The 2014 New York Giants are going to look drastically different than the 2013 New York Giants, but will major overhauls and personnel changes yield different results? At this stage of the game, it's almost impossible to tell. And when you factor in veteran players coming off of injury plagued seasons, a new offensive system and the ever-constant pressure of New York, it makes any sort of predicting a straight-up crapshoot.
It's for that reason several NFL Network experts, including Dan Hanzus, have listed Big Blue as one of the league's "toughest teams to read" entering training camp.
If anybody tells you they know what to expect from the New York Giants this season, they're lying liars with deep character flaws. Big Blue is the NFC's true wild card. An 11-5 finish wouldn't shock me; then again, neither would a 5-11 campaign.
Much of this goes back to Eli Manning, who is easily the most unpredictable quarterback of his generation. Manning has some nice weapons — including first-round pick Odell Beckham at receiver — and the defense will be better, especially that retooled secondary. But Eli is the key. How he adapts to the scheme implemented by new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo will be the major subplot to watch.
Although many like to pinpoint Eli Manning's 2013 campaign as a measuring stick for what may or may not occur in 2014, others believe the overall uncertainty goes much deeper. In fact, Hanzus' colleague, Charley Casserly, believes Manning, along with head coach Tom Coughlin, are two of the Giants' only sure things entering 2014. It's pretty much everything and everyone else that is a big question mark.
Of the many teams that could be put in this category, I'd vote for the New York Giants, who seemingly have made more changes than any other squad in the NFL. With proven Super Bowl winners Tom Coughlin at head coach and Eli Manning at quarterback, they have the two most important components of a championship team in place. But there are also many serious questions that must be answered.
The offensive staff has been almost completely turned over. How will Manning adjust to the new scheme? Will the offensive line — especially Will Beatty — be better? What kind of impact can rookie Odell Beckham Jr. have as a receiver/kick returner? Do the Giants have a tight end? What about their running game? As for the defense, can end Jason Pierre-Paul resume his Pro Bowl ways? How will the line perform without Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph? What will be the impact of veteran leader Jon Beason's offseason injury?
As much as fans would love to hear "the Giants have done a great job and are poised to turn it around," quite a bit of uncertainty does remain. On paper — and with some health — the Giants do appear to be extremely talent. But then again, they also do. The reality however, is that the team has made an extraordinary number of changes from a season ago and there really is no way to tell what to expect.
If they gel in training camp and avoid catastrophic injury, we believe the chances are pretty good that they'll return to their winning ways. But whether or not that happens is what we're all waiting to see. A glimpse into that future will come next Tuesday when the team conducts their very first training camp practice of the new year.
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Tags: Ben McAdoo, Eli Manning, Football, Jason Pierre-Paul, Jon Beason, Justin Tuck, Linval Joseph, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Tom Coughlin, Will Beatty