The script was flipped on the New York Giants last year, a team that was supposed to be led by the offense instead was very much carried by a resurgent defense.
It remains to be seen if a small flurry of offseason moves will benefit this team’s ability to move the ball and punch it into the end zone.
With training camp on the horizon, there is the need for the Giants to quickly come together and blend in some new faces and horsepower if they hope for a return trip to the playoffs.
But is it enough to overcome the issues of a stagnant offense from a season ago?
Three Questions for the Giants Offense Heading Into Training Camp:
1. Are there enough balls to go around?
Last season, Odell Beckham Jr. saw a slight decline in production — his total yardage and receiving touchdowns were both down a smidge — but he still put up good numbers. With the addition of Brandon Marshall, a season removed from 1,000 receiving yards, and the continued emergence of now second-year slot receiver Sterling Shepard, the Giants have among the best-receiving cores in the league.
But can Eli Manning get all these stars enough of the ball? Beckham is temperamental and Marshall is a veteran who loves to be targeted and may not want to play second fiddle to anyone. It all makes for a potential fire keg of a situation.
If the Giants can’t win and make all their receivers happy, that might be one tough meeting room. And it might be a group that checks out early in the year if things are not going well.
2. Can Eli Manning stay vertical?
Last year, Manning took a number of hits thanks to a porous offensive line that repeatedly failed throughout the regular season as well as in the NFC Wild Card Game.
If the Giants hope for a repeat trip to the postseason, then Manning must receive better protection. The addition of guard D.J. Fluker should help but the line was so bad a season ago that they need more than a single addition.
Left tackle Ereck Flowers, much maligned as he enters his third year in the league, needs to step up. So far, he’s looked the part in offseason workouts and minicamp. His development would be a huge boost to a quarterback who has the targets but needs time.
If Manning is stretchered off the field this season then kiss those playoff hopes goodbye. If this offensive line can’t improve — and the Giants didn’t do anything to address any issues in the NFL draft this year — then the Giants could have some struggles in moving the ball and putting up points.
Don’t be surprised if the Giants kick the tires on some veterans in training camp if the line has some struggles carry over from last year.
3. Does Paul Perkins solve the ground woes?
The Giants were bottom four in the league last year in the run game in large part due to an offensive line that (to paraphrase Bart Scott) “couldn’t stop a cold.”
This offseason, they cut ties with Rashad Jennings with the hopes that Paul Perkins is their man. A mid-round pick last year out of UCLA, Perkins showed well his rookie year but didn’t put up any truly special numbers.
What he happens to be is a shifty running back who is a good receiving option out of the backfield. He’s also a dedicated blocker.
Can that help an offense that managed just 70 yards of total rushing offense in the playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers?
Perkins has the tools to be an asset in the offense but like any questions about Manning, it boils down to if that line of big uglies in front of him can open some holes.