As the Giants engage in the final preparations for their 2015-16 season opener versus the Dallas Cowboys on the road this Sunday night (8:30 p.m.), to date, the parts indeed equal the sum.
Coming off a horrific 6-10 season, the Giants have missed the playoffs for three consecutive campaigns in which they finished in second, third and third place, respectively, in the NFC East. They will be hard pressed to improve on any of those positions this season with the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys demonstrably the class of the division.
In quarterback Eli Manning and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., the offense possess two players who are in or border the NFL’s top third of their craft. Manning has two Super Bowl MVPs on his resume and remains a championship-caliber signal caller. Beckham, now in his second year, is a budding superstar who had one of the most prolific rookie seasons in league history.
But that’s where all certainties end. Victor Cruz, who rose to the upper echelon of football’s wide receivers, is coming back from a ruptured patellar tendon sustained 11 months ago and a subsequent calf strain incurred during training camp.
The running game, which will feature veteran Rashad Jennings, second year back Andre Williams and former New England Patriot Shane Vereen, will be asked to operate behind an offensive line that has yet to prove it can be a consistently solid unit. Without an effective rushing attack, Manning and Beckham will be asked to carry too heavy a burden.
On the other side of the ball, the Giants’ defense, empirically and statistically, was one of the worst in the NFL a year ago. With few evident personnel upgrades, several players, perhaps second-round pick Landon Collins, a talented safety from theUniversity of Alabama, will have to emerge for the group to make a significant leap forward.
Over the next 17 weeks, the Giants will experience a season of highs and lows and conclude with an 8-8 record, not good enough to end their playoff drought.