Guest So.Cal Dub Posted May 25, 2006 Share Posted May 25, 2006 With the exception of the Indianapolis Colts, no team seemed to be more disappointed with its finish to the 2005 season than the New York Giants. Their disastrous playoff loss to Carolina was not only unexpected but it also appeared to create some dissension within the locker room. Team leader Tiki Barber openly questioned head coach Tom Coughlin's game plan versus Carolina and his apparent inability to make adjustments during the game. The two have since patched things up, but Barber's comments were not that far out of line. Carolina had a masterful game plan -- especially on defense. The Panthers went after quarterback Eli Manning all day with a variety of in-line stunts. The Giants' offensive line used a man-blocking scheme and simply could not deal with Carolina's loops and twists. They never switched to a zone-blocking concept, and that may have incited Barber to make those comments. Whatever caused their demise against Carolina, the Giants were a frustrated team in the immediate aftermath. However, time has healed a lot of these wounds and the Giants have quietly put together a very productive offseason. Solid draft Although the Giants' first two picks were not huge needs, they selected players who were very high on their draft board. Wide receiver Sinorice Moss should have an immediate impact as a No. 3 receiver working out of the slot, and should give the Giants' special teams a big boost as a dangerous punt returner. Moss is small and elusive and gives this offense a lot of weapons and options in the nickel package. Mathias Kiwanuka is a pass-rushing defensive end who will likely be groomed to eventually replace left defensive end Michael Strahan, but for now he gives the Giants four quality edge rushers and a lot of versatility in their pass rush. Along with Strahan, Osi Umenyiora is coming off a Pro Bowl year and Justin Tuck has real promise. This is going to be tough group for opposing offenses to block in passing situations. Free-agent crop The biggest fish the Giants landed was former Washington Redskins outside linebacker LaVar Arrington. He will start at strongside linebacker and should give this defense tremendous explosiveness as an edge pass rusher. The Giants are toying with some 3-4 defensive schemes, which would really showcase Arrington as a pass-rushing outside linebacker. The rest of the Giants' free-agent acquisitions revolved around their desire to rebuild the secondary. They were 27th in pass defense in 2005 and recorded only 17 interceptions. Corners Sam Madison, Jason Bell and R.W. McQuarters and safeties Will Demps and Quentin Harris not only improve depth but also make this secondary better in matchup scenarios. Demps might be the only real difference maker, but as a group, this is a significant upgrade. Issues at hand Offensively, the Giants' success is directly tied to how much Manning improves. At times he resembles a Pro Bowl player but at other times he can look like a confused rookie. When you break him down on film, it is clear that he gets sloppy with his mechanics, especially late in a game and late in the season, when he seems to tire. He will tend to throw off his back foot, which adversely affects his velocity and leads to a high interception total (17 in 2005). Manning must improve his consistency and passing discipline to take advantage of all his weapons. If Eli Manning continues to struggle with consistency, New York will likely underachieve. Another concern for the Giants' coaching staff is wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who basically disappeared in the playoffs loss to Carolina. If he doesn't get the ball a lot early in games he can drift away mentally and start to underachieve. For this offense to play up to its potential, Burress must be focused in every game and become the go-to guy, especially in the red zone. The Giants also need to keep tight end Jeremy Shockey and Barber healthy for an entire season. In Shockey's case, he just seems to be a brittle guy who is plagued by annoying nicks and bruises that slow him down. As for Barber, the coaching staff must avoid the temptation to overwork him. He is a small back who takes great care of himself physically, but his 357 carries a year ago (along with 54 receptions) is too much. This is an offense that presents defenses with nightmare matchups and can spread the field with a great three-wide receiver package. There are no excuses for it not to put up big numbers. Defense is where this organization concentrated its efforts in the offseason. New York's revamped secondary will have better playmaking abilities and its interceptions should improve with the help of a vicious and versatile pass rush up front. The Giants might also mix things up more on defense in 2006 than they did last year. Look for them to show some 3-4 packages, which should be great for Arrington, and they will play some combo schemes in the secondary, utilizing man-to-man and zone coverages. They appear to have a lot of flexibility on defense. Although it's not Tom Coughlin's style, the Giants are capable of giving opposing offenses some exotic looks. The outlook So how good will the Giants be in 2006? Well, they should be very good. They are a mature team with a veteran coaching staff and they do a nice job of handling the New York City pressure. If Manning cuts down on his roller-coaster performances, this is a team that can play with anybody on a weekly basis and is capable of dominating, especially on offense. However, before we put the Giants in the Super Bowl, it is important to realize that the rest of the NFC East also has shown improvement. The Cowboys and Redskins have had good offseasons and Philadelphia will always be dangerous with a healthy Donovan McNabb. You could easily see the Giants being better than they were a year ago, but not necessarily see it reflected in their record. It's always fun to pontificate at this time of year and I will take a shot at predicting the Giants' success in 2006. I think they will win the NFC East with a physical 10-6 record and advance all the way to the NFC Championship Game, where they will lose to Seattle. This is a strong organization that expects that kind of success. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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