The New York Giants finished 6-10 last season, but Giants fans will tell you it’s because of their slow start. Quarterback Eli Manning seemed lost in a the new west-coast offense system implemented by offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and the offense’s timing seemed off on nearly every snap. Also, the Giants were without their first round pick for the first four games of the season, O’Dell Beckham Jr (we’ll get to him in a few minutes). This Giants team needs to be just as explosive on offense as their division rivals, the Eagles and the Cowboys – and also must find a way to stop those opposing offenses.
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul wanted a contract extension this season. The Giants were cautious of doing so because J.P.P’s production has gone below expectations. Good thing the Giants didn’t rush into things, because Pierre-Paul lost a finger while playing with fireworks on July 4th. Pierre-Paul has been the butt of many jokes in the aftermath of that event, but in all seriousness nobody knows if he’ll be ready by week one, and even if he is, nobody knows how effective he will be. The Giants still are willing to sign him to a franchise tag, but J.P.P – even in all of his nine fingered glory – isn’t thrilled about the franchise tag. J.P.P’s former college teammate George Selvie, has been the lesser pro-player of the two, since they both came out of USF, while the Giants will depend on the likes of Kendrick Ellis to help out the middle of the defensive line. The Giants used a third-round pick on UCLA defensive end, Owa Odighizuwa. Odighizuwa has had some injuries including a hip surgery which has somewhat limited his side-to-side quickness. He makes up for a lack of lateral movement with brute strength. The Giants need somebody to be a pass rusher and it may fall on the rookie.
Veteran Jon Beason is the only linebacker worth talking about on the Giants, but has been struggling to stay healthy and there is no telling what kind of player he’ll be from snap-to-snap. There is no speed at the line backer position from the Giants which will make it hard for them to cover the more athletic tight ends or add much to this pass-rush.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was brought back onto head coach Tom Coughlin’s staff trying to recreate the defenses that the Giants had in the late 2000’s. He has his work cut out for him this year, with not much up front and at the moment, working with as little help from the safety position as possible. The pre-season has not been kind to the Giant’s safeties as they keep dropping like flies, including second-round pick Landon Collins out of Alabama. The Houston Texans have just released safety Stevie Brown, so it makes sense that Brown, the former Giant, finds himself back in New York in no-time. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and the often injured Prince Amukamara are a pretty solid corner combo that has nothing behind them in the depth chart. Without a solid pass rush, these two will most likely find themselves in bad spots often.
The Giants knew they needed to work on their offensive line this season and they did their best this off-season. They signed former CFL star, Brett Jones, who played center (and at times played guard) for the Calgary Stampede. Jones was the CFL’s best offensive lineman and his versatility on the line will help the Giants out. It’s a step up in the level of competition for Jones, but it’s a step in the right direction for the Giants offensive line. The Giants also used a first-round pick on Miami Hurricane Ereck Flowers. The tackle came into the draft with noted character issues, but unless he has a nervous breakdown before the start of the season – the Giants have no reason to keep him off the starting roster.
Running behind this offensive line is running back Rashad Jennings. The former seventh-round pick has been a back up for most of his career and last year as a starter he seemed to flourish at times. Jennings has an injury history which caught up with him last year and gave time to running back Andre Williams. Williams was coming off of a monster year where he ran for over 2,000 yards at Boston College, but he could not get his legs going last season. The Giants are hoping that it was just ‘runner’s fatigue’ and this season the sophomore back can show more promise. The Giants are expecting former Patriots running back Shane Vereen to be the receiving back needed in this west-coast attack, but the success rate of running backs after leaving New England’s offense is very low. . . Like most Patriot’s players, Vereen is more a product of that system than anything else.
Eli Manning still holds the reigns at the quarterback position and that won’t change anytime soon. He cut his interceptions down last year (from twenty-seven in 2013, to fourteen in 2014) but still has an issue with fumbling (having seven last season). He’s a perennial “over-thrower” but his confidence never leaves him. He was having a miserable start to last season until Odell Beckham Jr. returned from injury, but for this offense to work, Eli is going to have to utilize everything around him. The problem is, there really isn’t much.
In the twelve games he played last season, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. recorded ninety-one receptions, twelve touchdowns, over 1,300 yards and at least one sports-show highlight a week. Beckham’s small stature doesn’t help out much when he’s asked to block on the outside for running backs, but at least his intensity doesn’t let him quit at it. Odell’s “over-the-top” enthusiasm keeps fans entertained, but has also made him a “marked man” of sorts throughout the league. . . The return of Victor Cruz is just about as exciting as the thought of “Pepsi Blue.” Cruz seems to refuse to run routes over the middle and has a lost a step in the deep-attack. His dancing days are behind him. It would be nice if Rueben Randle would grow into his potential already. Randle had his best season last year with 938 receiving yards and at this point, should be the number two receiver on the Giants roster. If Cruz would be willing to accept his true role, which is a slot receiver, the Giants would have a formidable trio out there – but nobody has ever heard of a slot receiver who won’t run routes over the middle, so there goes that idea. . .
Projected Record: 7-9
Projected Pro Bowlers: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie