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Daniel Jones, Dexter Lawrence and DeAndre Baker boost Giants to top division grade
Despite the 4-12 record and third place finish in the NFC East, the New York Giants might have the most potential in the division moving forward.
Daniel Jones played a major role in the Giants receiving the division’s top grade. Jones appeared to have a roller-coaster of a year, winning in dramatic fashion against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3 and throwing five interceptions against the New England Patriots in Week 6. While he at one point had thrown more interceptions than touchdowns, Jones evened the numbers out and found his rhythm on the field not all at once, but slowly. He finished his rookie campaign with 24 TDs, 12 interceptions and 3,027 yards for a rating of 87.7.
Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence also had a strong first season for the Giants. New York was able to select the former Clemson Tiger in the 2019 NFL Draft because of their Odell Beckham trade to the Cleveland Browns, which landed them the 17th overall pick. Lawrence started all 16 games, finishing the season with 38 combined tackles, 2.5 sacks, nine quarterback hits, three tackles for a loss and one forced fumble. He also earned a sport on the Pro Football Focus All-Rookie team, earning a top 10 grade (76.1) among first-year players.
Then there is the improvement that cornerback DeAndre Baker made to the Giants secondary – a unit that was poised to struggle this season in the wake of Eli Apple’s absence and, eventually, Janoris Jenkins.
Baker got off to a slow start with the Giants, only playing 46 percent of the team’s snaps in Week 1. But after that, Baker was on the field for about 96 percent of the team’s defensive plays from Week 2 – Week 10. Admittedly, Baker did not always have the strongest performances during that time frame as he consistently looked lost on the field and was getting beat in coverage.
The Giants decided to reduce Baker’s snap count after the team’s Week 11 bye and Baker responded positively. He became one of the best corners in football down the stretch, according to Pro Football Focus. The start to his NFL career left something to be desired but if Baker can carry the momentum he created at the end of the 2019 season into 2020, then the Giants might finally have a consistent threat in the secondary.
The NFL.com report also credits the performances of safety Julian Love and breakout wide receiver Darius Slayton, who finished with 48 receptions for 740 yards and eight touchdowns in his breakout rookie campaign.
Perhaps some of this young talent suggests change is coming for the Giants in the win column moving forward.