New York Giants
The Giants coaching staff has set the bar high for Eli Manning after a disastrous 2013 campaign. But if Manning is unable to bounce back in a major way, not only will the entire offense remain stagnant but there’s a chance the team must seriously consider other options at the quarterback position.
The team addressed its offensive line and added a host of backs in an effort to jump-start the running game. It added downfield threat Odell Beckham Jr. with its first-round pick to insert next to Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle, replenishing Manning with dynamic wideouts. Still, the unit lacks a playmaker at tight end.
The Giants defense has struggled mightily to generate a pass rush like they had during both of their Super Bowl runs. Jason Pierre-Paul, who was passed the torch from Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, has been hurt more often than not, and the rest of the unit has followed his lead.
Pierre-Paul proclaims himself back to full strength, while second-year end Damontre Moore is expected to see an expanded role. But we need to see this line strike fear in opposing quarterbacks like it used to, otherwise the rest of the defense will suffer.
Very active in free agency, the Giants revamped their secondary. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is now starting opposite Prince Amukamara, while Walter Thurmond and Quintin Demps add depth at safety.
The offense is already improved over last year’s unit, but the play of Manning will be the difference between average and good. Manning’s clutch play was the catalyst during the team’s playoff runs, and his sporadic play has been the reason why the offense has stalled in recent years.
Similarly, the defense hasn’t been as effective since the pass rush dwindled. The team needs to get back to what it does best, but it remains to be seen whether the personnel is good enough.
The Giants need players to live up to the back of their playing cards if they want to make a run in the NFC East. There’s a lot of talent, but disappointing production. Let’s see what 2014 brings.