By Evan Biancardi
The Giants finished the 2016 season with an 11-5 record, good enough for second in the division behind the Dallas Cowboys. Depending on who you ask, some Giants fans will tell you that they felt like last season was a success, but others will tell you the opposite. While the team was able to attain the top wild card spot in the conference, its inability to score against weak defensive teams proved costly, as the Giants able to post only 13 points in their first playoff game since their Super Bowl victory in 2011.
While Odell Beckham Jr. finished the year third in the league in receiving yards, his shaky start to the season attracted a media frenzy that followed the superstar throughout the entire season. Part of his struggles were due to another inconsistent season by veteran quarterback Eli Manning. Manning finished the regular season with 16 interceptions and a 55.4 quarterback rating to go along with a poor postseason performance in which he threw only one touchdown and recorded two turnovers. While the game included several dropped passes, Manning was unable to take advantage of the Packers’ weak secondary.
Manning is not all to blame, though. The Giants were plagued with poor running backs and an offensive line that couldn’t protect the quarterback nor create any running lanes. Considering their defense was one of the best in the league, the Giants’ primary focus this offseason should be to protect Manning.
Manning wasn’t given enough time to incorporate the deep ball, and because of their weak running game, the Giants were forced to resort to short gains. Because of this and their inability to execute offensively, the Giants finished 26th in the league in total offensive yards-per-game and they failed to average over 20 points per game. The offense certainly didn’t live up to the hype, but considering they had no running backs or offensive line and their receiving core consisted of a rookie and a banged-up veteran, it shouldn’t be a surprise that things wound up the way they did.
Looking forward to next season, the Giants have many options to consider. After offering the franchise tag to defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, it’s time to look towards improving the offense. They have the 23rd pick in this year’s draft, and it would be wise for them to use that pick to draft an offensive lineman. As far as running back, there are many free agents that’ll become available this month. Superstars like Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles are scheduled to hit the open market, as are solid running backs like Eddie Lacy, LeGarrette Blount and Latavius Murray.
Regardless of what the Giants decide to do, or how and when they decide to do it, it’s safe to assume that the offense should be their biggest priority heading into the spring and summer months. If they are able to give Manning some protection and take some of the load off of him and his receivers, don’t be surprised to see them and their defense back in the postseason.