The Giants are pinning there 2010 hopes on their offensive and defensive lines, stockpiling quality players who are versatile and can be used in multiple formations. It was the formula for their 2007 championship season, and with many of the same players still in place, the team feels a need to get back to those basics.
On offense, the Giants have an excellent passing game, if you haven't noticed, led by the veteran (dare I say it) Eli Manning. Steve Smith has developed into one of the game's finest receivers. Their young wideouts are coming along nicely. Hakeem Nicks could be on the verge of stardom as well as Mario Manningham. Kevin Boss is a quality tight end.
That alone should give you an idea that the Giants are going to pass the football this season. But this is a Tom Coughlin team.
They want to possess the ability to run the football with authority.
Every RB is coming off an injury that either slowed or shut them down last year. Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown were either all sidelined or compromised by injury.
This year, all three are making their way back. Coughlin wants to make sure they have the support they need up front.
The line, which is coached by the heralded Pat Flaherty and Jack Bicknell, Jr., is looking to re-establish itself as the league's top unit. There are some old faces, but their are some new ones as well and lots of interesting tweaks.
It all begins with C Shaun O'Hara, who is coming off elbow surgery. O'Hara is a Pro-Bowl caliber, unselfish player who has been the only center Eli Manning has known in his pro career.
The guards, Chris Snee and Rich Seubert, are tough as they come. The tackles, Kareem McKenzie and David Diehl, have been getting it done several years straight, now.
Coughlin and GM Jerry Reese know a good thing doesn't last forever.
That is why they have been augmenting the line with young, versatile players. Last year, they used a second round draft choice on UConn tackle Will Beatty and selected Arkansas guard Mitch Petrus in this year's draft.
Beatty, according to Reese and OC Kevin Gilbride, will be pushing for a starting spot this year. Thus far, he has not seen much action with the starting unit this spring, but he did get some playing time in place of McKenzie last year.
Petrus, by the Giants' admission, is a player in the mold of Seubert. He is tough kid who has the ability to be devastating run blocker and an excellent pulling guard.
Kevin Boothe, who can play any position on the line, tore a pectoral muscle, may miss the season. In his place, the Giants are hoping Guy Whimper, a 2006 fourth-round pick can make the transition from tackle to guard.
Whimper has been getting an extended look at guard this spring. It appears this is his last chance at a spot on the Giants' roster.
The team still has 2007 draft choice Adam Koets, who can also play anywhere on the line, including center. Other players who will have a shot at making the club are: Herb Taylor, a free-agent pick up who has had stops in Kansas City and Denver; practice squad players Jake Bender and Rueben Riley and two undrafted free agents - Dennis Landolt of Penn State and Ohio State C Jim Cordie.
The goal is to get some of that smashmouth mentality back into the offense that can take over games in the second half and late in the season. They also want to improve their red zone and short-yardage percentages....
The Giants feel they have enough experience and depth on the offensive line to reassert themselves as one of the NFL's best rushing attacks.