Jobu previews the 2013 New York Giants on the offensive side of the ball.
2012 was a bit of a disappointing season for the giants. The defending Super Bowl Champions didn’t even make the playoffs! As a fan, that was very disheartening. However, two Super Bowl championships in four years will give you a nice cushion for a lean year here or there, so I wasn’t too upset. Things could be worse. I could be a Patriots fan. It’s been like 10 years since they were actually able to man up and win the big game… or even some of the little games that lead up to the big game. Anyway, I’m hoping for a better 2013 season, so here’s how the Giants line up on offense this year.
Can’t Go Wrong: Eli’s Still There
The headline says it all here. The Giants return one of the best big game QBs in the game in Eli Manning, so how bad can they be? Any time you have Eli running the show, you’re gonna have a chance for a pretty good season. Even in a “down” season, Eli was pretty darn good last year. Once again, he made all 16 starts (something he’s done every year since 2005). He went 321-536 (59.9%) with 3,948 yards, 26 TDs and 15 INTs. Ideally, you’d like to see him get his completion percentage up over 60%, but other than that… pretty good, right?
The big problem with Eli last year was lack of targets. He had Victor Cruz for all 16 games, but Nicks missed action due to injury. No other receiver (other than TE Martellus Bennett, played in more than 13 contests. It can be hard to find your rhythm in a season where your targets fluctuate on a game to game basis like that. Eli will turn 33 just in time for the playoffs this year, so he’s still reasonably young, especially for a pocket quarterback. He doesn’t rely on speed at all so, assuming the Giants can protect him in that pocket, he should have quite a few “elite” seasons left in him.
Also, David Carr‘s probably gonna be the backup again… fun!
Passing the Baton: The New Running Game
Before last season, the Giants parted ways with Brandon Jacobs. “The Jake” went off to find himself in San Francisco, but mostly found the Injured Reserve list (ouch). This year, the G-Men jettisoned another link to their two Super Bowl titles, Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw had a solid career with the Giants, twice topping 1,000 yards (including 1,015 with 6 TDs last year), but he has been plagued by the injury bug the last two seasons. Like Jacobs, the Giants couldn’t really afford to commit that kind of money to an aging running back who might not be able to stay on the field. Bradshaw ended up signing with the Colts, which I think is a good addition for them. He’ll provide some veteran leadership to a young team on the rise.
So who is going to take the ball for the Giants this year? Luckily for us, we already know them. David Wilson, the second year man out of Virginia, is expected to start and get the bulk of the carries in 2013. Wilson had a shaky start to his NFL career, when a fumble on his second touch of the season landed him in Coach Coughlin’s doghouse. He didn’t emerge for a long time. When he did, however, he put together a string of very good games for the Giants down the stretch. His true coming out party was in Week 11 against the Saints, when he had 13 carries for 100 yards and 2 TDs (including a 52-harder), and he also racked up 227 return yards, including a 97-yard kick off return for a TD. The 327 total yards were a Giants record. Actually, he set the overall single-season kickoff return yards record for the team as well with his 1,533. Wilson is not very big (5’9″), but he has electric speed that can be a real game changer.
When the Giants won their first Super Bowl, they used the Thunder & Lightning running attack to get them where they needed to go. While Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward are long gone, the concept is something the Giants have seemingly been trying to get back to ever since. With Andre Brown, they might just be able to get that weather-filled attack going in 2013. Brown’s story is as good as his game. Prior to last year, he had been cut seven times in his NFL career. The Giants finally gave him a shot when Ahmad Bradshaw got hurt last year, and he made an immediate impact. In his first game, agains the Buccaneers, Brown ran 13 times for 71 yards and a TD. The next week, he took the ball 20 times and racked up 113 yards and 2 TDs (he ended up with 8 TDs overall). Unfortunately, Brown would break his leg in Week 11 and miss the rest of the season, but he’s healthy now, which might be troublesome to NFL defenses.
I guess I should throw in that Henry Hynoski is also healthy, and should provide some solid work at the Fullback position too. The Giants don’t feature the FB too often, but he’ll catch a couple of passes from Eli, for sure.
Health is the Key: The Receiving Corps
The Giants boast, in my humble opinion, two of the better receivers in the NFL. One of them, Victor Cruz, recently signed a big extension and will be partnering with Eli Manning for a long time to come. The other, Hakeem Nicks, might be heading into free agency at the end of the year. He’s also coming off a season marred with injuries, so he needs to put up some big production to get himself a nice fat contract come the off-season.
Cruz burst onto the scene two years ago, coming out of nowhere to set the Giants’ all-time single-season receiving yards record with 1,533 (he added 9 TDs to boot). Nicks’ injuries, and a general offensive swoon by the G-Men hurt his production last year, but he still hauled in 86 balls for 1,082 yards and 10 TDs, so that’s pretty solid. He basically just needs to keep doing his thing, and he’ll be OK. Nicks, on the other hand, caught put up career lows in catches (53), yards (692) and TDs (3). Like I said before, he had a lot of injuries. If he can stay healthy, he has the size, speed and hands to be an elite receiver in this league. Here’s hoping he can keep it together in 2013.
What the Giants need is for someone to step up as a viable third option receiver for Eli Manning to throw the ball to when his big guys are covered. Domenik Hixon signed with the Carolina Panthers this off-season, so it can’t be him again. One obvious option is newly signed Tight End Brandon Myers. Myers had a monster season for the terrible Raiders, grabbing 79 passes for 806 yards from terrible Carson Palmer. He might catch 500 from Eli. I’m definitely excited to have him on the squad, because the Giants lost last year’s TE, and favored Eli target, Martellus Bennett. Solid replacement, if you ask me.
Even with Cruz, Nicks and Myers, Manning’s still going to need someone else to throw the ball to. This is where another Wide Receiver needs to step up. Is it going to be Rueben Randle? Ramses Barden (so tall)? Maybe Jerrel Jernigan? There’s always Louis Murphy to watch too. I’m not sure. I think it could be any of those guys, but it has to be one of them.
The Offensive Line: The Key to It All
I’ll tell you this right now. If the offensive line doesn’t perform better than they did last year, no combination of Wilson, Brown, Manning, Cruz, Nicks and Myers is going to amount to a hill of beans. There are a lot of familiar faces on this year’s O-Line. Unfortunately, a couple of them are injured. David Baas would be starting at Center but he’s battling an MCL injury that might keep him out of the opener. David Diehl, meanwhile has to have thumb surgery and will miss up to six weeks. This had led to a lot of shuffling on the O-Line, which is never a good thing. The injuries have opened up at least one opportunity, as rookie first rounder Justin Pugh has been getting most of the first team action at Right Tackle. He might be getting a trial by fire entrance into the NFL. Exciting for him.
One guy the Giants know will be there for sure is BC Grad, and coach’s daughter knocker-upper extraordinaire, Chris Snee. He’ll suit up at Right Guard. The other is Left Tackle Will Beatty. The shuffle seems to have started in practice this week. Kevin Boothe has moved over to Center, and the Giants inserted James Brewer into the Left Guard spot. Brewer has never started, or really played LG before, so that should be interesting. There’s always Jim Cordle kicking around too. Something tells me the Giants are going to need all of these guys to really step up while Diehl and Baas are out. The last couple of years, it’s been a bit of a tough go for the Giants’ O-Line. After being such a driving force in the Super Bowl championship years, they struggled to get going in 2012. By the end of the year they were clicking, but it was basically too late. I fear that, with all the shuffling, they might have a hard time meshing in the first few weeks in 2013 too. Let’s hope they get it going a little earlier this year.
That’ll do it for the offense, come back next time and we’ll go over the D.
Featured image courtesy of: Bill Feig/AP
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