The absence of Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz from last year’s OTAs was painfully obvious during the season. Nicks caught zero touchdown passes, and Cruz caught just four after scoring 19 times in his first two NFL seasons. Manning seemingly had no chemistry with either of his top two receiving threats, and it led to the former two-time Super Bowl MVP throwing the most interceptions in his career. This year however, all of Eli’s targets are under the same roof (or at least in the same facility) learning Ben McAdoo’s new offense together.
In fact, the entire offense is together. No holdouts, mysterious “personal issues” or even Manning’s ankle surgery will hinder the 2014 Giants from getting in sync. On Monday, the quarterback told reporters that he would be able to play if the season started now. Manning’s rapid recovery from his recent ankle surgery is a huge bonus. With Eli on the field and practicing with all of his weapons available to him, he and his receivers can develop the rapport they need.
Eli’s quick return may be even more important to his relatively inexperienced running backs and tight ends. The new scheme is designed to have many short and mid-range passes that will allow the players at these positions to get the ball very quickly. The more reps he can get throwing to his young players, the more beneficial it is.
Perhaps most importantly, Eli is able to work with his revamped offensive line. Jerry Reese and the Giants’ front office have brought in many new faces to fix one of the league’s most porous units from a season ago. Manning will be receiving snaps from a new center and could have as many as four new linemen protecting him this season.
McAdoo’s new system is giving everyone a renewed sense of focus. Having to learn new play calls, language and signals prevent veteran players from going through the motions this offseason. Eli recently admitted to The Star Ledger that “there are still learning curves” and he is not “100% with what is going on.” This is why his speedy return to the field is so important. If Eli is learning at the same speed as the rest of his teammates the offense can gain cohesion playing as unit next season.
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