The 2012 New York Giants finished 9-7, the same record as they posted in 2011. The result was very different, however, as the Super Bowl champions found themselves out of the playoffs for the third time in four years. A younger roster will take their field in 2013, and hope they can return to the organization's winning ways.
Statistically it was a down year for Eli Manning, but the nine-year veteran quarterback is in his prime. In the past it was easy to write off the younger Manning as the "clutch" one, but lacking gaudy regular season statistics. While Eli's name may not be on as many records as Peyton's, he's shown a knack in recent years to protect the ball, lead the Giants with more poise and fight through adversity. Last year this adversity manifested as lacking a healthy Hakeem Nicks, which put a damper on the team's passing attack. Now Nicks is back, but other offensive changes could have a large effect on the offense this year.
On defense the Giants took an unexpected step back. Jason Pierre-Paul was ineffective for the first time in his career, registering just 6.5 sacks and 24 tackles -- the lowest since his rookie season. This helped contribute to a faltering defense that once again allowed a lot of yards, but uncharecteristically lacked a punch in their pass rush, falling to 22nd in sacks.
Head coach Tom Coughlin faces the biggest challenge of his tenure in New York -- handling a roster turnover, and installing young players while trying to get the Giants back to dominance.
Retaining wide receiver Victor Cruz was the most important step in keeping a semblance of continuity for Eli Manning and the offense. In locking up the team's most productive wide receiver they ensured they can stretch the field, and that is much-needed on a team with turnover at other key offensive positions.
Starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw left for the Indianapolis Colts, and took over 1,000 yards rushing with him. Bradshaw was often maligned by the Giants' fan base for his inconsistency and ball control issues, but he was a reliable back on a team that's had one for the better part of a decade. The focus now changes to Andre Brown and second-year back David Wilson -- who showed promising flashes as a rookie -- but it's unclear whether he can be an every-down back.
The passing attack will rely on Hakeem Nicks returning to form. Rueben Randle was a non-factor during his rookie season, and reliable third option Domenik Hixon has left for the Carolina Panthers. One might be tempted to overvalue the loss of Martellus Bennett, the 600-yard tight end who caught five touchdowns in 2012. However, the Giants believe they've found an upgrade in Brandon Myers, who comes to New York from Oakland where he broke out last year with over 800 receiving yards on a woeful Raiders offense.
Most surprising are the team's defensive changes, particularly on the defensive line. Long-standing veteran defensive end Osi Umenyiora is headed to the NFC South where he'll play for the Falcons, while defensive tackle Chris Canty joins the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Cullen Jenkins will replace Canty at tackle, which is a lateral move -- but New York will need to hope they can find a rotational defensive end who can fill the large void vacated by Umenyiora.
Training camp location and schedule
Camp will once again be held at the Timex Performance Center at the Meadowlands. Practices are free and open to the public, and will begin on Saturday, June 27th.
|Saturday||July 27, 2013||1:30-3:45 p.m.||Practice|
|Sunday||July 28, 2013||1:30-3:45 p.m.||Practice (Autograph Day)|
|Monday||July 29, 2013||1:30-3:45 p.m.||Practice|
|Tuesday||July 30, 2013||1:30-3:45 p.m.||Practice|
|Wednesday||July 31, 2013||No Practice|
|Thursday||August 1, 2013||1:30-3:45 p.m.||Practice|
|Friday||August 1, 2013||1:30-3:45 p.m.||Practice|
|Saturday||August 3, 2013||1:30-3:45 p.m.||Practice|
|Sunday||August 4, 2013||Closed to the Public|
|Monday||August 5, 2013||No Practice|
|Tuesday||August 6, 2013||1:30-3:45 p.m.||Practice|
|Wednesday||August 7, 2013||1:30-3:45 p.m.||Practice|
|Thursday||August 8, 2013||1:30-3:45 p.m.||Practice|
|Friday||August 9, 2013||No Practice|
|Saturday||August 10, 2013||Giants at Steelers 7:30 p.m.|
|Sunday||August 11, 2013||No Practice||Players' Day Off|
|Monday||August 12, 2013||1:30-3:45 p.m.||Practice|
|Tuesday||August 13, 2013||1:30-3:45 p.m.||Practice|
|Wednesday||August 14, 2013||1:30-3:45 p.m.||Practice|
|Thursday||August 15, 2013||No Practice|
|Friday||August 16, 2013||1:30-3:45 p.m.||Practice|
|Saturday||August 17, 2013||No Practice|
|Sunday||August 18, 2013||Colts vs. Giants 7:00 p.m.|
|Monday||August 19, 2013||No Practice|
|Tuesday||August 20, 2013||3:25-5:25 p.m.||Practice|
|Wednesday||August 21, 2013||1:30-3:45 p.m.||Practice (Fan Access Concludes)|
Third wide receiver
The Carolina Panthers and New York Giants swapped No. 3 receivers, as Louis Murphy arrives in New York to replace Domenik Hixon. In order to win playing time he'll be battling second-year player Rueben Randle who had flashes like his 82-yard game against the Cleveland Browns, but didn't show a lot of consistency in 2012.
Murphy has the ability to stretch the field, but showed a propensity to drop easy passes when needed. The Giants will give Randle ample opportunity to win the job, hoping he can show enough to be a long-term replacement for Hakeem Nicks, who's a free agent following the season. However, there are no guarantees he'll develop enough this offseason to hold off the veteran receiver.
David Diehl is rightfully penciled in as the team's starter, but it's clear the Giants have a desire to move forward with youth on their offensive line after selecting Justin Pugh with the 19th overall pick in the draft.
This battle depends on where the Giants decide is the right place for Pugh in his rookie season. There have been some reports that the team could use him at left guard, or even see if he can play left tackle. However, as it stands he's seen as the backup right tackle and with a good camp he could push the 32-year-old Diehl for the starting job.
The ties between the Giants and Panthers continue as 2012 starter Chase Blackburn left for Carolina to play a backup role, and primarily serve on special teams. In his place arrived Dan Connor, the former third-round pick of Carolina, who left the organization when he was unable to find playing time at middle linebacker with Jon Beason.
Connor has the inside track for the job, but he'll be pushed heavily by former UDFA Mark Herzlich. Coming off a 30-tackle season that saw Herzlich play in 16 games, the chance to start may be slim -- but he'll get opportunities. In his single game as a starter he registered an impressive eight tackles against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and while Connor had moments in Dallas, he failed to live up to expectations.