A Look Toward What 2014 May Have In Store For The Giants
As we embark on the final month of the 2013 regular season, teams around the league are gearing up for the home stretch, fantasy owners are preparing for the start of the playoffs, and that inevitable first round loss that makes them say "I'm never playing fantasy football again" until they completely forget how much they hate it eight months later. Other teams are looking a little further into the distance towards the draft and retooling for next season.
It's never too early to begin thinking about next year, especially for the Giants — a team that has a lot of holes to plug up in the offseason. Some of those areas that need vast improvement over the offseason are the same areas that were discussed going into this season and were put in the spotlight this year. Other issues popped up along the way over the course of the Giants' disappointing 2013 campaign.
So which positions do the Giants need to improve for 2014?
Well, the most glaring need at the moment seems to be the offensive line. The poor offensive line play has been the major story of the season for the Giants and a huge contributor to the team's devastating 0-6 start. Eli Manning has spent a solid portion of this season on his back counting the stars, tucking his shoulder pads back in his jersey after getting drilled into the turf, or just staring off at the sidelines like a deer in the headlights after throwing yet another third down pass at the feet of a receiver. He's been sacked the most out of any quarterback in the league so far this season, he's on pace for the highest turnover total of his career, and he's headed toward his worst statistical season since his rookie year — and it's all because his offensive line has not been able to sufficiently protect him.
The left side of the line with Will Beatty and Kevin Boothe has been a revolving door all season, and Manning hasn't had time to do much of anything. Whether the Giants choose to add more offensive line help through the draft like they did last year, or whether they reach into the free agent bin and sign a veteran to add some experience to the line and provide a shield for Manning, the O-line is the first issue that the team must address before the start of the 2014 season if they hope to keep their franchise quarterback in one piece.
Besides the offensive line, the Giants would also be smart to address the running back position as well. Despite the fact that they seemed set at this position before the season started with the combo of David Wilson and Andre Brown, things changed this season. Wilson's unfortunate injury has left his future in doubt, as the extent of the injury's severity is still unclear. Although Brown has played superbly in the few games he's played this season after returning from his injury, the Giants may want to add another veteran presence in the backfield through free agency to shore up the position for the immediate future, especially since we all know how important a solid and dependable running game is to the success of the franchise.
While they're at it, it probably wouldn't hurt to add another weapon for Manning at the wide receiver position. Hakeem Nicks' future with the team is uncertain beyond this season, especially after his lackluster 2013 performance, and if he does end up leaving in free agency, adding another receiver to fill his spot would be smart. With Victor Cruz clearly emerging as the team's No. 1 receiver this season and Rueben Randle developing nicely as a second or third option, Manning could use a big, fast target to catch the deep ball like Plaxico Burress used to do and like Nicks also did before this season.
As far as the defense goes, they don't as much help as we thought they did before this season began. The defensive line has played well this season, despite a mostly ineffective pass rush. The run defense has been solid with the big bodies of Linval Joseph, Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson clogging up the middle, and Justin Tuck has also quietly had himself a decent year as well. With Jason Pierre-Paul returning to his unstoppable ways next season (at least according to him) and a newly improved linebacking corps thanks to the great addition of tackle machine Jon Beason, the front seven seems to be closer to regaining its swagger.