The motto "Defense Wins Championships" in football has not lost its meaning in the past couple of seasons in the NFL. Pass heavy offenses, including the read-option offense have caused problems for the defenses and given coordinators fits. The New York Giants, who for years have depended on their defensive pass rush to help them win football games, are now putting more pressure on their offense to help spur them to victory. The Giants offense, which is headed by two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback Eli Manning will have a mix of old and new faces igniting the offense.
The strength of the Giants offense starts at the wide receiver position. Giants wideout Hakeem Nicks, who just recently reported to mini-camp last week, and Victor Cruz, who recently signed his one year restricted free agent deal, are back to headline a talented receiving corps. Another receiver on the rise is Rueben Randall who has been impressing a lot of Giants coaches so far this offseason. He is ready to make an impact on Big Blue's offense this season. In a recent interview, Giants' offensive coordinator, Kevin Gilbride, spoke about Randall's improvements in just one short year.
"Randall really benefitted from the opportunity," noted Gilbride. "His whole demeanor, his whole professionalism, was outstanding."
"He certainly stepped into a leadership role. Not only did he grow he kind of became the bell cow of the receiving corps. He was first in line. He did all of those things."
In Gilbride's estimation, Randall earned a lot of playing time through his hard work and determination
"He is going to play – he is going to play a lot," Gilbride said. "He will play first and second-downs. "He will be an outside receiver for us. Whether he is at the ‘X' or the ‘Z," he is going to play. He is looking like he deserves to be out there a significant time."
Gilbride, who was not happy with the fact Nicks and Cruz were absent this offseason, indicated that their absence gave other wide receivers a chance shine
"Brandon Collins and some of the other young receivers have had a chance to get some reps," noted Gilbride. "Now the Jerrel Jernigans, down the road, they may be coming into a more integral part of what we have been doing offensively because of that."
Another important part of the Giants passing game has been the play at the tight end position the past two seasons. Last year Martellus Bennett had a career season finishing second on the team in both receptions and touchdowns.
Bennett left as a free agent this off-season and signed with the Chicago Bears leaving an open spot at the Giants tight-end position. So far Big Blue expects veteran Bear Pascoe and newly signed free agent Brandon Myers to compete for the starting job.
" There is one guy that can do that – that is Bear (Pascoe). ...... he is one of those guys that just whatever you ask him to do, he goes out and does it with as much courage and determination as anybody," reflected Gilbride. "As a result of that he plays above – sometimes – what your expectations might be. We asked him to do a very difficult role – he does it very well."
Pascoe will also be very important at the fullback position early on in the Giants 2013 season. Giants' starting fullback, Henry Hynoski, recently had surgery to repair his MCL and will be out early in the 2013 season leaving a spot open at fullback.
"But Bear has been asked to do it before – be that ….. tight end and move back to the fullback position," insisted Gilbride. "He has had to do that for us whenever the fullback has been hurt. It hasn't been Henry (Hynoski) but it was Madison Hedgecock before. And so he has done a great job with that."
Another position that will not have a familiar face is running back as Ahmad Bradshaw left the Big Apple to join the Indianapolis Colts. David Wilson and Andre Brown are expected to carry the load for the 2013 season. Wilson is more of a speed back while Brown is more of a power back will work off each to help the Giants' running attack return to elite status.
"You see a guy like David Wilson who started with no clue on who to block, much less how to block, to a pretty good understanding of what it is that he has to do," Gilbride said. "Now it is a matter of doing it. And it is a matter of getting better at it. He is still not 100%. He still makes mistakes but there has certainly been some significant, some significant growth. Now until you get the pads on – and he has to show that he, as a smaller guy, can do the things necessary that other small backs in this league have done."
Brown has also shown that he is deserving of more snaps.
"Andre has continued to grow," mentioned Gilbride. "And he has continued to get better. You feel more and more confident. He has actually gotten to a point where you feel better about third-down. First and second-down is one ….. step; one big step; one important step. But the next step is can you be a third-down back because of the complexity of what people are doing with their defensive schemes."
Even though there will be some new faces out on the field for the Giants this upcoming season, they still have a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball that could create nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators.