Yesterday, I previewed the defense and was barely able to hold down my breakfast in the process. Today is a more pleasurable task - the offense. The Giants are entering a season with few questions on offense and one should be chock-filled with big plays and memorable moments.
The argument about Eli Manning being elite is getting old. The one about him being consistently above average rages on and that's all that really counts in this business. Entering his tenth NFL season, Eli is the unquestioned leader of the Giants and a role model as a teammate. He leads by example and his example most times comes in wins and championships. This year, he is surrounded with enough steady and explosive weapons to make opposing defenses lose sleep the night before games. The Giants have finished in the top ten in points the past five seasons. This year, don't be surprised if they're near the top.
The group is oozing with confidence right now. David Wilson begins year two of his career as the team's feature back. He has the ability to make tacklers miss, and once the first one misses, they all tend to miss. Andre Brown is back and healthy and ready to prove he's ready to carry the load. Brown is both a pile-pusher and slippery. When right, he's as tough any runner the Giants have had here in recent years. The rest of the group - Da'Rel Scott, Michael Cox and Ryan Torain add valuable depth.
The Giants may be without Henry Hynoski (knee) for the beginning of the season, but at the least he'll be ready by Week Seven. In the interim, the team will use Bear Pascoe at FB. Not the worst of scenarios. The Vonta Leach option - at this point - doesn't appear likely.
Will the Giants miss Martellus Bennett? I'll say no. They love Adrien Robinson's upside and Brandon Myers' projected reliability and production. Pascoe will also get reps. Bennett got off to a great start last year, but then tailed off and seemed to lose Eli's confidence. That won't happen with Myers. He understands the game and his role and should be good for 70 receptions this season.
If you can find a better group in the NFL right now, I dare you to produce them. Victor Cruz, at any price, is a game-changing player and will force defenses out of their element when he lines up in the slot. Hakeem Nicks is healthy again and will draw the opponents' top corner every week, No worries, Nicks makes plays regardless.
Rueben Randle is the X-factor for the Giants these days. He is the most natural wideout of the group, a taller version of Nicks. At 6'3" he will surely find himself in a ton of favorable mismatches. Opposing defenses will be hard-pressed to get this group covered. Throw in Louis Murphy and the improving Jerrel Jernigan and you have a dynamic unit on your hands.
Outside of LT Will Beatty, the line in the throes of transition. C David Baas (elbow) and RT Chris Snee (hip) could start camp on PUP to give them more time to rehab, but the team is confident they'll be ready for the season. Kevin Boothe was signed back to play LG for this season and David Diehl (entering the final year of his contract) is penciled in at RT for the beginning of camp.
That is probably not how things will end up, however. New blood is on the way. In fact it's already here. The Giants used their first round pick in this year's draft on Syracuse's Justin Pugh, a versatile offensive lineman who the team wants to assume the RT job post-Diehl. In the interim, Pugh will be used to spell those vets as will James Brewer, Brandon Mosley and other possibles. OL coach Pat Flaherty has always made things work with this unit regardless of what he's been handed. I'm confident he'll continue to do so.
OC Kevin Gilbride - contrary to belief - is one of the game's best offensive coordinators. Under his direction, the Giant offense has had some of the most productive seasons in franchise history. This year could end up being a record-setter. The team has plenty of weapons and Gilbride will have no choice but to open things up. Eli has more latitude than ever to alter calls from the sidelines (aka audibles) and has essentially become more like brother Peyton over time: a player-coach.