Keidel: No Matter Who Is At QB, Giants Will Struggle With Current Crop Of Wide Receivers

Jason Keidel
July 29, 2019 - 1:53 pm
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While the wide receiver has become more emotionally erratic over the years, the position has also become essential. 

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The Giants jettisoned their most volatile wideout, dealing Odell Beckham Jr to Cleveland, and thus clearing the locker room and slashing sideshows in half. Yet instead of plowing forward with a new slate of receivers, Big Blue's pass-catchers are dropping like summer sweat from a player's chin. 

Their best and most experienced receiver, Golden Tate, is the latest Giant to fall before the preseason starts. The former Lion and Seahawk, who just signed a four-year deal with the G-Men, has been suspended for taking a banned substance. Tate is appealing the decision, with a sprawling Twitter post asserting that he took a fertility drug under doctor supervision.

Tate's troubles came to light right after another starting receiver, Sterling Shepard, broke his left thumb. During the same practice session, Corey Coleman suffered a season-ending ACL injury. This leaves Big Blue with a dearth of decent players at the position. Their lineup at wideout is a dubious list that includes Cody Latimer, Russell Shepard, Bennie Fowler, Alonzo Russell, Reggie White and Da'Mari Scott. The Giants just signed TJ Jones and Amba Etta-Tawo. This is hardly a squad that stokes fear in NFL defenses. 

While few folks consider the Giants a playoff team, that should be their goal. But if they are to even keep their nose around .500 they will need to do more than just hand the ball to Saquon Barkley and pray. Indeed, out of the twelve teams that caught the most touchdown passes in 2018, eight made the playoffs. The Giants aren't exactly the football iteration of the Yankees, loaded with home-run hitters darting down each sideline. 

The Yankees, forever tethered to the Giants because they played in the same ballpark during baseball's golden years, have somehow turned injury into ingenuity, with a stable of backups and also-rans quickly morphing into stars in pinstripes. The Giants don't have that ability or luxury. Beckham was their only deep threat, their only WR who drew double teams and their only WR could score from anywhere on the field. Now, the G-Men seem laden with possession receivers, at best, and at worst a gaggle of no-names, the gridiron version of those red shirts at the beginning of a Star Trek episode, who would surely be zapped into salt cubes before the first commercial. 

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This is just another layer of concern lapped onto a team that went 5-11 last year and invested much of their draft in defense. No doubt their D needs the help, but the Giants weren't exactly the Bill Walsh Niners on offense. As a team they caught just 23 TD passes, less than half of what the Chiefs scored (50). 

As the buzzards circle Eli Manning, their brave but decaying QB, the Giants need to find proper players to catch his passes. Last year Manning was 17th in TD passes (21), 17th in completion percentage (66.0) and 21st in passer rating (92.4). Even if Daniel Jones is dangerously close to taking the QB job, the rookie from Duke can't flourish by tossing to Britton Golden instead of Golden Tate. 

Head coach Pat Shurmur was hired by the Giants for his acumen on offense, for being a step ahead of NFL defenses. Yet last year Big Blue was 24th in rushing yards and scored just one point more than the Bengals for the season. And that was with the tortured No. 13 on the roster.  Of course, Shurmur needs talent, like any other NFL coach, but innovation has a way of making players look better than the back of their football cards. So, it's on Shurmur to make lemonade this summer, out of a basket of lemons at wide receiver. 

"We've got other guys that are competing to make our team," said the Giants head coach. "We just keep moving." 

He’s right. We just don't know which direction. 

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