The Giants offense did not play up to its potential this season. That much is clear to anyone who watched the team play regularly in 2013. Quarterback Eli Manning threw less than 20 touchdown passes for the first time since his rookie season while setting a career high with 27 interceptions. Meanwhile, a cavalcade of halfbacks averaged just 3.5 yards per carry. Second-year man David Wilson was shockingly ineffective before his season was ended by a neck injury. Andre Brown showed some of last year’s promise, but his season was shortened by injury as well.
Rueben Randle had a breakout campaign, but the veterans Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks struggled to connect with Manning while the quarterback was hurried often thanks to porous line play.
It’s hard to specify one thing that the Giants need to improve on offense before Week 1 of 2014. There’s so much that went wrong.
“I think our offense is broken right now and we need to fix that,” said Giants President and CEO John Mara on Monday. “We just never seemed to be able to protect Eli well enough or get a ground game going well enough and that to me is the number one personnel priority going into the offseason, is we need to improve the offensive line.”
The line is a good place to start because it can affect both the passing game and the running game. In fact the line might be the only change made to the passing game this spring because despite New York’s struggles, the team is still very talented at wide receiver. Even if Hakeem Nicks doesn’t return in 2014, there is still plenty of untapped potential in Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan. Plus, the club is still very happy with Manning as the quarterback.
“I think with Eli, sometimes he tries to do too much,” said Mara. “He competes so hard out there and he has so much confidence in his ability to get the ball into certain areas that, unfortunately, he makes mistakes sometimes, but I still have every confidence in him.”
That confidence might start to wane a bit if Manning’s poor play carries over to next season. For now, though, the Giants feel that he can return to playing at a championship level like he’s done for most of his career. If that happens, a banged-up offensive line might be the only thing between New York and a 2014 playoff berth.
“This is a lifelong thing with me and we’re going to do what we have to do, but we’re going to do it in an intelligent fashion," noted Mara. "We’re not going to make these sweeping changes. Stability is important. It’s one of the reasons we’ve had some success here, but there are times when changes have to be made.”