With training camp soon, here are some questions the Giants need to answer.
After finishing far behind in the NFC East last year, the Giants will look to compete for the title against the Cowboys and Eagles. There’s little doubt the Giants have some great talent on their team, but their rush offense and defense ranked towards the bottom of the league. Tom Coughlin's team needs to get better in those areas specifically if they want to make a run for the playoffs.
5 Burning Questions for the NY Giants in Training Camp
Can Eli Manning be just as good as last year?
After a disastrous 2013 NFL season that ended with an ankle injury, Eli Manning’s success last year had to be somewhat unexpected. Despite Manning's big statistical campaign, the Giants won only six games. Once again, their season may ride on him, and there obviously has to be questions of whether or not he can match those numbers. There should be hope for that though, as he’ll have Victor Cruz back and Odell Beckham Jr. will be in his second season. It doesn’t look like he’s going to get much help in the running game, but his track record points in a positive direction for another great season.
Will the running game improve?
The Giants struggled mightily in the running game in 2014, ranking 23rd in total rushing yards and 30th in yards per attempt. Bringing in Rashad Jennings last year didn’t do much, especially considering he continued to be plagued by injuries. Drafting Andre Williams seemed to be more of a project for the future, but he led the team in yards and carries because he had to start in place of an injured Jennings. This offseason, the front office brought in Shane Vereen, but there still is no standout, premier back on this team. Without any upgrades, the rushing game once again appears doomed. Vereen should add some good depth, but Jennings hasn’t proved to be a valuable starter yet.
How will Jason Pierre-Paul, Victor Cruz be in their return from injury?
The biggest (and worst) news of the offseason for the Giants came when they learned about Jason Pierre-Paul’s injury from a fireworks incident. After a revival season where he notched 12.5 sacks, the Giants were hoping this high production would continue. However, now there are plenty of questions, including if he’ll be ready to play at the start of the season and how much the injury will actually affect his play. Meanwhile on the other side of the ball, Victor Cruz is returning from a torn patellar tendon that ended his season early last year. Training camp will be important to see how much he has recovered. However, if he continues to recover to full strength, then Cruz and Beckham Jr. could create one of the league’s top combos.
Can Steve Spagnuolo help fix the Giants’ defense?
A few years removed from being the team’s defensive coordinator, Spagnuolo is back this year in the same position. Last time with the Giants, he succeeded with a 4-3 defense that focuses on blitzes and being extremely aggressive. The Giants need to do things much differently than last season, when they ranked 29th in yards allowed and 22nd in points against. Many of the issues came against the run, but by incorporating more blitzes, the Giants hope to quell this problem. The secondary also has some concerns, with two very young safeties and injury-plagued cornerbacks. There’s a lot of potential in the secondary, so Spagnuolo will need to learn how to mold them and keep them healthy.
Can Tom Coughlin turn around this team in a tough division?
Tom Coughlin has been the head coach for the Giants for 11 seasons, and 2013-14 was the only time where he had back-to-back losing records. He is just one of two coaches (Bill Belichick) with two or more Super Bowls on their current team. As one of the longest-tenured coaches, there is no doubt to the success he has had. But if the Giants can’t turn it around, what’s next for the team? Coughlin doesn’t plan on retiring any time soon, so it puts the Giants in an interesting predicament. Many head coaches lose their position after several consecutive bad seasons, so would it be different for him? They play in one of the toughest divisions, and it’s a long way to the top.