Entering the 2013 season a lot of attention has been placed on the New York Giants defense as a key to returning to the playoffs and potentially a return to the Super Bowl. However, while it is important that the Giants’ defense improves it is also imperative that the Giants offense, especially the passing game, rebounds after what many consider a down year.
Quarterback Eli Manning is a proven commodity entering 2013. However, his 2012 campaign was somewhat of a disappointment after throwing for 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2011. Expectations were enormous entering last season but an injury to Hakeem Nicks seemed to derail the entire passing game as Victor Cruz was not nearly as effective without Nicks in the lineup. The loss of Mario Manningham was also a big blow to the Giants aerial attack as well. Rookie Rueben Randle took time to learn the offense and finally showed what he was capable of towards the end of the year.
Even the loss of tight end Jake Ballard was a big blow to the offense. Martellus Bennett did a decent job but he would sometimes suffer from lapses in concentration, the very thing that allowed the Dallas Cowboys to allow him to walk prior to last season. Now, Bennett is gone and is replaced by Brandon Myers.
The Giants passing game will need to bounce back in a big way after last season. A healthy Nicks will go a long way towards making that happen. A healthy Nicks means a more effective Victor Cruz and a more effective Victor Cruz means more chances for Randle or Louis Murphy to make something happen. Even Myers figures to play a huge roll in revitalizing the Giants passing game as he is coming off a year that saw him haul in 79 passes for 806 yards with the Oakland Raiders.
However, no matter what happens at wide receiver and tight end it will all come down to Eli Manning’s arm. Manning saw his completion percentage slip below 60 percent for the first time since 2007. He also saw his yardage slip almost 1,000 yards to 3,948. Granted, that is still a lot of yards but it is the first time Eli has not passed for more than 4,000 yards since 2008, even if it was only missed by 52 yards.
It isn’t like Eli is coming off of a poor year. However, Manning will need to shoulder a lot of the load heading into this season with the running game in transition now that Ahmad Bradshaw is gone and David Wilson and Andre Brown will have to prove they can split the load and make the Giants running game a consistent threat. Until that time a lot of the burden will fall on Manning’s arm and the legs and hands of the receiving corps.