New York Giants: Top 10 Questions Heading Into 2015 Season


Nov 17, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) catches a second half 1st down reception against Green Bay Packers cornerback Davon House (31)at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have some burning questions that can only be truly answered on the football field. After all the National Football League is a results oriented business. It doesn’t matter how the team looks in June on paper, it matters how they look when they take the field in September. Right now we know the 2015 New York Giants on paper. But how will it look on the football field?

One question that reigns supreme on the Giants fan mind is whether or not this team will make the postseason. The Giants have been without a playoff berth for three consecutive seasons, and getting back to meaningful football in January is all that matters right now for the Giants. 6-10 isn’t good enough, it never has been and it never will be. The only thing that matters now is that the New York Football Giants get back to their winning ways.

To get back to the postseason the Giants have a lot of proving themselves to do. They have to answer the bell and send a statement through the NFL, that this is a new Giants team. They have to prove that they can beat their division rivals. They have to prove that they can win the close games and they have to prove that their defense is good enough to win. The Giants can only answer these questions by producing on the football field. What are the burning questions that face this franchise and how will they answer them?

Next: Which Eli Manning Will We Get?

Nov 3, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) heads to the sideline after a three and out during the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

10. Which Eli Manning Will We Get?

Eli Manning is coming off one of his most dazzling seasons, at least from a statistical standpoint. In the 2014 season, Manning threw for 4,410 yards, 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Many assume that the Giants will get a career year from good old number 10, but you know what can happen to you when you assume. We must remember that inconsistency from Manning is something we always have to worry about. The 2013 season was an utter disaster and while Manning put up some big numbers, he also threw 27 interceptions.

Manning has had three different seasons in which he threw for 20 or more interceptions. It’s a pretty good bet that Manning will put up an elite number of passing yards, after all he always has and he has incredible weapons. But will Manning complete over 60 percent of his passes and will he keep his interception throwing in check?

Manning looked like a brand new quarterback in 2014. Surely he has had incredible seasons before. In 2011 he threw for almost 5,000 yards and was the Super Bowl MVP. But in McAdoo’s new offense, Manning looked refreshed, rejuvenated and sharpened. He was more precise, made better decisions and more methodical. The Giants have to really hope that they get the best version of Manning this season.

Next: Who Will Emerge As The Go-To Running Back?

Sep 8, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive end Alex Carrington (92) pursues New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen (34) during the fourth quarter at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Patriots beat the Bills 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

9. Who Will Emerge As The Go-To Running Back?

It is pretty clear at this point that the Giants plan to use a running back by committee strategy this season. Though every offense needs a featured running back, a star in the backfield that carries the heaviest burden, even if he has two other rushers carrying the rock. Between Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen and the youthful Andre Williams who will emerge as the go-to guy in the Giants backfield?

It is a fair question, because no back in this trio has ever been a superstar. While they are all good role players, they have never been the main attraction for an NFL offense. While the Giants don’t really need an Adrian Peterson type rusher, they need somebody they can count on. The Giants running back group is filled with complementary pieces, where is the star?

Jennings biggest season in the NFL was with the Oakland Raiders in 2013 when he rushed for 733 yards. The often injured Jennings has never been a bell cow. Vereen never really had the opportunity to be the main rusher while he was a member of the New England Patriots. Vereen found his niche, being a receiving running back. Andre Williams showed promise in his rookie season last year, but turned a minimal amount of heads. The point is that while the Giants have plenty of help at the running back position, they may not have a go-to guy.

Next: Can Key Players Stay Healthy?

Oct 10, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Giants outside linebacker Jon Beason (52) during the second half at Soldier Field. The Bears beat the Giants 27-21. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

8. Can Key Players Stay Healthy

The Giants had a slew of injuries in the 2014 season that contributed to their failure. The Giants lost three players in particular that were essential to their success. The Giants lost Geoff Schwartz, Jon Beason and the explosive Victor Cruz due to season ending injuries. Can these key players return to the Giants starting lineups? The better question is can they stay there?

Of these three players nobody is more important to the Giants right now than Schwartz. The Giants have already lost their starting left tackle in Will Beatty for 5-6 months, their right guard has never been so crucial. Schwartz is one of the best run blockers in football. Last season without him the Giants run game struggled mightily. This season he needs to stay on the field for the Giants.

Cruz returning to the offense will allow the Giants to steal the sleep of many a defensive coordinator this season. Cruz could very well be the difference between a good offense and a great offense. Beason is crucially important for the Giants. Beason provides great run defense, veteran savvy and leadership to the Giants. Beason has an injury history that has to make the Giants uneasy, especially when considering how indispensable he remains.

Next: 7. Can The Giants Stop The Run?

Sep 8, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Giants outside linebacker Jon Beason (52) against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

7. Can The Giants Stop The Run?

You have heard me bring up this stat many times before because it irks me that badly; the Giants allowed 4.9 yards per carry in the 2014 season. I don’t think people truly understand how pivotal stopping the run is in football. It may be a passing league, but everything starts with run defense. If you cannot stop the run you, the offense can do pretty much whatever it wants. There is a reason a linebacker’s first step is always forwards, there is a reason why the linebacker is always in attack mode. Run defense is critically important and the Giants need to prove that they can excel at it.

The Giants in theory should be able to stop the run. Jonathan Hankins, Cullen Jenkins and Kenrick Ellis should be dominant forces inside. Jon Beason (if injury free) can make plays in the backfield as a true football headhunter. I think J.T Thomas will prove to be a big addition to the linebacker corps. Landon Collins is as physical a player as you will find in football. The Giants have the players, they just need to do it. Last season, Hankins was the one bright spot on a defensive line that underperformed. Linebackers were too busy fighting off blocks to succeed that being said they underperformed as well. The proof is in the putrid statistics from last season, the Giants stunk at run defense.

Will the Giants be able to stop the run in 2015? They still have to play against the Cowboys man driving offensive line twice per season. They still have to see DeMarco Murray twice per season although against the Eagles this season. The Giants have plenty of good running teams on their schedule. If the Giants cannot stop the run this season the Giants defense will continue to struggle getting offenses off the field.

Next: 6. How Will Landon Collins Do In His Rookie Season?

Aug 30, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Jordan Thompson (10) is hit by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Landon Collins (26) as he tries to catch a pass in the fourth quarter of the 2014 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

6. How Will Landon Collins Do In His Rookie Season?

Collins is one of the most exciting rookies the Giants have ever had. Collins has truly game changing talent. With good speed, great acceleration and the trait of taking great pursuit angles, Collins is a player that is always ready to attack. He is an Alabama Crimson Tide product, which means he has a high football IQ and he was coached by the very best the college level offers, in Nick Saban and Kirby Smart.

That being said, Collins has a big jump to the NFL game in front of him. At Alabama he was essentially an extra linebacker, he played mostly as an in the box safety. That wasn’t because he was limited to that role by his ability, that’s because that’s what the Alabama coaching staff wanted from him. Collins has coverage skills and athletic ability to make a gigantic impact in pass coverage. He even has great instincts and play recognition which allows him to jump routes and make plays. That being said he is a raw prospect in a lot of ways.

I am a huge Collins fan; watching Alabama football is always fun and I saw a lot of potential in Collins. It will be interesting how the Giants play Collins in 2015. He will be a great player and he will have a great career, but it is important not to expect to much from him, too early.

Next: Can Ereck Flowers Be The Left Tackle

Sep 28, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes offensive linesman Ereck Flowers (74) against the South Florida Bulls during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Miami Hurricanes defeated the South Florida Bulls 49-21. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

5. Can Ereck Flowers Be The Left Tackle?

You know it always kind of annoys me when people make the left tackle position seem like the only important position on the offensive line but there is a reason there is such a premium on the left tackle position. The left tackle protects the quarterback’s blind side. With the Giants pass happy offense, the left tackle position is critically important. Can rookie Ereck Flowers fill this important position?

The offensive line was one of the Giants struggling areas last season. It was abysmal at times and was the clear weakness of the Giants talented offense. Manning needs protection and the run game needs a boost from good blocking. Flowers will be asked to carry a heavy responsibility in his rookie season. The problem is that the Giants really need Flowers to be capable of this, the problem of the Beatty injury kind of works itself out if Flowers can fill in adequately.

Flowers is a little bit raw as a pass protector but there is no questioning his ability to dominate as a run blocker. He was arguably the best run blocking offensive lineman in college football last season. In the ideal situation, Flowers would begin his NFL career on the right side but in this reality the Giants need to see if he can play left tackle.

Next: 4. Can The Giants Defeat Division Rivals?

Oct 19, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) throws prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

4. Can The Giants Defeat Division Rivals?

The Dallas Cowboys have swept the Giants two seasons in a row. The Giants have lost 7 of their last 10 meetings with the Philadelphia Eagles. Sorry Washington Redskins, nobody is worried about you so you aren’t included in this conversation. The Giants need to prove that they can beat the two division rivals who have had their number in recent history.

The Giants get to start off the season on Sunday Night Football against the Cowboys. It is an opportunity to do something special; they must break the Cowboys win streak over them and send a statement to the football world. The Giants have had big performances against the Cowboys in their last four meetings, despite losing all of them. Manning had three touchdown passes in both games against the Cowboys last season.

If the Giants are going to be taken seriously in 2015 they must prove it against division rivals like the Cowboys and Eagles. The Eagles shut the Giants out 27-0 in their first meeting of 2014. The Eagles also snuck away with a win in the finale of the regular season. There is plenty of revenge to be had for the Giants this season against their division rivals.

Next: 3. Will Larry Donnell Become An Elite Tight End?

Nov 16, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants tight end Larry Donnell (84) can not make a touchdown catch during the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

3. Will Larry Donnell Become An Elite Tight End?

With a huge 6-6 265 pound frame and crazy athleticism there is no reason that Donnell can’t become the next Rob Gronkowski, or Jimmy Graham type player. Donnell has the physical attributes to make him unstoppable. Last season was his first year as the starting tight end and his game has a lot of room for growth. The Giants tight end has a chance to be one of the premier players in all of football.

Last season Donnell had 63 receptions for just over 600 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns. In his third season out of Grambling State it is time for Donnell to show that he is an elite playmaker in the NFL. He had two problems in 2014. He struggled to protect the football as a ball carrier and he had four fumbles. Donnell also was inconsistent, he had games where he was Manning’s go to guy (like his three touchdown performance against Washington) and he had games where he completely disappeared.

With elite playmakers around Donnell, could he step up and be the difference maker for the Giants? Can he take advantage of the tight coverage of his teammates Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz? Donnell certainly has the talent to be a superstar, it is time to see it week in and week out.

Next: 2. Which Jason Pierre-Paul Will We Get?

Nov 17, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) runs back an interception against the Green Bay Packers for a touchdown during the fourth quarter of a game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

2. Which Jason Pierre-Paul Will We Get?

Lets face facts, Jason Pierre-Paul is either dominant or disappointing and there is nothing really in between. That’s because Pierre-Paul has a rare skill-set that should allow him to dominate on a regular basis off the edge but we don’t always see it. Playing under a franchise tag deal, will Pierre-Paul be motivated and perform to his peak level?

Pierre-Paul is coming off a 12.5 sack season which seems pretty amazing. But when you consider that 8.5 of those sacks came in the last five games of the season, you wonder why he can’t perform like that all the time. In 2013 Pierre-Paul got hurt and only had two sacks. But he played in 11 games so it’s still disappointing. The Giants value Pierre-Paul as a potential game changer after all he had 16.5 sacks in the 2011 season.

Pierre Paul wants to be valued like a top flight defensive end and in many ways he is. The problem is that when you seem to have an on and off switch, when you go from unstoppable to easily stoppable, how are the Giants supposed to pay you for only the good things? Pierre-Paul’s true capability is that 16.5 sack season, in fact it may even be higher. It wasn’t an aberration, it wasn’t a fluke, it was him playing consistently to his ability. Will the Giants get that from Pierre-Paul this season?

Next: 1. Will The Giants Make The Postseason

Dec 28, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) reacts against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

1. Will The Giants Make The Postseason?

The goal of the season is always to win the Super Bowl but the Giants need to take it one step at a time. This is a team that understands better than most, that if you get into the postseason anything can happen. The Giants just need to get to the playoffs and all their dreams, all the desires of the fans can become a reality. Will the Giants be able to do this? Can they make the postseason and give themselves a shot at the lasting glory of the Lombardi Trophy?

The Giants will certainly have their work cut out for them. They have to answer each of these questions on the field before we will really know who they are. They have to get the best possible version of Manning. They must find some balance in the running game. They must stop the run and their key players must stay healthy.

The Giants need Larry Donnell to step up and become the elite player he so surely can be. The Giants need to see if Ereck Flowers will be the great left tackle they hope him to be and they need to find out right away. The Giants need to prove that they can beat their division rivals to get to the playoffs. This team has the capability to be special. I guess it all boils down to one question Giants Nation. Come September can this team make us believe in magic again?

Next: New York Giants: Predicting 5 Key Contributors

More from GMEN HQ