State of the Offense:
A lot has changed on the Giants’ offense entering this season, but the same problems remain. Martellus Bennett comes in to reinforce the depleted tight end group, while Rueben Randle was drafted to replace Mario Manningham as the team’s third receiver. In the backfield rookie David Wilson comes in to replace the departed Brandon Jacobs while William Beatty’s return at left tackle brings another new line combination, although Beatty actually opens the season on the bench. It appears that the Giants will have to rely heavily on Eli Manning’s ability to find Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz once again this year. Otherwise they may not sneak into the playoffs again.
State of the Defense:
Prior to last season, the Giants’ starting cornerback Terrell Thomas tore his ACL. Thomas was re-signed in the off-season after working hard to get back to full fitness, but he injured the knee once again and has been ruled out for the year again. An optimist would look at that as a sign, but realistically it is going to significantly hurt the team. Prince Amukamara, the Giants’ first round pick before last season, will be asked to step up. If he can’t, veteran Michael Coe will be asked to fill in just like Aaron Ross did last year. Another major hit for the defense is the loss of Chris Canty and Shaun Rodgers. Canty, a starter at defensive tackle, will miss the first six games of the year on the PUP list while Rodgers is on IR for the year. Jason Pierre-Paul could spend a lot more time at defensive tackle this year.
Despite the loss of Canty, the Giants still have the best defensive line in the NFL. Rocky Bernard, a veteran, Linval Joseph, an emerging third year tackle, and youngster Marvin Austin will do enough to complement the superstar defensive ends. Even if the two youngsters struggle, the Giants can still move Pierre-Paul inside and start Justin Tuck with Osi Umenyiora outside.
Eli Manning’s performances last year were made even more impressive on review because of the porous offensive line that protected him. Manning’s bravery and quick release allowed the offense to function. He will need to repeat those performances this year as the Giants haven’t made major alterations upfront.
If the Giants’ offensive line can establish itself and protect Manning, while also opening more holes in the running game, the unit has all the explosion outside to light up the scoreboard on a weekly basis. An improved offense would hide any defensive deficiencies, allowing the Giants’ pass rushers to pin their ears back.
Cian Fahey writes for Irishcentral and the Guardian. You can follow him on twitter @Cianaf