As the New York Giants head to their 2013 training camp the biggest question mark is how they will fix a defense that ranked 31st in the NFL in yardage allowed last season, and may have to open the year without its best player -- Jason Pierre-Paul.
Offense has not been the primary issue for the Giants in recent seasons. There are still questions to be answered and decisions to be made on that side of the ball, however. With that in mind, here are five questions facing the offense as a new season begins.
Is David Wilson Ready?
If you paid attention during the off-season, this is a familiar topic. Is the 2012 first-round pick ready -- as both a runner and blocker -- to assume the role of what GM Jerry Reese refers to as the "lead dog"? Wilson showed as a rookie he can be explosive and make big plays. We don't know if he can be consistent in both his assignments and his performance. We are, however, about to find out.
What Will The Offensive Line Look Like?
Who is the right tackle? Veteran David Diehl? First-round pick Justin Pugh? James Brewer? Who is the left guard? It will probably be incumbent Kevin Boothe, but it could be Pugh. Or even Diehl if Pugh wins the right tackle job. Will center David Baas be ready when the season opens following multiple off-season surgeries? Which young players on the current 90-man roster will make the squad as reserves?
Can Hakeem Nicks Have A Big Year?
The spotlight, and the heat, are on Nicks in 2013. Victor Cruz has his big-money, long-term contract -- even if it isn't quite as rich as Cruz would have liked. Nicks can be a free agent after 2013, and by all accounts will be looking for more money than Cruz received. Can he prove he is worth elite wide receiver money? Nicks caught only 53 passes in an injury-plagued 2012. A healthy Nicks opens up opportunities for Cruz. He needs to stay on the field and play at an elite level to help the Giants, and help himself get rich.
Which Eli Manning Will We See?
Manning was not as good in 2012 as he was in the Super Bowl season of 2011, or even a couple of seasons prior to that. His completon percentage (59.9 percent) dipped below 60 percent for the first time since 2007. His passing yardage (3.948) and quarterback rating (87.2) dipped.
Some of Manning's issues can be attributed to the injuries sustained by Nicks. Some probably to the fact that the Giants struggled to find a consistent third wide receiver. Maybe even some to Bradshaw being in and out of the lineup, which messed with protection.
Whatever the reason or reasons, the Giants need vintage Eli in 2013 if they are going to have any chance to make the playoffs and reach the 2014 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium.
What Will Happen At Fullback?
Will Henry Hynoski, as he hopes, be ready to play Week 1 following off-season surgery due to an unfortunate knee injury suffered during OTAs? Will the Giants end up with Vonta Leach? If not Leach, will they bring in another fullback during training camp? Will they just trust Bear Pascoe to hold down the fort until Hynoski returns, which is what they have insisted all along?
Many NFL teams no longer even employ a fullback. The position is critical to the Giants, however, as they run the ball in a more traditional fashion than many teams. Thus, making the right choice is also critical.