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Five questions: New York Giants

Eli Manning,  Tom Coughlin AP

In four of the last five years, the Giants haven’t qualified for the playoffs.  A championship win during that lone postseason appearance takes some of the sting out of it, but Lombardi Trophies can lose their luster pretty quickly.

With two straight subpar seasons since the most recent Super Bowl victory, the Giants could be teetering toward significant change if they go three years without a playoff appearance for the first time since 1994 through 1996.  Which could be good news; the last two times coach Tom Coughlin was clearly on the hot seat, he took the team to the top of the mountain.

Here are five questions for the team unrelated to the coach’s potentially tenuous job status.

1.  Which Eli Manning will show up?

The Giants quarterback recently admitted that he’s a “little nervous” in the team’s new offense.  He should be.

Whatever the offense, Eli Manning’s career has arrived at an unexpected crossroads, at the age of 33 and with a pair of Super Bowl pelts on his wall.  Wrapped around that second NFL title are four failed seasons, with 2013 featuring a career-high 27 interceptions.

Eli’s older brother has a reputation for performing incredibly well during the regular season and then failing to meet expectations in the playoffs.  Eli has a knack for thriving in the postseason, but not being able to get there often enough.

After the second championship, Eli had seemed to be a lock for the Hall of Fame.  Now, his candidacy depends on what happens over the balance of his career.  Starting now, in a new offense with plenty of jobs riding on Eli’s ability to thrive in it.

If he’s only a “little nervous,” he’s not nearly nervous enough.

2.  Can the offensive line get the job done?

The Giants’ 2007 Super Bowl run was fueled by great performances from both the offensive and defensive lines.  Last year, the offensive line wasn’t great.  This year, with the retirements of David Diehl and Chris Snee, the offensive line could be even worse.

The primary goal of training camp and the preseason will be to find the best combination of five starters and hope they can find a way to stay healthy.  A good offensive line works in seamless harmony, opening running lanes and keeping the quarterback from getting hurried, hit, and/or sacked.

The offensive live never gets enough credit when things go well, balanced by never getting enough blame when things don’t.  Things need to go well for the offensive line this year, or plenty of offensive linemen and other employees could be going away.

3.  What happened to the pass rush?

In 2007, the Giants figured out how to beat the Patriots and Tom Brady.  Specifically by knocking him down early and making him worried about getting knocked down for the rest of the game.

Four years later, the Giants showed that they still knew that the best way to win on a big stage is to throw the opposing quarterback off it.

Three years after the fact, who’s left?  Michael Strahan gets his ugly mustard jacket in less than two weeks, Osi Umenyiora can soon be seen on Hard Knocks as a member of the Falcons, and Justin Tuck has taken his 11.0 sacks to Oakland after allegedly being lowballed by the Giants.

Mathias Kiwakuna and his six sacks and restructured deal that has left him with a stick in a place where sticks don’t normally go is back, and the team hopes that the once-promising Jason Pierre-Paul can improve on his paltry sum of two sacks in 2013.  With Pierre-Paul in a contract year, he has plenty of millions of reasons to get back to being the guy who had 16.5 sacks in 2011.

4.  Who plays tight end?

Maybe Pierre-Paul should ask to play offense.  He’d have a good chance to play tight end.  Possibly as the starter.

Look at the depth chart.  The five tight ends currently on the roster are Kellen Davis, Larry Donnell, Daniel Fells, Adrien Robinson, and Xavier Grimble, who sounds like the antagonist in a Dickens novel.  That quintet combined for six total NFL catches last year.

It’s hard not to imagine the Giants making moves at the position, even if they merely pounce on a tight end cut by another team.  Or, ideally, if Jermichael Finley is cleared by the Giants and decides to keep playing football.

5.  Will they be able to run the ball?

Speaking of guys with neck injuries whose futures were in doubt, running back David Wilson has been cleared to play.  The next question becomes whether Wilson, a first-round pick in 2012, can get back to the top of the depth chart, or whether he’ll play second fiddle to newcomer Rashad Jennings, whom G.M. Jerry Reese has called a “bell cow” type.

Former Madden cover boy Peyton Hillis is also on the roster, and it remains to be seen whether former Packers assistant Ben McAdoo will play the hot hand or use a revolving door at tailback.

Whoever gets the ball needs to do something with it, which could be difficult if the offensive line and/or Eli Manning don’t play well.  But that could be the key to opening up the passing game.  Which will take a lot of pressure off the defense.

Which will make the team better.  Which could keep Tom Coughlin around for at least another year.

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25 Responses to “Five questions: New York Giants”
  1. logicalvoicesays says: Jul 23, 2014 12:17 PM

    Five Questions for the Giants :
    1. Will the Giants end 3rd or 4th in the NFC East?
    2. Will John Mara ever give back that 36 million he stole unfairly from the Redskins?
    3. Will DeSean Jackson have 5 touchdowns or 6 touchdowns vs the Giants Secondary?
    4. How many points will the Redskins score combined vs the Giants as they blast the Giants in the annual sweep? 60 or 70 points?
    5. How many picks will Eli throw this year? 30 or 40?

  2. mydogsnameisvick says: Jul 23, 2014 12:17 PM

    Question 1b: How many interceptions will Eli throw?

  3. robert831 says: Jul 23, 2014 12:27 PM

    All very good reasons they will be a bottom 5 team easy. Now explain to us all how they are ranked 18th overall in PFT’s preseason rankings??

  4. justintuckrule says: Jul 23, 2014 12:29 PM

    I’ll get the obligatory “Eli sucks, he threw 27 picks” and response “but he’s got 2 rings, what’s yours got?” out of the way…..

    Now…let’s talk real Giants’ football for once.

    We’re definitely hurting at TE and questions abound on OL and DL. But…can anyone name who our TE was when we won in 2011?

    OL should be better…we signed a ton of guys and are primed to start some young up and comers (Pugh, Mosley and Richburg). Can’t be worse than last year. Also, new offense means less 9 step drops.

    DL – JPP is now a full year removed from back surgery which has nagged him since his 16 sack campaign. The one game last year he was healthy, he tore it up. He just only turned 25.

    Everyone is down on the Giants which makes them dangerous…as proven by history.

    Buy the way….Good one with the Grimble-Dickens reference. Spot on!

  5. southpaw2k says: Jul 23, 2014 12:45 PM

    Funny how nobody seems to know or care that Eli’s cap number this year is north of $20 million. If any QB in the league can be considered a fluke, it’s him.

  6. DonRSD says: Jul 23, 2014 12:58 PM

    11-5

  7. lunigod3 says: Jul 23, 2014 1:00 PM

    Report just in, OBJ just tweaked his hamstring.

    The question that you should really be asking is:

    How healthy can the Giants stay before start of the season?

  8. thefootballgodssay says: Jul 23, 2014 1:08 PM

    no question here THE NY GIANTS WILL SWEEP THE REDSKINS AGAIN LIKE THEY DID LAST SEASON

  9. lks311 says: Jul 23, 2014 1:09 PM

    With the Lions on tap for week #1—Suh, Nick Fairley and Ziggy Ansah—a few of the O Line questions will be answered quickly. As for the D Line, the Lions OL gave up the second fewest sacks in the league last year (I know, surprised me too), so we’ll know a little bit about this team pretty early, I think.

  10. thegronk87 says: Jul 23, 2014 1:12 PM

    Eli Fluking

  11. stonecitysharks says: Jul 23, 2014 1:27 PM

    Who are the Giants again?

  12. ragnarthemagnificent says: Jul 23, 2014 1:29 PM

    Wow Peyton Hillis! He’s still around. The Giants were awful last year – bad to watch and even worse on paper. Only two of their wins were against teams with a winning record, everything else was a moral victory so to speak.

    They played 8 games against playoff teams winning 2.

    It wouldn’t be a surprise if they were better this year but 9-7 could be about it unless Peyton Hillis proves not to have had an anomaly of a season aeons ago. And David Wilson, he’s all done.

  13. kev86 says: Jul 23, 2014 2:01 PM

    Kiss our rings. NYG will be in the mix. They have a lot of talent. Some just can’t admit it because they are jealous. Go Blue!

  14. caeser12 says: Jul 23, 2014 3:04 PM

    So the Giants SB trophy from 3 years ago has lost its luster, I guess that means the Cowboys, and the team from D.C. SB trophies have fallen apart.

    Go NY.

  15. SeattleJones says: Jul 23, 2014 3:22 PM

    kev86 says: Kiss our rings. NYG will be in the mix. They have a lot of talent. Some just can’t admit it because they are jealous. Go Blue!
    ———
    LOL…a “lot of talent”. The Giants have the worse collection of talent in their division alone.

  16. shatho1 says: Jul 23, 2014 3:50 PM

    justintuckrule says:I’ll get the obligatory “Eli sucks, he threw 27 picks” and response “but he’s got 2 rings, what’s yours got?
    ________________________________________
    Eli does have two rings but the talent around him is what got him those. tell us what he has done since then, NOTHING. Now Tom Brady has had talent around him also but hasn’t had it the last few seasons and has still managed to make it to the playoffs. I’m no patriots fan but Eli does suck and unless u have a better argument than he has 2 rings then u really don’t have anything

  17. thegronk87 says: Jul 23, 2014 4:01 PM

    Brady is the only elite QB who has never had a losing season. Eli has two losing seasons and a couple of 8-8 ones.

  18. wlubake says: Jul 23, 2014 4:15 PM

    Predictions at this point are so worthless. Last year the Giants were decimated by injuries. This team should be better at 0-line, better in the run game, better in the secondary. I expect about the same from the d-line.

    People who don’t watch Eli don’t realize why he throws so many picks. He forces plays, even under pressure. The same trait also led to the Tyree catch in 2007 and the Manningham sideline grab in 2011. He makes things happen, good or bad.

  19. justintuckrule says: Jul 23, 2014 4:26 PM

    shatho – what are you talking about? I’m not comparing Eli Manning to who I believe is the greatest QB of all time. As for “what has he done since?”…well… they were on the way to repeating before Plax shot himself so there’s that and they missed the playoffs one year at 10-6. It’s not like they have a bunch of 4-12 seasons sprinkled in between their wins. As for “talent around Eli”, they had the last ranked rushing attack in 2011 when they won. Let me repeat that you maniac…LAST RANKED RUSH ATTACK. You’re just a hater and a hater who can’t argue at that.

    Good day sir.

  20. shatho1 says: Jul 23, 2014 4:57 PM

    justintuckrule-like I said he has done NOTHING since all the talent has gone and as for maniac why yes I am but a hater I am not its all football I have fun with it as for the Tom Brady there are other QBs better than Eli nut no need to get into all of that I think u get my point and good day to u also sir

  21. harrypairotestes says: Jul 23, 2014 6:57 PM

    The Giants haven’t done anything since the last SB. But somehow, it’s still more than what the skins, cowboys, and eagles, combined, have done since the start of the millennium.

  22. nonetruerthanblue says: Jul 23, 2014 10:52 PM

    Giants are not signing Finley. Stop reporting that. They brought in Bennett and Myers..both failed horribly. They will develop a tight end.

  23. wave222 says: Jul 24, 2014 8:24 PM

    I trust this team more than any to make strides and
    field the best team.
    Solid NFC team from the ground up!!
    Solid from the top down!!
    Many NFL teams have far more issues to deal with!!

  24. realmenwearstripes says: Jul 25, 2014 7:55 PM

    Will Eli Manning return to elite form this year?

    Does Michael Strahan need gap insurance?

  25. politicallyincorrect says: Jul 28, 2014 9:50 AM

    Why do your owners whine and cry to league about other teams so much?

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