The New York Giants, the NFL, and any media outlet spent the entire 2010 offseason talking about how terrible the Giants' defense was in 2009. Justifiably so, considering they suffered a ton of injuries leading to eight losses in 11 games.
What they haven't talked about, however, is the possibility of a top three offense emerging in 2010 and almost certainly one ranked in the top 10.
Before you practically rip the wheel off your mouse as you scroll down to comment, read my points and then form an opinion.
Eli Manning is coming off the best year in his career, where the running game was the worst it has been since he took over the team. This is the same person who supposedly did not possess the ability to take over an offense due to his awful decision making and inconsistent play.
No quarterback in the NFL wants to be associated with that phrase, so Eli erased any notion of it the only way he knew how—showing his improvement on the field.
Eli had career bests in yards (4021), touchdowns (27), completion percentage (62.3), and QB rating (93.1). Amazingly enough, his QB rating wasn't even in the top 10 last year, but it was still a very impressive mark.
It appears the Giants' coaching staff is content with turning over the reigns of the offense to Eli, and he has responded beautifully.
No quarterback is worth anything without a host of receivers to spread the ball to, and Eli's targets are not to be taken lightly.
Steve Smith had arguably one of the greatest seasons by a Giant wide receiver in 2009. He took Amani Toomer's single season receptions record and laughed at it, surpassing his total by 26 receptions.
His combination of speed, precise route running, and hands like vacuums make him one of the best possession receivers in the league
Hakeem Nicks took the starting job away from Mario Manningham, but that is mainly because Manningham works much better in the slot, and Nicks is more of a deep threat.
Nicks should be able to open up the offense to the same degree that Plaxico Burress did when he was on the team, forcing defenses to double cover him and making it easy on the run game.
As good as the weapons for Eli were last year, there are still two who did not get an opportunity to shine in the actual games.
2009 third round pick Ramses Barden had an outstanding training camp last year, but obviously did not do enough to convince Tom Coughlin he was ready for the real deal. If he has another training camp like 2009 in 2010, be ready for him to step in and be a deadly red zone target for Eli.
The same can be said for Travis Beckum, who also did not get much of an opportunity because his blocking needed work. If the Giants can find a way to package him into the offense, we could be looking at a pass attack that rivals any other team's in the league.
That leads me to the rushing attack.
The Giants had been a perennial powerhouse when it came to running the football, but 2009 saw a changing of the guard.
Brandon Jacobs seemed content to protect his body ($$) and Ahmad Bradshaw was basically playing with one foot. Danny Ware was supposed to fill the void left by Derrick Ward, and even Andre Brown was expected to get some carries.
It seems like injuries hurt all four from the training camp roster, especially Ware and Brown, but if the Giants want to be champions, they had better stop using the injury excuse.
If Jacobs and company can come back and be the type of runners they are capable of being, then the Giants will sit atop the NFC once again.
Somehow I just don't see that happening for Jacobs. Bradshaw looks like he has more of the heart and determination to be the starter, which is fine with me. Maybe a demotion to goal line back is what Jacobs needs to get his act together.
The running attack hinges on other factors as well.
The offensive line began to look not so dominant last year as well, even though they did not suffer that many injuries to use as an excuse.
Kareem McKenzie could be looking at his last year in the NFL if he doesn't show improvement or stay off the injury report. Will Beatty is waiting to take over one of the tackle spots, and it will probably happen sooner rather than later.
The evolution of the NFL is such that you can now win a championship with a dominant passing attack and a complimentary running game (See 2006 Colts and 2009 Saints), instead of vice versa, which is the way it had been in the past (See 2000 Baltimore Ravens).
If the pieces come together, this is what we could be looking at for Big Blue in 2010.