The New York Giants head into the 2016-17 NFL season with plenty of question marks? The team is coming off another disappointing season in which they missed the playoffs for a 4th straight year and their 3rd straight with a losing record. Have times changed for the G-Men or are we starting to see the end of the road for Eli Manning? The Defense has been an area of concern for a few season but with the injuries last year everything came to a crashing stop. Have the Giants done enough to stop the bleeding or will they be in for another heartbreak?
Here are 5 training camp storylines to follow for the New York Giants.
Will The Players Be Relaxed More With Tom Coughlin Gone?
Say what you want about Coughlin but he has two Super Bowl victories during his time with the Giants. But there were whispers about him being pushy and stuck in his ways. I was under the impression this was a grown man’s game and his job was to lead. That’s what leaders do, they push until they know your breaking limit, then fall back. Can you argue with two Lombardi’s? But with Coughlin gone will the players relax a bit more, go back to having fun and if so will they become less focused?
Fix The Defensive Issues
The Giants defense was their Achilles Heel last season as they ranked 30th in the NFL. Injuries played a major role in the decline but there is no room for excuses in this league, next man up is the motto and the Giants didn’t hold true to that philosophy. Their secondary was awful, giving up an average of 299 yards per game and 31 TDs. The bright side was they managed 15 INTs but that is bound to happen when teams have a green light to throw all day. As bad as the secondary was, part of the blame must fall on the front seven as they managed to rack up a lowly 23 sacks on the season. If there is no pass rush opposing QBs have all day to pick apart a defense leaving your secondary vulnerable to big plays. In a division that will have Sam Bradford, Kirk Cousins, and Tony Romo the Giants must find a way into the backfield to help the secondary.
The Victor Cruz Dilemma
Cruz says he is 100 percent. If this is so, the rest of the NFC has a problem on their hands. Eli Manning and Odell Beckham have torched the league as a duo but if Cruz suits up then we may be looking at a Marvin Harrison/Reggie Wayne type of season for the Giants WR duo. Cruz, before the injuries was a #1 option but Beckham has taken over that spot. No more double-teams for either player, which should make Manning a fantasy favorite every week. Ruben Randall failed as a fill in for Cruz but will be a great 3rd option for Manning this season.
Focus On The Ground Game
This is a serious area of concern for the G-Men. Last season the Giants backs combined for 400 rushes for 1609 yards and 3 TDs. When fans wonder how they missed the playoffs again, all they have to do is point to that stat. 3 TDs, there are some backs that got three in a single game but to have four different ball carriers only reach the endzone three times is worrisome. The issue is not so much the production, it’s the runners themselves. Rashad Jennings is 30 (old for RBs), he has obviously lost a step, Shane Vereen is more of a pass catcher, and Andre Williams just can’t seem to get his feet on the filed long enough to make an impact. Maybe a candidate will come from training camp but the Giants must find a way or better players to help the offense move the chains.
Find a Tight End
When the Giants were Super Bowl winners there was a TE contributing, now without one they have suffered through the air and on the ground. The O-Line has kept Manning healthy throughout his career as he has never missed a start, and last season he was sacked only 27 times but if the offense is to really shine there needs to be a TE that can produce. Larry Donnell has had his moments but the inconsistency is killing the team. The Giants drafted Jerell Adams out of South Carolina in the 6th round, maybe he gets a shot, what do they have to lose? A blocking TE that can catch is a bonus for any team but its a necessity for the Giants.