Who will Tom Coughlin and the rest of the Giants coaching staff be paying extra attention to during the 2013 season?
The New York Giants will officially begin the second phase of their offseason on Friday with the start of the minicamp for rookies. Also, their roster is rounding into form with the draft completed and free agency winding down.
The 2013 season is starting to feel like a reality and not just a distant dream. Now is a great time to take a look at some Big Blue veterans that have been put on notice this offseason due to various moves made by their employer.
The players on the following slides are ordered by least to most surprising that they have been put on notice.
It is not at all a surprise that Diehl is the first player on this list.
He was officially put on notice for the 2013 season after the Giants' final game of the 2012 season, and events during the offseason only solidified his dubious place on this team.
His poor play last season is what put him on notice so quickly. Diehl was largely ineffective in the 13 games he played at right tackle, as witnessed by his minus-6.8 Pro Football Focus rating. This rating ranked him 60th out of the 80 offensive tackles graded (playing 25 percent of their team’s offensive snaps was the minimum criteria to get graded).
A deeper dive into the numbers shows that he was especially poor at pass-blocking. In only 487 snaps, Diehl allowed 19 quarterback hurries, seven hits and four sacks.
The 10-year veteran doesn’t figure to improve his play in 2013, since he will turn 33 a few weeks into the season. Offensive linemen usually only get worse once they head towards their mid-30s.
The combination of his age and poor 2012 performance was a big reason why he took a significant pay cut back in late March.
Diehl was in jeopardy of becoming a permanent backup (he started 10 of 13 games last season) even before the Giants selected Syracuse offensive lineman Justin Pugh in the first round of the draft.
While Pugh appears to be better suited as a guard in the NFL, if the Giants want their top draft pick to play immediately, right tackle is certainly the best option. Both of Big Blue’s starting guards in 2012, Chris Snee and Kevin Boothe, performed well, so the Giants would be reluctant to replace them with the rookie.
Even if Diehl isn’t supplanted by Pugh, James Brewer, the Giants' fourth-round selection in 2011, will certainly get a chance to overtake him.
Diehl’s days as a starter for the Giants certainly look to be coming to an end.
Webster’s performance last season was probably worse then Diehl’s. He also took a pay cut and faces increased competition in the secondary, like Diehl does for his right tackle position.
The reason Diehl’s inclusion on this list is less surprising is that Webster has a better chance of bouncing back in 2013, since he is still relatively young at 31 years old.
Webster is certainly under the microscope, though, after a dreadful 2012 campaign. His performance last season garnered him a minus-11.3 PFF rating, which was better than only three of the 113 cornerbacks that were graded (the same 25 percent team snaps criteria used for the offensive tackles was applied here as well).
When you look at how wide receivers abused him in 2012, this low ranking definitely makes sense.
Webster allowed 988 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. Only one other player, New Orleans’ Patrick Robinson, allowed more touchdowns. Washington’s DeAngelo Hall and Robinson were the only cornerbacks to give up more receiving yards.
By comparison, he only surrendered 783 yards receiving and five touchdowns in 2011 and a paltry 309 yards and one touchdown in his best season, 2008.
Webster’s reign as the Giants' top cornerback figures to be over. Prince Amukamara will likely draw the other team’s top wideout this upcoming season, a task that fell on Webster for most of the last five years.
The eight-year veteran could even find himself out of a starting job if he doesn’t impress in training camp. Second-year player Jayron Hosley is certainly a candidate to start opposite Amukamara, and even old friend Aaron Ross, who is back for a second stint with Big Blue, could overtake Webster.
Boothe is certainly not on this list because of his 2012 performance.
In his first season as a full-time starter, the seven-year veteran held down the left guard spot more than adequately over 16 games. He earned a 9.2 PFF rating and did not draw one penalty the entire season.
Despite his stellar 2012 campaign, Boothe still should sleep with one eye open in 2013.
For starters, the Giants were only willing to offer Boothe a one-year deal worth less than seven figures. This is a strange lack of commitment for a player who is coming off a career year and will only be 30 at the start of the season.
Also, the presence of Pugh is certainly a factor, especially considering that he will likely be a better fit at guard.
If Boothe struggles at all in the early going, replacing him with Pugh won’t be a difficult decision, considering the latter’s draft position and the former’s backup-level contract.
His one advantage to regain a spot in the starting lineup, if Pugh overtakes him, is his versatility.
Boothe can play either guard position, as well as center. With Snee and current starting center David Baas both going under the knife earlier this year, it would not be a surprise to see either guy miss time in 2013. This is especially true since both players are on the wrong side of 30.
If an injury sidelines either player, Boothe will likely be called upon to step in.
There was a time, after Michael Strahan retired following the 2007 season and Jason Pierre-Paul burst onto the scene in 2011, that Tuck was the best defensive lineman on the Giants.
Those days are well into the rearview mirror.
After recording 11.5 sacks and six forced fumbles in 2010, he only compiled nine sacks and one forced fumble combined in 2011 and 2012.
Outside of a stretch during the Giants' latest Super Bowl run when he had 5.5 sacks in six games, playoffs included, Tuck has looked like a shell of his former, dominant self.
With his skills seemingly eroding, the Giants' defensive captain will also have to deal with increased competition at defensive end this upcoming season.
Also, the Giants selected a defensive end in the third round of the draft, Damontre Moore out of Texas A&M. Moore certainly won’t start right away, but he could become a fixture on obvious passing downs if he demonstrates an ability to get to the quarterback in training camp and early in the season.
The presence of newly signed defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins may cut into Tuck’s playing time as well. Jenkins’ ability to get to the quarterback (four sacks and 25 QB hurries in 2012 with the Philadelphia Eagles) should allow the Giants to leave him in on 3rd-and-long situations.
In recent years, the Giants liked to load the line with defensive ends on 3rd-and-long, usually with a combination of Tuck, Pierre-Paul, Umenyiora and Kiwanuka moving down from linebacker.
Tuck only saw 14 more snaps in 2012 compared to 2011, despite playing in three more games (he suited up for 15 games last year and 12 the year before). He will likely continue to see fewer snaps per game unless he can somehow regain the Pro Bowl form that has been missing for the better part of two years.
Snee being put on notice is a surprise since he has been a mainstay on the Giants offensive line for nearly a decade and is coming off another excellent season in 2012.
The four-time Pro Bowler had a 12.8 PFF rating last season, which tied for 13th-best among guards with San Diego’s Louis Vasquez.
Snee’s inclusion on this list is based solely on the hip surgery he had in February and the Pugh factor. If he is slow to return or loses some of his mobility and effectiveness due to the surgery, the rookie will definitely have an opportunity to overtake him.
As of late March, Snee was very positive about his recovery, so he could be ready to continue the Pro Bowl-caliber play he displayed last season.
The nine-year veteran’s health is something to monitor throughout the remainder of the offseason. It will also be interesting to see if he is able to fully participate in training camp from Day 1.
It seems ridiculous to declare Manning on notice, but it’s the truth, as shocking and unexpected as it may be.
When you’re a two-time Super Bowl MVP and your team trades up to select a quarterback in the fourth round, it is certainly going to grab your attention.
Manning is saying all the right things in the aftermath of the Ryan Nassib selection. But it has to annoy him at some level that the Giants are publicly stating that they made the pick to protect against their franchise quarterback getting injured and because his football mortality is worth discussing at this point in his career.
Consider this quote from Giants owner John Mara, courtesy of CBSSports.com:
We've been very, very fortunate that Eli has been healthy for so long, has not missed a snap in I don't know how long, but you have to get ready to groom somebody just in case. The guy was a quality player in college. We think he has what it takes to be a quality player in the NFL. To me, it was an obvious choice for us. He was so high on our board that we expected him to be gone on the first or second day, and we were shocked that he was still there on the third day.
Mara’s analysis is faulty considering that Manning has never missed a game since taking over as the Giants starting quarterback midway through the 2004 season. Also, at 32 years old, he probably has at least three elite-level seasons left.
The real reason for the pick—which the Giants aren’t discussing publicly—is that they probably hope to trade Nassib in the future in exchange for something more valuable than the fourth-round pick they used to select him.
Still, all Manning can go by is what the Giants are telling the media.
Expect him to be a little extra motivated this season to prove that Nassib won’t be taking his job, due to injury or deteriorating skills, for a very long time, if ever.
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