Continuing our series of offseason breakdowns following the 2021 schedule release, theRams.com examines the Rams' Week 6 road opponent, the New York Giants (MetLife Stadium, Oct. 17, 10 a.m. PT, FOX).
The Giants got off to a tough start under first-year head coach Joe Judge. Star running back Saquon Barkley's season ended prematurely with a torn ACL in Week 2 against the Bears, and they went 1-7 across their first eight games. They gave the Rams a close contest in Week 4 at SoFi Stadium, though, as the Rams needed a redzone interception by cornerback Darious Williams to clinch a 17-9 win.
New York began to turn things around, though, with a four-game win streak beginning with a Week 9 win at Washington, stringing together those victories despite starting quarterback Daniel Jones missing the fourth game of that stretch with a hamstring injury sustained in the third game. However, Jones also later sustained an ankle injury in a Week 14 loss to the Cardinals, in what marked the start of a three-game losing streak.
A regular season finale victory over the Cowboys put the Giants at 6-10, but still with a chance to clinch a playoff spot as the NFC East division winner if Washington lost to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football. Washington defeated Philadelphia 20-14, however, ending New York's season. While they did not reach the postseason, the Giants still finished with the No. 12 total defense in the NFL (349.3 total yards allowed per game) and tied with the Steelers for the league's No. 10 run defense (111.4 rushing yards allowed per game).
The Giants released veteran wide receiver Golden Tate and linebacker David Mayo on March 4. Then, one week before the start of the new league year, they released veteran guard Kevin Zeitler, who was one of five Giants players to start all 16 games last season.
Once the new league year – and in turn, free agency – began, New York stayed busy. It signed a total of 15 free agents from March 17-30, headlined by former Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay (four-year deal), former Titans cornerback Adoree' Jackson (three-year deal), and former Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (two-year deal).
In the draft, the Giants added another target for Jones, selecting former Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney 20th overall after trading back with the Bears. The Giants then used their next two selections reinforcing their defense, taking former UCLA edge Azeez Ojulari in the second round (50th overall), followed by former UCF cornerback Aaron Robinson in the third round (71st overall).
In terms of the coaching staff, Judge hired Rob Sale as New York's new offensive line coach.
Judge enters his second season as head coach of the Giants.
What to watch for
Impact of new offensive personnel
Each team's offense will look fairly different compared to the ones that took the field in last year's matchup.
The Rams now have Matthew Stafford as their starting quarterback and added explosive wide receiver DeSean Jackson. The Giants, as detailed above, surrounded Jones with more targets in the passing game.
These new pieces will undoubtedly have an impact on how each's team's defense prepares for the opposing offense.