John Fennelly, Lead WriterThe 2013 Giants are a tale of two teams. The team that came out of the gate 0-6 and the team that went 7-3 to finish it. Neither team was good enough to seriously compete in the NFL this year.
CEO John Mara was disappointed at the end of last season and put everyone on a short leash this year. The team had lost it’s competitive edge and physicality. He mandated they get bigger and nastier in the trenches, and GM Jerry Reese did just that.
The interior of the defensive line improved greatly with the signings of Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson. They used their second round pick in the draft to select Jon Hankins of Ohio State. The plan worked. The Giants throttled some of the best rushing attacks in the NFL this season.
It was the offensive line that collapsed this season and took the rest of the offense with it. They spent their round pick on an offensive lineman, Justin Pugh of Syracuse, who ended up being the only member of the unit to start all 16 games.
They underestimated RG Chris Snee’s readiness to return from hip surgery and were bitten again by the unreliability of center David Baas. Both players ended up on IR. David Diehl missed the first month of the season with a thumb injury. All three are unlikely to be back in 2014.
The backfield was complete mess as well. RB Andre Brown missed the first eight weeks with a fractured leg and David Wilson showed he is not up to the task of handling the responsibilities of a No.1 back. Wilson went down with an neck injury and they actually had to bring Brandon Jacobs back and signed Peyton Hillis to fill the openings.
Reese and his crew have been miscalculating in the draft the past few years and those errors have left the team devoid of depth and talent. He also whiffed on several free agents this past summer which added to the misery. Too many marginal veterans signed at
To his credit, Reese made several in-season moves to help right the ship. He traded for LB Jon Beason, who came in and immediately took over the captainship of the defense. The Jacobs and Hillis signings, as well as bringing in FB Jon Conner, gave the rushing attack some semblance of order until Brown returned.
Overall, the management team, particularly Reese, understand they are perhaps a few years behind thanks to hubris, poor planning and bad luck. They have parted ways with OC Kevin Gilbride, but they need to get more quality players in the door in 2014 if they are to rebound.