Don’t Underestimate Importance of Week 1 for Giants

The season-opener always seems to carry a certain level of importance for NFL teams.

It’s not surprising given that this is just a 16-game regular season. But for the New York Giants, this opener means a whole lot more.

For Big Blue, it is not just the chance to atone for a 3-13 season a year ago. It is also the chance to set the tone for the other 15 games they will play this year.

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur looks ahead to Big Blue's Week 1 matchup against the Jaguars and comments on the Odell Beckham Jr.-Jalen Ramsey matchup this weekend.

The revamped Giants are a different team than last year, a group that is seemingly pieced together with a certain level of purpose and course. While it might be fool’s gold to say that this team is a lock to make the playoffs in what might just be the deepest division in all of the league, the Giants should be a drastically better and improved team over last year’s edition.

All of which makes Sunday’s opener at MetLife Stadium against Jacksonville an incredibly important game. A game that might just determine the mood and direction of this team.

“I think obviously through the course of a season you learn a lot about a team,” Eli Manning said. “We just have to come together as a team and figure out the roles of certain guys and how that’s going to play throughout the course of the season. We have to come out and figure out how we’re going to be able to win games.”

This time a year ago, the Giants were pegged to make a return trip to the playoffs, and some even whispered that they had the look and feel of a Super Bowl team. The Giants had made a big leap forward in 2016, making the playoffs after a four-season hiatus and twice beating the Dallas Cowboys, the team that won the NFC East.

Instead of improving off of that solid 2016 effort last season, the Giants ended up picking second in the NFL Draft. It was baffling that a veteran team with so many established players and big names could disappoint with just a three-win season.

This offseason saw a drastic roster overhaul, one where nearly half the names in the locker room are new ones. The message from first-year head coach Pat Shurmur is one of a fresh start.

If this Giants team is to turn the page on a rough season, then starting this year strong — with a home game, no less — will be very important. Getting a win against a Jaguars team that won the AFC South and finished a game away from the Super Bowl last season certainly would count as a step in the right direction.

A Week 1 win would help wash away the bad taste from last year’s 3-13 finish and would go a long way in getting this team to believe again.

“[Week 1] is very important,” safety Landon Collins said. “We’re not harping on it. Honestly, we’re taking it day-by-day, step-by-step, working together and staying together as a team. We’re fighting together and we’re going out on the practice field making sure we got everything perfect [for] when we go on the field.”

[Watch Giants 1st & 10 Friday at 6 PM on MSG & MSG GO. Download free.]