With OTA’s still underway, the New York Giants still have many question marks entering into the season.

Failing to make the playoffs in 2012 and with a head scratching draft, GM Jerry Reese and Head Coach Tom Coughlin must put the pieces together and somehow find the right fit to have a successful season. With a very favorable schedule for 2013, the Giants seem to be off to a good start. However; this team needs to re-establish their identity that propelled them as Super Bowl Champions in 2011. I’m referring to solid defense and a productive well balanced offense.

In 2012, the Giants struggled from both sides of the ball as their defense ranked 2nd to last in many categories and the offense displayed hot and cold moments throughout the season. I believe the New York Giants need to excel in three categories in order to make the playoffs. I believe that if any of the three does not occur, the Giants could miss the playoffs again.

The following are my three most important factors to the Giants success in 2013.

3. Offensive Line:

There’s no secret that the Giants OL struggled as a unit in 2012, despite Snee making the Pro Bowl; there really wasn’t much positive things to talk about. GM Reese addressed this issue in the draft by selecting Justin Pugh surprisingly in the 1st round. He also selected Eric Herman in the 7th round.  With Beatty, Baas and Snee already penciled in as starters on the OL.

The remaining 2 spots will have James Brewer, Kevin Booth, Matt McCants, Justin Pugh, and Brandon Mosley as the likely candidates to battle it out. Whoever wins the job, the Giants need to be more physical and win the battle on the line of scrimmage in order to be successful. Whether it’s running the ball or a solid pass protection, both work hand in hand. Without solid run blocking, it won’t matter who the Giants have at RB. Without solid pass protection, Manning is just an above average QB.

2. Defensive Line:

Last season, the Giants were one of the worse teams in the NFL in stopping the run. They also struggled on the pass rush which reflected on leading the league in 30+ pass completions during the season. The Giants addressed these issues once again in the draft by selecting (DT) Johnathan Hankins and (DE/LB) Damonte Moore. They also signed free agents Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson and Shaun Rogers to go along with Linval Joseph, Marvin Austin and Markus Kuhn.

At the DE position, Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre Paul both struggled in 2012 and Mathias Kiwanuka will see plenty of snaps at the DE position. Tuck and JPP must have solid Pro Bowl production in the sack departure.  Bottom line, if the DL can control the line of scrimmage (control the run) and put enough pressure with the pass rush; it makes the LB corps and the secondary’s job a lot easier.

1. Eli Manning’s Health/Production:

Seems idiotic on my part to question Eli Manning’s health entering the 2013 season, as he is currently the iron man (consecutive games played) among all active players in the NFL. However; football is a very physical and sometimes violent sport and Manning is only one hit away from ending his streak. In 2011, Manning was Unitas, Marino, and Montana rolled up in one as he carried and led the Giants to a Super Bowl Victory. Last season was a different story as Manning was human like and had a sub par season.   

Let’s be honest for a moment, if Manning ever suffers a season ending injury, it would be very, very probable that the Giants hopes to make the playoffs would diminish in a New York minute. Without question, Manning is the heart and soul of the New York Giants. With him, the Giants are a serious playoff contending team. Without him, they are picking within the top 10 of the draft.

Obviously, the three categories I’ve listed for success could refer to almost every team in the NFL to some extent. However; in the Giants case, it’s essential that achieve these three goals in a relatively productive manner, they will most likely make the playoffs and capture the NFC east division. If not, then we can expect the Giants to be selecting somewhere between the 12th and 20th spot of the 1st round in next year’s draft.