Some may call it arrogance, but Dave Gettleman definitely has had a quiet confidence about the Giants team he's built for this season. His critics say he did more to tear things down. He believes he's built the foundation back up.
There's a long way to go before anyone knows who's right, but the Giants will take the first steps over the next four weeks in the preseason, which opens for them against the Jets on Thursday night. Here's a look at what Gettleman and everyone else will be watching for, as they search for signs of just how good (or not) this Giants team can be:
1. How ready is QB Daniel Jones?
The plan is for the Giants to ride Eli Manning this season, far enough that Jones never has to see the field. But plans can change, and quarterback controversies have a funny way of just happening. Whether one does, depends a lot on the ability of Jones.
The Giants have been publicly and privately raving about the sixth overall pick, but they caution that his readiness will be much more apparent when he starts playing in preseason games. And he will play. They don't need to see a lot of Manning, and Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta can compete for mop up duty. Jones figures to get more preseason action than anyone.
If he struggles, the Giants figure to be more inclined to let the 37-year-old Manning battle through any struggles he might have this season. But if he thrives, especially in any action with the first team, a switch at the first sign of trouble will be tempting. The move from Manning to Jones is coming eventually. Whether it has a chance to come this season should be apparent fairly soon.
2. Do the Giants have enough at receiver without Odell Beckham (and possibly Golden Tate, and maybe Sterling Shepard)?
The Giants liked the looks of a Beckham-less receiving corps with Shepard, Tate, and maybe Corey Coleman as the third receiver. Now Shepard has a broken thumb, Tate is facing a four-game suspension and Coleman is out with a torn ACL.
So what's left? They're about to find out. Tate will play in the preseason, but the rest of the reps will go to the likes of Russell Shepard, Cody Latimer and rookie Darius Slayton. That trio will probably have Sterling Shepard back by the opener, but still …
The Giants will use tight end Evan Engram and running back Saquon Barkley a lot in the passing game, but they're still going to need someone else to emerge. The good thing is that all those other receivers will certainly get their chance this summer.
3. Can anyone on defense get to the quarterback?
The Giants think they can, but even they acknowledge they are banking on potential more than anything else. They really believe that second-year pro Lorenzo Carter (four sacks last season) is going to emerge as a dominant pass rusher. And they're convinced that a health Markus Golden (who had 12.5 sacks in 2016) will be a free agency steal.
And they think those two, and Kareem Martin, will have plenty of room to break free thanks to an improving defensive line that now will feature a 342-pound rock in the middle in rookie Dexter Lawrence.
At least that's the plan.
Defensive coordinator James Bettcher won't be doing much scheming this summer, but the impact of Lawrence and the ability of Carter and Golden should be easy to see. They need to show some signs they can actually apply pressure to the quarterback before anyone really stats to believe.
4. How many more things can Saquon Barkley do?
This year, especially with Beckham gone, the Giants aren't hiding the fact that they're really going to have to run their offense through their dynamic, second-year running back. Of course, he touched the ball 352 times last season for 2,028 total yards and 15 touchdowns.
Is he really capable of more?
Obviously the Giants won't unleash him in the preseason. He's likely not to see much more than a few token touches. But maybe they'll give little hints of how they intend to use him. Will he line up wide more, or maybe out of the slot? How creative will Shurmur be?
The Giants think they'll only go as far as Barkley can carry them, so they'll have to find ways to keep the defense on its toes.
5. Did Gettleman really find the Hog Mollies who can finally fix this offensive line?
Left tackle Nate Solder (ankle) and right tackle Mike Remmers (back) aren't likely to see much preseason action, so it might be a while before we see if Gettleman's most important rebuilding project works. The Giants will get a look at a healthy Jon Halapio at center, though, flanked by guards Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler. So at least the middle will be intact.
Depth is a concern, so the Giants will take a long, hard look at the second and third-stringers. But it's the first stringers in the end that will matter most. The Giants would like the fivesome to be on the field together by the third preseason game, if possible, but that's not a guarantee. And that's too bad, because they could've used the preseason to develop their chemistry.
Instead, they'll likely have to do it in the regular season, on the fly.