Even in his 12th season, Manning has shown signs of being an ascending player. His arm is stronger than it's been in recent years, he has a better grasp of the offense in his second run with it, and he has Odell Beckham Jr. to make one-handed catches on all of his errant passes. What could go wrong?
The Giants have a pass-catcher in Shane Vereen, a short-yardage guy in Andre Williams and a well-rounded vet in Rashad Jennings. What they don't have is a true No. 1 back; they have three No. 2's. Don't expect a pair of 1,000-yard performances like the Earth, Wind and Fire days.
If the Giants can keep their Big 3 healthy, they should have the most dangerous assault in the league. Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle will give opposing secondaries fits and defensive coordinators sleepless nights figuring out whom to shift coverage toward. Beckham's raw numbers may go down, but he'll give that up for companionship and alternate options for Manning.
Larry Donnell should see plenty of opportunities as long as he learns to take care of the ball once he catches it. His fumbles last year were as costly as his touchdowns were a boon. Daniel Fells is a solid backup. But the Giants don't have a burly blocker at the position, nor do they have the sort of prototypical game-breaker that other teams enjoy.
The left side of the line should be good; the Giants have two first-round picks and a second-rounder from left tackle to center in Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg. It's that other 40 percent that is shaky. No one really knows what Geoff Schwartz is capable of or if he can stay healthy. Marshall Newhouse has improved but there could be other options at right tackle.
Without Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants lack a Pro Bowl-honored pass rusher in their rotation for the first time since 1997 and have no one who has even notched double-digit sacks. Johnathan Hankins and Jay Bromley should help the run defense in the middle and rookie Owa Odighizuwa should contribute, but the days of Strahan, Osi, Tuck, et al, are distant memories.
Devon Kennard is the linebacker of the future for the Giants and if Steve Spagnuolo sends him enough, he could have double-digit sacks. It remains to be seen whether Jon Beason can make it through a season healthy. If he can't, first-year player Uani' Unga might have to step in. Unga, the best coverage linebacker, will likely play in sub packages anyway.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara give the Giants two very strong cornerbacks, but they'll only be as good as the instructions they are given. And those instructions will come from the safeties, where uncertainty has reigned since this winter's free-agency purge. Landon Collins should develop, but he's a rookie and will have enough trouble getting himself in the right position, never mind the whole secondary.
The Giants spent a lot of money on this group in the offseason, adding free agents Dwayne Harris and Jonathan Casillas. They also drafted Geremy Davis, who they think can be another David Tyree-type player. Kicker Josh Brown seems to be getting better with age, and at 36, he's shown a strong leg in the preseason. New punter Brad Wing gives Coughlin the directional kicking he craves.