Biggest questions for the NY Giants to answer in 2013
The New York Giants 2013 season will be a big transitional year for the franchise, because of a lot of unknowns to sort themselves out at various positions. The first unknown is of course the wide receiver position. Victor Cruz has yet to sign an extension and if he doesn’t sign before the season begins, will put a lot of pressure on the Giants’ front office, because of Hakeem Nicks. The Giants would love to re-sign Nicks and Cruz to long-term deals, but the higher the price to keep Cruz becomes, the less likely Nicks will stay on the Giants or vice versa. If the Giants are put into a position to have to choose who to keep, is like asking a father to say who his favorite child is.
It can get very ugly, and the one determining factor that could accelerate the decision on whether to keep Cruz or Nicks is the development of Rueben Randle. His sophomore season will be crucial in finding out if the Giants can live without Cruz or Nicks. The Giants proved they could move on without Steve Smith in 2010, but will Rueben Randle have the same impact as Hakeem Nicks in 2010 is questionable at this point. We just won’t know until the season begins and the candidates behind Randle are underwhelming at best. Lots of unproven talent and journeymen receivers that have yet to catch a break. The wide receiver position has always been the heart and soul of the Giants’ offense over the last couple of seasons, but how they handle this uncertainty at the position will be one of the most intriguing answers to see unravel in 2013.
Then the next obstacle to overcome is at middle linebacker. Am I the only one who thinks the Giants have neglected this position ever since Antonio Pierce left after 2009? So far, all signs point to bone cancer survivor Mark Herzlich stepping into that role for 2013, but all Herzlich has made a name for himself for while on the Giants is for his TempurPedic mattress commercials. There is however, a very accomplished veteran backup in Dan Connor behind Herzlich, but how his production will translate from a 3-4 cleanup linebacker to 4-3 stud is still a mystery. A top-tier talent has to be found for the middle linebacker spot, and since the Giants didn’t address it in the draft let’s most Giants’ fans wonder when it’s going to happen at all. It’s a position that continues to be neglected with question marks year after year, but maybe 2013 will finally bring an answer with Herzlich or Connor.
Continuing onto another position on defense with question marks is the defensive line. Other than Jason Pierre-Paul, where is the pass rush coming from? The Giants only had 33 sacks out of this unit in 2013, a steep drop from the 48 they had in 2011. 12 of those 33 sacks in 2012 in Chase Blackburn, Osi Umenyiora and Chris Canty are no longer on the team. The Giants were 31st in total yards given up in 2012 and a lot of that had to do with the lack of pass rush, but 2013 may be worse.
Pass rushers must be found, but there simply isn’t enough talent. It’s surprising how you can go from a one of the most feared pass rushing groups to the most meek, but that’s what 2013 is shaping up to be. The only hope is in Cullen Jenkins having some more juice left in the tank to get some interior rush to help the edge rushers, but all the Giants have in proven edge rushers are JPP and Justin Tuck. Somebody has to step up to add some variety to these edge rushers. Whether that’s Adrian Tracy, Justin Trattou or even the rookie Damontre Moore isn’t clear, but it’s a question that has to be answered on the defensive line.
The last question is in the secondary. Star players Corey Webster and Antrel Rolle are in their thirties. Rolle in particular, is eating up 9.25 million in cap space and breakout safety Stevie Brown is in the last year of his contract. Decisions will have to be made, and the Giants’ first-round rookie from 2011 in Prince Amukamara isn’t turning out to be as good as they had hoped. This Giants’ secondary needs some unknown player to step up and rescue it, but none have arrived thus far.
It’s like a train crash that’s waiting to happen on defense for the Giants. The wheels are starting to buckle and no one seems to notice. However, if there were anything that could derail this Giants team in 2013, it’s the defense. Players have to rise to the occasion or slump into obscurity. The offense on the other hand is intact. As long as you have Eli Manning and people to catch the ball, good things will happen, but the defense of the Giants has a long way to go before proving its long-term vitality and 2013 may be another nail into the coffin until they start to rebuild the defense the right way into the future.
James Cobern is a NFC East Division Leader for TPF and can be contacted at JCobern@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com or follow him on Twitter @Jmcobern1