In response to Scooterlibby's request in KD's Community Post, I have embarked on a quest to review the off seasons of and preview the 2013 seasons for the rest of the NFL East. Hopefully we can gain a little insight on what we can expect from the rest of the division. About the picture; I figured that most of the forum would agree that this would be a redeeming quality to represent our friends from the Big Apple.
Looking at the Giants, my first impression is that they might be in a similar situation to the one Dallas experienced recently. They have some guys who are very solid and who can be expected to deliver while on the other hand there are also some key positions that will be filled by players who fall well short of what would be acceptable at those positions. Even our resident Giants fan Invictus XI seems to have mixed feelings on the team this season, judging from some of his comments made recently on BtB. Lets take a look at why.
For years, the defensive front for New York has been a position of strength and a significant effort was spent on maintaining that level of performance going forward. During free agency the Giants went shopping and acquired the services of Cullen Jenkins formerly with the Eagles. He will take over the position previously manned by the departed Osi Umenyiora. Joining Jenkins will be returning defensive linemen Linval Joseph, Justin Tuck and Mathis Kiwanuka. At defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul returns, looking to rebound for a season where his sack totals fell dramatically. To add to their wealth, the Giants selected Ohio State nose tackle Johnathan Hankins and Texas A M defensive end DeMontre Moore. The front four in New York will have to generate consistent pressure for the Giants to be successful because the pickings are slim on the back side.
This was a position of grave need for the Giants, and GM Jerry Reese attempted to address the concern with a single addition. That move was to sign former Cowboys back up Dan Connor. He will battle with Mark Herlizch for the starting Mike slot. Regardless of who wins that battle, the middle linebacker will be joined by Jacquian Williams and Keith Rivers. Both of those players struggled during the 2012 season; in addition, Rivers has a history of chronic injuries.
Corey Webster, whom many expected to be given his walking papers after a dismal season last year, returns to the Giants after agreeing to a significant pay cut. He will be joined at corner by former first round draft pick Prince Amulkamara. The highly talented corner has shown history of injuries as well. During his first two seasons as a pro, Prince has missed 12 games due to injury. Terrell Thomas will also be attempting to make his return from a torn ACL. Trying to improve on a dismal rookie season, Jayron Hosley is expected to see action in the nickle package. The safety positions appear to be the strength of the secondary in New York. Kenny Phillips is gone, replaced by Stevie Brown who acquitted himself well last season. Antrel Rolle will man the other safety. A playmaker at times; he none the less, suffers some lapses in coverage.
This unit returns mostly intact from 2012. For last season, Eli Manning was the least sacked QB in the league, and the chances are that the line will again be a strong suit. The interior will once again consist of center David Baas flanked by Chris Snee and Kevin Booth at guard. The trio allowed just six sacks and committed only six penalties last year. At left tackle William Beatty, who gave up three sack, returns. Penalties were an issue here; Beatty was flagged 11 times. The only new addition will be Syracuse right tackle Justin Pugh, whom New York selected in the first round of this years draft.
Both Hakim Nix and Victor Cruz missed the voluntary OTAs due to contract disputes. How much, if any, this will impact the Giants passing game has yet to be determined, but it is likely Eli and his top wide outs will not miss a beat. Rueben Randle, who played well toward the end of last season, will be Manning's third target. At tight end former Dallas Cowboy Martellus Bennett has moved on. In his stead, the Giants brought in former Oakland Raider Brandon Myers. Unlike Bennett, who was primarily Known as a blocker; Myers is a solid pass catcher. He will provide the Giants with a solid intermediate threat.
The biggest question on offense for Giants fans will be which Eli shows up. Good Eli is borderline elite, while his other side can be a nightmare at times. Last season, each Manning played half of a season with the bad one showing up for the stretch run. At running back Ahmad Bradshaw has taken his talents elsewhere. New York will rely on David Wilson who flashed as a rookie last season. He does experience some issues with goal line and pass blocking situations, so fans can expect Andre Brown to see significant action as well.
Based on serious issues on the back side of the defense, 2013 is shaping up to be a challenge for New York. Outside of the line, which had a slightly down year last season but should rebound in 2013; the season looks dismal on that side of the ball. On the other hand, the offense looks fairly potent as long as Manning does his job. It is easy to see why Invictus has mixed emotions this year. If some guys step up, New York could return to the playoffs, but it is more likely that they will be picking in the middle half of the draft in 2014.