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Twitter mailbag: A failing connection

8/29/2014

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- You sent questions, with the #nygmail hashtag, and I shall endeavor here to answer them. Hang on tight.

@DanGrazianoESPN: In theory, sure, but therein lies the problem. It's not as though the New York Giants have Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin sitting on the bench. If you bump Rueben Randle down the depth chart, who takes his place? The Giants' ideal plan at wide receiver is to start Victor Cruz in the slot with Randle and rookie Odell Beckham Jr. on the outside. But Beckham hasn't been able to practice because of a hamstring injury and they've been using miscast slot receiver Jerrel Jernigan on the outside in his place. As good as Corey Washington looked in the fourth quarters of preseason games, there's little to indicate he's a better option right now in real games than Randle is. They don't have a lot of options at wide receiver right now, which means they really need Randle to perform to his draft position if the offense is going to work.



@DanGrazianoESPN: Yeah, this is a key thing to remember here. All of this talk about Randle and Eli Manning "not being on the same page" is all about Randle, not about Manning. One of these guys has a 10-year track record of NFL success. The other has a two-year track record as an underachiever who doesn't know which route he's supposed to run. It's on Randle to figure out what he's supposed to be doing out there from play to play. I'm not absolving Manning of responsibility for what went wrong last year and how bad they looked this preseason, but by now it's pretty clear that the main problem is the group around him. Manning's not the type of quarterback who's going to elevate the substandard talent around him to quality-contender status. He's shown he can elevate good talent to a championship level over a period of a few weeks or months. But if the players around him at wide receiver, tight end and on the offensive line aren't of NFL-contender quality, I don't think he's going to be able to overcome that. Randle has to develop into a dependable, NFL-quality route-runner. Many others have since Manning has been here, and if Randle doesn't, it's on Randle.



@DanGrazianoESPN: I think the Giants could have a good defense this year. But if they turn out to be a truly bad offensive team, as they were last year, I don't think they're going to have the type of dominant defense they'd need to overcome that. I still think there are questions up front. A big season from Jason Pierre-Paul could help answer those, but it would be a big leap for this pass rush to go from where it was last year to one of the better ones in the league. And if it isn't, I don't think the work they did in the secondary is automatically going to fix everything. The secondary looks good on paper, but I think it's a mistake to assume Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is the lock-down cornerback they're expecting him to be for all 16 games. He's got the talent to be that kind of player, but he's been inconsistent throughout his career. Again, good defense, but not a carry-a-lousy-offense-to-the-playoffs defense. The offense is going to have to do its part.



@DanGrazianoESPN: I dispute your premise, as I doubt that Ben McAdoo's offense requires a mobile quarterback to operate. I also think Manning moves in the pocket well enough to do what they're asking him to do in terms of timing and footwork, and I don't think that's behind whatever issues have arisen during the preseason. For me, this boils down very simply to personnel, and I think the Giants' offensive personnel around Manning is substandard. Guys such as Randle, Beckham, Will Beatty and the tight ends are going to have to outperform expectations in order for this offense to do better than it did in the preseason. It's not the scheme, it's the players. We will see whether they handle their business better once the lights go on than they have so far.

Enjoy the rest of your Saturday. I'll be back later with the final cuts.