Week 1 is finally upon us, and NFL regular season football actually starts tonight, while the Jacksonville Jaguars compete in just a few days. Jacksonville travels up to East Rutherford, New Jersey to take on the New York Giants at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin, and a couple members of the Jacksonville coaching staff, have deep ties with the Giants as a franchise, but New York now has a new general manager and coaching staff, as well as new schemes and new players.
So, what should we expect from this new-look Giants team? To help us answer this question, I spoke to Ed Valentine, managing editor for Big Blue View — our SB Nation counterpart covering all things New York Giants.
1. Were there any big surprises on the Giants’ 53-man roster: players you expected to make the team who didn’t, or players you expected to be waived/released, but made the roster?
Ed: Well, everyone seems stunned that the Giants cut backup QB Davis Webb, a 2017 third-round pick of former GM Jerry Reese. They kept their fourth-round pick, Kyle Lauletta, and journeyman Alex Tanney instead. There are four UDFAs on the roster, which is more than I thought (there would be). This roster reflects the fact that new people are making the decisions and the Giants weren’t good a year ago. A lot of change.
2. Olivier Vernon is yet to practice this week and Evan Engram was wearing a red non-contact jersey after recently suffering a concussion. Are you expecting either player to miss the season opener against Jacksonville, or is this precautionary? Are there any other injuries from the Giants we should know about?
Ed: I’m honestly not concerned about Engram. The expectation is he will be cleared this week (Editor’s note: Engram has now cleared concussion protocol). Vernon? I’m not sure. I doubt he practices much, if at all, this week. Could be a “test the ankle before the game and see if he can go” kind of thing. Losing him would be a major blow. He is the Giants only established pass rusher.
3. How excited are you to watch Odell Beckham Jr. line up against Jalen Ramsey -- or A.J. Bouye -- and how do you see that matchup playing out?
Ed: I’m curious to watch Ramsey vs. Beckham. Always love to see the best vs. the best, especially if they just play ball and leave the trash talk and cheap theatrics behind. No idea how it will play out. I assume both will make some plays.
4. What is the Giants’ biggest strength on offense and on defense, and what would you say the biggest weakness is for both sides of the ball?
Ed: This is really difficult to say since they have a new staff and new schemes on both sides. On offense, I think the rebuilt offensive line has to prove itself. On defense, can they rush the passer?
5. What do you predict the final score will be and why?
Ed: You have no idea how much I hate this question. It’s the first game of the year with really an entirely new Giants team. I think we’re going to see a team that should be able to score, but I’m not sure how well it will defend. I haven’t, honestly, studied Jacksonville in depth. The Giants will be at home, and I think the presence of Beckham and Saquon Barkley will inspire them, but who knows? I’ll say Giants win, 24-20, but I really haven’t got any idea how to predict this one.
Thank you to Ed for providing his insights and taking the time to chat with me. Be sure to follow him on Twitter, and to keep up with everything on the Giants’ side of the Week 1 matchup, follow Big Blue View as well.