NFL Season Preview: The New York Football Giants Seek to Return to Super Bowl at Home
The New York Giants have an opportunity that is only afforded to a few teams realistically: a chance to both host and be able to play in a Super Bowl in their home stadium. Super Bowl XLVIII is at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and if the Giants expect to make a return visit to the Big Game, there are quite a few wrinkles that must be ironed out, as the Giants went from Super Bowl winners in 2011, to missing the playoffs altogether in 2012.
Offensively, the Giants fell flat as the 2012 season wore on, despite possessing arguably the best WR tandem in the NFL. Injuries to WR Hakeem Nicks, TE Martellus Bennett, RB Ahmad Bradshaw and RB Andre Brown stifled much of the Giants’ offensive ability in the second half of the season. While Bennett is now with the Chicago Bears, the Giants replaced him with Brandon Myers, recent of the Oakland Raiders. While Myers is not the blocker that Bennett is, he is a better receiver, and another weapon for QB Eli Manning. There are questions as to whether WR Victor Cruz will hold out into training camp in 2013, but he will likely report before the first preseason game. The Giants are counting heavily on the health and productivity of Nicks and Cruz.
The running game has been a major issue for the Giants for two straight seasons. The team cut Bradshaw, and are placing the workload on the shoulders of 2nd year RB David Wilson and Brown. FB Henry Hynoski is possibly the second-best in the league at his position, and the Giants hope to have him back healthy upon the start of the season, as he helps mask a number of the woes that the offensive line has had with opening holes for runners in recent seasons. The offensive line has continuity, with the left side featuring the best of the blockers, but the Giants offense begins and ends with Eli Manning, who must rebound from a relatively subpar 2012 season.
Defensively, the Giants underwent massive overhaul. DE Osi Umenyiora walked in free agency, along with LB Chase Blackburn and S Kenny Phillips, and the team cut DT Chris Canty, LB Michael Boley, while replacing them with rookies DT Johnathan Hankins, S Cooper Taylor, and LB Damontre Moore. In Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell’s system, the secondary is heavily reliant upon the efforts of the defensive line, which is anchored by DE Justin Tuck, DE Jason Pierre-Paul and DT Linval Joseph, and the LB corps is expected to range and make plays sideline to sideline. The Giants hope that the new additions are able to fulfill the roles that the departed failed to achieve in 2012, or else they will be home watching the Super Bowl like 850 million others, regardless of what Eli Manning’s offense achieves.
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