- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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So I'm reading Ohm's latest installment of his camp-preview series, which is a position-by-position deal, and it's on quarterbacks. And I'm thinking, how can someone do a whole long post on the New York Giants' quarterback situation when it's so simple? Starter: Eli Manning, one of the best in the league. Backup: David Carr, not. If starter gets hurt, season likely over. But starter never gets hurt, so the point is moo. Like a cow's opinion.
But Ohm has written an insightful breakdown of the Giants' quarterback situation, involving several of the non-quarterback elements of the offensive side of the roster that could affect Manning even if he's his normal reliable self. In particular, this from the "Wild Card" section jumped out at me:
The running game. If the Giants can get their running game going again, Manning will be that much more dangerous. Last season, the Giants finished last in rushing. Imagine how much deadlier Manning can be with an effective running game and play-action? Manning threw for 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns last season without a top-notch running game. With an improved ground game, Manning might not need to execute so many fourth-quarter comebacks this season.
That last sentence crystallizes the point I've been trying to make about the Giants. Yes, Manning is fantastic. Yes, he makes his receivers and his tight ends better, or at least finds ways to get the absolute most out of them. Yes, if the Giants find themselves behind in the fourth quarter, they have complete faith that Manning can lead them to victory. And those are all extremely good qualities for a quarterback to have. Manning is a fantastic player who deserves to be counted among the game's best, most clutch and most reliable quarterbacks.
But as Manning himself has pointed out several times this offseason, the Giants last year went 9-7 and barely made the playoffs. And they likely have to be a better team over the course of the 2012 regular season than they were in the 2011 regular season if they want to have a shot at defending their Super Bowl title.
Ohm also mentions the offensive line in his breakdown, and that's at least as big a concern as the running game, since I continue to believe the line had more to do with the Giants' running-game problems last year than the backs did. The Giants are champions, but they have plenty of offensive areas in which they can improve, and which are question marks until they show they've done so. It's great to have a top quarterback and top wide receivers. Those things keep you in any game, almost no matter how far behind you fall. But the point that Ohm makes at the end of his piece is a worthwhile one. It would be better for Manning and the Giants if he didn't have to author so many fourth-quarter comebacks this year -- if the line and the run game could play well enough to control games from the outset and put the Giants in position to protect fourth-quarter leads more often than they have to erase deficits.