Jump to content

something for a no news time


Recommended Posts

/My link



Sometimes the best thing to tell the depressed person is just be happy. And sometimes the best thing to tell the overweight person is just eat healthy. Life doesn't always have to be complicated. On that note, we can tell the Giants to just play better in 2010. That's essentially what their front office said. The Giants are coming off a disappointing season in which they started 5-0 but finished 3-8. With a new $1.7 billion stadium to open and New York being New York, there's the temptation to overreact to mediocrity by seeking elaborate changes.


Credit General Manager Jerry Reese for not doing this. Reese knows this is essentially the same team that won a Super Bowl in '07 and went 12-4 in '08. He understands that most, if not all, of the '09 problems will resolve themselves naturally.


giants75.jpg So Reese did not go into the off-season bent on upheaval. Instead, he continued to build from the same blueprint that has made this team a power in the N.F.C. East. A big part of this strategy was letting running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw recover from operations. Jacobs had a torn meniscus in his knee cleaned up in January. His backup, Bradshaw, had off-season surgery on his feet and right ankle. The poor health of these runners helped drop the rushing attack from No. 1 in 2008 to No. 17 last season. At least, that's what Reese is betting.


It's a rational bet – far more rational than betting against the league's most cohesive offensive line, the way some fans and New York media members have been doing. Some believe the Giants are getting old up front. But grittiness is often for old age when a team is losing. The reality: 33-year-old center Shaun O'Hara is the only starting lineman over 31 – and O'Hara is coming off a second Pro Bowl. Right tackle Kareem McKenzie has battled injuries, but not of a career-threatening variety. If the Giants do shuffle their offensive line, it will be because last year's second-round pick, William Beatty, proves in training camp to be too talented to leave on the bench. But now we're talking about a natural upgrade – not a hasty fix.


Defensively, the Giants did actually make a change – philosophically. They reverted to the system that brought them a Lombardi Trophy. Coordinator Bill Sheridan and his convoluted scheme were dismissed after one awful season. In Sheridan's place is Tom Coughlin's former Jaguar assistant, Perry Fewell, a fiery Cover 2 guru who served as the interim coach in Buffalo last year. Fewell installed a scheme more akin to the aggressive one Stave Spagnuolo ran. Tactically, Fewell's system and Spagnuolo's are different. (Fewell prefers defensive backs to play zone; Spagnuolo favored press coverage.) But conceptually, both schemes are predicated on going after the quarterback.


Reese is on board. In true Giant fashion, instead of filling a need at linebacker, the Ernie Accorsi disciple spent a first-round pick on pass-rusher Jason Pierre-Paul. With disgruntled Osi Umenyiora surprisingly still around, the Giants have a shimmering quartet of edge-rushers (Pierre-Paul, Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka) to complement $60 million worth of defensive tackles (Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard and Barry Cofield).


Reese wasn't obstinate about change, of course. He realized that drastic action needed to take place at the safety position. The two starting safeties from the Super Bowl squad – Gibril Wilson and James Butler – had left in free agency, and neither had been adequately replaced. Kenny Phillips flashed star potential but had microfracture surgery (knee) last September. C.C. Brown and Michael Johnson both treaded water as starters. So Reese spent $15 million in guaranteed money to acquire rangy ex-Cardinal Antrel Rolle.


In short, instead of being hurried to the operating room, this roster was taken to the chiropractor. A minor re-alignment was all that was needed. After all, this team still has a strong backbone, given who's under center.




It's possible that at 29, Eli Manning isn't done developing. He made noticeable strides as a pocket passer in his sixth season last year. Manning doesn't have a General's command of the offense like a certain other member of his family, but he still exhibits at least Lieutenant qualities. Coordinator Kevin Gilbride gives his quarterback full audible powers. Gilbride also trusts Manning's rifle arm in critical situations and supports the risks he takes when things break down. (Makes sense – Gilbride was present for Super Bowl XLIIV).


Manning posted career numbers last season, but what really illustrated his growth was the performance of the Giant receivers. There were some pundits who thought that the loss of Plaxico Burress would fell this team. (You're reading one of those pundits right now.) But that hasn't been the case. The Giants have built a formidable passing attack around the young trio of Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. Smith is a silky-smooth underneath weapon out of the slot, though he has diversified his game and become a downfield threat. The fourth-year pro is coming off the quietest franchise-record-setting 107-catch season you'll ever see.


Reliable as Smith has become, don't expect him to match his '09 production this season. Nicks and Manningham are still rising and destined to be more consistent contributors. Nicks has huge hands and a strong athletic presence in space. His style of play reminds some of Hall of Famer Michael Irvin. Manningham has moved past the immaturity that hindered him as a third-round rookie in '08. He has innate chemistry with Manning, particularly when working outside the numbers.


Fourth receiver Domenik Hixon was lost to a knee injury in the first practice at the New Meadowlands Stadium, so last year's third-round pick, Ramses Barden, could suddenly see the field. Barden is 6'6" and dripping with athleticism . But he was raw coming out of Cal Poly-SLO, and his transition to the N.F.L. is far from over.


Tight end Kevin Boss has shown that being from a small school doesn't doom a pro career. He played at Western Oregon and has evolved into not just a dependable starter, but also a special component of the passing game. Boss has the eerie ability to hold onto the ball while getting blindsided by a defender. He spent a chunk of the off-season recovering from ankle surgery, which gave second-year player Bear Pascoe an opportunity to work with the first unit. Travis Beckum was supposed to be getting that opportunity, but Beckum, the undersized, fluid pass-catching third-round pick from last year, has done little to impress coaches.


The Giants aren't overly dependent on a No. 2 tight end because they're one of the few teams in the league that still employ a traditional fullback. That fullback, Madison Hedgecock, needs to regain his dominant lead-blocking form of a few years ago. Perhaps having a more decisive Brandon Jacobs behind him will help. Jacobs is a monster when he generates downhill momentum. But when he's not confident or comfortable, he becomes passive and sluggish.


Many believe the 5-9, 198-pound second-stringer Ahmad Bradshaw is a scatback. Quick feet give Bradshaw this aura, but in truth, he is powerful enough to drag defenders. Bradshaw plays with great centralized power – ask any blitzer who has been on the receiving end of one of his pass blocks. Good as Bradshaw is, the Giants still need a third option behind him. Danny Ware was unsuccessful last season in this role (he had an early elbow injury and a concussion). Now, Ware faces an uphill battle against second-year pro Andre Brown for playing time. Brown may be able to eat into Bradshaw's snaps.


How about the men blocking for these guys? As mentioned earlier, the only reason to restructure the offensive line is if William Beatty shows immediate star potential. Beatty, the athletic second-round pick of a year ago, lacked assertiveness as a fill-in right tackle last season. Even though current right tackle Kareem McKenzie – a powerful but slow-footed veteran – is the most vulnerable starter up front, Beatty's ticket to the first unit is at left tackle. If he can win this job, incumbent David Diehl will slide inside to his more natural guard position. The problem is, this puts smart, reliable veteran Rich Seubert on the bench. Whatever happens, the Giants will have adequate personnel on the left side. And the presence of center Shaun O'Hara and right guard Chris Snee will ensure that this line can execute designed movement in the run game.




The Giants are banking on a reinvigorated pass-rush in 2010. It's hard to see how the pass-rush won't be reinvigorated. Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul are all talented enough to be a No. 1 end on a typical team. Tuck is by far the best all-arounder of the bunch In fact, he's by far the best all-around left end in the league. But for pure pass-rushing, Umenyiora is the best.


To Umenyiora's chagrin, ineptitude in playside run defense has relegated him to backup duties. The decision to bench Umenyiora, 28, was made last season by Tom Coughlin. Can't blame the coach – opposing offenses wouldn't stop running to Umenyiora's side of the field.


If he keeps his attitude in check, it's possible Umenyiora can reclaim his starting job. Jason Pierre-Paul, with feeble run-stopping technique at this point, is expected to contribute only on third downs. Umenyiora's replacement, Mathias Kiwanuka, is an agility-based player who's also not great against the run.


The hope is that a healthy Chris Canty can aid the run defense from inside. The 6-7, 304-pounder is a beast – though an injury-prone one. Canty's fellow '09 free-agent pickup, Rocky Bernard, needs to make more standout plays in 2010. Bernard has good all-around quickness for his girth. Barry Cofield has been a run-stuffing starter since joining the team as a fourth-round pick in '06. Understandably, he was dismayed with being offered an RFA tender rather than a long-term contract. Cofield was actually nearly traded to New Orleans on draft day.


It's vital that the front four clog the run because the Giants may have the league's most porous linebacking unit. Jonathan Goff will get the first shot at replacing middle linebacker Antonio Pierce. Goff was underwhelming in this capacity down the stretch last season. Gerris Wilkinson hasn't been able to stay on the field the past two seasons (he's made just 19 tackles in 17 games), but he spent two years as a Mike 'backer in college and is therefore in the mix. Nickel linebacker Bryan Kehl could also get a look.


The paucity of options inside wouldn't be so concerning if not for the uncertainty outside. Strongside linebacker Clint Sintim has showed a lot of potential, but he earned minimal playing time as a second-round rookie last season. Coaches are counting on weakside linebacker Michael Boley to be a leader. But Boley is prone to injuries and mental mistakes. (And his off-field record isn't spotless.)


The improvements at safety could ultimately bail out the linebackers. Perry Fewell says that the free safety and strong safety are interchangeable in his scheme, but this is just a popular claim that defensive coordinators make these days. Expect Antrel Rolle to spend a majority of his time in deep centerfield (i.e. free safety). If he lines up near the box, it will most likely be to disguise a coverage in nickel or dime situations.


The hope is that electrifying third-year pro Kenny Phillips will man the strong safety position. If Phillips's knee isn't ready, the Giants will settle on Deon Grant. They won't get many big plays from Grant, but they won't give up as many as they would with Michael Johnson.


You have to wonder if playing the cornerbacks in zone is really a good idea. When the Giants were a dominant pass-rushing team, all three corners – Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross – thrived in press coverage. Then again, all three have shown impressive versatility and athleticism, and sitting back with their eyes on the quarterback will allow them to make more plays on the ball.


Special Teams


Lawrence Tynes is serviceable on field goals, but he needs to improve his depth on kickoffs. It only took punter Jeff Feagles 22 years to finally hit a wall. Feagles recently retired and is now mentoring seventh-round rookie Matt Dodge. With Domenik Hixon on the mend, expect Sinorice Moss or Mario Manningham to get a crack at return duties.


Bottom Line


The intro to this preview lied – just a bit, anyway. It said this is essentially the same team as the '07 Super Bowl squad. That's true, except at linebacker. That weakness is hard to ignore. The front four and secondary are good enough to compensate, but only if everyone stays healthy. If the Giants were in the N.F.C. West, they'd be an easy 12-4. But in the East, you can't always hide your Achilles' heel.


Predicted: 2nd N.F.C. East


Andy Benoit is the founder of NFLTouchdown.com and a writer for CBSSports.com's N.F.L. blog. He can be contacted at andy.benoit –at – NFLTouchdown.com.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

maybe hes trying to sign with them, they already have a stable of washed up backs, and a washed up QB, and WR


McNabb isnt washed up that's just stupid to say and that WR they drafted acouple years back (Kelly?) has shown he can be a #1. Outside of that they have no O-line or any young RBs, which should greatly hinder their running game Shanahan likes to rely on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

McNabb isnt washed up that's just stupid to say and that WR they drafted acouple years back (Kelly?) has shown he can be a #1. Outside of that they have no O-line or any young RBs, which should greatly hinder their running game Shanahan likes to rely on.


Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas are way down the depth chart (they both pulled hammies in the offseason), the current starting WR's are Galloway and Moss, and I do think McNabb may struggle, I think Trent Williams they drafted this year will be a good OT, but they need work across the whole oline still, and Albert Haynesworth can't even pass a conditioning test, point is its just plain ridiculous Faulk picked them to win the division, hey it could happen but they have too many issues, and by time the team does rebuild, which is never cause they refuse to hold on too draft picks, McNabb will be washed up

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...