I think we can all agree if the offensive line does not improve significantly from last year, this team is not going anywhere anyway. So let's assume for now the o-line holds together pretty well: Solder is as advertised, Hernandez has a very nice rookie season, Brett Jones improves some and holds his own at Center, Omameh proves to be a serviceable starting guard, and we find someone to play RT that is not a completely laughing-stock. Okay... these are slightly doomsday-ish scenarios, but which of these scenarios are most/least likely.
Let me preface this by saying I do not want ANY of these scenarios to become a reality, I'm actually posting this because I believe if all three turn out to NOT be true, AND we have an improved O-Line as stated above, this team could contend for the playoffs...
1) It turns out, due to the injury, Beckham is not the same WR he once was, a la Cruz after his injury. Sure he puts up decent numbers but he is not the dominant force he once was and is simply an above-average starting WR. The regression is to the point that he is not worth anywhere near $18M per year and the Giants are unwilling to sign him to a big long-term deal in spite of his production the first 3 years of his career.
(COUNTER-SCENARIO: Beckham returns to his old form and has a great year, likely justifying a massive multi-year contract)
2) Saquon Barkley's skills clearly do not translate to the NFL, to the point that by the end of his rookie season most of us are considering he may very well be a "bust". He can't break tackles at the LOS, he can't juke and spin away from defenders the way he did in college, he shows flashes of greatness here and there but just can't do enough consistently to be the every-down dynamic threat we thought he was (i.e. he goes the way of Reggie Bush).
(COUNTER-SCENARIO: Barkley has a very promising rookie season, contributes as a threat as a runner, receiver, pass-blocker, and puts up numbers to the point that he is in the conversation for offensive rookie of the year).
3) Eli Manning, despite now having an improved offensive line and healthy skills players, clearly just doesn't have it anymore. He's inaccurate, inconsistent, shows loss of arm strength, and the turnover monster comes back to haunt him, especially at the worst times. Once the Giants are out of playoff contention, it is clearly time to move on from Eli, and Webb/Lauletta get a shot to show what they have.
(COUNTER-SCENARIO: Eli has a very nice comeback season, throws for around 4,000 yards, keeps turnovers down, leads the Giants to a playoff berth, and is in the conversation for comeback player of the year).
This may be a cop-out, but I'm not going to rank these myself, mainly because I really don't know how I would rank them. I'm just posting this because I think our season hinges a lot on these scenarios and I'm curious to get y'all's opinions on how likely/unlikely each one is. Thanks.