2) Offensive line: Without question this has been the signature unit of the NY Football Giants for the last 6-7 years. Their ability to run block, pick up blitz packages, and give Eli time to survey the field has been the central element of the Giant’s previous successes. Will the offensive line, burdened with multiple changes from years past, be able to mold itself into a cohesive unit? The good news is that Pat Flaherty remains with the Giants in his capacity as offensive line coach. He is one of the best in the business and has developed his sterling reputation by overcoming just these obstacles. Inserting a new center, left guard and left tackle, 3/5ths of your offensive line, is not for the faint of heart. Questions such as “Is Will Beatty quick enough to contain the fast and furious defensive ends”, or is “David Diehl able to plug the gap?” keeping Eli safe in the pocket, will haunt every Giants fan as the season progresses. So far the reviews are mixed as Eli has been harassed more than in the past and the running game is mediocre, at best. Most notable is the lack of second tier blocking on runs, limiting the Giants’ running backs to mostly short gains, as their average carry is down 1.6 yards to a paltry 3.3 yards per carry. This must improve dramatically as must their red-dog pickups and zone blocking schemes.
3) Receivers must step up: With the unceremonious departure of Steve Smith, the internal decision to not offer Plaxico a second chance, and the player
evaluators determining that Kevin Boss was not worth a few extra dollars, the Giants started off somewhat in the hole. Add this to the injuries suffered by Dominick Hixon, a concussed Mario Manningham, and the Giants receiver corp is but a shadow of their former selves. Can Victor Cruz learn on the job and do a reasonable imitation of Steve Smith in the slot? The slot receiver is perhaps the most important and potentially productive position for a team in today’s game. Does Brandon Stokley have anything left in the tank? Can Jake Ballard find his place as a viable NFL tight end and become a threat in the middle? What is not known in quality is made up in quantity which begs the question: “Will a current nondescript player emerge as a secondary or even tertiary option, affording Eli the luxury and confidence to throw his way on third down and 11?” What most thought would be a real strength of the Giants (the receivers) is now been winnowed down to a giant question mark.