May 192015
 
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Tom Quinn, Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (August 29, 2012)

Tom Quinn and Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

For a team that has not fired its head coach since January 2004, there has been a tremendous amount of assistant coach turnover on the New York Giants the last two offseasons. In 2014, the team “retired” their offensive coordinator and fired their running backs and tight ends coaches. The quarterbacks coach was “demoted” to wide receivers coach and the wide receivers coach was “demoted” to tight ends coach. In 2015, the Giants fired their defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach. The quarterbacks coach also left to pursue an opportunity in the collegiate ranks.

In short, the only coaching positions that have not changed in the last two offeasons are head coach, offensive line coach, defensive line coach, linebackers coach, safeties coach, and special teams coordinator. The amount of overall turnover in a two-year period has been remarkable.

Regardless if these coaches are old or new, all are now vulnerable on a team that has missed the playoffs three straight seasons. If the Giants miss the playoffs in 2015, with a schedule that includes only three playoff teams from 2014, there is a good chance the entire staff will be terminated. But let’s assume the Giants show enough progress to improve their overall record to 9-7 but miss the playoffs for a fourth season? Might John Mara and Jerry Reese retain Tom Coughlin and most of the staff for one more chance in 2016? It’s possible. And it’s also possible that they will only do so if other assistant coaches are let go.

In my opinion, there are three coaches on this team who are vulnerable to being released if their respective units do not improve. Each of these units have been very inconsistent in recent years, but the organization has dedicated a tremendous amount of personnel resources into improving the units. Now the pressure is on the coaches to turn these assets into improved results.

If you believe there is no way the entire coaching staff is retained if the team does not make the playoffs, then the work of these three coaches could prove decisive in the team’s overall success.

Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn

Tom Quinn, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Tom Quinn – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Tom Quinn has been the special teams coach of the New York Giants since 2007. Quinn probably gets more grief than he deserves from fans as his special teams did play an integral role in two NFL Championship runs in 2007 and 2011. In many of the playoff games, special teams were a critical factor in the victories. His units have also performed reasonably well in certain areas when given the tools. That said, special teams has far too often been the Achilles’ heel of the New York Giants.

In the last five seasons, the Giants have finished the regular-season 31st, 20th, 6th, 27th, and 17th in kick return average with only one kick return resulting in a touchdown. They have also finished 31st, 29th, 30th, 26th, and 19th in punt return average with no punt return touchdowns during that five-year span. David Wilson’s tremendous success as a kick returner in 2012 was the lone bright spot in the return game despite the fact the team has drafted prospects and signed free agents who were supposedly good return men. As the stats show, the Giants’ punt return game in particular has been anemic for a long time.

In terms of covering kickoffs, the Giants have finished 4th, 11th, 16th, 9th, and 2nd in the NFL with no kick return touchdowns allowed. In covering punts, the team finished 31st, 17th, 15th, 30th, and 27th with six punt return touchdowns allowed. In other words, kickoff coverage has been satisfactory but punt coverage has been dreadful and very costly at times.

During the last five years, the Giants have blocked two punts and have had two punts blocked. The kicking/punting game with Lawrence Tynes/Josh Brown and Steve Weatherford has been solid.

When taken as a whole, the special teams have been below average. Among fans, Quinn is the least popular coach on the team.

The team has dedicated a number of assets to Quinn this offseason, highlighted by Dwayne Harris, arguably the best all-around special teams player in the game. Harris not only returns punts and kicks, he also excels at covering punts and kicks. Harris was 2nd, 3rd, and 9th in the NFL in punt returns the last three seasons, with two scores. He was also also 2nd and 13th in the NFL in kickoff returns the last two seasons. Harris has been named “NFC Special Teams Player of the Week” three times. He was given an unprecedented 5-year, $17.5 million contract for a special teams player.

But the reinforcements don’t end with Harris. The Giants also signed special teams standout linebackers J.T. Thomas (3 years, $10 million) and Jonathan Casillas (3 years, $8 million) as well as re-signing linebacker Mark Herzlich (2 years, $2.6 million). Draft pick safeties Landon Collins and Mykkele Thompson excelled on special teams in college. The Giants project another draft pick, wideout Geremy Davis, as another special teams asset. And defensive ends Damontre Moore and Owamagbe Odighizuwa; linebacker Devon Kennard; cornerbacks Mike Harris and Chykie Brown; and safeties Nat Berhe, Cooper Taylor and Bennett Jackson should all be core special teamers.

Quinn should be out of excuses. He has a returner, kickers, blockers, and gunners.

Offensive Line Coach Pat Flaherty

Pat Flaherty, New York Giants (July 28, 2013)

Pat Flaherty – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Pat Flaherty has been the offensive line coach of the New York Giants ever since Tom Coughlin became the team’s head coach in 2004. Flaherty helped to construct one of the great offensive lines in team history: left tackle David Diehl, left guard Rich Seubert, center Shaun O’Hara, right guard Chris Snee, and right tackle Kareem McKenzie. This group peaked in 2008 when the Giants led the NFL in rushing. Since then, the line has had its moments but it has declined steadily despite a second NFL title in 2011.

The main problem is that the Giants have not done a good job of adequately replacing the five old foundation members – all of whom are now out of football. They got some solid play out of guard Kevin Boothe and center David Baas, but not much else (and both of those two players are now gone too).

The Giants have drafted a number of offensive linemen who have not performed well for the franchise, including Guy Whimper (4th round), Mitch Petrus (5th round), James Brewer (4th round), Brandon Mosley (4th round), Matt McCants (6th round), and Eric Herman (7th round). They also signed some veteran free agents last offseason who did not pan out: center J.D. Walton, guard John Jerry, and tackle Charles Brown.

Is the lack of development of these players the responsibility of Flaherty? Most likely not, but the team has spent resources to attempt to fix a sore spot that remains a sore spot. That does not help Flaherty’s case. The Giants were tied for 28th in the NFL last season in yards per rush. And while the Giants were 9th best in the NFL in sacks allowed with 30, that stat is misleading as Eli Manning was hit far too often in a West Coast offensive scheme based on a 3-step drop and a quarterback who historically does not take a lot of sacks.

The current Giants offensive line now has two first round draft picks (Ereck Flowers and Justin Pugh), two second round draft picks (Will Beatty and Weston Richburg), and one very expensive free agent acquisition (Geoff Schwartz, 4 years, $16.8 million). The expectation is that not only should the line no longer be one of the worst in the NFL, but it should develop into one of the league’s best. The pressure is on Flaherty for these pricey investments to perform.

Defensive Line Coach Robert Nunn

Robert Nunn, New York Giants (August 10, 2013)

Defensive Line Coach Robert Nunn – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Robert Nunn has been the defensive line coach of the New York Giants since 2010 when Mike Waufle was fired. His lines have risen and fallen depending on the inconsistent performances of ends Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and Mathias Kiwanuka, and steadier performances from tackles Barry Cofield, Linval Joseph, and Chris Canty. In 2014, New York’s run defense was dreadful…dead last in the NFL in terms of yards per rush allowed.

Like Flaherty, a strong argument can be made that the coach has not had much to work with as the key older players have left the team. Gone are Michael Strahan, Tuck, Umenyiora, Kiwanuka, Canty, Cofield, and Joseph. The Giants have not adequately replaced these parts. But in the last two offseasons, significant assets have once again been focused on the line. The team has placed the franchise tag ($14.8 million) on Pierre-Paul. It has spent high draft picks on tackles Johnathan Hankins (2nd round) and Jay Bromley (3rd round) and ends Damontre Moore (3rd round) and Owamagbe Odighizuwa (3rd round). Free agent ends Robert Ayers and George Selvie and tackle Kenrick Ellis have been signed. The expectation is that once again the defensive line will become the foundation of Steve Spagnuolo’s defense. The pressure is on for this unit to perform at a high level.

It should be no revelation that two of the coaches in the hot seat are the line coaches. For the decline of the fortunes of the New York Giants since 2011 can be directly traced to the demise of the offensive and defensive lines. The Giants have been getting out-played up front. They have had problems running the football and defending the run. Pass rush and pass protection have been far too inconsistent. The franchise has dedicated a lot of resources to fix these problems. The outcome of the 2015 season will depend on how the lines perform.

Despite some playoff heroics, special teams has been a sore spot for years. Yet somehow Tom Quinn has avoided the executioner. The excuses to retain his services are running out. Ironically, Tom Coughlin’s fate may rest with Quinn. One or two games each year are won or lost because of special teams. Those one or two games could mean the difference between a playoff run or sitting home for the fourth time in a row in January.

Apr 082015
 
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Victor Cruz, New York Giants (November 17, 2013)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Special players enable teams to win games and championships. The greatest single roster addition for the New York Giants in 2015 will not likely come from free agency or the NFL Draft, but hopefully the return of a healthy and dynamic Victor Cruz.

The Giants won their last NFL Championship in 2011. During team’s 9-7 regular season, the Giants finished dead last in rushing and 27th in total defense. It was quarterback Eli Manning (nearly 5,000 yards and six regular-season 4th-quarter come-from-behind victories) who was the catalyst for the team’s winning record. But the other two impact players on offense were wide outs Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. In one of the great Cinderella stories in all of sports, the undrafted free agent Cruz caught 82 passes for 1,536 yards (18.7 yards per catch) and nine touchdowns in first full season. In addition, 2009 1st rounder Nicks caught 76 passes for 1,192 yards and seven touchdowns. Together, Cruz and Nicks were responsible for over 55 percent of Manning’s yardage total as New York finished 5th in the NFL in passing.

The Giants barely squeaked into the playoffs in 2011, but they went on an astounding four-game post-season winning streak where the team defeated the 10-6 Atlanta Falcons, 15-1 Green Bay Packers (#1 NFC seed), 14-3 San Francisco 49ers (#2 NFC seed), and 15-3 New England Patriots (#1 AFC seed). Fortunately for the Giants, the team’s defense and ground game finally came alive in the playoffs, Eli brought the team back twice more in the fourth quarter, and Nicks went on a monster 4-game stretch (28 catches, 444 yards, 4 touchdowns).

But it was Manning, Cruz, and Nicks who got them to the dance. They were the difference makers.

Now obviously there is more than one path to the playoffs and Super Bowl glory. The 2007 New York Giants finished 10-6 with an inconsistent Eli Manning and passing game and the League’s 4th-ranked rushing attack and 7th-ranked defense. It was those latter two units who got the Giants to the playoffs before Eli went on his first post-season tear.

However, it will be easier for the Giants to improve their passing game (7th in the NFL in 2014) to elite status than to elevate their defense (29th in the NFL in 2014) and rushing game (28th in yards per rushing attempt in 2014) from the bottom of the NFL to top 10 status in one season. For one, Manning is coming off one of his best seasons and should be far more comfortable in Ben McAdoo’s West Coast-style of offense. Second, Odell Beckham has already arguably become the most dangerous receiver in the NFL. If Cruz can return to his 2011-12 form (168 catches, 2,228 yards, 19 touchdowns), the Giants will have one of the most dangerous passing attacks in the game. Manning-Beckham-Cruz could surpass the 2011 productivity of Manning-Cruz-Nicks.

The potential fly in the ointment is obviously Cruz’s right knee. Cruz tore the patella tendon in his right knee in October 2014. Cruz immediately underwent surgery that same month. At the time, a series of articles were written by sports reporters who consulted medical specialists who questioned whether Cruz would be ever be the same player again.

“While it heals after surgery, it’s a very difficult injury for a speed guy to come back from,” Dr. Craig Levitz, chairman of orthopedic surgery at South Nassau Communities Hospital and chief of sports medicine, told Newsday. “I don’t recall a speed player that has made it back anything close to their former self. He will be ready to play next season, but he may not be good enough to play after he heals.”

“How well he does depends on a number of factors,’’ Dr. James Gladstone, Co-Chief, Division of Sports Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told The New York Post. “He could get back 100 percent, but it’s also possible if he doesn’t get his range of motion.”

After the surgery, Cruz’s trainer predicted the opposite.

“I expect him to attack the rehab just like he’s attacked everything else,” Sean Donellan told The New York Post in October. “He loves proving people wrong. He’s been told his entire life, ‘The doors are closed.’ He wasn’t a Notre Dame guy, a Michigan guy. He wasn’t a big-time D-1 recruit. He wasn’t a draft pick. He scrapped his way onto the field, and he’ll scrap his way back from this.

“I know a lot of people are saying he can’t or won’t be the same after the surgery, and they have pointed out other players who haven’t come back the same, but I have worked with some of those guys and the difference is Victor will outwork them.

“And he will be back. I have no question about that whatsoever.”

Publicly, comments from Giants’ officials have ranged from cautious to optimistic.

“When a guy has a big injury like Victor had, you can’t put all your eggs in his basket,” said Reese on February 21. “Our doctors said he looks good. I see him down in the training room working out with our trainers and doctors and he looks good. Until you get out there – his game is quickness. Until you get out there and move around, you never know how he is going to recover from that. We are hoping and praying that he comes back 100 percent and be the Victor Cruz that we know, but you can’t put 100 percent in that basket.”

“I think (Cruz) will be back to the player that he was and hopefully better,” said Coughin on March 25. “Victor looks really good, he’s starting to run, I was in the field house watching him rehab, he’s coming along well… I don’t know (when he will be able to fully practice). I shouldn’t say this, because medically I really do not have a definite answer, but by training camp, hopefully. He will work his way through.”

Predictably, Cruz says he will be back.

“The injury’s going well, the rehab’s going very, very well,” Cruz said on March 4. “I’m a little more than halfway there, we’re building the strength back in my leg. The rehab’s been hard, it’s been difficult, it’s been long, it’s been grueling, but I’ve been going through it, man, and it’s definitely paying off now. The strength is coming back slowly but surely.

“(The Giants’ medical staff does) a good job of when I’m feeling good, they still tell me things I need to hear to bring me back down to earth a little bit. So they do a good job of keeping me humble and keeping me mindful of the fact that I still have a little ways to go. These steps that I’ve taken so far have been great ones, and they always remind me to send me videos of myself eight weeks ago, ten weeks ago just to remind me how far I’ve come.

“Obviously the next couple of months are very, very important in terms of building the strength (in my knee) and continuing to mold my body back into running shape and things like that. And I just want to take these next couple of months to do that and really focus on that. Training camp is definitely the timetable. More importantly, even before training camp, I’ll be feeling almost 100 percent around May-ish, June-ish and I can really start rehabbing and strengthening it and start running routes and things like that, hopefully.”

#TheReturn

A video posted by Victor Cruz (@teamvic) on

If Cruz isn’t the same player, it will be a hard hit for the Giants. Without Cruz, Beckham is the only receiver on offense that consistently scares opposing defenses. Wide receiver Rueben Randle and tight end Larry Donnell have flashed, but it remains questionable how good they will become. In fact, a strong argument can be made that if one of the top receivers are available in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft, the Giants should considering adding another potential impact player at a position that once looked settled with Cruz and Nicks. The disaster scenario for Manning and the Giants? What if Beckham gets hurt and Cruz isn’t the same player?

Some also point to Cruz’s disappointing season in 2013. Cruz not only missed the last two games of that season with a concussion and left knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery, he was held scoreless and only had one 100-yard receiving game after Week 4. He was also a bit up-and-down in the six games he played in 2014. Though Cruz is an incredibly hard worker, the naysayers will point to off-the-field distractions (both business and social) as well as level of comfort derived from a Super Bowl ring and a huge 5-year, $43-million contract.

Cruz isn’t big. He isn’t blazing fast. But when he’s on top of his game, his quickness and ability to read coverages, run good routes, and get open make him one of the best slot receivers in football. New York Giants fans only got to see Cruz and Beckham play together for a little more than a game and a half. They want more.

Cruz is clearly at a crossroads… and so might be state of the New York Giants passing offense. No other offseason move can equal the impact of the return of the 2011-12 version of Victor Cruz.

Mar 042015
 
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Antrel Rolle (26) and Walter Thurmond (24), New York Giants (June 18,2014)

Antrel Rolle and Walter Thurmond – © USA TODAY Sports Images

We are only a few days from the start of the 2015 NFL free agent period. Other teams can begin negotiating with a team’s free agents on March 7 and officially sign those players on March 10. As of March 4, the New York Giants currently have 20 free agents not under contract: 18 unrestricted free agents and two exclusive rights free agents. If the two exclusive rights free agents are tendered, those two players can only re-sign with the Giants.

New York has already re-signed restricted free agent center/guard Dallas Reynolds (1-year, $700,000) and wide receiver Kevin Olgetree (1-year, $745,000). The team has also designated defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul the team’s franchise player. Pierre-Paul has not yet signed that tender, but it currently will count $14,813,000 against the team’s salary cap.

Twenty free agents sounds like a lot. But not surprisingly for a 6-10 team, many of these unsigned New York Giants free agents are not very good. Here is my recommendation on who to re-sign and who to let walk:

Exclusive Rights Free Agents (if tendered):

TE Larry Donnell (Use ‘Em): Tendering Donnell is a no-brainer. He is a cheap, up-and-coming player who finished 9th in the NFL among tight ends in receptions totals in 2014 after only catching three passes in 2013.

CB Chandler Fenner (Lose ‘Em): The ex-Seahawk Fenner was signed to the 53-man roster from the practice squad in October 2014. While he played in 11 games, he was quickly surpassed on the depth chart by players signed to the roster later in the season. It’s questionable whether the Giants will tender Fenner and unknown if the coaching staff thinks he has any long-term potential.

Restricted Free Agents (if tendered):

OC/OG Dallas Reynolds (Re-Signed – Lose ‘Em): The Giants re-signed Reynolds in February, but why bother? The 30-year old journeyman lineman simply is not very good. The Giants should have moved on.

Unrestricted Free Agents:

RB Chris Ogbonnaya (Lose ‘Em): Ogbonnaya is a 28-year old journeyman back who is currently with his fifth NFL team.

FB Henry Hynoski (Use ‘Em): The fullback role in Ben McAdoo’s offense has been marginalized, but the team still needs one fullback for those times in games that it decides to employ one. Hynoski is a good blocker, but the Giants should only give him a veteran minimum-type deal.

WR Kevin Ogletree (Re-Signed – Use ‘Em): The Giants re-signed Ogletree in February. That seemed like a reasonable move for a team that could use some cheap, veteran competition at wide receiver in training camp. That said, there is a good chance that Ogletree will be cut before the season.

WR Jerrel Jernigan (Lose ‘Em): The Giants are sometimes too patient with draft picks. Jernigan teased at the end of 2013 but reverted back to his previous form in training camp and the preseason, and ended up on Injured Reserve after two games. John Mara’s quip aside, Jerngian is a 2011 3rd-round bust.

TE Daniel Fells (Use ‘Em): Fells is “just a guy” but he knows the system and the team doesn’t currently have a lot of other options at tight end. Re-sign him to a veteran minimum contract and see if someone can beat him out in training camp.

OT James Brewer (Lose ‘Em): Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane. It’s time to move on from this 2011 4th-round bust.

OG John Jerry (Lose ‘Em): Jerry is a “coach killer”, meaning that while there are times when he flashes great ability, his screw ups are so common that they lose football games. Jerry is simply far too inconsistent for a 28-year old veteran. It would be better to move on and use the roster spot on a younger player with an upside.

OG Adam Snyder (Lose ‘Em): An aging, declining veteran with knee problems.

DE Jason Pierre-Paul (Use ‘Em): The problem with JPP is we really don’t know which way the arrow is pointing with him. He had one great season (2011), two very disappointing seasons (2012-13), and an inconsistent but productive season where he showed flashes of his old outstanding play (2014). How would he react to a big, fat, long-term contract? On the other hand, how many two-way defensive ends with impact ability are there in the NFL? I’d keep JPP, but I would actually not sign him to a long-term deal. I would have him play the entire year under his $15 million franchise tender unless you can re-sign him to a reasonable long-term deal (unlikely). If he has a great season in 2015, then you franchise him again or sign him to a longer team deal. The $15 million is more than 10 percent of the team’s salary cap, but that one-year hit would be better than a multi-year humongous cap-killing error.

DT Mike Patterson (Lose ‘Em): The 31-year old Patterson started eight games on one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL. He didn’t make any big plays. It’s time to move on.

LB Jacquian Williams (Lose ‘Em): The Giants linebacking corps sucks. Williams been here four seasons and the Giants have little to show for it. He’s an athlete who makes few plays.

LB Mark Herzlich (Lose ‘Em): See comment above. Herzlich has also been here four years. He’s a big linebacker who struggles in space.

LB Spencer Paysinger (Lose ‘Em): See comment above. Paysinger is also part of the 2011 linebacker class who hasn’t done much. It’s time to move on.

CB Walter Thurmond (Use ‘Em): Thurmond, who proclaims himself to be one of the best corners in football, signed a 1-year “show me” deal with the Giants after violating the NFL’s drug policy in 2013. He tore his pectoral muscle in Week 2 and was lost for the season. In an ideal situation, the Giants would sign him to another “show me” contract this offseason. Will Thurmond bite? He’s probably still the third-best corner on the team, a de facto starter.

CB Chykie Brown (Use ‘Em): Brown was an in-season cut by the Ravens after getting burned once too often in Baltimore. He played surprisingly reasonably well in the eight games he played for the Giants. Chances are he is an inconsistent player who may struggle to make the team, but I would give him a shot in training camp if he signs a veteran minimum deal.

CB Zack Bowman (Lose ‘Em): Bowman is not a terrible player, but he’s 30 and lacks speed. He also started to fall down the depth chart as the season progressed. The Giants should try to get younger and faster at the back-up positions.

S Antrel Rolle (Lose ‘Em): A year after playing arguably his best season at safety, the 32-year old Rolle arguably had his worst. I’d re-sign him to a veteran minimum type deal, but Rolle won’t accept that. He’s an important leader on defense, but that defense finished 29th in the NFL.

S Stevie Brown (Lose ‘Em): As feared, Brown’s big season in 2012 was a mirage. He’s simply not a play-maker.

S Quintin Demps (Lose ‘Em): Demps looks the part but he’s another “coach killer” who has now played for four NFL teams.

So of the 20 free agents, I would prefer to keep only seven, plus Rolle if he would choose to accept a low-end deal. Hopefully the Giants will move on from most of these players and give a chance to new faces coming out of college. Not only will they be cheaper and be locked into playing for the team for 3-4 seasons, but they have a potential upside that most of these guys do not. In particular, the Giants need to clean out the dead weight on the offensive line and defense.

Oct 262014
 
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Perry Fewell, New York Giants (January 8, 2012)

Perry Fewell – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Outsider’s Report: Special Defensive Pressure Package Edition

By BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Daniel in MI

The warden finally allowed us to watch the tape of the Giants-Cowboys game now that we have been released from the Hole. (Editor’s Note: When your job is in the prison cafeteria, people need to be specific when they ask for a tossed salad. ‘Nuff said.) The Outsider Report (TOSR) staff carefully examined the tape, and then asked to be put back in the Hole. That request denied, we decided to write up our report. As always, although we lack any contacts, inside information, derrière millinery, or media passes, we nevertheless bring you the truth beyond the facts. Although much of what we write is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over pedestrian media in two important ways: 1) it’s free; and 2) we use only the most effervescent fonts.

In our view, the key to this game was the inability of the Giants to get any pass rush. Some observers astutely note that when you give quarterbacks 8-10 minutes in the pocket, they tend to find open WRs. It seemed like no matter what the Giants did, there was little pass rush. This was especially true in the second half when Dallas QB Tony Romo had exactly zero incomplete passes. (This, sadly, negated the usual Giants second half D motto, “It could have been worse!”)

So, it was gratifying for TOSR sources to learn that the league this week launched an investigation into the whereabouts of the Giants LBs and what happens to them when they rush the passer. At a press conference held by Rodger Goodell he said,

It has come to my attention that during games, defensive players for the New York Football Giants seem to be disappearing from the field of play. Our film analysis shows that this is taking place on plays in which Linebackers rush the passer. They leave the defensive backfield toward the opposing Quarterback and then… just, well, vanish. It has happened game after game. Fans have asked us to look into it, and we are responding. We have used the chips embedded in their pads this year to try and track them with telemetry, but the signals just go blank. It’s as if they enter the Bermuda Triangle on the field. Then after the pass is complete, the data begin again as the player appears jogging to the new line of scrimmage, typically 8 or more yards downfield.

To try and learn more, we asked Giants LB Jacquian Williams some incisive questions:

TOSR: What kind of name is Jacquian?

JW: What? I don’t know, it’s just what my parents named me. I thought you wanted to talk about pass rush?

TOSR: Ok, ok. What do you experience when you rush the passer?

JW: It’s very spooky. I begin to rush. I see an offensive player, usually a lineman or back, and then, it all just kind of goes blank. There’s flashes of light, I see sky sometimes, or turf, I hear weird grunting noises. Then, nothing. The play is over and they’ve made another first down. I can’t really remember anything that happened.

TOSR: And, do you think you’ve been abducted? Do you get anal probed at any point?

JW: What?

TOSR: Nothing, never mind. Do you see a QB at any point during this process?

JW: I thought I saw one once. I can’t be sure. It was blurry.

TOSR: Can you show me on this doll where they blocked you?

JW: Here and here. And, sometimes, …here.

TOSR: So, shoulders, chest, and sometimes legs?

JW: I think so. I like I said, it’s all sort of a blur. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

TOSR: And, do you ever try and avoid these blocks? How do we know you’re really trying to get to the QB?

JW: What are you saying? That I’m ‘asking for it’ by the way I rush? That it didn’t really happen? Look, I don’t know what happens out there! It’s not my fault. IT’S NOT MY FAULT!

TOSR: Just one more question. Seriously, what kind of name is Jacquian? Do we pronounce the “i” or…

JW: I’m outta here.

Looking to go more in depth, we caught up with Giants DC Perry Fewell to ask him more about this mystery. We asked him whether he had any insight into the disappearance of his pass rushing LBs. “We had veteran players. We run a sophisticated pass rush scheme. You have to take into account and communicate a lot out there — the down, distance, game clock, opponent tendencies, the QB, the personnel package, the field conditions, the strong side of the formation, wind speed, barometric pressure, biorhythms, astrological charts, whether there’s an ebb tide, polling results, electrical resistance, shear stress, the partial pressure of nitrogen, hydrostatic pressure, ovulation, market fluctuation, centripetal force, and charmed quarks.” We suggested that it seemed complex. He responded, “It is! It’s much harder than rocket science, it’s football. But, as a coach you simplify it for the players to help them understand. I have boiled it all down to easy to understand three point schemes for pass and run pressures.”

To validate this information, I got my hacker roommate who is part of the mysterious group known only as Anonymous — but whose name is Ed Tergarian, and he lives in his mom’s basement in West Caldwell — to hack Coach Fewell’s computer, and steal a copy of the defensive playbook. (Editor’s note: “password123” is not a secure password, Perry) In a TOSR exclusive, here for the first time is the Giants LB blitz package reproduced in its entirety. We ask you to PLEASE do not share this information for obvious reasons, to avoid giving away our strategies. Once this is published, our sources will leave for Russia like that NSA leaker guy. (Although, in this case, it’s just to pick up the mail-order bride. Welcome, Anastasia!)

NY Football Giants Pressure Packages for SAM, MIKE, and WILL

Passing Pressure Package: Three-Step Plan
A) Directly engage opposing blockers
B) ???
C) Really big sacks!

Run Blitz: Three-Step Plan
A) Synergy
B) Think Outside the Box
C) Empowerment!

That’s it. That’s the whole damn thing. Well, he definitely boiled it down. I see why they disappear now. I want to disappear now, too.

Tune in next week when we examine the Giants run blocking scheme. Spoiler alert: “Just kinda get in the way of someone if you can” could be in there! Until then, thank goodness it’s a bye week so we can pretend we’re fans of a functional football team. “They just look like the Broncos, but really that was the Giants. See? Manning is the QB.”

Jul 282014
 
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Chris Snee, New York Giants (February 5, 2012)

Remembering Chris Snee – © USA TODAY Sports Images

For every Big Blue Breakdown we’ve run, I’ve enjoyed taking a part in each. Having my thoughts, opinions and analysis placed next to the best of the best in the business was an honor. With that being said, I’m sitting this one out. With this being my first season covering the team, I think it’s appropriate to hand it over to the veterans.

For the last decade, Chris Snee worked to establish himself as one of the greatest New York Giants’ linemen to ever wear the ‘NY’ logo across his helmet. He exemplified what it meant to be a New York Giant. Today, our panel breaks down their favorite Chris Snee memory from their years covering the team.

QUESTION: With Chris Snee hanging up the cleats, it closes the door on one of the better careers in Giants’ history. What’s your favorite Chris Snee moment from covering the team? What will you remember him by?

Chris Snee, New York Giants (July 21, 2014)

Chris Snee with son, Cooper, following his retirement press conference – Photo by Connor Hughes

RALPH VACCHIANO/Daily News

I’ve been trying to think of a specific memory I have of him — something fun or funny — but I can’t. And that’s not really an indictment of him, it sort of more of a tribute, when you think about it. He’s been described by his coach and so many others as a “lunchpail guy” who, for 10 years, just came to work, did his job and didn’t cause any trouble. In a lot of ways he was almost unnoticeable, which is the dream of offensive linemen. For a decade, you didn’t worry about the right guard spot in the Giants’ lineup. You didn’t question that Snee was going to be in there and play well. He wasn’t a guy we had to rush to after the game to get a quote, because he wasn’t going to put on some me-first show for the media. He wasn’t the center of attention. He was just a good member of the team.

Don’t misinterpret that either. He was as cooperative a player as I’ve dealt with in this era. If a reporter needed a few minutes of his time, he gave it. His answers were thoughtful, insightful, if not headline-worthy. He didn’t duck any question either — not his relationship with his father-in-law coach (which especially early couldn’t have been his favorite topic), not the terrible play of the offensive line in some years. A lot of fans might not realize that when the Giants are having a bad year or suffer a bad loss, there aren’t a lot of players willing to stand up and take the heat. Reporters often end up confronting a mostly empty locker room. But I almost always could count on Snee being out there after a bad game. As a matter of fact, if he ever did duck the media I’d bet it was after a win — when he didn’t want the appearance of taking any credit.

Anyway, his desire to be behind the scenes is probably why I can’t come up with a good story for you. But I do have good memories of him and he will be missed. Aside from being a good, fun, pleasant and cooperative guy to talk to, I will most remember him the way I bet he wants to be remembered: As part of a group of five guys who were the best offensive line I’ve covered in my now 20 years covering the NFL. That group — David Diehl, Rich Seubert, Shaun O’Hara, Snee and Kareem McKenzie — kind of snuck up on us. They didn’t get a lot of praise at first and there always seemed to be a lot of questions about whether the Giants needed an upgrade. They were together from 2006-10 and, despite a championship in 2007, I think it took most people until they were gone to realize how great they were. And look, I grew up in the ’80s so I know how good “The Suburbanites” were. We could debate all day which group was better. But you have to put this group in the conversation, I’d think. And Snee has to be in the conversation when talking about the best Giants offensive linemen of all time.

ART STAPLETON/The Record

Chris Snee, New York Giants (December 11, 2011)

Chris Snee – © USA TODAY Sports Images

For me it’s an easy one. 2011 NFC Championship Game in San Francisco, in the bowels of Candlestick Park about 30 minutes after Lawrence Tynes booted the Giants to Super Bowl XLVI. The visiting locker room at the Stick is, well, cramped, and you could only imagine the emotions following from a game like that. The crowd was around Eli Manning from the moment the media got in the room, and the Giants were in a rush to get on the plane and continue the party. And here was Chris Snee, suit on, his interviews over, luggage at his feet, just waiting for Manning to stop doing interviews.

“Elisha, let’s go already!” Snee said with a smile. This was before he donned that “I love Eli” t-shirt, of course, and only after that did I hear of how Snee and Manning were roommates as rookies, and that they always – ALWAYS – sat together on the bus and on planes to games.

In the biggest moment of the season, Snee could have gone out to the bus on his own. Instead, he waited for his quarterback.

I got the idea last summer to interview Snee and Manning together, and when Snee convinced Manning to do it, we sat in a lounge, the two of them on the couch jokingly sitting on top of one another like Eli and Peyton joke around as brothers in that SportsCenter commercial.

I was not on the beat when they came in, but I’m glad to have been on the beat these last few years. That day in San Francisco, I got to see the bond between two of the very best to play for the Giants in franchise history.

PATTI TRAINA/Inside Football, Sports XChange, Bleacher Report

My favorite Chris Snee moment came several years ago—I can’t remember what year it was, but I want to say it was about three years into his career.

First let me give you some background: Snee came in and initially seemed like the last thing he wanted to do was talk to anyone, reporters included. It didn’t help that his offensive line mates at the time added fuel to the fire by calling him a “grumpy old man.”

Anyway, one day I had to do a sit-down interview with Snee for a story on his charity work, which he never really spoke about (I always got the impression that Snee didn’t care to talk about himself). This was back in the old stadium so for “sit downs” we had to do them in the hallway, just outside the locker room.

So I’m standing out there waiting and Snee comes out, finishing an ice cream cone. He’s walking as though someone just told him to walk the plank of a pirate ship, and he has a scowl on his face. I’m sitting there thinking I’m in for a bumpy ride, but once he reached me, he cracked a smile, shook my hand, and gave me a wonderful interview.

When we finished, I thanked him for his time. He thanked me, said he enjoyed the chat and that I “shouldn’t be a stranger” moving forward. From that day forward, regardless of what mood he might have been in, Snee and I would chat whenever the opportunity presented itself, even if it was a quick “Hello.”

Chris Snee, New York Giants (August 22, 2012)

Chris Snee – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Post script to this story. When he was voted a team captain last year—an honor that was long overdue in my opinion–I congratulated him by saying, “Congrats, Captain Chris.”

His eyes lit up and he broke out into as big of a smile as I have ever seen from him. He told me he liked the moniker. He liked it so much, in fact, that he told a couple of his teammates whose lockers were nearby that from that point forward, he wanted to be called “Captain Chris.” (I won’t repeat what the teammates said since this is a PG-13 site.)

I don’t think the nickname ever caught on with others, but out of respect, I kept calling him that, right up to the day he retired. And each time he would smile and it was just so clear to see it made him feel good.

When he retired last week, he had to walk past a few of us to get to the podium. He was shaking the hands of reporters who were lined up on that side—I was one of them. When he got to me, I said “Thanks for being such a professional, Captain Chris.”

Boom! There was that smile again and this time, he gave me a big hug before taking the podium for what was one of the most emotional farewell pressers I have ever covered.

I’ve been on this beat since the late 1990s and one of the things I really enjoy from a human aspect is to see these guys come in as kids and leave as grown men. Those moments where you get to know the person behind the facemask are what make this job so special.

I’m very honored to have covered Chris Snee’s career and to see him go from being a quiet brawny kid out of college into a professional, a leader and above all one of the nicest men to ever don the Giants uniform.

Jul 212014
 
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Jerrel Jernigan, New York Giant (November 24, 2013)

What’s in store for Jerrel Jernigan this year? – © USA TODAY Sports Images


Another week, another edition of the Big Blue Breakdown on BigBlueInteractive.com. Today, our panel turns their attention to wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan.

After failing to step foot on the field for the better part of two and a half seasons, Jernigan burst onto the scene towards the end of last year. The former third-round pick caught 19 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for a 49-yard score.

But where is Jernigan now? Odell Beckham Jr. was drafted, Trindon Holiday signed, Mario Manningham re-signed and Victor Cruz is now healthy. Is there a home for Jernigan; or will he get buried on the depth chart?

Remember, if you’d like to submit a question to be debated on the Big Blue Breakdown, email Connor Hughes (Connor_Hughes@bigblueinteractive.com).

QUESTION- From Jay in Toronto: Is there anything you’ve seen from Jerrel Jernigan so far to make you think he is continuing where he left off at the end of the season, or do you think that was a fluke? What do you see his role being on the team after the Giants drafted Odell Beckham Jr., do you think he can be a big contributor?

CONNOR HUGHES/Big Blue Interactive

Jerrel Jernigan and Victor Cruz, New York Giants (August 10, 2013)

Jerrel Jernigan and Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

It’s tough to see someone ‘flash’ or take much out of non-contact practices. To be honest, Jernigan hasn’t shown much more than Marcus Harris or Trindon Holliday.

With that being said, I’m not terribly sure last year was a fluke. Whether it was or wasn’t, I don’t see where he fits into the offense.

Jernigan plays primarily slot, a position Victor Cruz is most natural in. The Giants drafted Odell Beckham Jr. in the first round to be an ‘outside wide receiver’ with Rueben Randle, leaving Cruz in the middle. Where does that leave Jernigan? The bench.

In the past, the Giants haven’t been big fans of four wide receiver sets, that could change this year, but I see that as the only chance Jernigan has at getting on the field other than injury. It’s not that he can’t play, it’s just I don’t see an open spot for him.

JORDAN RAANAN/NJ.com

Jernigan’s final three games of last season was an eye opener – to the Giants, to the fans and maybe even to himself. It prompted owner John Mara to publicly provide a statement of support in his post-season State of the Giants. Jernigan proved capable of getting open and, most importantly in my mind, an ability to make tough, contested catches despite his size. It had Mara wondering what took so long for the 2011 third-round pick to get on the field, a completely reasonable question considering his performance.

No doubt, Jernigan showed that he can play at this level. He was the No. 2 scoring fantasy wide receiver over the final three weeks of the season with 19 catches, 237 yards and two touchdowns. It was an impressive three-game stretch during the first time in his career that he really received extended playing time.

In my opinion, it wasn’t a fluke. Jernigan (5-8, 189) can play. His biggest problem, however, is that his ideal position is as a slot receiver. That happens to be the spot where the Giants’ top receiver, Victor Cruz, thrives. And Cruz isn’t going anywhere.

Jernigan, even though some of his success last season came on the outside, is better suited for the slot. Once again, he’s unlikely to get that opportunity much this season as long as Cruz is healthy. That leaves him on the outside competing with first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle for playing time. Advantage … first-round pick, and Randle has been ahead of Jernigan on the depth chart since the day he arrived.

So, for now, Jernigan looks like an insurance policy rather than a significant contributor. He’ll be the backup plan in case something happens to Cruz, Beckham and Randle.

EDWARD VALENTINE/Big Blue View

Jerrel Jernigan, New York Giants (August 7, 2013)

Jerrel Jernigan – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jernigan is a big question mark for me, to be honest. I thought John Mara’s end of season comment that “I’m not sure why it took us three years to find out that Jerrel Jernigan can play,” was made out of frustration and was really unfair to both Tom Coughlin and Kevin Gilbride. Fact is, the Giants had given Jernigan opportunities over the years, and he had continually come up short.

Jernigan has the elusiveness to be a punt returner, but can’t consistently catch the ball. He has the ability to be a kickoff returner, but fumbled that chance away last year.

As a receiver, he is a slot guy and Victor Cruz is better. If Jernigan was better than Cruz, he would have been playing. If he was better on the outside than Hakeem Nicks, Reuben Randle or Mario Manningham before he left for the San Francisco 49ers he would have been playing. Fact is, he wasn’t.

Now, as for what to expect from him this season I just don’t know. Are we going to see the guy who caught 13 passes in his first 29 NFL games, of 19 in his last three? I think we will see a guy who has figured that, yes, he can play in the NFL. Do I think he will be a star? No. It will be interesting to see if he can get open if the Giants ask him to play on the outside more, or if Ben McAdoo will find ways to pair him with Cruz on the inside. It will also be interesting to see how many snaps Jernigan plays, since he is likely the No. 4 wide receiver.

I would think the Giants would be thrilled with 35-45 catches from Jernigan in 2014.

RALPH VACCHIANO/Daily News

Well first, there’s nothing we’ve really seen from Jerrel Jernigan since the end of last season that would be able to really tell us anything. The few practices the media have attended have been light practices and the Giants are obviously busy installing a new offense, so it’s hard to really analyze him. Probably the biggest tell about his status, though, is that they drafted a receiver in the first round. If they were comfortable with him as their third receiver, I’m not sure they would have done that. So the simple answer is this: Barring injury, his role is as the fourth receiver at best, behind Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle and Beckham.

Jerrel Jernigan, New York Giants (December 9, 2012)

Jerrel Jernigan – © USA TODAY Sports Images

I don’t know if I’d label his end of the season a fluke, though. It wasn’t the one-game flash we used to see from Ramses Barden. It was an impressive, three-game stretch. I don’t know that he’ll get that type of opportunity again, but I think it showed that he can be useful and productive in the right situations. He can be a weapon, and that’s important in this pass-happy era. A fourth receiver isn’t a huge part of an offense (when everyone is healthy) but it’s another player the defense needs to worry about. He showed speed, an ability to play above his 5-8 height, and the ability to get open and do something after the catch.

So maybe the Giants will occasionally work him into the slot, either to spell Cruz or to let Cruz do more on the outside. Maybe he’s just a change-of-pace guy for certain plays, depending on how he fits into Ben McAdoo’s scheme. Maybe he’s mostly on the field in spread formations (which would be a help so they don’t always have to spread with extra running backs or tight ends). But I think they’ll find a use for him. He probably won’t consistently be the six-catch, 80-yard guy he was at the end of last season, but he could be good for a catch or two per game, he could be a valuable replacement when necessary, and might even have a few big plays in him as the year goes along.

PATTI TRAINA/Inside Football, Bleacher Report, Sports Xchange

Jerrel Jernigan, New York Giants (December 29, 2013)

Jerrel Jernigan – © USA TODAY Sports Images

I’m probably going to be in the minority, but I don’t believe Jernigan is a lock to make the 53-man roster. I think he’s limited to filling two roles on this team, that as a slot receiver and as a return specialist.

Since the fourth and fifth receiver (like the fourth and fifth cornerback, safety, linebacker, etc.) usually needs to be able to contribute something on special teams, I think that Jernigan might be facing an uphill battle to stick if he can’t show that he’s able to do both roles.

I wrote about Jernigan possibly competing as a kickoff receiver for Bleacher Report last week. One thing I’ll add here is he’s had opportunities in each season he’s been in the league to emerge as a return specialist and that’s yet to happen, most likely due to ball security issues.

All it seems to take for head coach Tom Coughlin and special teams coordinator Tom Quinn to replace a return specialist is one strike. When a return specialist has a nine percent fumble rate in his career, that’s not a good stat.

I do not think that both Trindon Holliday, who in case you’re wondering, has an eight percent career fumble rate as a return specialist, and Jernigan are both going to make this roster.

Holliday looked very good during the spring, but we need to temper our enthusiasm because as we all know, there are no pads allowed during the spring.

One other thing that we need to bear in mind is that in Ben McAdoo’s offense, Rueben Randle could very well be the other receiver we see working from the slot (besides Victor Cruz, who’s among the best in the NFL right now working from the slot). I think they like to try to create size mismatches in the slot, and so we’ll see if anything comes out of the talk of Randle seeing more snaps from the slot.

So to answer the last part of the question, no, I don’t see Jernigan being a “big contributor” if he makes this team. I think your “big three” will be Rueben Randle, Cruz and Odell Beckham.

Jul 202014
 
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New York Giants Defensive Backs (June 12, 2014)

Which of the Giants’ cornerbacks will fail to make the roster? Find out below – Photo by Connor Hughes

BigBlueInteractive.com puts the finishing touches on our training camp preparation today. Throughout the last few weeks, we’ve broken down each positional group heading into camp and yesterday took our guess at the offense’s final depth chart.

Now, we turn our attention to the defense and special teams.

There is no sure way to tell what is going to happen in training camp, what injuries will occur and what undrafted rookie jumps out to surprise a veteran, but we’re taking our shot anyway. Below you will find the final depth chart prediction from both Connor Hughes and Eric Kennedy.

CONNOR HUGHES’ FINAL 53-MAN ROSTER – DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS

Johnathan Hankins, New York Giants (October 6, 2013)

Will Johnathan Hankins start opening week? – © USA TODAY Sports Images

DEFENSIVE LINE
LDE: Mathias Kiwanuka, Robert Ayers
LDT: Cullen Jenkins, Jay Bromley
RDT: Johnathan Hankins, Mike Patterson
RDE: Jason Pierre-Paul, Damontre Moore
Notable Cuts: Adam Kendrick, Emmanuel Dieke, Jordan Stanton, Kerry Wynn, Everett Dawkins, Markus Kuhn, Kelcy Quarles
Why?: While Mike Patterson has taken every rep with the No. 1’s this offseason, I just don’t see him fending off Johnathan Hankins for all of training camp. First week or so? Sure. 1-2 games of preseason play? Absolutely, but I see no scenario where it isn’t Hankins lining up with the starters come the regular season. With that being said, I see Mike Patterson getting a lot of playing time this year. It’ll be tough for any running back to find a hole in the middle of the Giants’ defense with those two at tackle.

Most of the cuts I have being made shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise with a slight exception for Markus Kuhn. I could very well see Kuhn winding up on the team’s practice squad, or making the team barring an injury, but he’s competing with Jay Bromley and Mike Patterson for this position. Will New York cut this year’s third-round pick? Will it cut the player that has taken every first-team rep? I don’t see it. Kuhn is a victim of the numbers game.

LINEBACKERS
WILL: Jacquian Williams, Spencer Paysinger
MIKE: Jon Beason, Mark Herzlich
SAM: Jameel McClain, Devon Kennard
Notable Cuts: Spencer Adkins, Justin Anderson, Dan Fox, Terrell Manning
Why?: While I don’t believe Jon Beason will be ready to play the first 1-2 games of the season, I do think he’ll be healthy enough to make the Giants comfortable keeping just six linebackers on the team. The interesting thing about this year’s group is that four (Beason, Herzlich, McClain, Kennard) all have the ability to play the middle of the defense. Even if McClain goes down in the middle, the Giants have several others that can fill in.

One cut that I went back-and-forth on for a bit was whether or not Mark Herzlich would make the team or Dan Fox. Herzlich is in very warm water and if Fox can show similar value on special teams, he’ll get the nod. If not, I see Fox headed to the practice squad. This decision came down to a coin flip, Fox was tails and it landed on heads.

SAFETIES
SS: Antre Rolle, Quintin Demps, Nat Berhe
FS: Stevie Brown, Cooper Taylor
Notable Cuts: C.J. Barnett, Thomas Gordon
Why?: This is more of a ‘why are the Giants keeping five safeties’ than ‘why someone was cut.’ I did’t see any scenario (except injury) where Barnett or Gordon made the final 53, but would the Giants keep five at the position?

From talking to coaches and Cooper Taylor himself, it seems like last year’s fifth-round pick is in the team’s plans. This year’s fifth-round pick, Nat Berhe, has flashed during the offseason and I don’t think general manager Jerry Reese would cut a player drafted that high. Not to mention, there is zero guarantee Stevie Brown’s surgically repaired knee can hold up throughout the entire season. The crazy thing is, if Will Hill’s appeal had been won, one of them would be getting cut.

The biggest issue that keeping both Taylor and Berhe caused was the fact it all but sealed the fact the Giants can’t keep seven corners.

Charles James, New York Giants (August 24, 2013)

Can Charles James crack the Giants final 53-man roster?– © USA TODAY Sports Images

CORNERBACKS
RCB: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Zack Bowman
LCB: Prince Amukamara, Trumaine McBride, Charles James
NICKEL: Walter Thurmond
Notable Cuts: Jayron Hosley, Bennett Jackson, Travis Howard, Ross Weaver, Kyle Sebetic
Why? Every single logical scenario I played out in my mind had a very good player getting cut. There was no way the Giants could keep all their corners and whoever doesn’t make the team will wind up on someone else’s 53.

I’ll start with the first move: cutting Jayron Hosley. The fact the former third-round pick is serving a four-game suspension will keep him on the team early on. If Rodgers-Cromartie, Amukamara or Thurmond go down, Hosley will be activated and the other IR’d. But if everyone stays healthy, Hosley will be cut. From my understanding, the Giants have had enough with the underperforming, often-injured and now suspended corner.

The final roster spot that I believe is up for grabs is cornerback position No. 6. Assuming Trumaine McBride is healthy, I view him as a lock. That leaves both Charles James and Bennett Jackson. While Jackson may have an edge on special teams, James showed much more as a corner in the offseason. James also has value as a special-teamer, bringing it down to a coin flip. This will be a battle reported on extensively throughout camp and won’t be decided until the final cut-down day. Whomever shows more will get the spot. The Giants hope the other clears waivers so they can stash him on their practice squad.

One scenario I could see unfolding is one that involves Zack Bowman getting cut and both Charles James and Bennett Jackson making the roster. In order for this to happen, both James and Jackson will need to show they are as good on defense as the corner and can contribute equally as much on special teams. Bowman has excelled on special teams throughout his career and is regarded as one of the best in the league. It’ll be tough to unseat him, but not out of the question.

SPECIAL TEAMS
K: Josh Brown
KR: Quintin Demps
P: Steve Weatherford
PR: Trindon Holliday
LS: Zack DeOssie
GUNNERS: Charles James and Zack Bowman
Notable Cuts: Brandon McManus
Why?: The Giants gambled on a young, unproven kicker with a strong leg once before and it cost them a divisional title. I just cannot see coach Tom Coughlin risking it again. I’m not saying Brandon McManus is the next Matt Dodge, but Josh Brown has been doing it too successfully for too long to warrant a cut. He had a good season last year, proved he can kick at MetLife and still has a few good years left in him.

ERIC KENNEDY’S FINAL 53-MAN ROSTER – DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS

DEFENSIVE LINE
LDE: Mathias Kiwanuka, Robert Ayers
LDT: Johnathan Hankins, Mike Patterson
RDT: Cullen Jenkins, Markus Kuhn, Jay Bromley
RDE: Jason Pierre-Paul, Damontre Moore
Notable Cuts: Adam Kendrick, Emmanuel Dieke, Jordan Stanton, Kerry Wynn, Everett Dawkins, Kelcy Quarles
Why?: Barring injury, I think this is relatively straight forward unless one of the rookie or street free agents really surprise. I think 2014 will be a “redshirt” year for Bromley similar to what Linval Joseph and Johnathan Hankins went through as rookies.  I don’t expect him to be active on game day much. The biggest question to me here is who starts opposite JPP? Kiwanuka, Ayers, or Moore?

LINEBACKERS
Perry Fewell’s misnamed WILL: Jacquian Williams, Spencer Paysinger
MIKE: Jon Beason, Dan Fox
Perry Fewell’s misnamed SAM: Jameel McClain, Devon Kennard
Notable Cuts: Mark Herzlich, Spencer Adkins, Justin Anderson, Terrell Manning
Why?: Barring injury, I also think this is pretty straight forward with the exception of Dan Fox possibly beating out Mark Herzlich. Unless Herzlich dramatically improves in this camp, I’d rather go with someone with more potential. I think we’ve pretty much seen what Herzlich can do.

SAFETIES
SS: Antre Rolle, Quintin Demps (third safety)
FS: Stevie Brown, Cooper Taylor
Notable Cuts: Nat Berhe, C.J. Barnett, Thomas Gordon, Kyle Sebetic
Why?: In trying to get to 53, my biggest problem was finding room for either 11 defensive backs, 9 defensive linemen, six wide receivers, or five running backs/fullbacks. I’d prefer to keep Berhe, but barring injury (a big potential factor), I think the Giants keep 9 defensive linemen, six wide receivers, and five backs. I also think they keep six corners. My guess is they try to “redshirt” Berhe on the Practice Squad, especially given his lack of ideal size and overall athleticism.

CORNERBACKS
RCB: Prince Amukamara, Walter Thurmond (nickel), Bennett Jackson
LCB: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Zack Bowman, Charles James
Notable Cuts: Trumaine McBride, Jayron Hosley, Travis Howard, Ross Weaver
Why? The initial 4-game suspension of Hosley actually may work in the Giants favor. If someone else gets hurt in the first month of the season, Hosley is obviously a legit option. My biggest upset here is Bennett Jackson beating out McBride. Why? Jackson is a very good special teams player; McBride is not. Plus Jackson has a bigger upside. McBride may be only the fifth best cornerback on the team now and I think Charles James will surpass him this camp. I do wonder where DRC will line-up? One would think Amukamara would stay at RCB and DRC at LCB, but the Giants seem to  have indicated to DRC that he will cover the opposing team’s best receiver, which is usually the split end or X receiver.

SPECIAL TEAMS
K: Josh Brown
KR: Trindon Holliday
P: Steve Weatherford
PR: Trindon Holliday
LS: Zack DeOssie
GUNNERS: Zack Bowman and Bennett Jackson
Notable Cuts: Brandon McManus
Why?: Like Connor, the great debate I see here is at placekicker. Do the Giants go with the younger, strong-legged McManus over the old, proven veteran? I think Coach Coughlin will want to play it safe. Jerry Reese may not. Quintin Demps is a very good kickoff returner with nearly the same yards per return average as Holliday. And Holliday has had ball security issues. But Holliday is a home-run threat every time he touches the ball. Six return touchdowns in two seasons? That’s Devin Hester in his prime territory. Bowman and Jackson may be the best duo of gunners the Giants have had in some time.

Jul 192014
 
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Eli Manning (10), Victor Cruz (80), New York Giants (December 9, 2012)

What’s the Giants’ starting offense going to look like in 2014? – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With the positional breakdowns in the rear-view mirror, BigBlueInteractive.com turns its attention to one final task before training camp begins in a few days.

Our prediction at the final New York Giants depth chart and 53-man roster.

There is no sure way to tell what is going to happen in training camp, what injuries will occur and what undrafted rookie jumps out to surprise a veteran. We know we’re good here at BBI, but predicting injuries? That’s a bit above our pay scale.

Below you will find the final depth chart prediction from both Connor Hughes and Eric Kennedy on the Giants’ offense. Tomorrow, we’ll debut the defense. Below each positional group, you’ll get some insight into why those players were selected, were there any surprise cuts and what factors went into the final decision.

CONNOR HUGHES’ FINAL 53-MAN ROSTER – OFFENSE

Ryan Nassib, New York Giants (May 20, 2014)

Can Ryan Nassib be the Giants’ No. 2 quarterback? – Photo by Connor Hughes

QUARTERBACKS:
1st String: Eli Manning
2nd String: Ryan Nassib
Notable Cuts: Curtis Painter
Why?: I’m not sold on Ryan Nassib, but looking across the Giants roster I just can’t envision any scenario where the team keeps three quarterbacks. Do I believe Nassib can lead the Giants if Eli goes down? No. But I don’t think Curtis Painter could, either. The Giants will roll the dice with Nassib barring a horrid display in the preseason.

RUNNING BACKS:
1st String: Rashad Jennings
2nd String: David Wilson
3rd String: Andre Williams
4th String: Peyton Hillis
Notable Cuts: Michael Cox, Kendall Gaskins
Why?: I went back to this positional group a few times to see if there was any situation the Giants keep just three backs, there isn’t. After how bad things went last year, the Giants want as many bodies here as possible. It was tough cutting Michael Cox, but between he and Hillis, I think Hillis is more polished and the Giants would feel more comfortable going with him. People forget, Hillis had a nice season last year.

John Conner, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

John Conner – © USA TODAY Sports Images

FULLBACKS:
1st String: John Conner
Notable Cut: Henry Hynoski
Why?: This one really is a toss up and will be the last cut the Giants make. Both players have their highs and lows, but in the end I think Conner has more upside.

WIDE RECEIVERS:
1st String Outside: Rueben Randle
2nd String Outside: Mario Manningham
1st String Outside: Odell Beckham Jr.
1st String Slot: Victor Cruz
2nd String Slot/Outside: Jerrel Jernigan
3rd String Slot: Trindon Holliday
Notable Cuts: Marcus Harris, Travis Harvey, Preston Parker, Julian Talley, Corey Washington
Why?: Initially I put together a depth chart without counting the number of players I was putting on. Then, I went back and made ‘cuts’ based on how many players I needed to get down to. This was one of the positions I needed to rework. I had Marcus Harris making the team but removed him. Truly I believe Harris has a legit shot at making this team and it will be a camp battle between him and Mario Manningham. If Manningham isn’t 100 percent, Harris could be given the nod.

TIGHT END:
1st String: Adrien Robinson
2nd String: Larry Donnell
3rd String: Kellen Davis
Notable Cuts: Xavier Grimble, Daniel Fells
Why?: I think the third tight end competition will be a good one, but with the health questions regarding Robinson and Donnell, having a veteran there instead of an unproven rookie may be the team’s best bet. If Grimble is cut, I see him heading to the practice squad if he clears waivers.

OFFENSIVE LINE:
LT: William Beatty
Back-up: Charles Brown
LG: Geoff Schwartz
Back-up: Eric Hermann
C:  J.D. Walton
Back-up: Weston Richburg
RG: Brandon Mosley
Back-up: John Jerry
RT: Justin Pugh
Notable Cuts: Chris Snee, James Brewer, Troy Kropog, DeMarcus Love, Roger Gaines, Jamaal Johnson-Webb

Chris Snee and Pat Flaherty, New York Giants (July 27, 2013)

Snee was on the sideline for much of the Giants’ offseason workouts – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Why?: Initially I had James Brewer making the roster, but he was one of my final three cuts I needed to make. Chris Snee on the other hand, I never had making the team in the first place.

Throughout his career, Snee has been the ultimate Giant and everything the team could have wanted in a guard. Now? He’s a shade of his former self. I have little belief he’ll make it out of camp healthy and will retire before the season starts. He started a full-go during the non-contact portion of OTAs and couldn’t make it two weeks before a past injury flared up.

ERIC KENNEDY’S FINAL 53-MAN ROSTER – OFFENSE

Sidenote: Trying to guess the final 53-man roster in July is more than a bit silly, especially since there will probably be one or two players on the final roster who are currently not on the team. But we thought this would spark some fun debate.

QUARTERBACKS:
1st String: Eli Manning
2nd String: Ryan Nassib
Notable Cuts: Curtis Painter
Why?: When Curtis Painter played last year, he looked horrible. The Giants have too much invested in Nassib to give up on him this soon. The Giants won’t have the “luxury” of carrying three quarterbacks this season. If they do, that would be a terrible indictment on Nassib.

RUNNING BACKS:
1st String: Rashad Jennings
2nd String: David Wilson
3rd String: Peyton Hillis
4th String: Andre Williams
Notable Cuts: Michael Cox, Kendall Gaskins
Why?: If David Wilson is healthy, I really like this group. I like the  physical nature and size of Jennings, Hillis, and Williams. And Wilson is a home-run threat every time he touches the ball. Jennings, Wilson, and Hillis can all catch too. I see Hillis as a nice one-back runner/receiver/blocker, possibly as a third-down back. I’m not sure how many touches Williams will see as a rookie. I think Michael Cox can play in this league, but it’s a numbers game.

FULLBACKS:
1st String: John Conner
Notable Cut: Henry Hynoski
Why?: Hynoski is the favorite with many fans and the media, but I simply think Conner is the better blocker, receiver, and runner. He hits like Thor’s hammer and is a better athlete than given credit for. I love Hynoski, but he’s a bit on the stiff side.

WIDE RECEIVERS:
1st String (2-WR Set): Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz
1st String (3-WR Set): Odell Beckham Jr., Rueben Randle, and Victor Cruz
Reserves: Trindon Holliday, Jerrel Jernigan, Marcus Harris
Notable Cuts: Mario Manningham, Julian Talley, Travis Harvey, Corey Washington, and Preston Parker
Why?: The safe bet is Mario Manningham making the team. But I wonder how much a very serious knee injury – that he tried to come back from too soon last season – will impact his overall game which primarily based on speed and quickness (and not great route running and technique)? My gut says one of the relatively unknown reserves flashes enough ability and special teams production (as a coverman and blocker) to encourage the Giants to part ways with Manningham, who has very little special teams value. However, if Manningham shows more than Randle, all bets are off.

TIGHT END:
1st String: Adrien Robinson
2nd String: Larry Donnell
3rd String: Xavier Grimble
Notable Cuts: Kellen Davis, Daniel Fells
Why?: The safe prediction here would to be have a veteran on the roster, either Kellen Davis, Daniel Fells, or someone not currently on the team. But Davis and Fells have already bounced around the NFL and, rightly or wrongly, I think management is still intrigued with Robinson and Donnell’s upside (size, overall athletic ability, hands, blocking). Grimble has too much potential to chance him on the Practice Squad. Ultimately, I still see this as a rebuilding team and I don’t think you rebuild with guys like Davis and Fells.

OFFENSIVE LINE:
LT: William Beatty
Back-up: Charles Brown
LG: Geoff Schwartz
Back-up: Brandon Mosley
C:  J.D. Walton
Back-up: Weston Richburg
RG: Chris Snee
Back-up: John Jerry
RT: Justin Pugh
Notable Cuts: James Brewer, Eric Herman, Troy Kropog, DeMarcus Love, Roger Gaines, Jamaal Johnson-Webb, Dallas Reynolds
Why?: Whether Chris Snee is capable of playing a full 16-game schedule is questionable at best. My guess is Tom Coughlin will make the same mistake the team has in the past with injured and fading players on the offensive line and give Snee most of the first-team reps in camp and allow him to start the season. It may be best to start Jerry, Mosley, or Richburg and cut ties with Snee. That said, my biggest concern on the line is the health status of Will Beatty, and his ability to rebound from a poor season. How much time will he miss in training camp?

Jul 142014
 
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Chris Snee (76) and David Baas (64), New York Giants (September 30, 2012)

Can Chris Snee (76, left) be counted on this season? – © USA TODAY Sports Images


Another week, another edition of the Big Blue Breakdown. As has been the case for the last month, BigBlueInteractive.com brings together some of the Giants’ best beat writers in one place to answer fan questions regarding the team.

Thus far, BBI’s panel has broken down the Giants’ tight end situation, the health of Stevie Brown, training camp storylines and more. Today, they turn their attention to guard Chris Snee.

Remember, if you’d like to have your question answered by our panel, simply email it to Connor Hughes (Connor_Hughes@bigblueinteractive.com) and it could be featured next week.

From Dave in East Windsor: I know it’s still early, but I can’t help but get uneasy thinking of the health of guard Chris Snee. If he can’t go during the regular season for injury reasons, who do you believe steps up in his place? Will not having Snee in the lineup bring the same kind of offensive line failures as we saw last year?

Chris Snee and Pat Flaherty, New York Giants (July 27, 2013)

Snee was on the sideline for much of the Giants’ offseason workouts – © USA TODAY Sports Images

CONNOR HUGHES/Big Blue Interactive

When your team’s offensive guard is coming off an injury-riddled season, surgery-filled offseason and then can’t make it through the contact-free portion of the offseason conditioning program without being sidelined…you have every right to worry.

Throughout his tenure with the Giants, Chris Snee has been the ultimate example of everything the team could want in a player. He’s been great within the community, stayed out of trouble and was a staple on the Giants’ offensive line for a decade. But in sports there is one undefeated: Father Time.

Snee’s body isn’t the same and his play has reflected it. He’s beat up, worn down and no where near the player he was when the Giants selected him in the second round out of Boston College. Did the Giants hope he could return in some form this year? Yes. Did they know there was a chance he couldn’t? Yes to that, too.

Should you be uneasy about the health of Chris Snee? Yes. Should you be worried about a possible backup plan? No. To be honest, some of the guys waiting in the wings may be more help to the team than a healthy Snee this year anyway. John Jerry, while nursing an injury of his own, is considered a solid lineman that was in dire need of a scenery change. Brandon Mosley has impressed coaches this offseason. Weston Richburg was drafted in the second round. All three can fill in for Snee if he can’t go and potentially provide an upgrade in performance.

Will not having Snee in the lineup bring the same issues as last year? No, because Snee wasn’t in the lineup in the first place. After the Giants lost to the Carolina Panthers, Snee removed himself from the game and never stepped foot on the field again. The struggles last year were a result of lack-of-depth, an issue the Giants hope to have solidified this offseason.

Snee will be given every opportunity to return to the right side of the Giants’ offensive line during training camp and he’s earned that right, I just don’t think his body will take him there. It’s been a great run for Snee, but I think this is the end of the road.

ED VALENTINE/Big Blue View

You are absolutely correct to have an uneasy feeling about Snee. This is a topic I addressed on Sunday at Big Blue View and we will delve into it again here.

James Brewer, New York Giants (September 29, 2013)

James Brewer struggled as Snee’s replacement last season – © USA TODAY Sports Images

If Snee can’t go, or if he is in and out of the lineup, the Giants are in much better shape this season than last to handle his absence. Last season they tried a fading David Diehl and an under-whelming James Brewer. Neither really held up very well.

This season the Giants have more offensive line depth. John Jerry is a starting-caliber NFL guard, and has started every game the past two seasons. Brandon Mosley continues to develop, and looks like a guy who might be an NFL-caliber lineman. Second-round pick Weston Richburg has been working at both guard and center. In all honesty, all three are probably better options than Brewer. If you are wondering, Brewer has been working at left tackle behind Charles Brown while Will Beatty rehabs.

So, sure, you have to worry about Snee. The Giants, though, are much better prepared to handle his absence this time around.

CONOR ORR/The Star-Ledger

Brandon Mosley, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

Brandon Mosley may be the answer at guard if Snee can’t go – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Chris Snee looked awfully trim to me during OTA’s, even to the point where I thought he might be more than 10 pounds underneath his goal weight. If his hips don’t keep him down, it seems the elbow might, which adds to the difficulty of gaining good weight and lifting. If he’s not able to go, I think Pat Flaherty obviously recommends a competition between Brandon Mosley and Weston Richburg for that starting spot.

Mosley has been impressive in camp so far and, after RE-watching some of his snaps against Detroit and Seattle, I can see why the Giants spent a fourth-round pick on him. He makes adjustments naturally and is light on his feet for a 315-pound guard/tackle. He was injured during his rookie year so he’s really in his second season. No sense in rushing Richburg if he’s still developing.

I don’t think Snee is necessarily the key to a successful offensive line. Maybe in years past, when he was a graduate-level scholar in Kevin Gilride’s offense, things would be different. But this is a new offense with new veterans (J.D. Walton, Geoff Schwartz) who can fill that void.

The real question mark, in my opinion, is Will Beatty. If the Giants don’t have a left tackle, there needs to be some serious re-arranging with more than a few players working outside their comfort zones

ART STAPLETON/ THE RECORD

If the Giants made the same mistakes with depth up front offensively as they did last season, that would be the definition of insanity.

John Jerry, Miami Dolphins (November 17, 2013)

Is John Jerry the answer if Chris Snee can’t go?– © USA TODAY Sports Images

Chris Snee’s heart is into making a return. We can’t say for sure whether Snee will be able to go until there’s some contact in camp. While I’m not ready to say Snee is done, his absence in the spring could turn out to be a blessing for Brandon Mosley.

I’m not buying the conspiracy theory some have floated regarding Snee and how the Giants have expected him to retire all along, and they’re just going through the motions. That’s ridiculous. So the big question: is Mosley the heir apparent to Snee at right guard? He’ll get the chance this summer to show he can handle the job. I also wouldn’t rule out Weston Richburg as an option at RG, especially if J.D. Walton impresses at C. And even though his presence this spring has been a mystery, John Jerry has also been rumored to be in the building. We’ll see if he’s healthy enough to make a run at pushing the young guys off that spot.

Jul 082014
 
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Will Beatty, New York Giants (August 10, 2013)

Can William Beatty return to form in 2014? – © USA TODAY Sports Images

There’s one thing everyone can agree on when it comes to this year’s New York Giants: There are an awful lot of questions surrounding the team.

From Ben McAdoo’s new offense, to the secondary, to the revamped offensive line and Eli, the list goes on-and-on. Today, the Big Blue Breakdown asks our panel what storyline they are most looking forward to unfolding come July 21 when players are scheduled to report to the New York Giants training camp.

Remember, if you’d like to submit a question for our panel to discus on the next Big Blue Breakdown, please email to Connor Hughes (Connor_Hughes@bigblueinteractive.com).

From Justin in Newark- What’s the storyline that you are most looking forward to unfolding in training camp and why? Is it the progression of Ben McAdoo’s new offense? The new pieces on defense? Or something else? Also, what’s your prediction for how it will pan out?

CONNOR HUGHES/Big Blue Interactive

David Wilson, New York Giants (September 16, 2012)

David Wilson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

There’s a lot, and I mean a lot, of questions surrounding the Giants as the team prepares for training camp. I’m intrigued by the new offense and certainly to see how the secondary gels, but more than anything else I want to what David Wilson can do in this new offense and with a new offensive line.

Don’t get me wrong, of all the questions that will be answered or play out, Wilson’s status or role is no where near the top of the list, but personally I see this guy as the ultimate sleeper on the team. His attitude is second to none, he’s dying to get back on the field and I think having Rashad Jennings there to spell him is exactly what he needs to be the best back he can be.

Wilson’s frame (5-9, 205) don’t make him an ideal candidate as an “every-down-back,” but just picture this: Powerful Rashad Jennings/Andre Williams wear down a defense for two-to-three quarters. With the defenders huffing, Wilson comes in to spell the two with fresh legs and his 4.38 40-yard dash time. Wilson is the only player on the team that has the ability to take any carry the distance…couple that with a defense that’s already tired?

Saying that, I don’t believe the Giants will only insert Wilson into the lineup come the third and fourth quarters, but rather his reps will increase as the games go on. This was a tactic used by the Giants when the team had Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw. Deal with the 6-5, 260-pound Jacobs for three quarters, then worry about a shifty Bradshaw in the fourth. I could see this situation working out near identical with the three on the team now.

ART STAPLETON/ The Record

Damontre Moore, New York Giants (September 29, 2013)

Damontre Moore – © USA TODAY Sports Images

There will be a lot of focus on the McAdoo offense and the health of the offensive line, Will Beatty and Chris Snee in particular, and for good reason. Those are a given. I’ll go back to what once was the Giants’ bread and butter: the defensive line.

I want to see Damontre Moore show he has taken that next step. I want to see if Robert Ayers is another body or if his analytic performance from 2013 translates on the field. Can Jay Bromley challenge Markus Kuhn? Will Mathias Kiwanuka turn his aggravation related to his pay cut into motivation for a bounce back year? Oh yeah, there’s the most important piece of the defensive puzzle: Jason Pierre-Paul. It’s too easy to say the Giants won’t depend on the pass rush as they have in the past.

If you look beyond the offensive chances that Jerry Reese and the FO has again taken with Beatty and Snee, the defensive line will end up being the difference in the NFC East. The fact we don’t know how it will work out makes this the most intriguing story line: there are no guarantees until the pads come on and the games begin, so it will be fun to watch.

JORDAN RAANAN/NJ.com

The one storyline that really pops out to me is how Eli Manning will fit into the new offense. This is really the No. 1 most important factor for the Giants in 2013. Everything else is secondary.

The defense won’t be great, but it also would take a lot to happen for them to be terrible. So the fate of the 2014 Giants rests on the offense (which ranked an abysmal 28th last year), and their quarterback in particular.

How will Eli take to the faster-paced, quick-throw offense? How will he bounce back from the 27-interception season? How will his surgically-repaired ankle hold up? How well will he work with first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr.? Will he get on the same page as Rueben Randle? Does he have instant chemistry with any of these tight ends?

Everything concerning the Giants’ success this season centers around their quarterback. The reality is this team is going nowhere without Eli playing well. They need him to play well. So, without a doubt, the top training camp storyline is Elisha Nelson Manning, especially with the unproven and so far shaky Ryan Nassib as his backup.

I’ll be watching Eli closely. Very closely.

PATTI TRAINA/Sports XChange, Bleacher Report, Inside Football

I think there are many storylines set to unfold this summer at training camp — probably more than I can remember in recent history. Of course, when a team is coming off a 7-9 season and turns over a large portion of its personnel, both players and coaches, that’s to be expected.

Eli Manning (10) and David Wilson (22), New York Giants (August 7, 2013)

Eli Manning and David Wilson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Obviously, the biggest storyline is going to be the new offense and if it lives up to the offseason hype. At the end of the minicamp, both head coach Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo said that they weren’t quite there yet, but then again I don’t think anyone expected the offense to be functioning like a well-piled machine after just 12 practices.

I think there might be a few hiccups along the way, especially as they finish installing everything, but I’m very optimistic and exited to see how it all comes together and I’m particularly interested to see how Eli Manning functions in McAdoo’s system, which is significantly different from the system Manning has spent his entire pro career running.

Moving to the defense, I’m very interested to see how the revamped secondary works out. One of the stats I’m going to try to keep up with is if there’s an increase of coverage sacks this year as I think that was part of the plan in going after a high-profiled cornerback such as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. I have a feeling there might very well be an increase.

There are three position battles I’m looking forward to seeing and those are backup middle linebacker, tight end and fullback.

At backup middle linebacker, I like what I’ve seen of Dan Fox so far and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants end up carrying an extra linebacker until Jon Beason is ready to return (I don’t think Beason will be ready for opening night, by the way).

Devon Kennard has also impressed and I think he could prove to be an absolute steal if he builds on his solid spring. I want to see both Kennard and Fox with pads on and I also want to see how they measure up on special teams before I can definitely say of an extra linebacker will be kept.

At tight end, I think it’s anyone’s game right now. I also wouldn’t be shocked if they add a tight end before the start of the season, maybe someone who’s cut by another team. Two teams I’d keep an eye on in that regard are Arizona and Detroit.

Fullback might not have as big of a role in this offense, at least from what we’ve seen so far and what the players have told us about there being more single back sets in this offense than there were in the previous system. Still, I’m fairly sure they will carry one fullback and right now it’s any man’s game.

John Conner, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

John Conner – © USA TODAY Sports Images

We’ve seen both John Conner and Henry Hynoski work with the starters, which is a good sign that right now both are even in this race. I think once the pads on and they can block and hit, that’s going to separate a winner in this race.

Last thing, I’m very curious to see is how many quarterbacks they end up keeping. I’m sure

that they would like to keep two, but as the coaches have said, the execution from Ryan Nassib needs to be better.

With that said, I’m curious to see just how many reps Nassib gets because remember, this is a new offense and I would think that maybe Eli Manning and the starters probably could benefit from a little more work this preseason to iron out any remaining wrinkles before opening day.

I know the feeling is he will get many chances to work on improving his accuracy, but I’m curious to see if maybe Eli Manning and the starters maybe get a little more work in each preseason game what with the new offense.