COMMENTARY | When it comes to the New York Giants' 0-3 start to the 2013 season, there's plenty of blame to go around. No individual is immune from the criticism, and from the moment the Giants walked off the field following their embarrassing 38-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, every facet of the team has been under attack.
Now in serious jeopardy of not making the playoffs for the second year in a row, here are six Giants who must step up in order to keep the team's playoff hopes alive:
Eli Manning: It starts with the quarterback. Through three games, Manning is on pace to have his worst season as a pro. He's thrown eight interceptions and his 70.5 passer rating is well below his career average (82.4). It hasn't helped that the Giants' offensive line is as weak right now as any line he's played behind, and that the running game has been non-existent (the Giants rank last in the league with an average of 44.3 rushing yards per game), but Manning must play better. That means being a leader on the field. Never mind the interceptions or the incomplete passes, Manning must rally the troops. It's fair to demand that others step up, too, but on Sunday, like the rest of the team, he looked lost. He's a lot better than that.
David Wilson: It's starting to look more and more like the Giants may have made a mistake by letting Ahmad Bradshaw go during the offseason. On Sunday, Bradshaw ran for 95 yards in the Indianapolis Colts' win over the San Francisco 49ers. On Sunday, Wilson ran for 39 yards in the Giants' loss at Carolina. He has just 75 rushing yards on the season. First it was the fumbles (two in the season opener at Dallas), now it's a lack of production. To make matters worse, there's no help behind him. Da'Rel Scott can't carry the load and Brandon Jacobs is a few years removed from being an effective running back. It's Wilson or bust for the Giants. He better get it going in K.C.
David Diehl: Why is an offensive lineman who hasn't played yet this year one of the most important players on the team? Because the rest of the line has been hurt and ineffective, and Diehl, when healthy, is a steady presence. Diehl has been out with a thumb injury and he returned to practice this week. The Giants desperately need him to be healthy. Center David Baas has a neck injury and guard Chris Snee has two bad hips. Tackle Will Beatty had a big holding penalty that brought back a touchdown on Sunday. There's been poor play, injuries, and inexperience. It looks like it's going to be a long year for this unit. Diehl might be the last hope the offensive line has.
Antrel Rolle: He says he wants to play "Antrel Rolle ball." He wants the Giants to show "more fight." One of the team's vocal leaders, Rolle is never short for words. Now the spotlight is on him. He'll have to help a secondary, one that struggled against the Panthers' Cam Newton, shut down the Chiefs' Alex Smith. He'll have to help stop the Chiefs' Jamaal Charles after he and his defensive teammates were run off the field by the Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams. Rolle challenged his teammates this week. He's done the talking. Now he must produce.
Hakeem Nicks: Another Giant who had plenty to say following last week's loss. Nicks was upset that he was only thrown to once, saying, "I can't throw it to myself." He was wrong for saying that. Eli Manning and the Giants' offense can use all the help they can get. Expect the QB to look for Nicks early. When he does, Nicks better be ready.
Jason Pierre-Paul: Few defensive players in the league are as fun to watch as Pierre-Paul. When he's healthy, he's an elite playmaker on defense. He'll need to return to top form to help out a struggling Giants defense.
Charles Costello has followed the Giants for 30 years. He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the team during the 1997 season.
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