Can the Giants make a Cowboys-like leap in 2015?

Thanks for all of your New York Giants Twitter questions this week, especially the ones that came equipped with the handy-dandy #nygmail hashtag. Here are some of them.

@DanGrazianoESPN: Interesting question. The Dallas Cowboys went 8-8 three years in a row from 2011-13, losing in Week 17 each of those years (once each to the Giants, Washington and Philadelphia) the game that decided the division title. A remarkable run of heartbreak that the Cowboys left behind with a 12-4 finish and division title in 2014. The New York Giants have gone 7-9 and 6-10 the past two seasons and been out of contention by December each time. So I kind of dispute the notion that their situation is similar to the one in which the Cowboys found themselves a year ago. That Dallas group was building something and suffering together, whereas this Giants team has undergone such an overhaul the past two seasons that it feels like the players are all still getting to know each other. One thing I will say is that the Giants have been spending some high-end resources on their offensive line, using two first-round picks, a second-round pick and a free-agent contract on offensive linemen in the past three years. That offers a positive comparison to the plan that helped the Cowboys make their leap. (They used first-round picks on the offensive line three out of four years from 2011-14.) The Giants' roster was pretty hollowed-out at the end of the 2013 season, and asking them to make the kind of jump the Cowboys made just two years after that is, I believe, asking a lot. They are at least building in that direction by re-committing to the line. And if things break their way, there's no reason they can't surprise and sneak away with a playoff spot this season. Happens all the time in this league, teams come more quickly than expected. But what the Cowboys did was go from a team that was, for three years in a row, almost there to a team that was one of the best in the league. I don't think that's a realistic hope for the 2015 Giants, since they're still piecing the roster back together from where it all bottomed out two years ago.

@DanGrazianoESPN: NNot crazy at all. If Geoff Schwartz can really come back healthy, there's a lot to like about him at right guard, Weston Richburg at center and Justin Pugh at left guard. That's a better threesome than the Giants used in those spots last season. I think Richburg will play better at center, his natural position, than he did at guard. And I think Pugh has the skills to be a dominator at guard after struggling a bit at right tackle last season. So no, you're not crazy. You're right about tackle, but the Giants have reason to believe the interior of their offensive line could be a strength, which would be a big help to the run game.

I did want to address one aspect of this that came up in this space last week. Someone asked why Schwartz at right guard and Pugh at left, instead of the other way around. I gave a best-guess answer, but I asked some people about it Monday after practice and got some better answers. The Giants think Pugh is a "prototypical left guard," according to one person I spoke to, because of his strengths in pass protection and his ability to get out and pull. They believe he's well suited for that position, and the fact that he played on the left side (at tackle) in college should help smooth his transition there. Schwartz actually prefers right guard, as he's played predominantly on the right side of the line during his pro career. The only reason he was slotted in at left guard after signing with the Giants last year was because Chris Snee was still slotted at right guard, and no one was taking that spot until Snee abdicated it, by which time Schwartz had spent a good portion of the offseason program learning the offense from left guard. So that's the lowdown on that alignment, in case anyone was still wondering. I'm here for you guys.

Enjoy the Belmont. Go horse.