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The 2013 New York Giants appear to be at a bit of a crossroads. From Super Bowl champions in 2012 to missing the post season altogether last year, the franchise is entering into a new era as training camp looms for this season.
Important franchise players like Ahmad Bradshaw and Chris Canty have been cut, Osi Umenyiora has bolted for the Falcons and Cory Webster was released.
While the aforementioned roster subtractions certainly don’t spell doom for the G-Men, there are a few major questions the team will be looking to answer when the season opens on September 8th, 2013 at Dallas. We take a look at perhaps the four most pressing here.
1 – Can David Wilson be the go to running back?
While showing a few flashes of brilliance during his 2012 rookie season, the 22-year old Wilson will be handed the ball this season as the team’s feature back. The former first rounder was limited to 358 yards on 71 carries last season but showed dangerous breakaway speed and was more than effective as a kick returner on special teams so there’s clearly legit cause for the Giants to be optimistic about Wilson more than adequately replacing the oft injured Bradshaw. The Giants running attack has traditionally flourished with powerful north-south runners and Wilson showed that he can handle life among the redwoods at the line of scrimmage and beyond, often bouncing off of would-be tacklers and quickly finding holes that developed late.
The Giants offense, not unlike most in the NFL, is at it’s best when the team runs the ball well so the pressure will be on Wilson to live to up to the high expectations the Giants had when they drafted him out of Virginia Tech with the last pick of the first round in 2012.
The guess here is a 1,300-1,400 yard, 10-15 TD season isn’t out of the question for the former V-Tech star and that’s right where he’ll need to be if Big Blue has any plans of rolling out a consistent offensive attack this season.
2 – Pass Rush or Past Rush?
With Jason Pierre-Paul now a bit of a question mark coming off of back surgery (Giants crossing their fingers he’s ready for opener), the teams’ once vaunted pass rush is under some pressure as well. Mathias Kiwanuka will be asked to get after the QB a whole lot more as a DE and Justin Tuck clearly needs to produce a season like the ones he used to have circa 2009-2010.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has his work cut out for him here after a season that saw the team surrender a franchise record 6,134 total yards, proving to be particularly vulnerable through the air. After a run from 2007-11 that saw the team average 44 sacks per season, they slipped to 33 in 2012 – a dramatic and alarming drop off.
Look for this year’s third round pick Demontre Moore to get a long look at DE with inexperienced DE’s Adawale Ojomo (second year) and third year Adrian Tracy and Justin Trattou also getting a chance make their case to get after opposing QB’s. In other words, Giant brass are quietly praying JPP recovers quickly and fully by mid-September at the latest. Expect the team to sign a veteran pass-rusher as insurance in the next few weeks – just don’t expect it to be a pro-bowler.
3 – Tight End Stability?
A position that has been a revolving door for the team the last few seasons, the Giants enter 2013 taking a flyer on a free agent, a 2012 fourth round pick and a veteran blocking tight end.
The most intriguing of the trio is free agent Brandon Myers, who replaces Martellus Bennett (Bears), who replaced Jack Ballard (Patriots). The Giants signed Myers to a four-year deal (some stability at TE perhaps) based on his 79-catch, 806 yard, four touchdown season with the Raiders in 2012. He’ll get plenty of chances to, at the very least, match those numbers as the starting end job appears his to lose.
However, the team is taking a long look at former fourth-round pick Adrien Robinson (6-4, 264-lb. – fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft ) as tight end coach Mike Pope appears to believe this kid might be ready to turn the corner. Pope recently blogged about Robinson saying, “Adrien Robinson appears to have gone into the land of the believers. And yes he has been making some good progress. The quarterback is starting to find him. He is hard to miss, he is the tallest tree in the forest out there. So he is a good target. But we are more than mildly pleased with the progress that he has made from an assignment standpoint.”
Will be interesting to see if Robinson can give Myers a run. Large bodied veteran Bear Pascoe (6-5, 285) will do the blocking.
While it’s unlikely NFL defenses will be shaking in their cleats over the Giant TE set up, the position could be more productive this season than it has been in a quite a while.
NFC East – Beast or Least?
The last two seasons have seen down to wire races in the NFC East with the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants grabbing the crown with a final-week win over Dallas in 2011 and the Redskins doing the same to Dallas in 2012. The thinking is the foursome should remain tightly packed in 2013 as there doesn’t appear to be much separating the four teams once again.
None of the Giants three division rivals made any sensational off season moves so much of what you saw last season is essentially back again for 2013.
The Cowboys continue to quietly add some youth to their Tony Romo, Jason Witten, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant core on offense and have switched from a 3-4 to 4-3 on defense under new coordinator Monte Kiffin. There’s only one way to go on defense for the Boys and that’s up after giving up 400 points last season.
All of Redskin Nation is hanging on the repaired ACL and LCL in the right knee of the amazing RG III. Simply stated, for this team little else matters. Griffin is expected to miss the entire pre-season as the Skins will proceed cautiously with his recovery, but the hope is he’s good to go on opening day. Question is, based on the way this kids plays the game, can they realistically expect him to make it through a full season?
And no matter that they may be rebuilding with new head coach Chip Kelly, are the Philadelphia Eagles ever easy for the Giants?
The four teams will undoubtedly spend 2013 beating one another to a pulp so the good news is that a 10-6 record might produce a division crown once again. So, perhaps that brings us to one last question…after a 9-7 playoff-less dud in 2012, do the 2013 Giants have one extra win in them?