NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As they look to end their four-year playoff drought, the Giants are counting on plenty of new faces while remaining optimistic that some older players re-establish themselves.
Here’s a look at three dream scenarios and three nightmares scenarios (excluding obvious injury fears) that could potentially define the Giants’ success or failure in 2016.
3 Dream Scenarios
Jason Pierre-Paul Brings It
JPP spent last season finding his way again after losing part of his hand in a fireworks accident. He had just one sack over eight games. But by all accounts, JPP has still been displaying the moves and powers of a great pass rusher. If he returns to double-digit sack territory, he and free agent prize Olivier Vernon could be downright scary for opposing offenses to face.
The Real Victor Cruz Returns
Shelved by knee and calf injuries, we haven’t seen Cruz play since Oct. 12, 2014. But remember how electrifying the salsa-dancing slot ace was once upon a time? The Giants led the NFL in passing TDs last season. Imagine how good they could be with a healthy Cruz and promising rookie receiver Sterling Shepard added to the mix.
Young Safeties Play Big
If the Giants hope to turn around their last-ranked pass defense, they’ll need better safety play. Maybe 2015 second-round draft pick Landon Collins, who was solid against the run but struggled in coverage last season, takes a big leap forward. Maybe rookie third-round Darian Thompson proves to be a draft day steal.
3 Nightmare Scenarios
The Defense Doesn’t Jell
The Giants spent a fortune in the offseason overhauling a defensive unit that was woeful last year. Vernon, Damon Harrison, Janoris Jenkins and others look like good additions on paper, but with so many moving parts, it’s fair to wonder if things will come together as nicely as the front office envisioned it. Keep this in mind: the last two years that Steve Spagnuolo served as a defensive coordinator (with the Giants and Saints), his units ranked dead last in the NFL.
The O-Line Implodes
Left tackle Ereck Flowers disappointed as a rookie, guard Geoff Schwartz is now in Detroit, and the right side of the offensive line is a concern. The Giants can’t afford to have an overmatched line kill any hope they have of establishing a running game.
The Rookies Don’t Contribute
The Giants are especially pinning a lot of expectations on wide receiver Shepard and Thompson, the safety. While the signing of veteran cornerback Leon Hall takes some pressure off first-round pick Eli Apple, the Giants obviously would like to see the Ohio State product quickly contribute, too. But what if these rookies struggle, especially considering how dangerously thin Big Blue is at wide receiver and safety?