Projecting the Ceiling, Floor for the New York Giants in 2014

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Projecting the Ceiling, Floor for the New York Giants in 2014
Associated Press
General manager Jerry Reese did a lot of rebuilding of the Giants roster for 2014. Is it enough to get the team back on track?

Just like that, we’re now less than one month away from the start of New York Giants training camp.

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It’s been an interesting offseason for the Giants who rightfully ended blowing up the roster and the offensive coaching staff following a disappointing 7-9 season. The goal, as it is every season, is to get to the playoffs.

For the Giants, that goal is as pressing as it’s ever been.

New York has missed the playoffs in four out of the last five seasons and have only managed to achieve double-digit wins once (in 2010) over that period.

Overall, they’ve gone 43-37 (.537) in the regular season over the last five years—decent but not exactly dominating.

More importantly, they’re going to look to reverse a trend in which they have gone 10-14 since Week 9 of the 2012 season.

Let’s look at what are the major reasons for hope and concern for the Giants in 2014.

 

Ceiling: Reason for Hope

The addition of new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is perhaps the biggest change made by the Giants in the offense and is one that could very well be the biggest factor in helping the Giants reach a high ceiling. 

What can a new offensive coordinator do for a team?

While certainly the defense and special teams have a significant influence in the outcome of games, the table ‘s data indicates that teams with a new offensive coordinators in 2013 combined to win 27 more games (an increase of 2.45 games per team) than they did the year prior.

Won-Loss Records of Teams with New OCs 2013
Team 2012 Record 2013 Record Win Difference
#Arizona 5-11 10-6 +5
#Buffalo 6-10 6-10 Even
Carolina 7-9 12-4* +5
#Chicago 10-6 8-8 -2
Denver 13-3* 13-3* Even
Indianapolis 11-5* 11-5* Even
#Jacksonville 2-14 4-12 +2
#Kansas City 2-14 11-5* +9
NY Jets 6-10 8-8 +2
Oakland 4-12 4-12 Even
#Philadelphia 4-12 10-6* +6

*Made the playoffs; #Part of a new coaching staff

McAdoo has promised an offensive scheme that is built on the fundamentals and that is going to have a sense of urgency. How many times did we see games lost last year that were filled with errors?

Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

Does anyone remember how in Week 2 how the Broncos came out of the gate with an up-tempo offense that the Giants defense couldn’t keep up with?

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that McAdoo’s new offense is going to be perfect right out of the chute—I think it could take maybe an extra week or two before the players really become comfortable with it.

However, if you’re looking for a reason why the Giants could potentially increase their won-loss record and hit a higher ceiling, I think you need not look any further than the addition of McAdoo, whose offense could propel the Giants to a 10-6 record this year.

 

Julio Cortez/Associated Press
The health of the offensive line is key to a successful 2014.

Floor: Reason for Concern

The biggest concern that can potentially send the Giants crashing to the floor is injuries.

Last season, Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News did a study of all 32 NFL teams’ injury reports, finding that the Giants had the highest number of games lost by starters due to injury (91) in the league. 

This year, general manager Jerry Reese took steps to address the depth at most of the positions on the roster, which is why the broken foot injury suffered by starting middle linebacker Jon Beason is a little less scary looking thanks to Jameel McClain being on board.

The one position, though, that Reese really didn’t thoroughly address is, ironically the same unit that last year was a huge catalyst in sending the Giants to their first losing season since 2004: the offensive line.

Yes, the Giants addressed the offensive interior, which was a big problem in 2013. Geoff Schwartz and J.D. Walton, at left guard and center respectively, represent a huge upgrade in talent.

Julio Cortez/Associated Press
Chris Snee might soon have to make a decision about his future.

At right guard, Reese said during a recent radio interview on WFAN that the “jury’s still out” regarding right guard Chris Snee, who was sidelined most of the spring while dealing with issues related to his surgically repaired elbow.

Presumably, Brandon Mosley, who took the bulk of the snaps at right guard in Snee’s absence, would be the next man up at that position should Snee not be able to proceed in his comeback.

The team also has been working with Weston Richburg, their second-round pick, at both guard positions in addition to center. My gut feeling though is that at some point later this season, Richburg is going to step in at center for Walton.

Right tackle is set, as offensive line coach Pat Flaherty told Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger that the team doesn’t see the need right now to experiment with moving Justin Pugh from his right tackle spot.

I don't see it in the near future but I guess you never say never, right? If you're asking me today, I don't foresee us moving him. You don't make change unless you have to do it. My vision right now is him being the right tackle.

So what about left tackle Will Beatty, who continues to recover from a broken leg?

I’ve mentioned this before, and will say so again, because it’s a concern. Whenever head coach Tom Coughlin has been asked about having Beatty back for training camp, he’s sounded unsure.

Uncredited/Associated Press

The most recent hint of doubt coming during Coughlin’s final press conference of the spring with reporters when he said of Beatty, “He seems like he’s making progress,” and that he was “hoping for” Beatty to be ready for training camp.

“Get to the point where he can go,” Coughlin said when asked what Beatty needs to do to be ready for training camp.

“I think he does a lot of things, he’s building himself up and so that’s basically where he is. He’s doing all the rehab, but on paper he wasn’t scheduled to go until training camp. We started out, he was doing some of the jog-through stuff and actually did pretty well but a lot of that was on air.”

Even Beatty, when he spoke to reporters in late April, didn’t sound sure when he might be able to return.

We haven’t sat down and been like, ‘OK, this date right here you’re doing this,’” he said. “It’s, ‘You did this today, let’s improve on it tomorrow and the next day. Let’s come back, let’s move forward and not have any setbacks.’

So let’s assume that Beatty starts training camp on the PUP list, which I believe will be the case.

Who, then, is the starting left tackle?

The Giants signed John Jerry and Charles Brown, both of whom are able to play left tackle, as insurance. However, they have their share of question marks as well.

Jerry has had his own injury issues to deal with, which include a scope of his knee that kept him out of the spring workouts.

Per a report by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com, Jerry could be facing time away from the field related to his alleged participation in the Miami Dolphins workplace harassment scandal.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Charles Brown had a rough 2013 season for the Saints. Can he bounce back for the Giants?

Brown, who, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), finished with a minus-10.2 overall grade, was benched by the Saints late last year. Bradley Handwerger of WWL-TV in New Orleans quoted Saints head coach Sean Payton as saying, “I saw enough, period. It was enough penalties, pressures, sacks. It was enough. At some point you can’t just keep watching it.”

Have things changed now that Brown has a fresh start with the Giants?

It’s too soon to say as really no one on the offense looked as comfortable as you’d like to see just yet, but it should be remembered that the Giants have only had 12 practices, which is not nearly enough time for a new offense to take root.  

Another possibility if Beatty isn’t ready, could be DeMarcus Love, whom the team added to its training camp roster at the end of the minicamp on what Over the Cap reported to be  a two-year contract

The bottom line is if the Giants offense is going to get back on track, the offensive line has to be solid. Right now, there are far too many unanswered questions on that unit.

The good news, though, is that with the early camp start and the extra preseason game, the Giants will have more time to find answers.

If the injuries become an issue again for the Giants, especially along the offensive line, New York could be looking at an 8-8 record.

 

Patricia Traina is the senior editor for Inside Football. All quotes and information obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow me on Twitter, @Patricia_Traina.

 

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