retirement, they hired former Packers assistant Ben McAdoo to replace him, promoting him from his duties as offensive coordinator. McAdoo’s offense actually led the league in touchdown passes and was a top-ten unit in points scored and yards gained; however, he will need to figure out a way to improve a defense that was last in the league in both total yards and passing yards allowed and which gave up the third-most points in the NFL in 2015.
Oh, and there’s a name penciled into the Giants’ starting lineup that could give Packers fans bad flashbacks. Watch out for that. Here’s our look at the Giants from our colleagues over at Big Blue View, the SB Nation covering the team.
New York Giants
Notable free agent additions
DE Olivier Vernon; DT Damon Harrison; CB Janoris Jenkins; LB Keenan Robinson; LB Kelvin Sheppard; FB/TE Will Johnson
Notable free agent departures
DE Robert Ayers; CB Prince Amukamara
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:
Eli Apple, CB, Round 1: Whether or not the reports are right that the Giants preferred either LB Leonard Floyd or OT Jack Conklin no longer matters. They selected Apple 10th overall, and he figures as one of the team’s top three corners. Whether that is in the slot or not has yet to be determined, but teams use three corners a great deal now, so Apple will play a lot.
Sterling Shepard, WR, Round 2: The Giants seem more excited about getting Shepard than any of their other picks. He has been called a “perfect fit” for the West Coast-based Giants offense. Whether he starts or not, Shepard is expected to be a major contributor immediately.
Darian Thompson, S, Round 3: Thompson is competing with Nat Berhe to start alongside Landon Collins. He is a ball-hawking free safety and that skill set is something the Giants have been lacking for a couple of years.
Paul Perkins, RB, Round 5: The Giants’ backfield is crowded with veteran players, but the Giants drafted Perkins for a reason. He could be their featured back of the future. Will that come this season? It might, but veteran Rashad Jennings figures to get first crack at the job.
Biggest offseason addition
It’s not one guy. It really is the troika of high-priced free-agent defensive players the Giants signed -- Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, Janoris Jenkins. The defensive was worst in the NFL last year, and the Giants were aggressive trying to address it. Five of the six big free agents they signed were defensive players, and three of their first four draft picks were also defensive players.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp
Ben McAdoo says he is “over it” already, when asked about being a first-time head coach and replacing a franchise legend in Tom Coughlin. Still, the changes from Coughlin to McAdoo are noticeable around the practice facility and on the practice field. Will they be noticeable in the won-loss record?
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp
For Giants fans this is not under-the-radar, but I will say the question of when of if the Giants will ever address their offensive line by bringing in a veteran right tackle to replace Marshall Newhouse. Fans have been screaming about it since the end of last season. (APC Note: apparently it’s not just Packers fans who have been frustrated by Newhouse.) The Giants have missed on a few free agents and did not draft an offensive lineman. What the Giants do, or don’t do, there will continue to be a story.
Notable injuries heading into training camp
No new ones of major significance, which is the first time in several years that has been the case. Perhaps the “injury” of note is Victor Cruz coming back from a torn patellar tendon in 2014 and calf surgery that cost him all of 2015. Maybe the story is that with a new head coach in Ben McAdoo and new strength coach in Aaron Wellman the Giants have yet to suffer any devastating injuries.