Here are five questions the Giants hope they can answer by the end of training camp:
WILL THE OFFENSE CLICK?
Last year the Giants dismissed their preseason struggles when it came to moving the ball and scoring points. They were only exhibition games, right? Well, the difficulties turned out to be harbingers of disappointment for the entire season as the team was unable to score 30 or more points in any single game and the offense was a weight for the defense to carry. GM Jerry Reese made some changes that should help, such as the additions of veteran wide-receiver Brandon Marshall and first-round tight end Evan Engram. Those acquisitions should give the Giants more playmakers and more of an ability to use multiple personnel groupings. Last year, the team got a bit of a pass for the struggles in August. If it happens again this summer after 2016’s results, there will be a lot of red-flag waving.
CAN THE ‘NYPD’ LOCK UP OPPONENTS AGAIN?
Last year’s Giants secondary was so impressive it earned something only a select few units in the NFL ever get: a nickname. The “New York Pass Defense,” or “NYPD,” was a big reason why the Giants made the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Most of the pieces are back, including All-Pro safety Landon Collins and Pro Bowl cornerback Janoris Jenkins. But while Eli Apple should improve at corner in his second NFL year, there’s no guarantee Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will be as productive in this, his 10th season. The Giants also need to figure out who will start at free safety alongside Collins as Andrew Adams and Darian Thompson will battle for that job over the coming weeks.
WHO WILL BE THE BACKUP QUARTERBACK?
It’s somewhat ironic that what is sure to be the most heated and most dissected position battle of the summer on the Giants is for a job the team hopes it never needs to use. If all goes well, Eli Manning will take every snap of the season just as he did in 2016. Fighting for the spot behind him will be Geno Smith, who is coming off ACL surgery last fall and a disappointing tenure with the Jets, and Josh Johnson, who has not thrown a pass in a regular-season game since 2011 but is back for a second season with the Giants. There’s only room for one of them on the roster with the addition of third-round pick Davis Webb. Of course, if Webb continues to perform as impressively as he did in the spring, the Giants might be in a position to say goodbye to both veteran backup candidates and go with just two quarterbacks on their roster.
IS B.J. GOODSON READY TO LEAD?
One of the few vacancies in the defensive starting unit is at middle linebacker, and the Giants are hopeful that B.J. Goodson will be able to fill it. Goodson was the team’s fourth-round pick last year but he played only 13 defensive snaps in his rookie season. He stepped in and seemed to have a good, strong command of the huddle during spring workouts — so much so that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie even bristled at a reprimand from the unproven player — but translating that onto the field against real opponents will be a test for him. The Giants have other options if Goodson does not work out. Veterans Keenan Robinson and Mark Herzlich have both played the spot in the past. But the ideal situation for the Giants will be to have Goodson win the job this summer . . . and then hold onto it for the next six to eight seasons.
WILL PAUL PERKINS KICKSTART THE RUNNING GAME?
Perkins wasn’t even active for the opener in Dallas a year ago, standing on the sideline as a healthy scratch because he wasn’t yet ready to take the field in even the smallest capacity. Fast-forward to this spring and Ben McAdoo already has named him the starting running back heading into 2017. Perkins replaces Rashad Jennings, but he’ll have plenty of help with the return of Shane Vereen (provided his twice-torn biceps is fully healed) and Orleans Darkwa, plus fourth-round pick Wayne Gallman. Of course, it’s not only the running backs who have prevented the Giants from having a 1,000-yard rusher since 2012. That brings us to a sixth and what has become a perennial question facing the Giants: Will the offensive line improve to the point where it can become an asset and not a detriment?