New York Giants: Martellus Bennett

The awkward part of New York Giants GM Jerry Reese's pre-draft news conference Thursday came when a reporter asked him about tight end. The exchange went like this:
Q: Historically, this team has relied on the tight end quite a bit. Would you be comfortable moving forward with the guys you have on your roster right now?

Reese: Historically we've relied on our tight end?

Q: Well, they've had a prominent role.

Reese: Really?

Q: I seem to remember tight ends catching important passes.

Reese: Yeah, well, we think we've got some tight ends that can catch some important passes. But "prominent role"? We want all of our positions to be prominent roles. I'm not sure if our tight ends have had prominent roles in the past. But we want a competent tight end. We think we've got a couple of young tight ends who have been here for a couple of years who we want to develop, and we'll continue to look as we move forward.
[+] EnlargeBrandon Myers
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsIn his one season with the Giants, Brandon Myers caught 47 passes for 522 yards.
I have been on the other end of that exchange in the past. I've been the one who asked Reese a question that posited a certain level of significance for the tight end position and had him reject the premise. Obviously, this does not show Reese at his most polite, but he views this idea that the Giants' offense has relied on a tight end as an especially irksome misperception. And the numbers support his side of it:

  • Brandon Myers' 47 receptions in 2013 were the second-most in a single season by a Giants tight end since Jeremy Shockey caught 57 passes in 2007.
  • Since 2007, the Giants have employed four different starting tight ends -- Kevin Boss from 2008-10, Jake Ballard in 2011, Martellus Bennett in 2012 and Myers last year.
  • Over that six-year stretch, the Giants' leading tight end has averaged 42 receptions for 539 yards and five touchdowns per year, with Bennett's 55 catches and 626 yards in 2012 and Boss' six touchdowns in 2008 the high-water marks in those categories.

Reese is not shy about telling people he thinks he can find a tight end who can catch 42 passes every year, and this is the basis on which he rejects a characterization such as "prominent role." Yes, he could be nicer about making the point, but the Giants' offense has not, in point of fact, relied on the tight end. Shockey was an exceptional case -- an exceptional talent the Giants deemed worthy of a first-round pick. And Bennett's athleticism allowed them to use him a bit more than they've used other guys after they were able to get him on the cheap prior to the 2012 season.

But the thing to remember about Bennett and Shockey is that both were excellent and willing blockers at the position. Bennett's as good a run-blocking tight end as there is in the NFL right now, and the Giants had him on the field a lot for that reason. That his size and speed enabled him to be a slightly bigger factor in the passing game than some of his predecessors were was a bonus, and the Giants were fortunate that he wasn't in demand that year due to the perception that he was a huge disappointment in Dallas. Once he played well for them, he parlayed that into a big free-agent deal with the Bears, and the Giants made no effort to spend to keep him.

So the point to be taken from this is not that the Giants don't like the tight end position but that it's not a position on which they feel compelled to spend major resources. Other than that 2002 first-round pick they spent on Shockey, they've consistently sought cheap solutions at tight end, viewing whoever plays it as replaceable from year to year. They want guys who can block, and if those guys can catch the ball, so much the better.

For that reason, it's easy to convince yourself that they won't be taking North Carolina's Eric Ebron with the No. 12 pick in the first round next week. Ebron may be an exceptional talent as a receiver, and the tight end position leaguewide may have evolved to the point where it's worth spending a No. 12 overall pick to get one who can be a difference-maker in the passing game. But Reese insisted Thursday that the arrival of new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has not changed the way the Giants evaluate offensive players. And while Shockey was the No. 14 overall pick in that 2002 draft, it's vital to remember that Shockey was a good blocker in addition to a great pass-catcher. Ebron is a pass-catcher only. He'd be a liability as a blocker. So the comparison doesn't necessarily fit.

The Giants could find a tight end such as Jace Amaro or Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the second round if they really feel they need one, but it's possible they don't feel that way. They have 2012 fourth-round pick Adrien Robinson still on the roster and have been eager for some time to see him on the field more. They resisted putting Robinson on injured reserve all last year because they believed he had something to offer if he ever got healthy (which he finally did, only to injure himself again on the opening kickoff of the Week 16 game in Detroit). They signed blocking tight end Kellen Davis and Daniel Fells for depth at the position, and Larry Donnell has been a strong enough special-teams performer to earn more practice reps and show what he can do. That's the group Reese has, and he swears he doesn't feel the need to upgrade it in the draft. If their pick comes around and the best player still on their board plays tight end, sure, they could take him. But Reese isn't hunting for some huge solution at the position next week.

The question is whether he's right. I personally think the Giants would benefit from having a more permanent solution at this position than they've employed over the past four years. I think the way the league is going, it's more important than it used to be to have a big-time weapon at that position who can split out wide and bust matchups in the secondary. But I don't run the Giants. Jerry Reese does. And he and the Giants do things their way, and they believe in it. You can respect someone's conviction even if your opinion differs from theirs. Reese thinks he's OK at tight end -- or at least that he will be. And it's clear when he's asked about it that he doesn't understand what all the fuss is about.

Big Blue Morning: Common problems

January, 28, 2014
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The New York Giants officially announced their 2014 offensive coaching staff Monday, making official the hiring of quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf and shuffling some of their holdover coaches into different roles under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. The ultimate goal is of course to make the offense better than it was this past season (which shouldn't be hard), but some goings-on elsewhere in the division caught my attention while I was pondering the relatively peaceful way in which the Giants made their changes.

The Dallas Cowboys also are making changes to their coaching staff, and for the second offseason in a row the big issue is not scheme or concepts or leadership but rather determining who will call the plays on game day. A year ago, Jerry Jones took that responsibility from head coach Jason Garrett and gave it to offensive line coach Bill Callahan. Now, the team appears to be bringing in former Rams coach and former Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, a Garrett friend, to take over the play calling. As Todd Archer writes, this is the Cowboys who are prone to drama in every aspect of their existence, and the politics involved in this decision are a continuation of that.

No team's fans like its offensive playcaller, I promise you this. But if you're a Giants fan watching what's going on in Dallas, at the very least, you have to be glad your team can at least figure out who it is without it becoming a whole huge thing every year.

In other news, Kieran found a couple of Seahawks angles Monday at Super Bowl media availability that at least come close to touching on the Giants:
  • Seattle pass-rusher Michael Bennett is the brother of Martellus Bennett, whom you may remember as a colorful character and a pretty good player during the one year he spent with the Giants in 2012. Michael appears to be those two things as well.
  • Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson was someone in whom the Giants had some interest this past year as a potential replacement for the injured Henry Hynoski, but they passed. Robinson's road to the Super Bowl was not an easy one.

I'm going to bundle up and head over to Newark for media day. Wave if you see me there. Will keep you posted on what I find.

Double Coverage: Giants at Lions

December, 20, 2013
12/20/13
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Justin Tuck and Matthew StaffordGetty ImagesJustin Tuck, left, and the Giants will be trying to end the playoff hopes of Matthew Stafford's Lions.
It is a battle of disappointments on Sunday at Ford Field: the New York Giants, who have been disappointing all season, against the Detroit Lions, who have been one of the more surprising teams over the second half of the season -- in a bad way.

The Giants have no playoff hopes. The Lions need to win their final two games and then hope for help (i.e., losses) from Green Bay and Chicago.

Taking you through Sunday’s matchup are ESPN.com NFL reporters Michael Rothstein (Lions) and Dan Graziano (Giants).

Rothstein: The Giants have struggled all season, and Eli Manning has been at the forefront of that. What has changed there?

Graziano: It's basically just a complete bottoming-out on all fronts, starting with the protection. A line that wasn't great to begin with is down two starters and has been playing a rookie at right tackle all season. The blocking help the line used to get from running backs and tight ends disappeared when the Giants let Ahmad Bradshaw and Martellus Bennett leave in the offseason. Hakeem Nicks has had a terrible year at receiver, playing like he is more worried about staying healthy in advance of free agency than trying his best to win. There has been no run game at all for long stretches. And Manning has failed to elevate above his miserable circumstances, missing too many throws and too often looking as though it has all been too much for him. It's been a total whitewash of a season for the Giants' offense. They are the only team in the league that has been shut out even once this season, and they've been shut out twice.

What is the deal out there in Detroit? To my eyes, the Lions should have put this division away by now with Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler having been out for so long. What is the main reason they seem to have squandered such a great opportunity?

Rothstein: I don't know whether there are enough words to describe all that has gone on, although the simplest way to put it would be consistent end-game meltdowns, either from turnovers, coaching decisions or a defense that suddenly faltered.

A lot of it has to do with Matthew Stafford, who has had accuracy issues in the second half of the season. Really, there have been issues everywhere but the lines, from turnovers to coverage breakdowns on defense.

This is a team that should be safely in the playoffs right now instead of needing to win out and get help.

That obviously leads to job-security questions for Jim Schwartz. Although that doesn't seem to be the case for Tom Coughlin, has this season given any indication as to how much longer he plans to be on the sideline?

Graziano: No, Coughlin is really a what-you-see-is-what-you-get sort of guy. He's completely believable when he insists he's focused on only this week's game and doesn't want to address anything beyond this season. People close to Coughlin insist he won't quit as long as he feels he can still do the job, and there is no indication he feels otherwise. He has as much passion and energy as anyone else in the building (and right now, more than most!). I don't think Giants ownership would fire him, and I'd be stunned if he got into the offseason and decided he was done. As one person close to him told me, "He has no hobbies. There's nothing for him to retire TO." At 67 years old, he understands why the questions get asked, but he doesn't view himself as near the end of a career, I don't think. As of now, he plans to be part of the solution here, and it would be a major upset if he wasn't back in 2014.

One of Coughlin's biggest immediate problems is keeping his quarterback from getting killed. How is that Detroit pass rush looking these days?

Rothstein: Eli, meet Ndamukong. He will be the guy tossing you to the ground today. In all seriousness, though, the Lions' pass rush has been interesting. The Lions have been great at applying pressure (other than against Pittsburgh) but don't have the actual numbers to show for it, which can be confusing.

What teams have done is bottle the middle on Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, and have either a tight end or running back help on either Willie Young or Ziggy Ansah on the ends.

So to answer your question, it has been OK, but not the consistently dominant force some were expecting.

That leads into my last question. The Lions' run defense, headed by that front, has been one of the best in the league this season. Have the Giants figured any way to solve their run woes?

Graziano: Andre Brown was hot for a while when he came back from his injury, and the offensive line was starting to block better for the run. But the past two weeks have seen a step backward, and the way the line is configured now, with starting left guard Kevin Boothe playing center and backups rotating in and out at left guard, has left it very vulnerable and one-dimensional. The Giants were able to take advantage of some good matchups with Brown running well, but against tougher fronts like the one they saw against Seattle last week, they struggle. I imagine they will struggle against the Lions' front in the run game as well.

Two straight disappointing games for Stafford and Calvin Johnson. Do you expect Megatron to blow up this week and victimize the Giants' secondary?

Rothstein: Kind of. As cornerback Rashean Mathis told me this week, if the Lions don’t find their urgency now, they’ll never find it this season. So I’d imagine you would see Johnson -- who is Detroit's best player -- at the forefront of that if the Lions have any shot over the next two weeks. Plus, those two drops he had against Baltimore will gnaw at him all week long. I expect he’ll have a big game.

Stafford, on the other hand, I’m not as sure about because he seems genuinely rattled this second half of the season. Detroit needs to find what was working for him at the start of the season and bring that back, otherwise its season is over.

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Assessing Jerry Reese's offseason

September, 30, 2013
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New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese continues to decline interview requests through the team's media relations department. The Giants insist they are not the sort of franchise whose ownership and management-level leaders hold running commentary about the season, and their 0-4 start is not going to make them be who they are not. That's fine. I can respect that. I disagree, because I think it would constitute a public show of leadership and support if Reese and/or John Mara were to talk publicly at the end of this September. But that's their way of doing business, and you have to stay true to yourself. All good. Long as they don't mind if I keep asking.

This also allows us to write whatever we want to write about Reese and the way he assembled the 2013 Giants roster, because he's not taking the opportunity to present his side of any of it. So with that in mind, I hereby present my wholly objective opinions on five of the significant Giants roster decisions Reese made this offseason.

Bradshaw
1. Releasing running back Ahmad Bradshaw

Why they did it: Cap room, and the belief that Bradshaw wouldn't be able to stay healthy enough to count on.

Were they wrong? No, not even in hindsight. Bradshaw's already hurt for the Colts, who have already spent their 2014 first-round pick on an upgrade. To look back now and call this a mistake would be an unjustified second-guess. It was time for the Giants and Bradshaw to part ways.

The impact: The problem is that Reese didn't work hard enough to replace Bradshaw (this is a recurring theme you'll see here). The thought was that second-year man David Wilson could be the primary ballcarrier and Andre Brown could handle pass-protection and goal-line duties. But Brown broke his leg in the preseason and Wilson fumbled twice in the opener, and the Giants were exposed as way too thin at running back with only Da'Rel Scott and Michael Cox on the bench. They had to go out and bring back Brandon Jacobs just to fill out the meeting room. Big mess. Where they really miss Bradshaw is in pass protection, where he's the best running back in the league at picking up the blitz. No matter who they brought in, it would have been tough for anyone to replace Bradshaw in that area. Brown was okay at it, but he has an extensive injury history that made him difficult to count on. Reese likely should have found a veteran pass-blocking back to fill out the roster in camp.

Beatty
Beatty
2. Signing Will Beatty to a five-year, $38.75 million contract.

Why they did it: The Giants gave Beatty his big deal right before free agency because they feared left tackles like Jake Long, Sebastian Vollmer and Andre Smith would push the tackle market through they roof. They had a 28-year-old who'd played well for them in 2012 and knew their system, and they got him on a cap-friendly deal before the market could act on him.

Were they wrong? Yes. The market for free-agent tackles didn't go where Reese expected it to go. Long broke the bank with the Rams, but Vollmer and Smith re-signed with their own teams for less than half of what Beatty got. And while those guys play right tackle and Beatty plays left, the difference is not what the contracts indicate. Had they waited, it turns out they likely could have had Beatty for less than they spent.

The impact: If Beatty plays like a franchise left tackle, as he did in 2012, the Giants won't regret the cost. But if he plays the way he's played so far this year -- overmatched physically and employing sloppy, inconsistent technique that's impossible for him to overcome -- then they have a long-term problem that would require him to be replaced and them to be overpaying a right tackle. Four games in, there's a question mark at a position that was supposed to be solved. And with the rest of the line looking like it needs to be addressed in the short- and long-term, that's no good. The issue on both lines is that there's too little in the pipeline -- that they haven't developed players to replace the ones they've lost. They paid Beatty as though he was the exception, and to this point he hasn't looked it.

Cruz
3. Signing Victor Cruz to a five-year, $43 million contract.

Why they did it: They view Cruz as a special talent and a long-term piece of their puzzle -- a slot receiver capable of catching the ball anywhere on the field and going all the way with it. Eli Manning trusts him completely, and he's a huge part of why their passing game works.

Were they wrong? No. They stayed patient and waited while Cruz sat out offseason practices in the hope that they'd raise their offer. Ultimately, he came to them and accepted the deal at the team's preferred price. They got the player at the cost they wanted, and it helps them as they deal with wide receiver Hakeem Nicks' free agency this coming offseason. They'd have been in a tough spot if they'd had to make decisions on both of them in 2014.

The impact: Cruz was the best Giants player on the field Sunday in Kansas City. He has scored four of their seven touchdowns so far this year. The answer to the question "Where would they be without him?" is obviously exactly where they are right now at 0-4. But they'd be there with one less bright spot to offer any hope for improvement. Cruz is a keeper.

Myers
Myers
4. Replacing TE Martellus Bennett with Brandon Myers.

Why they did it: Bennett got a four-year, $20.4 million contract from the Bears. The Giants, who have started four different tight ends the last four years, view the position as replaceable. As soon as he was getting multi-year offers elsewhere, Bennett was a goner. Myers, who caught 79 passes for the Raiders a year ago, was the most enticing of the veteran options remaining on the market.

Were they wrong? Absolutely. Not in declining to outbid the Bears for Bennett but in the steps they took to replace him. Rather than bring in Myers, who's a receiving tight end who can't block, they should have focused on replacing some of the blocking ability of Bennett, who (like Bradshaw) grades out as one of the best blockers at his position in the NFL.

The impact: It's being felt most in the run game, where the Giants are getting no effective blocking whatsoever at the point of attack. The glaring example Sunday was the third-and-1 David Wilson run to the right side where he was behind three tight ends and all three of them got smoked and Wilson couldn't get the yard. Myers is what he is, and it's not a blocking tight end. The Giants need one, and especially with Bear Pascoe having to play fullback in place of the injured Henry Hynoski, they really don't have one.

5. Drafting Justin Pugh, Johnathan Hankins and Damontre Moore in the first three rounds.

Why they did it: Pugh was the Giants' first first-round offensive lineman since 1999, and they picked him not with the idea that he'd start at right tackle this year but because they knew they had long-term offensive line needs at multiple positions and they saw him as a guy who could play tackle or guard. Hankins is a defensive tackle, and at the time of the draft they didn't realize they had two veterans in Shaun Rogers and Mike Patterson who would make their team at that position. They felt they were getting thin there, and that Hankins could help as a rotational player in his first year and a long-term piece. Moore was a pass-rusher they felt dropped too far, given his talent and his college sack numbers. They believed he could infuse the pass rush immediately, helping replace what was lost with the free-agent departure of Osi Umenyiora.

Were they wrong? Well, it hasn't worked out as anticipated. Pugh is the starting right tackle because David Diehl got hurt. Hankins has been inactive for all four games because he's fifth on the depth chart at defensive tackle. And Moore, who missed most of August with a shoulder injury, has had an impact on special teams but not yet on the defense.

The impact: Pugh is learning on the job, and it's costing the Giants in pass protection. He shows some good and some bad, as all rookies do, and at this point it looks as though he might be better off moving inside to guard. But they're right to try him at tackle to find out. He's surely not their only problem right now on the line. Hankins is developing in practice, and there's no way to know what kind of pick he'll turn out to be. But with 2011 second-rounder Marvin Austin having flopped and with Linval Joseph eligible for free agency after this year, they need Hankins to be a hit. Moore looks fast and athletic and could be a bolt of energy to the flagging pass rush, but as is the case with Wilson at running back, the coaches are hesitant to play him. The 2013 draft hasn't helped very much, which it's not necessarily supposed to in 2013. But the way the picks were made indicated that the Giants expected at least some help from the early-round guys this year, and it's possible they won't get much of it.
With all due respect to the established and comfortable structure of the in-season NFL week, I simply do not care what Carl Banks or Antrel Rolle or anyone else had to say when offered an opportunity to voice their frustrations about the New York Giants in their paid weekly radio appearances. "Giants unhappy because they lost and looked bad doing it" is not news. It's noise.

I personally believe it would be more interesting to hear from someone qualified to explain the root of the problems the Giants are having and to offer substantive thoughts on potential solutions. I think Giants GM Jerry Reese fits that profile, and I think it would be good for him to speak publicly this week. Not today, necessarily, with the organization supporting coach Tom Coughlin on the day of his brother's funeral. Some things -- many things, actually -- are more important than football, and certainly this can wait. But when we all go back Wednesday and Thursday for interviews and news conferences in East Rutherford, I don't think it's too much to ask for the team's general manager to come out and answer some questions.

[+] EnlargeJerry Reese
William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY SportsGM Jerry Reese has some difficult questions to answer concerning the Giants' early struggles.
Requests to interview Reese on Monday were declined, and it has been explained to me that he rarely talks in-season, with the possible exception of the bye week. The Giants' power structure is well established and respected by all involved. Reese's job is to put the roster together. Coughlin's is to coach the team. Reese giving all kinds of interviews in-season the way owner/GM Jerry Jones, for example, holds court in the locker room after every game would be unseemly given the separation of powers in the Giants organization. Fair enough.

But when the team starts 0-3 and there are legitimate questions being asked about whether it's actually built to win, it's time to consider making an exception. Accountability is always in-season, and there are questions that Reese is more qualified to answer right now than are the coaches and players who are giving interviews daily. Questions such as:

  • As an organization that believes in developing internal solutions to its roster issues, where on your roster do you believe improvements on the offensive line can come, in the short term as well as the long term?
  • Given the health issues he had last year and the surgery he had this spring, do you expect Jason Pierre-Paul to make a full return to the form he showed in 2011 and early 2012? And if so, how much longer do you expect to have to get by with this obviously diminished version of him?
  • Based on your pre-draft evaluations of him, and factoring in what you've seen on the field so far, do you believe Justin Pugh is ready for continued full-time duty as your right tackle? Or would he benefit from a move inside or even to the bench once David Diehl is ready to return?
  • Are there any external moves you believe can be made in-season to address the blocking issues still left over from the departures of guys such as Ahmad Bradshaw and Martellus Bennett?

Those are just a few samples, and I'm sure other people have others. And look, this isn't about assigning blame or railing that Reese didn't do enough. I've gone down that road before. Wrote that column in August 2011. I was wrong then, and it's entirely possible that those who want to hammer Reese now will turn out to be proven wrong months down the road. I'm not necessarily betting on it, but I've learned a lesson or two about rushing to conclusions that run counter to people's track records.

I don't think Reese was wrong to let Bradshaw and Bennett and Osi Umenyiora leave given what they would have cost him. I do think it's possible he didn't do enough to replace them, and that the Giants may be entering something of a rebuilding phase as a result. I'd like to get his thoughts on that. And I think if others in the organization are out there answering for the 0-3 start, it's not too much to ask the same of the man who assembled the so-far overmatched roster.

Big Blue Morning: Giants in an 0-2 hole

September, 16, 2013
9/16/13
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Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about and of interest to the New York Giants

The news of the day: The Giants lost their home opener 41-23 to the Denver Broncos to fall to 0-2 for the season. They've been 0-2 before, most notably in 2007 when they recovered to win the Super Bowl, but that's not really relevant to the current situation from which Tom Coughlin must find a way to rescue his team. Eli Manning is a significant part of the problem so far, as his four interceptions Sunday night raised his league-leading total to seven through just two games. The defense keeps insisting it's playing well, but I think it's all relative. They've allowed 747 yards in two games.

Behind enemy lines: Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was happy to be done with his third career game against his younger brother, and the Broncos defensive backs weren't surprised they got called for so many penalties in their physical battles with the Giants wide receivers, Jeff Legwold writes.

Around the division: Every other team in the NFC East lost Sunday as well, which means the Cowboys and Eagles are tied for first place at 1-1 with the Giants and Redskins both 0-2. Jean-Jacques Taylor writes that Dallas' loss recalled a same-old issue: The inability to make the plays when it really mattered. John Keim writes that the Redskins' Robert Griffin III, who didn't play all preseason and barely practiced all offseason following reconstructive knee surgery, has to play more like his dynamic old self. And Phil Sheridan writes that the Eagles' loss exposed the flaws in Chip Kelly's breakneck-pace approach to offense. The one that keeps striking me as alarming is the extent to which they take chances and make sacrifices in pass protection.

Around the league: The early games Sunday were mesmerizing. Seemed like they all went down to the wire. The throw Jay Cutler made to Martellus Bennett to win the game for the Bears against the Vikings may have been my favorite. Kelly's getting all the ink, but what if Marc Trestman is going to make Cutler a star in Chicago? Wouldn't that be just as impressive?

Camp Confidential: New York Giants

August, 7, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The buzzword around the New York Giants the past few years has been "consistency." As in, they need to find ways to be more consistent week-to-week, month-to-month in order to achieve their goal of making the playoffs. When they make the playoffs, the Giants are a threat to win the Super Bowl, as they showed two seasons ago. But in three of the past four seasons, they have failed to qualify for the postseason.

The issue, ironically, is that for all of their in-season inconsistencies, the Giants are actually one of the most consistent teams in the league year-to-year. Their regular-season win totals the past four seasons are 8, 10, 9 and 9. There are teams all over the league that would kill for that kind of consistency -- to stay annually in the division race deep into December and be in position to get themselves into what Giants general manager Jerry Reese calls "the tournament." But for the Giants, it's not good enough.

"I guess we are consistent when you look at it that way. So we need to be better," quarterback Eli Manning said before Giants training camp practice Friday. "We expect to be a team that can get 11 wins, that can get 12 wins in a season. So I think it's really just playing to our potential, is really what we're saying. We've got to avoid the bad games. We should be in every game we play."

There are multiple levels on which to attack the problem. Manning himself says he's working to improve his accuracy, especially insofar as it helps the Giants get back to hitting big plays in the passing game. Around him the offensive line and the receiving corps are working to get and stay healthy and be cohesive. The run game is transitioning to younger players. On the other side of the ball, the Giants hope the pass rush can rebound from a 33-sack season (the Giants' lowest team total in that category since 2009) and return to the dominant form that helped it win the Super Bowl two seasons ago. If that happens, they believe the secondary will play better and a defense that allowed the second-most yards in the NFL last year will necessarily improve its ability to control games and steer away from the annual potholes.

"Since I've been here, we've kind of fallen into that same trap. We've had that midseason letdown," said safety Antrel Rolle, who's entering his fourth season with the Giants. "And I'm not quite sure why that's happened, but we definitely need to break that mind frame and get above the nine, 10 wins, because we're better than that. Our standards are way beyond that."

The Giants are holding training camp this year at their regular-season practice facility, mere yards from the stadium in which the Super Bowl will be played six months from now. The view of hulking MetLife Stadium from their practice fields, along with the Super Bowl countdown clock Reese installed in the locker room, is making sure the Giants keep their very high goals in mind as they prepare for the 2013 season.

THREE HOT ISSUES

[+] EnlargeDavid Wilson
AP Photo/Seth WenigDavid Wilson will now have the chance to be the lead back in New York's running attack.
1. Who will carry the ball? With mainstay Ahmad Bradshaw off to Indianapolis, the running game is in the hands of 2012 first-round pick David Wilson and Andre Brown, who was the Giants' goal-line back before an injury ended the 2012 season for him. Wilson has everyone excited because of his game-breaking potential, but it's clear that whichever of these guys shows the most as a pass-blocker will get the bulk of the carries.

"You really can't play unless you can protect the quarterback," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "Fortunately, those two young men as well as our other running backs have had the opportunity to look at Ahmad's film and get a better understanding of the complexities of our protection packages. Those two guys are very, very fast and very skilled, and we definitely believe in the balance theory. To play great football, we're going to have to run the ball."

Expect a carry split not unlike what the Giants have shown in years past. But if Wilson shows he can stay on the field for three downs, he could emerge as a star. No Giants back in recent memory has been as explosive a runner as he is.

2. Can they get to the quarterback? The pass rush is in flux as well. Osi Umenyiora is in Atlanta. Jason Pierre-Paul is recovering from back surgery and may not be ready for Week 1. Justin Tuck has 12.5 sacks in his last 32 games. Mathias Kiwanuka is moving back up to the line after a couple of years in the linebacking corps. And they only had 33 sacks last year. The Giants, historically, do not have the kind of success they intend to have without a dominating pass rush.

Tuck says he's rejuvenated after two tough years -- healthier than he's been in any camp since 2010. He's in the final year of his contract, and if he looks like his old self this year, he and the team will benefit dramatically. Toughening up inside at defensive tackle should help as well, and if Pierre-Paul makes a full recovery, this will be a driven unit capable of much bigger things.

3. Last stand for the old guard? "Me worrying about contracts or things that are going to happen in the future doesn't really help me in the present," Tuck said after practice last Friday. "I've never been a player that played the game for money or played for a big contract. If I did, don't you think I'd have been more inclined to play well the last two years and not have to worry about the contract now? I just want to go out there and prove to people that Justin Tuck can do still do his job very well."

Tuck's feelings echo those of teammates David Diehl and Corey Webster. All three are proud Giant champions who took a lot of criticism for their disappointing play in 2012. All three are determined to play better in 2013. All three are likely done in New York next year if they don't. The Giants are placing a big bet on the professional and personal pride of some of their title-team cornerstones. They're all talking tough in August, but it's got to translate into turn-back-the-clock production for the Giants' key veterans.

REASON FOR OPTIMISM

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
AP Photo/Seth WenigEli Manning has plenty of offensive weapons this season and the unit will be capable of putting up a lot of points.
Manning is always the biggest reason for optimism in East Rutherford. Steady, reliable and capable of making every clutch throw there is, the Giants' franchise quarterback is the sun around which their current universe revolves. With Victor Cruz back in the fold after an offseason contract dispute, Rueben Randle looking good as he prepared for his second season, the young legs in the run game, and a new tight end in Brandon Myers who caught 79 passes in Oakland last season, Manning is surrounded by exciting weapons on offense. And if top receiver Hakeem Nicks can shake his latest offseason injury bout and stay healthy all year, this is an offense capable of scoring a lot of points in a hurry.

REASON FOR PESSIMISM

The one issue on offense -- and it's a big one -- is the blocking. Bradshaw was a great blocking back, and as we've already discussed we don't know what Wilson and Brown can bring as blockers over a full season. Martellus Bennett was a great run-blocking tight end, and that's not a strength of Myers' game. Diehl is proud, determined and worthy of the benefit of the doubt, but he's coming off a bad season. Interior offensive linemen Chris Snee and David Baas have struggled the past few years with injuries. All of the skill-position talent is exciting, but it could be undone if the Giants can't answer some of their big blocking questions.

OBSERVATION DECK

  • Rolle said that when Kenny Phillips went down with his injury problems last year, he had to play a lot in the box while fellow safety Stevie Brown handled the post safety role. Brown did collect eight interceptions in that role, but the Giants want him to be more versatile now that Phillips is gone and he's a full-time starter. Having a full training camp to work as a starter is helping Brown become the kind of interchangeable safety they need him and Rolle to be. "We already know he's a ballhawk and can go and he can go get the ball and do something with it once he gets it," Rolle said. "Now he's showing us that he can play in the box and definitely be a versatile safety."
  • They don't want to talk about it because they don't want to give away their plans, but the Giants have worked on some different alignments of the defensive front seven this camp. Usually a strict 4-3 team, the Giants have tried some 3-4 looks or some hybrid looks that ask their defensive ends to stand up and either play outside linebacker or at least look as though they might. The idea is to confuse the offense and possibly to be in better position to react to the run-heavy, read-option offenses in Washington and maybe Philadelphia.
  • Third-year cornerback Prince Amukamara is healthy and hoping to build on his solid second season. He said his goal is to play well enough that he's able to stay on one side and Webster on the other side of the field for the whole game, rather than having Webster assigned to the other team's No. 1 receiver regardless of where he lines up. The coaches say that's their goal for their cornerbacks as well, and Amukamara's strong camp is leading them to believe they can play that way.
  • Former Eagle Cullen Jenkins has worked some at defensive end as well as tackle. His experience playing different positions in 3-4 and 4-3 fronts could help the Giants if they plan to be varied and have multiple looks on defense.
  • Randle, the team's second-round pick in 2012, is a big-bodied outside threat who could keep Cruz in the slot where he's at his best. It's still premature to project Randle as Nicks' long-term replacement, but from what I saw he's a guy who knows how to use his size and his leaping ability to out-fight a defensive back for a ball in traffic. His speed becomes more of an asset the further he gets down the field, because of his long strides.
  • The biggest-impact 2013 draft pick could be second-rounder Johnathan Hankins, who looks like a valuable part of the rotation at defensive tackle. Third-rounder Damontre Moore is at least a situational pass-rusher at this point, and it's easy to see the way those playmaking instincts help him get off the ball and into the backfield. First-round pick Justin Pugh isn't running with the first team (and he's actually out right now with a concussion), but they have worked him at tackle and guard and they believe he's going to be a valuable long-term piece for them at some position on the line. Right now, though, he's clearly behind Diehl at right tackle.
  • We've come this far without mentioning linebacker, and I don't have much to report. Between their nickel packages, the three-safety looks they like so much, and the possibility that they might show some 3-4 here and there, it's just not a high-priority spot. Spencer Paysinger is making a push for the starting spot at weakside linebacker, with Keith Rivers on the strong side and Mark Herzlich in the middle at least so far. But I think the linebacker alignment could depend on who shows something on special teams.

Practice report: Myers is 'The Finisher'

August, 4, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brandon Myers delivered his biggest play yet in camp to the delight of his teammates on offense.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
AP Photo/Seth WenigEli Manning delivered a 50-yard pass to end Sunday's practice.
On the first play of the Giants' two-minute drill to end practice, Myers slipped behind the defense, took advantage of blown coverage and caught a perfect touch pass from Eli Manning down the seam for an over 50-yard gain. With the goal of the drill being for the offense to get into field goal range, the Giants ended practice since Myers was well into field goal range and heading toward the goal line when safety Stevie Brown caught him.

While the offense was delighted as offensive players cheered on Myers after the catch, Tom Coughlin was less than thrilled with his defense to give up a monster gain on the first play.

"Yeah, well that’s not supposed to," Coughlin said about the drill lasting one play. "I’m trying to do the drill and get all we can out of it."

Coughlin liked what he saw out of Myers, who was signed in free agency to replace Martellus Bennett.

"Nice adjustment," he said of Myers' catch. "He threw it obviously where the defender wasn’t ... I thought it was a radical adjustment because of the wind and he made the catch there. Better yet though, he reacted the way he should react as he read the coverage."

Getting defensive: The Giants had some interesting personnel combos on the field on Sunday. With the team working on a lot of third-down situations, Perry Fewell tinkered with his defense.

At times, we saw one defensive end like Justin Tuck standing up while two defensive tackles and another defensive end lined up with their hands in the dirt. With other units, defensive ends like Adrian Tracy or Justin Trattou were standing up on some plays as well. I always like when Fewell gets creative. The formation almost looked like a hybrid 4-3/3-4 look. As NFC East blogger Dan Graziano pointed out recently, the Giants may tinker with some 3-4 looks this season.

In several nickel packages, LB Jacquian Williams saw numerous snaps, some with Spencer Paysinger. In other packages, Fewell took a look at Mark Herzlich and Keith Rivers together.

On the play that Manning hooked up with Myers for the big gain to end practice, the Giants had Tracy and Kiwanuka on the ends and Tuck and Cullen Jenkins inside on the front line with Dan Connor and Williams at linebacker.

It was hard to keep track of all the shuffling of personnel with the first, second and third teams.

"There were a lot of adjustments according to the personnel that is going on the field with third down," Coughlin said.

The 411: The Giants worked on several running plays as well today, including one in which Andre Brown took a direct snap... Prince Amukamara had a nice day with a breakup on a pass and an interception off Manning for a pick-six in 7-on-7s... Manning was later nearly picked by Antrel Rolle in the same 7's... Williams collided with Laron Scott, the scout team returner, on a special teams kickoff return rep and would've blasted Scott if it tackling were allowed... James Brewer, who got some reps with the first team at right tackle, held his own in protection on Mathias Kiwanuka on one rush... Tuck and the defense got good pressure on the quarterback on a few snaps. Tracy also would have had a sack on David Carr on one play... OL Selvish Capers had a terrific block on Rivers on one play.

John Clayton picks Giants to win NFC East

July, 27, 2013
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Our man John Clayton offers a quickie breakdown in the video above of what he sees as a very competitive NFC East, and he thinks the New York Giants "probably have the best chance to win the division." He acknowledges their question marks on defense but cites Eli Manning, young running back David Wilson and their other offensive weapons as the reasons to favor the Giants to claim their second division title in three years.

John's is obviously an opinion I respect quite a bit, but that doesn't mean we always see things the same way. And, although I'm not ready to make my own prediction for the NFC East yet, I'm not overly enthralled with the Giants as a favorite right now. I find it hard to see where they got better, especially on defense. Assuming full-year health for Hakeem Nicks is risky, and I think the offense lost a lot of valuable blocking help with the departures of Ahmad Bradshaw and Martellus Bennett and the loss of Henry Hynoski to a knee injury for at least a little while. I also don't think we know yet how the running game will work out or whether Wilson is up to the task of a full-season starter's workload as a ball carrier and a pass-protector.

That said, you never can rule out the Giants, and they're likely the safest pick. Their ceiling doesn't feel overly high, but you do feel as though you know where the floor is. They're unlikely to be a bad team, and they always contend until the final weeks. Manning and Tom Coughlin are the cornerstones at the key positions of quarterback and coach who make sure of that every year.

I think the Redskins, if Robert Griffin III is healthy all year (a big "if," by the way), and the Cowboys, if they can keep their defense healthy, have more potential to have a great season than the Giants have. But there are also more things that can go wrong in those places. The Redskins still have major question marks in the secondary, the Cowboys on the lines. Picking one of those teams this year, I believe, carries more risk than picking the Giants does.

And no, I haven't forgotten about the Eagles. And no, I don't think it's impossible that they could win this division that hasn't had an 11-win team since 2009. But I do think they have the shakiest quarterback situation in the division by far and that they're all being forced to learn a lot of new things all at once on both sides of the ball under a new coaching staff. And I think they have the toughest road to contention of the four teams. I think the Eagles have the best chance of any of these four to have a poor season in 2013.

Camp preview: Tight end

July, 18, 2013
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Brandon Myers, Bear Pascoe and Chase ClementJim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsBrandon Myers (far l.) and Chase Clement (far r.) join Bear Pascoe among the Giants' tight ends.
As training camp approaches, we're counting down to camp by taking a look at the Giants, position by position.

Position: Tight end.

Projected starters: Bear Pascoe, Brandon Myers.

Projected reserves: Adrien Robinson.

New faces: Myers, Chase Clement, Jamie Childers.

The departed: Martellus Bennett.

Player to watch: Myers. The Giants lost a lot of potential and talent in Bennett but they replaced him with a tight end that had 79 receptions for 806 yards in Oakland last year. While he likely will not see as many targets with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz on the field, Myers gives Manning another weapon that defenses will need to account for. The question is whether Myers can block enough to stay on the field.

Potential strength: Manning needs a pass-catching tight end when defenses try to take Nicks and Cruz away. Tight ends have sometimes come up big for Manning over the years on third downs, on fourth-quarter comeback drives and in the red zone. The Giants have versatility in their tight ends. Pascoe, who excels as a hybrid tight end/fullback, will see more snaps in the backfield filling in for the injured Henry Hynoski. Myers has the potential to be one of Manning’s best pass-catching tight ends. Robinson’s potential is intriguing and his size could be an asset in the red zone if he continues to develop. The Giants also like Larry Donnell and Clement, who has drawn very early comparisons to Jake Ballard and could be a practice squad candidate.

Potential weakness: Myers is the fourth starting tight end Manning will have had in as many seasons. Even though Bennett had 55 receptions last year in his one and only season with Manning, the quarterback and tight end often were not on the same page when it came to their timing and routes. Now Manning has to develop a new chemistry and rapport with Myers and potentially the young and inexperienced Robinson.

Wild card: Robinson. He’s a huge target for Manning and that was on display at times during red zone drills in OTAs and minicamp this offseason. Jerry Reese has raved about his potential and nobody has forgotten the “JPP of tight ends” label. Robinson might have an opportunity to show what he can do in camp with Pascoe playing more fullback.

Tell us what you think of the tight ends entering camp.

Coach talk: Pope on tight ends

June, 17, 2013
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Now that the Giants are off until training camp, we're taking a look at what the coaches are saying about how their positions looked this offseason in OTAs.

Today, we start with what coach Mike Pope thinks about the tight ends.


The JPP of tight ends: The tight end people are most curious about is Adrien Robinson, the "JPP of tight ends." Robinson has been a project, but Pope likes what he has seen this offseason.

"Adrien Robinson appears to have gone into the land of the believers," Pope said recently. "And yes he has been making some good progress. He is doing a lot of the assignment things correctly. Now we have to get him to adjust to the way the defense is playing on each particular play and to make the best decisions based on how the defense is playing. But he is running well and he has his weight down some.

"The quarterback is starting to find him," Pope continued. "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."

[+] EnlargeBrandon Myers
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsThe Giants are hoping for big things from free-agent acquisition Brandon Myers.
Bear at FB: With Henry Hynoski recovering from surgery, Bear Pascoe has filled in at fullback. So Robinson could get more opportunities to play with and behind Brandon Myers.

"When we can put Bear in (at fullback) with one of these other guys, now we can do a lot more things as far as open formations," Pope said. "A little more difficult for the defense to predict where they can’t just key on one of those guys and say the ball is going there. So that helps us."

Vertical threat: Pope is eager to see what Myers will do in training camp. He believes the former Raiders tight end could be an option in the vertical game. Myers, who had 79 receptions for 806 yards and four touchdowns last season, was signed to replace Martellus Bennett.

"I think at the Raiders he was more of an intermediate receiver," Pope said. "And now our passing game does allow the tight end to get more vertically down the field -– flag routes, double seam routes, post routes. And he appears to have the skills to get those balls. He has a little bit of a jet that can accelerate and go get a ball that is a little deeper. You may not think he is going to reach it, but he has that little bit. So we are very interested to see him in pads."

A new Ballard: Pope is also eager to see what Chase Clement, a 6-foot-5 rookie from LSU, can do in camp.

"When I first looked at him, I had visions of Jake Ballard," Pope said. "Just because he was a good blocker on the goal line. They seldom ever threw him the ball. But when the ball was snapped, he had kind of that tough-guy mentality -– old school."

"He is not going to be an all-world receiver way down the field," Pope added. "But as far as being explosive and flexible, and he has pretty good football savvy. There was a little concern about a back injury. We got that looked at and there doesn’t appear to be a problem."

How do you feel about the Giants' tight ends and what Pope had to say?

Giants stay the offseason course

June, 6, 2013
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Continuing our team-by-team look at Matt Williamson's offseason grades Insider for NFC East teams, let's look at his review of the New York Giants, who got a "B-minus." Matt has looked at the Giants' activity in free agency and the draft and concluded, as we have discussed here a few times, that it's been a typical Giants offseason in many ways. They've focused on the defensive line, ignored linebacker, and stuck to their usual plan about the value they assign to certain players and positions.

The one out-of-character move was taking an offensive lineman, Justin Pugh, in the first round. But Matt believes he's a good system fit and "should be a Week 1 starter at either right tackle or guard."

Matt believes the drafting of Johnathan Hankins and Damontre Moore, along with the signings of Eagles castoffs Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins, will serve the Giants well in terms of critical depth on the defensive line, and he has understandable concerns about the blocking downgrade at tight end from Martellus Bennett to Brandon Myers.

In the end, I think Matt has reached the same conclusion I have about the Giants' offseason: Not much about it has been unusual, splashy or surprising, and it's hard to say whether they've improved the team, but their track record means we should wait and see and probably trust them.

Giants mock draft

April, 25, 2013
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We've tried covering every base with what could happen tonight and this weekend in the draft.

So I guess all that's left is to attempt a Giants mock draft from No. 19 to No. 253.

ROUND (pick)

1. (19) S Eric Reid, LSU –- The Giants are hoping Alabama T D.J. Fluker drops. If not him, then Texas S Kenny Vaccaro. But both likely could be gone so Giants go for a player they like to be a safety of the future.

2. (49) DT Jesse Williams, Alabama –- Linval Joseph is entering the final year of his deal and Mike Patterson and Shaun Rogers are on one-year deals.

3. (81) DE Alex Okafor, Texas –- Giants need a defensive end to groom with Osi Umenyiora gone.

4. (116) C Barrett Jones, Alabama –- Coming off foot surgery but played center, guard and tackle and considered to have terrific intangibles. Could go in third round but Scouts Inc. has him going in fourth round in their seven-round mock.

5. (152) TE Dion Sims, Michigan State –- Could go higher but Sims was on Giants radar at combine. At 6-4, 262-pounds, the former basketball player offers size and soft hands and is a bit of a poor man’s version of Martellus Bennett. Might not be as fast or as good a blocker as Bennett.

6. (187) CB Brandon McGee, Miami –- Giants need to add another young cornerback for depth.

7. (225) T Emmett Cleary, Boston College –- Giants like their Boston College products and can use a big body on the line (6-6, 316).

7. (253*) LB Nathan Williams, Ohio State –- Giants use their compensatory pick on a linebacker they have shown some interest in.

Alright, give us your Giants mock draft below.

Draft positional preview: Tight end

April, 18, 2013
4/18/13
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SimsRick Scuteri/AP ImagesDion Sims says he's the best tight end in the draft. Will the Giants take a flyer on him?
This is the fourth installment in a position-by-position analysis of the Giants as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Tight end.

Depth chart: Brandon Myers, Bear Pascoe, Adrien Robinson, Larry Donnell, Jamie Childers.

The departed: Martellus Bennett (Chicago), Travis Beckum (free agent).

Scouting report: The Giants wanted to re-sign Bennett but he signed with the Bears in free agency. The Giants now have to replace Bennett’s 55 receptions for 626 yards and five touchdowns and it’s possible Myers could surpass those numbers if the Giants utilize their newly-acquired pass-catching tight end more in the passing game. Myers had 79 receptions for 806 yards and four touchdowns last year with the Raiders.

Myers, though, will have to be able to block to stay on the field for multiple plays and Eli Manning will certainly be looking often to one of the best receiving tandems in the league in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. Still, if Myers can provide a consistent receiving threat, Manning can use Myers and wide receiver Rueben Randle as a third receiving option.

Pascoe returns as the blocking tight end/H-back the Giants like to use in multiple packages. Robinson’s potential is intriguing but the developmental project needs to show he is ready for snaps in training camp. The Giants also like Donnell’s potential.

The last time: The Giants drafted Robinson in the fourth round in 2012.

Potential targets: Signing Myers makes it unlikely that the Giants will think about a tight end early in the draft. Besides, the Giants do not seem to value the tight end position enough to use a first or second-round pick. However, the Giants have had a revolving door at the position with Myers set to be the fourth starting tight end in as many years.

Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert and Stanford’s Zach Ertz are the two top rated tight ends in the draft. But those two are expected to go in the first two rounds. The Giants instead could opt to look at tight end later in the draft.

Michigan State’s Dion Sims spoke with the Giants at the scouting combine in February and a source said the Giants were intrigued by the 6-4 Sims, who displays some traits similar to Bennett.

“It went well,” Sims said at the combine about speaking with tight ends coach Mike Pope and the Giants. “I definitely can [fit] into the Giants offense. Their offense is kind of similar to what we ran at Michigan State. They rely on their tight ends to do a lot of blocking and running routes too.”

Sims, who has a basketball background, has soft hands and a big body and can go after a pass.

“I’m the best blocking tight end, I’m the best receiving tight end, I’m the best all-around tight end,” Sims said at the combine. “It’s just all stats, those guys [considered to be the top tight ends in the draft] got a lot of stats and they get the ball [numerous] times a game. I just have to prove that I can be a down-the-field threat.”

Pope reportedly took a closer look at Colorado’s 6-foot-5 Nick Kasa recently and Maryland’s Matt Furstenburg has also been a name that reportedly is on the Giants’ radar.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): 5.

Do you think the Giants need to draft a tight end in the draft?

Giants draft preview: Offense

April, 15, 2013
4/15/13
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D.J. FlukerJoe Robbins/Getty ImagesIf D.J. Fluker is on the board at No. 19, the Giants would have to consider the Alabama tackle.
At times, the Giants' offense was explosive in 2012.

Eli Manning and the offense scored 429 points, the second-most in franchise history. But the offense was too inconsistent and it seemed like the points came in bunches. And when the offense desperately needed to come to life, it vanished down the stretch with the playoffs on the line.

The core of the offense remains intact with Manning looking to lead the Giants on another Super Bowl run. Remaining healthy –- namely Hakeem Nicks -- will be key for 2013. But co-owner John Mara would like to see his team improve its toughness on the front line and see his offensive line get stronger and nastier.

That is why the Giants very well could spend a high draft pick on an offensive lineman. Starting at 19th overall, the Giants could take a long look at Alabama guard Chance Warmack or offensive tackle D.J. Fluker if one of them is still there when Jerry Reese is on the clock.

Reese accomplished two of his biggest goals by re-signing left tackle Will Beatty and left guard Kevin Boothe in the offseason. And he was able to work out a pay cut with David Diehl to help the Giants' salary cap and maintain depth.

But the Giants can still use a young offensive lineman for depth and to perhaps compete for the right tackle spot (where Diehl and James Brewer will compete) this season. The bigger concern, though, is for the future with Boothe's and Diehl's contracts expiring after this season.

At running back, the Giants released Ahmad Bradshaw and it remains to be seen how that will impact the offense since Bradshaw was an inspiring spark for the team. The explosive David Wilson will finally get a chance to show what he can do with more carries, but Andre Brown will also be a factor as the two backs could share carries.

The Giants hope to have a healthy Nicks, whose injuries last year severely impacted the offense and its big-play ability. Victor Cruz, a restricted free agent, could play this season on a one-year tender if the Giants are unable to work out a long-term extension. And Tom Coughlin hopes last year's second-round pick, Rueben Randle, emerges as Manning's third receiver.

Even though the Giants are set at receiver for this season, they want to lock down Nicks and Cruz to long-term extensions. So perhaps they could look at a receiver in the draft to provide insurance for the future, add depth and potentially help the team on kickoff and punt returns.

Martellus Bennett left in free agency for Chicago, but the Giants replaced the Black Unicorn with Brandon Myers, a receiving threat. Reese would also like to see what last year's fourth-round pick, Adrien Robinson, can do with some snaps as well. Still, the Giants could potentially look at a tight end in the mid-to-late rounds.

The Giants offense doesn't need an overhaul. Reese can look to fortify his offensive line a bit more for the present and future and perhaps add another speedy weapon or two for Manning in next week's draft.

Always keep in mind that Reese and his brain trust draft players with an eye toward the future and filling roles and spots for the upcoming seasons.

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