Offense: As of right now, it is hard to say that our offense is better than it was last year. We have made some solid moves, and drafted some solid players. A lot of good things need to happen in order for these moves to pan out. The biggest improvement needs to come from Geno Smith. Our offense begins and ends with Smith.
In the final 4 games, it seemed to most of us that things were beginning to slow down for Geno. If he starts the season the way he ended it, and continues to grow, we might have something cooking. These are some big ifs though. Before those final 4 games, Geno didn't show anything close to being consistent. By all accounts, it seems like Geno has come to work this offseason with a confidence he will need to keep the wolves at bay. Whether or not this translates into wins is still yet to be seen. I will base a lot of what I think on what I have most recently seen. When it comes to Geno, I am restraining my breaths of hope.
Next to QB, the next part of our offense that needs to improve is our O-line. This group was far from stellar last year. These guys have a lot of work to do. As much as we need Geno to improve, it would be hard to blame him for not doing so if the O-line continues to underperform. Besides Austin Howard, there were not many other bright spots along our 2013 O-line. Even Nick Mangold, and D'Brickashaw Ferguson underwhelmed last season. What was once a feared unit is only a shell of its past greatness. Howard is now a Raider, and Brick, Mangold and Willie Colon are on the wrong side of 30.
Brian Winters was by far the weakest link along the line last year. There seems to be some buzz from our young pups, but it is still way too early to really know if it means much at all. Even Vladimir Ducasse showed signs of life this time last year. If Winters does not improve and none of our young guys step up, our offense could be in for more trouble this year. Colon is a tough guy, but his age and injury history don't bode well for him. The wildcard here is Breno Giacomini. I liked this pickup, but it is hard to say if he is much of an improvement over Howard, if at all. Let's not forget that Michael Vick is a lefty. If Geno can't cut it, Breno will be blocking Vick's blindside. This is a huge responsibility that we can't really bank on.
When it comes to our skill position players, I feel like there is a lot less uncertainty and, dare I say, optimism. I am confident that we have made improvements in this area. I can say with conviction that Eric Decker is an improvement over Santonio Holmes. That alone makes our receiving corps, better than last year. Holmes didn't scare anyone, and Jeremy Kerley would be the only guy that defenses had to take away. Decker will now be the main focus for those same defenses, which will loosen things up for Kerley and David Nelson. There is a buzz about Jalen Saunders and Stephen Hill performing well so far. Again, only time will tell. I will never go into a season relying on a rookie to produce right away. Our first year receivers will have to prove themselves a great deal more before we can look at them as a plus or a minus in our offense.
Where there are signs of growth with our wide receivers, things are pretty stagnant at TE. I know some of you are probably saying "Yo bro, Amaro!" Actually, no one is probably saying that, but the truth is, Jace Amaro is coming from an offense much different from our own. There is no denying what he is capable of being, but that will take time to develop. I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see much gusto from Amaro until late in the year. Jeff Cumberland is Jeff Cumberland. I believe he has already hit his ceiling, and it isn't very high. He isn't much of an inline TE, and is inconsistent at best when asked to be a receiver. I was really hoping that we would bring in a veteran TE to go along with anyone that we drafted. Who knows, maybe one will be cut or brought in later in camp. As of right now, TE is our weakest skill position.
I look at our running back situation as one that will either be as good as last year, or better. I can't see us being worse. Even if Chris Johnson flops, we can still fall back to the duo that did well last year. Right now, I see a lot of potential with CJ. I am a strong believer that his meniscus tear had a good deal to do with his drop in YPC, and production per game. In our "hot hand" backfield, he can be seeing a lot of the ball if he can ramp up his production. Chris Ivory is still someone we can rely on to get those tough yards, and punish defenses late in the game. Bilal Powell is a very hard worker and has improved every year he has been on this team. It would be interesting to see if he takes his game to another level, or if he has leveled off. The FB position is up in the air. Tommy Bohanon hasn't shown much to assure us he is what we want at FB. Meanwhile, I am very encouraged by UDFA Chad Young. From what I have observed from his game tape, he could be the real deal. I No matter how much I like him, I will stay true to my rookie philosophy. They aren't anything until they show me something.
Final Analysis: I look at an offense like I would a human body. The arms are the WRs/TEs. The legs are the RBs. The torso is the O-line, and the head is the QB. Without the head and torso, what good are our revamped limbs?Luckily, there is hope that Geno turns things around. In order to ensure that Geno or Vick get the best out of themselves, our torso needs to step it up big time. If both of those improvements happen, we could have a very average offense on our hands. Considering what has been thrusted upon us for the last few years, average would be more than welcome.
Outlook Before Season
**** Very Good
** Bellow Average