Last season the New York Giants finished 9-7 for the second straight season, but did not make the playoffs. Their offense ranked 14th in the NFL, but their defense was the 2nd worst in the League. It sure was a disappointing season for the team that came into the year as the defending Super Bowl Champions.
On offense the Giants are led by the steady hand of Eli Manning. Peyton’s younger brother isn’t flashy, and he is still prone to some terrible games, but he’s a 2 time Super Bowl Champion that hardly gets fazed. Easy Eli will be handing the ball off to some relatively inexperienced running backs in David Wilson and Andre Brown. Wilson and Brown could be the new version of Thunder and Lightning for the Giants (The original Thunder and Lightning was the pairing of Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber in the early 2000’s). Lightning, Wilson, is expected to be the starter and Thunder, Brown, will enter the game as a change of pace back. While, Wilson and Brown, are growing into the job Eli is going to have to rely on the solid tandem of Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. Nicks, looking for a new contract, and Cruz, with a new contract, will be the players that carry the Giants offense. As good as Nicks and Cruz are, the Giants will need a 3rd receiver to step up. Looking back at the 2 Super Bowl runs made by the Giants, they relied heavily on the 3rd receiver to make plays. So, this year the Giants need Reuben Randle to step up. If he can’t then look for Louis Murphy, Ramses Barden, or Jerrel Jerrigan to claim the 3rd receiver spot. If none of those guys can do it, then new TE Brandon Myers will be crucial.
The Giants defense last season was brutal. The Giants finished 31st in overall team defense (24th in rushing, and 28th in passing). However, it must be noted that the Giants lost key players on defense for periods at a time. It was a bit of a M.A.S.H. unit all season. The strength of the Giants defense is once again on the defensive line. While, Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck are currently nursing injuries, the line is still deep. Mathias Kiwanuka has shifted back to defensive end, and rookie Damontre Moore should contribute if there is a prolonged absence to Pierre-Paul or Tuck. The ends will be supported by defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins. The questions on the Giants defense will come from the linebacker corp. In a 4-3 defense, it may not be a good thing that all 3 of your linebackers were not starters last season. All 3 spots are up for grabs. The likely starters for week 1: Rivers and Paysinger at the outside linebacker slots, and feel good story Mark Herzlich at middle linebacker. Finally, the secondary will have Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown at the safety spots with Prince Amukamara and Corey Webster at the corners. The Giants secondary typically have a few injuries every season so depth at every spot will be needed. Jayron Hosley, Aaron Ross, and the rest of the crew better be ready.
Giants special teams are led by kicker Josh Brown and punter (and kick holder) Steve Weatherford. Long snapper Zak DeOssie is mister consistent at his position. Reuben Randle is expected to return punts but look for Jerrel Jernigan to return kicks, either alongside David Wilson or another running back Da’rel Scott.
The New York Giants drafted 2 Syracuse alums in Justin Pugh (1st round) and Ryan Nassib (4th round). Nassib is expected to sit on the bench and learn behind Eli for a few seasons. He may or may not ever take a meaningful snap for the franchise. Pugh at the moment is the backup right tackle to David Diehl. The Giants also drafted another lineman in the 7th round, Eric Herman, that will likely not make the team. The Giants draft class is far from spectacular but there could be some impact by the aformentioned Damontre Moore who was taken in the 3rd round, and from 2nd round defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins. Those 2 will likely see the most time out of the players taken in this draft class.
I like the New York Giants. Yes, the defense has some issues at linebacker and key players need to get healthy but I really believe this Giants team will win the NFC East this season. Why? Eli. People laughed when he declared himself an elite QB, and although his play doesn’t suggest it at times, he has the weapons around him to have a big season. I feel confident that Randle and Murphy will contribute and that this Giants team will finish 10-6 and win their division.
Second Look: David
I’ve never been a fan of Old Tom. Never been a fan of Eli, for that matter. Problem is, they can’t hear me with a Lombardi in each ear. So take this for what its worth. I have huge issues with the defense, I’m not impressed at all with the running game, and even though the passing game should be fine, when it starts getting colder, they are going to have problems, even though Eli is better on the road than at home. I don’t see the playoff with the improvements of the Iggles and Redskins, so expect 14-2 and a third Super Bowl.
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