Justin Tuck needs to recapture the form he displayed during 2011's playoff run.
Following a disappointing 2012 season, several New York Giants players and coaches will be fighting for their jobs this fall. Concerns over age and deteriorating levels of success on Sundays are the preeminent factors in determining exactly how a player/coach's hot seat is warming up.
Gone are the days when Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning must answer to critics questioning their overall effectiveness. Still, some integral pieces of this organization are close to seeing their time come to an end.
General manager Jerry Reese's decision to get younger this offseason is an indication of things to come if the Giants cannot rebound from missing the playoffs in 2012.
Stalwarts such as Michael Boley, Chris Canty and Ahmad Bradshaw were released, in part to give way to younger players. This trend will continue on an even larger scale if veterans fail to live up to their contracts.
Along with aging players working towards remaining at peak levels are coordinators, who began to take some flak late last season due to lackluster performances down the stretch.
2013 will be a pivotal year for coaches and players alike.
The following five members of the New York Giants organization will need to elevate their game this season in order to keep their jobs.
Here is a closer look at five Giants with the most to prove this fall.
Webster was too inconsistent last season.
Veteran cornerback Corey Webster finds himself on this list for one very simple reason. He saved his worst for last in 2012.
This offseason the Giants restructured the contract of Webster, essentially signaling that he is not worth half of what he was being paid last year.
A renewed focus on proving the doubters wrong could propel Webster to have a bounce back 2013 season. He is only 31 years old and has the emerging Prince Amukamara beside him to shoulder the responsibility of being the No. 1 corner.
The Giants decision not to draft a cornerback shows their confidence in Webster's ability.
Some critics believe the Giants are rolling the dice by not simply cutting ties with the former LSU Tiger. Forgiving matchups and motivation to prove the doubters wrong, however, makes Webster a likely candidate to recapture his form.
Gilbride and Manning have been a successful tandem.
The easiest thing for a fan to do when watching a football game is question the decision-making and play-calling of an offensive coordinator.
That is exactly what I will do here.
Kevin Gilbride isn't quite on the hot seat at the moment. The talent at his disposal, however, means his job status is volatile at best.
New York ranked 14th in total offense last season. That type of middling form simply will not cut it in 2013. The Giants rely too heavily on their big-name skill players to be average on offense. In other words, this unit will need to be one of the best in order for Gilbride to keep his job.
The Giants have the weapons to be an explosive offense this season.
Often times, the only thing handcuffing a unit of this caliber is the offensive coordinator. This isn't to suggest Gilbride is incompetent, rather that the Giants may just need a fresh face on the sidelines.
In Gilbride's defense, the rapport he has with quarterback Eli Manning will be difficult to replace. The two have worked together since the Giants' signal-caller entered the league in 2004. Ultimately, the level of success achieved by New York's offense will be the only factor in determining Kevin Gilbride's future.
Tuck's leadership needs to translate on the field.
Nine combined sacks in the past two seasons have pushed Justin Tuck to the brink. The New York Giants' defensive leader is becoming more of a figurehead than anything at this point.
Tuck's output on the football field has been dismal of late. Injuries, motivation and age are a few of the excuses we've heard regarding his drop in performance.
The Giants have become so concerned with Tuck that general manager Jerry Reese met with him this offseason to discuss his role with the team.
It's astonishing to think that two years removed from Tuck's 11.5 sack season in 2010, the Giants have no idea what to expect from their defensive captain. Fortunately for New York, there is raw talent waiting to overtake the former third-round pick from 2005.
Limiting Tuck's snaps while allowing Damontre Moore, Adewale Ojomo and Adrian Tracy to fight for a rotational spot seems to be the most effective plan moving forward. Tuck makes up for his diminishing physical tools with an exceptional understanding in play recognition. This can effectively be complemented by placing a younger defensive end on the field during obvious passing situations.
Fewell's defense must improve.
There once was a time when Perry Fewell seemed like the obvious choice to take over for Tom Coughlin following his retirement. That ship sailed following the season-long underachieving act by New York's defense in 2012.
The Giants ranked 31st in total defense last season.
A repeat of that level of play likely will have Fewell being shown the door before the 2013 season even ends.
In fairness to the Giants' defensive coordinator, there are currently some major holes which have not been addressed adequately in the offseason.
Linebacker and cornerback are two positions lacking sufficient talent. This type of dilemma is something Fewell needs to work around if he intends on keeping his job.
The contrast in approach for each of New York's coordinators is startling. For Kevin Gilbride, the offense will need to be in the top-third of the league if he wants to stick around. The players on that side of the ball are too good to be average.
On defense, Fewell merely needs to field a mediocre defense to keep his job.
The Giants are no longer a feared defensive team. The low expectations for this unit in 2013 prove that much is true. If Fewell can get the most out of some of his younger players, expect him to stay off the hot seat.
New York still needs to get younger and more athletic up front.
David Diehl would have headed this list a year ago.
Because of his level of play in 2012, the Giants' offensive lineman failed to keep his starting job. This season, a pair of 31-year-old offensive linemen will need to show the coaching staff they have plenty left in the tank in order to avoid a similar fate.
Chris Snee and David Baas are each on the decline.
Snee was selected for the 2013 Pro Bowl (some would argue that fellow guard Kevin Boothe merited the spot over him), but he was forced to have hip surgery this offseason. There's a growing concern that eventually injuries will catch up to the three-time All-Pro guard.
David Baas has also had several bouts with injuries during his time in New York, most notably a banged-up neck.
Both Bass and Snee have yet to suit up this summer for the Giants.
Fortunately the team is prepared for the worst-case scenario. First-round draft pick Justin Pugh will most effectively take over for Diehl at right tackle, but his versatility allows Tom Coughlin to start him at all five positions.