2_New York Giants2

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kind of production the Giants need from one of their highestprofile players. Now that Justin Tuck has moved on to the Raiders, the Giants have lost their defensive end depth and need Pierre-Paul to stand out, once again. There have been times during his career when he has looked practically unblockable, and he has had games in which he has dominated the opposition. That didn’t happen last year and must in 2014 for the Giants to contend. Giants Special Teams Kicker Josh Brown made 23-of-26 field goal tries last year, including 8-of-10 from 40-and-beyond. But that didn’t stop head coach Tom Coughlin from declaring the placement spot open and giving Brandon McManus a chance to take it. Even if Brown survives, he is on notice. Punter Steve Weatherford had a strong 46.9-yard average last year. The return game received a boost from the signings of Quintin Demps and Trindon Holliday. Demps averaged 30.1 yards per kickoff return last year with Kansas City and scored a touchdown, while Holliday had an 8.5- yard average bringing back punts for the Broncos and also took one the distance. He and Ruben Randle (8.2-yard average) should give the Giants a definite strength in that area. The Giants’ kick coverage unit was stout last year, so there isn’t any trouble there. The punt coverage group was awful, allowing three TDs and a 13.6-yard average. Prediction The Giants will be better than last year, but how much is the question. It’s hard to imagine Manning making so many mistakes, and the influx of newcomers brings proven talent to areas of concern. If Coughlin can bring it all together, the Giants will contend. If he can’t, it could be time for a change in the Meadowlands. SCOREBOARD 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 PLAYOFF FINISH - - SB - - WON-LOSS 7-9 9-7 9-7 10-6 8-8 POINTS/GAME 18.4 26.8 24.6 24.6 25.1 OPP POINTS/GAME 23.9 21.5 25.0 21.7 26.7 YARDS/GAME 307.5 355.4 385.1 380.3 366.0 YARDS/ALLOWED 332.3 383.4 376.4 311.9 324.9 TURNOVERS 44 21 24 42 31 TAKEAWAYS 29 35 31 39 24 Key Additions: RB Rashad Jennings, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, G Geoff Schwartz, OT Charles Brown, CB Walter Thurmond, C J.D. Walton, G John Jerry, WR Mario Manningham, S Quintin Demps, WR Trindon Holliday, QB Josh Freeman Key Subtractions: WR Hakeem Nicks, CB Terrell Thomas, CB Aaron Ross, TE Bear Pascoe, G Kevin Boothe, RB Andre Brown, DE Justin Tuck, LB Keith Rivers, DT Linval Joseph, S Ryan Mundy Rookies: WR Odell Beckham Jr., C Weston Richburg, DT Jay Bromley, RB Andre Williams, S Nate Berhe, LB Devon Kennard, CB Bennett Jackson Jason Pierre-Paul AL BELLO/GETTY IMAGES SPORT Giants Defense With Justin Tuck and his team-high 11 sacks gone to Oakland, the front four faces more pressure, since its depth had been compromised. Neither Jason Pierre-Paul nor Mathias Kiwanuka stood out last year, although Pierre-Paul missed five games, due to injury. Still, they combined for eight sacks from the end positions last year and must improve this year for the Giants to put enough pressure on the passer. Veteran Cullen Jenkins handles one tackle spot and performed well last year against the pass, as usual. Mike Patterson is the other starter inside but started just once last year. The big change in the linebacking corps is the arrival of Devon Kennard, a fifth-round draft pick who will be asked to handle the strong side. He’ll work next to Jon Beason, who spent part of training camp rehabbing an injured foot. Jacquian Williams and Spencer Paysinger are on the weak side. There is good depth, thanks to Mark Herzlich and Jameel McClain, who came over from the Ravens, in the middle. There are two notable newcomers in the New York secondary this year—although one, safety Stevie Brown, has only been away for a year. He had a strong 2012 season but tore his ACL last year and missed last season. If he can return to his previous form, that will be a big boost to a secondary that needs one. The addition of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at the corner should help, too. He isn’t the biggest tackler, but he can help in coverage. The other corner belongs to Prince Amukamara, who has only registered three career interceptions but is strong against the run. Even more stout is safety Antrel Rolle, who had a big 2013, leading the Giants in tackles and interceptions, with six. New York added some good depth in cornerback Walter Thurmond and safety Quintin Demps that should help them be stronger along the back line. Defensive Player To Watch The optimist would take a look at Jason Pierre-Paul’s 2013 season and say that offseason back surgery to repair a herniated disc and a shoulder injury that shut him down with five games left were the reasons for his below-par play. Pierre-Paul managed just two sacks and 27 total tackles last year, hardly the


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