- The secondary will be a strength.** That's the plan, anyway. The Giants were not complacent with their No. 8 defense from 2013 and bolstered the defensive backfield by adding Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Walter Thurmond, Quintin Demps, and Zack Bowman in free agency. They also re-signed safety Stevie Brown and cornerback Trumaine McBride. However, the additions in the secondary were met with subtractions in the defensive trenches as the Giants parted ways with end Justin Tuck and tackle Linval Joseph (both free agents). On Monday they brought back defensive tackle Mike Patterson, who will try to fill the void along with young players like Johnathan Hankins, Damontre Moore, and Markus Kuhn, who will all be asked to step up in 2014.
Jennings, embarking on his sixth NFL season and first with the Giants after signing as a free agent, will try to prove him right.
"I have the same attitude every year since college," Jennings said when he signed. "Go in, earn the respect of my teammates and my coaches, lock down the playbook and go show my worth and earn a starting position."
3. The Giants are counting on Chris Snee. The longtime Giants right guard, who played in only three games last year and underwent hip and elbow surgeries, said he thinks he can still play as he enters his 11th season. So do the decision-makers on the coaching staff and in the front office. "I feel like I can still play and play at a high level," Snee recently told Giants.com. "I went up and I had meetings and got opinions from guys that I respect and they all felt that I could play and they wanted me here. So I'm here."
- Coughlin got his "big human beings."**
Needing to beef up the offensive line in free agency, the Giants acquired Geoff Schwartz (6-6, 340), John Jerry (6-5, 335), and J.D. Walton (6-3, 305). Now Coughlin and new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo look to get back to Giants football with a power run game and fundamentals. "Offensively we have to get back to Giants football," Coughlin said. "When I say that, I mean Schwartz and Jerry, big human beings in the NFC East. We weren't very big up front last year. It's further to run around those big guys. We're going to have balance."
5. Tight end is a question mark. After Brandon Myers signed with the Buccaneers as a free agent, the roster has two returning players at the position whose production adds up to three catches for 31 yards, all coming from Larry Donnell. The other, Adrien Robinson, has played in just three games since being drafted in the fourth round by the Giants in 2012. In his only season with Big Blue last year, Myers was the team's third-leading receiver in receptions (47), fourth in receiving yards (522), and tied for second with four touchdowns.
- The offense needs a good draft.** While Coughlin and McAdoo continue to hammer out how they want the offense to function, the Giants' personnel department will give them the tools they need through free agency and the upcoming 2014 NFL draft. The first phase is underway as the Giants have added the offensive linemen noted above and running back Rashad Jennings. But they will have to build through the draft. They lost 103 catches and 1,418 yards when they parted ways with wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (signed with the Colts) and Myers.
"We think we improved our team," Giants president and chief executive officer John Mara said on SiriusXM last week. "We obviously had a lot of holes to fill. On paper we look a little better right now. We still have some more holes we need to fill. We've got to have a good draft. Hopefully we'll be a better team next year."
7. Special teams received a boost. With the free-agent additions of Trindon Holliday and Quintin Demps, special teams coordinator Tom Quinn has some new weapons in the return game, which last season finished 27th on kickoffs (21.2 yards) and 26th in punt return (7.2). Holliday, a former Bronco, comes to the Giants as the first player in NFL history with a punt return touchdown and a kick return touchdown in the same postseason game (AFC Divisional Playoff Game vs. Baltimore on Jan. 12, 2013).
8. There will be competition behind Eli Manning. The Giants re-signed quarterback Curtis Painter this offseason, putting him in competition again with Ryan Nassib, whom the Giants drafted in the fourth round last year. The Giants, somewhat uncharacteristically under Coughlin, carried three quarterbacks last season. "I think he's going to be a good player," Coughlin said about Nassib at the league meetings last week."This is going to be an important year for him and for the Giants."
- The Giants need a big season from JPP.** The Giants lost one-third of their sack total from 2013 when Tuck signed with the Raiders. Meanwhile, Jason Pierre-Paul, who had two sacks in 11 games (six starts) last year, is poised to shake off the injuries and bounce back in 2014. The Giants will need it while Mathias Kiwanuka and Damontre Moore try to fill Tuck's void.
2013 season was the worse season 4 me, INJURIES held me back. I've been working my butt off this OFF-SEASON I'm so ready for 2014 season.
— Jason Pierre Paul (@UDWJPP) March 30, 2014
10. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to cover No. 1 receivers? The new Giants cornerback might be in the plans to do so come September. "Are you the best receiver of their team? [He's] following you then," Coughlin said, according to NJ.com's Jordan Ranaan. "He's physical enough. When you watch him closely, he doesn't shy away. He's got great big long arms, he's tall, he's fast, he can match up."