2015 Season Preview: New York Giants

After winning Super Bowls following the 2007 and 2011 seasons, the New York Giants have gone in the wrong direction. While they used to rule the NFC East, those days are gone, and currently, they are far behind division rivals Philadelphia and Dallas. In 2015, the Giants have to take a step forward. If it doesn’t happen, there could be changes made. Quarterback One of the reasons for the Giants demise has been the play of quarterback Eli Manning. In the last three seasons, his overall production has really dropped off. While he was one considered one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, that is no longer the case. His decision making and accuracy are not what they used to be. The Giants are hopeful that Eli can turn things around in 2015. In 2014, the Giants installed a new offense under offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. With this being Eli’s second year in the system, his overall play may improve. Behind Manning is third year man Ryan Nassib who continues to show improvement but really hasn’t had much of a chance to play. Running Back One of the reasons that Manning's play may have slipped is the Giants have not gotten much from their running backs in the last few years. Last year, they signed Rashad Jennings and drafted Andre Williams with the hope of getting more production, but that didn’t really happen. This year, they signed former Patriot Shane Vereen, and the hope is that the three of them, who all have different styles, can complement each other and produce. Offensive Line The reality is that the lack of offensive punch could be traced back to the very average play of the offensive line. Age, injury, and lack of production have hurt the line. This offseason, the Giants have rebuilt their line looking for a change. Will Beatty was supposed to be the left tackle, but the oft injured lineman tore a pectoral muscle during the offseason and will miss most, if not all, of the season. The Giants were hoping to play rookie first round pick Ereck Flowers at right tackle, but with the injury to Beatty, Flowers will play on the left side, where he lined up in college. The right tackle will be Marshall Newhouse, a free agent signee from Cincinnati. The left guards will be former first round pick Justin Pugh, who has been moved inside after playing his first two years at tackle. At right guard, veteran Geoff Schwartz will line up. If Schwartz can stay healthy, he can be a very good player for the Giants. The center will be 2014 second round pick Weston Richburg who played well as a rookie at guard. He is a natural center and has the makings of being a strong leader. Wide Receiver and Tight End The Giants 2014 first round pick Odell Beckham Jr. just may have been the top rookie in his class. After going through the offseason with a hamstring injury, Beckham Jr exploded with 91 receptions for over 1300 yards. As good as Beckham Jr is, he can be even better if Victor Cruz comes back 100% from last year’s injury. If Cruz is 100%, the Giants will have one of the better wide receiver combos in the NFL. The third receiver is Rueben Randle, who has shown flashes in his three previous seasons but no consistency. He is very talented but needs to put it all together. The tight end will be Larry Donnell, who keeps getting better with experience. When Donnell is on his game, he shows some special qualities. The Giants have depth at tight end with Daniel Fells and Adrien Robinson, but Preston Parker is unproven. The Giants hope that free agent Dwayne Harris becomes a key addition. Defense The Giants' defense has struggled the past few seasons, and coordinator Perry Fewell was let go. New York went back to the future, so to speak, by hiring former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to replace Fewell. When the Giants defense was run by Spagnuolo, it was always one of the better defenses in the league. Defensive Line Going into training camp, who starts along the line is a mystery. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has yet to sign his franchise tender. When healthy, Pierre Paul is a terrific pass rusher and will man the right end spot. Who lines up at left end will be determined in camp with rookie Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Robert Ayers, and Damontre Moore competing for the spot. Regardless of who becomes the starter, all will play in the rotation as will second year man Kerry Wynn. Odighizuwa is raw but has the natural traits to become a star in time. At tackle, one spot is locked up, and that belongs to Jonathan Hankins. He was the best all-around player on the Giants' defensive line a year ago. Next to him will be either Kendrick Ellis or second year man Jay Bromley. Cullen Jenkins and Markus Kuhn also figure into the equation. Linebacker The linebacker corps will have a different look than a year ago. The new starters will be Devon Kennard at Sam and J.T. Thomas at Will. Kennard started six games as a rookie last year and fared well. Thomas, a former draft choice of the Bears, started for Jacksonville a year ago. At Mike will be veteran Jon Beason. When healthy, Beason can be very good, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. He only played four games a year ago. If Beason goes down, either Jameel McClain or Mark Herzlich will take over. Both have versatility in that they can play more than one linebacker position. Secondary The Giants needed to address the safety position in the draft and did so by trading up in the second round to select Alabama’s Landon Collins. Many felt that Collins was the best safety in this year’s draft. Collins should line up on the strong side. At free safety, the favorite to start is second year man Nat Berhe. While Berhe is talented, he missed most of the offseason work. If he can’t go when camp begins, rookie Mykkele Thompson could get the nod. The corners should be Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Amukamara missed eight games a year ago and Rodgers-Cromartie played hurt much of the season. Depth will come from the group of Josh Gordy, Chykie Brown, and Mike Harris. Brown may also get a look at safety. Outlook Having spent over half my scouting career with the Giants, I would like nothing more than to see them back on top of the NFC East. There isn’t a better organization in the NFL to work for than the New York Giants. While my heart wants the G-Men to do well, I just don’t see it happening. They don’t have the talent base that division rivals Philadelphia and Dallas have. If the Giants are going to be successful, Eli Manning has to be the player he was four years ago, and Steve Spagnuolo has to work magic with the defense. Going into training camp, I cant see the Giants finishing any better than third in the NFC East in 2015. Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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