I recently gave my report card for the Giants 2011 season position-by-position. But because there was only so much space to discuss each position, I wanted to go more in-depth on each position and spin it forward to next season.
Let’s start with Quarterback. Tomorrow: Running backs.
Eli Manning had the cards stacked up against him entering training camp last season. Remember, due to the lockout, he had no interaction with the coaching staff and had no minicamp or OTA work with his receivers or offensive line outside of his Hoboken workouts. And then he started camp losing Rich Seubert and Shaun O’Hara on his line and two of his best targets in Kevin Boss and Steve Smith. Having to learn a new center (David Baas) while also having to develop chemistry with a new third receiver and a tight end, Manning proceeded to have his best season ever. He threw for 4,933 yards, had 29 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He was the most clutch fourth-quarter quarterback in the NFL and there’s no indication he will slow down in 2012.
Think about it. Manning didn’t have much of a running game and still was able to shine. While the offensive line remains a question mark since RT Kareem McKenzie is a free agent and the Giants have to make a decision on Brandon Jacobs next month, Manning’s running game can’t do much worse than last season since the Giants finished last in rushing in the regular season. But the running game showed improvement toward the end of the season.
Besides that, Manning will have a year with Victor Cruz under his belt. Manning and Cruz will be even more on the same page after this past season and an entire offseason worth of practice together. And while Cruz will see more defensive attention after his breakout season, Manning still has Hakeem Nicks, who now has postseason big-game experience of coming through on the grandest stage. As for his third receiver, Mario Manningham could end up leaving in free agency. If he does, Manning will have to find a new third receiver but after seeing what he was able to do with Cruz, the Giants quarterback has shown he can get on the same page with an unproven receiver pretty quickly. No matter whom the third receiver is, Manning still has one of the best one-two punches in the league in Nicks and Cruz.
And while Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum will be recovering from torn ACL injuries, Manning has shown he can develop a rapport with a tight end pretty quickly after what he showed last season with Ballard.
Manning is right in the thick of his prime. He has shown he can make players around him better and carry the offense. And with a little help from his running game and defense, the Giants franchise quarterback can take the team to the Super Bowl. The Giants just have to keep their Iron Man healthy.
Manning will have to develop a rapport with a new quarterbacks coach after Mike Sullivan left to run the Tampa Bay offense. But Manning's knowledge of Kevin Gilbride's offense is unmatched.
At backup quarterback, David Carr is an unrestricted free agent. So that job could be open although it is nice to have Carr back for stability and as insurance.
The team also has Ryan Perrilloux, who was released and re-signed too many times to count. The Giants clearly like Perrilloux’s potential. The former LSU quarterback has a big arm and zip on the ball.
Tell us what your assessment of the Giants' quarterback and backup situation below in the comments section.