Jerome Bettis played in 14 playoff games during a 13-year NFL career, riding off into the sunset after winning the Super Bowl in 2006 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
So when the Hall of Fame running back, nicknamed “The Bus,” says the Giants and quarterback Eli Manning have “another big championship run in them,” he knows what he’s talking about.
“I think they [have] got a great offense,” said Bettis, who is shooting a video series for Stryker Orthopaedics’ “Road Trip to a Healthier Lifestyle” in Manhattan this week. “I think Eli is going to have to manage his interceptions — that’s an area of concern for him — because you still don’t know how good the defense is going to be. If the defense can come around and be effective, I think you’ve got a championship caliber football team.”
The Giants, 11-5 last season, had the league’s 10th-best defense in 2016. Although the unit ranked third against the run (88.6 yards per game allowed), they struggled against the pass, ranked 23rd in the league (251.1 yards per game allowed).
Bettis suggests that the defense needs to step up if Big Blue is going to make a run at a title.
“You know that the Cowboys are going to be really good on offense,” he said. “The Redskins, they’ll be good on offense, and a lot of teams that they’re going to play this year are going to be good teams offensively. So they’re going to have to be ready to perform.”
That defense, combined with the league’s 25th-ranked offense, could only manage to go one-and-done in the playoffs with a 38-13 loss to the Packers in Green Bay. Manning threw for 4,027 yards with 26 touchdowns last season, his lowest totals since 2013, to go along with 16 interceptions. He threw for more than 4,400 yards and 30 touchdowns in both the previous two campaigns.
The Giants open their preseason schedule Friday night in Pittsburgh.