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Giants have lost too much to regain playoff berth

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Giants have lost too much to regain playoff berth

Post  Big_Pete on Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:10 am

an interesting article, what do you think?

Giants have lost too much to regain playoff berth
Giants Blog

Last Updated: 2:06 AM, September 6, 2011

Posted: 1:57 AM, September 6, 2011
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headshotPaul Schwartz

There are seasons when a team simply wants to have its assembled talent take to the field, confident that the skill level will produce a big year.

This is not one of those seasons up ahead for the Giants. They need to play better than the sum of their parts in order to avoid a third straight winter on the outside looking into the postseason.

Not getting in with a 10-6 record stung in 2010, but finding the way to 10 wins this time around will be a highly challenging assignment.

Summertime vibes aren¹t always accurate; the Giants hope what they¹ve shown themselves to be is not what they become, as their preseason was fairly ragged and unearthed more questions than answers.

Is this a team on the rise? More alarmingly, it more closely resembles a team that hasn’t maintained, with losses in free agency and injuries robbing the roster of too much talent, skimming away needed depth. There are the makings of a very solid defense, but will that defense grow frustrated and wilt if Eli Manning and the cast of characters around him cannot often enough find the end zone?

It could be a long season. A look at the 2011 Giants:


There has been absolutely no infusion of talent or spark. It’s quite the opposite, with skill, experience and leadership exiting and little entering through the door as replacements. Hobbled offensive line stalwarts Rich Seubert and Shaun O’Hara are gone. Reliable tight end Kevin Boss is gone. First-down machine Steve Smith is playing receiver for the Eagles. All free agency brought back was C David Baas from the 49ers. This is going to put an even greater load on Eli Manning, now 30, who last season threw a career-high 31 touchdown passes but also a career-worst 25 interceptions. He struggled through a sub-par summer and now has fewer weapons. After a one-year hiatus, David Carr returns as Manning’s backup.

Hakeem Nicks could be one of the top receivers in the league, but will have to endure facing constant extra attention. Mario Manningham can turn any play into a big one, but also can ruin a play with his inconsistency.

The third option should be Domenik Hixon, who missed last season following knee surgery. He’s solid, not spectacular. The running back tandem again should be formidable with Ahmad Bradshaw (career-high 1,235 yards last season) greased up with improved feet and ankles and Brandon Jacobs, who should get more carries than he did a year ago. Undrafted rookie Henry Hynoski moves in at fullback.

It’s now or never for TE Travis Beckum, a 2009 third-round pick who so far is all promise, no production.

The key will be how comfortable Manning is behind a new-look line. David Diehl should be fine sliding inside from left tackle to left guard. Baas is a tough guy, but he needs to make all the line calls, something O’Hara and then Seubert could do in their sleep. The entire success or failure of the line as a unit could hinge on Will Beatty, who in his third season takes over at left tackle. A former second-round pick, Beatty has bulked up and is athletically suited for the job, but he’s got to prove he’s tough enough play after play protecting Manning’s blind side.

Grade: B


What looked to be the makings of a dominant unit took a huge hit with the season-ending knee injury to rising star CB Terrell Thomas. It’s a major loss, compounded by the broken foot suffered by first-round pick Prince Amukamara, who will miss at least the first month. Now what was a deep and skilled secondary will have to adjust, with Aaron Ross the linchpin. He must stay healthy after two rough seasons and show why he was a first-round pick in 2007. Corey Webster is steady as the other starting corner. Antrel Rolle came into the league as a cornerback before becoming a Pro Bowl safety but will line up at corner as the nickel back, further filling up an already full plate. Rolle is also a versatile safety but more is needed from Kenny Phillips, who has yet to show he can be the impact player he was headed to being before ripping up his knee early in the 2009 season. Deon Grant was re-signed and adds a savvy safety to the mix until rookie Tyler Sash is ready.

The heart of the defense is up front, where dominance is expected and required. DE Justin Tuck is a force no matter where he lines up and leads the group in every way. His running mate, Osi Umenyiora, is a complete wild-card after a turbulent summer filled with contract and trade-request angst, followed by arthroscopic knee surgery. Umenyiora should be back soon, but as a pass-rushing demon or an unhappy camper? Waiting in the wings is Jason Pierre-Paul, a physical marvel who still needs some seasoning entering his second year. Inside, the loss of durable Barry Cofield (who signed with the Redskins) clears the way for Linval Joseph, who appears ready to handle the assignment as a run-stopping tackle. Chris Canty is solid at the other tackle spot, but promising rookie Marvin Austin (pectoral) will miss his entire first year.

The weak spot of the unit is at linebacker, unless several factors align.

Mathias Kiwanuka is a converted end who has an expansive wingspan and good instincts and could excel, but is still more natural moving forward than backpedaling. MLB Jonathan Goff might surprise people with his effectiveness against the run. Michael Boley put in a fine preseason and at times can make game-changing plays, but not enough to be considered a difference-maker.

Grade: A


The preseason was one big mess. There were no answers for a return game that was the worst in the NFL a year ago. Rookie Jerrel Jernigan failed his tryout at punt returner, and while Devin Thomas provided a spark at kickoff return, he also made some mistakes that were hard to take. The plan was to keep Hixon out of this to save wear and tear on his surgically repaired knee, but there¹s really no choice but to put him back there, particularly on punts.

Kicker Lawrence Tynes missed most of the preseason with a thigh contusion but is expected back for the opener, with very little work to fall back on as he watched Rhys Lloyd fill in. The punting derby was a spirited competition between second-year Matt Dodge and veteran Steve Weatherford that concluded with the less powerful but more consistent Weatherford getting the job. He should be able to consistently pin opponents inside the 20. Don¹t bet on the coverage units holding up.

Grade: C


Facing back-to-back seasons out of the playoffs makes this a big year for Tom Coughlin. He was given a one-year contract extension through the 2012 season, and he might not get there if there’s a third straight winter out of the postseason. He’s got the attention of his players but, for such a no-nonsense guy, is not quick to pull the plug on players when things aren’t going well. He’s heavily involved in the offense run by coordinator Kevin Gilbride, who doesn’t like backing off and puts tremendous trust in Manning, perhaps too much so. Perry Fewell operates an aggressive defense but will have to get more creative than anticipated with Terrell Thomas out of the picture. Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn has to find a way to improve his unit because it’s a production-based business.

Grade: B+


There’s too much on defense for a complete meltdown, but can anyone feel confident that this team is any better than it was a year ago? The conference is stacked, the Giants are not. Looks like second place behind the Eagles in the NFC and no playoffs again.


We know how these Giants fared in 2010. Now comes the hard part. Predicting how they’ll do in 2011. Here goes:

QB Eli Manning

2010: 62.9 percent completions, 4,002 yards, 31 TDs, 25 INTs

2011 projection: 60.5 percent completions, 3,899 yards, 25 TDs, 16 INTs

Fewer targets means less production, but at least Eli will be more careful with the ball.

WR Hakeem Nicks

2010: 79 receptions, 1,052 yards, 11 TDs

2011 projection: 85 receptions, 1,060 yards, 9 TDs

Nicks played in only 13 games last season so numbers could rise, but he constantly will be facing double coverage.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw

2010: 276 carries, 1,235 yards, 8 TDs

2011 projection: 240 carries, 1,056 yards, 6 TDs

More shared workload for Brandon Jacobs means less of everything for Bradshaw.

DE Osi Umenyiora

2010: 111/2 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, 48 tackles

2011 projection: 7 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 42 tackles

He’s coming off minor knee surgery, likely will miss the first game or two, and when he returns we’ll see about his physical and mental readiness.


Of course it’s always Eli Manning, so for the sake of creativity we’ll go elsewhere. Will Beatty takes over at left tackle after two years waiting in the wings. If he’s not ready now, he never will be. There’s no proven answer behind him, so it’s Beatty or trouble.


Mathias Kiwanuka made it through only three games in 2010 before a herniated disk in his neck ended his season. He has the potential to be an impact linebacker, and when was the last time the Giants had one of those?


With No. 1 pick Prince Amukamara out for at least the first month, No. 2 pick Marvin Austin out for the season and No. 3 pick Jerrel Jernigan flubbing punts, not much to choose from here. Guess we’ll go with safety Tyler Sash (sixth round), who should make some noise on special teams and eventually on defense.


Jason Pierre-Paul barely knew what he was doing as a rookie last season, and by the end of the year he was very hard to block. He still needs work at the fine points of the game, but he’s a long-armed, 278-pound physical marvel who has one speed and it’s not slow.


Nov. 20 vs. the Eagles. It’s a Sunday night nationally televised game as the rival Eagles return to the scene of the crime (DeSean Jackson’s infamous punt return), this time with former Giants receiver Steve Smith wearing green. It’s the start of a brutal three-game stretch -- at New Orleans, vs. Super Bowl champion Packers -- that will be difficult to endure.


Osi Umenyiora is going to come back from minor knee surgery early in the season, but will he be healed emotionally? He’s more than angry about not getting a new contract and he might not be easy to deal with. If so, does he get treated with care or with an iron fist?


Hakeem Nicks does not have the breakout season so many are expecting. He’s the fourth-rated receiver on most Fantasy Football draft lists, but it will be hard for him to match last year’s production with opposing defenses keying on him more than ever unless another threat emerges.


Seeing Kevin Boss go over the middle for the Raiders and Smith converting first downs for the Eagles; having Manning talk about how well the offense moved the ball from the 20 to the 20; hearing play-by-play ace Bob Papa intone, “Manning looks over the middle, the pass glances off the hands of Mario Manningham, Nnamdi Asomugha with the interception and he’s got room to run.”
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Re: Giants have lost too much to regain playoff berth

Post  Big_Pete on Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:35 am

I think this way too pessermistic.

What have we really lost?

Kevin Boss? - sure, but he was also inconsistent at times and we have Beckum to step in. This is a loss but I think we can be ok. We do need Beckum to step up, but he can be more of a threat in the passing game than Boss. I would like to see us using more sets with a H-Back rather than an inline TE; this plays to Beckum and Pascoe's strengths.

Barry Cofield? - not so much. Linval Joseph is a stud and only scratching the surface of what he can do. Sure it would have been nice to keep Cofield, but don't under estimate the tandem of Joseph and Canty; particularly as we will work a DE inside at times as well.

Steve Smith? - the fact is that he is coming off serious injury. I don't think it is as big an issue as people make out. Sure we will have to rely on our young WR group, but the same could be said of the group post Burress/Toomer. If he can get healthy, Barden could play a big role and all our WRs can contribute.

Our Oline? - it is younger and healthier, it is more physical and we have more athleticism inside. Sure it will take some time to settle down, but it is at least as good as our line last year and potentially much better.

Our LBs. The one factor is that I don't like Kiwanuka at SLB, I would rather him at DE; but I can also see the need to get him on the field and he was productive at SLB in the past. Lets leave him at SLB and see how he progresses. Sure we didn't get the flashy LB many wanted, but we had serious cap limitations. I really like our young LBs behind the starters, they are instinctive with decent coverage skills and great special teamers.

Now look at what we did do, we kept our RB core intact with two very good running backs who complement each other, we kept Ware and added a genuine home run threat in Scott. Our ground game is much better, particularly when you factor in a good young FB and a more physical Oline. It is no coincidence that our ground game has looked very solid this preseason.

Special teams is much better with improved coverage and punting.

Also lets not forget this is Fewell's second season. Rather than learning a new system our defense can build on what we had last year. I really get the feeling that despite the unfortunate injury to Thomas (and Austin), this defense could be the best we have had in some time (Spags defense included).

One think I have noticed is that we have a lot of talented youngsters at most positions behind our starters, I think they could really help us over he back half of the season when we have traditionally faded a little.

It hasn't been flashy for sure and we have had cap issues, but there is no reason to write this team off.

What we have is a tough, physical team with a very good defense, power running game and decent passing game. Sure it isn't the high powered passing offenses popular in the NFL, it sounds like old school NYG football to me. I for one am very happy to be the under dog.
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Re: Giants have lost too much to regain playoff berth

Post  56 Crazed Dogs on Tue Sep 06, 2011 7:09 am

I wouldn't write off the Giants yet.
It all starts in the trenches.

Offense- I believe we have a more physical presence with Baas over O"hara. And judging from preseason I haven't seen where Beatty has hurt us any at left tackle.
Diehl back to left guard isn't a bad thing.
We possibly get a better blocker out of Jake Ballard than Kevin Boss.

Defense- We lose Cofield but Linval Joseph showed nothing less in preseason.
Canty comes back healthy and looks much improved already.
Pierre-Paul has been impressive.
Osi, when he returns will play hard for a new contract and a way out of here.
Let's not forget we get Kiwanuka back again as a pass rusher on certain downs.

We lose two receivers in Boss and Smith. It's fair to say this is a downgrade at this point.
Although, Smith would have likely missed the Giants first seven games anyways.
But, I like Hixon and he looked fast so far from what I've seen. Same goes for Devin Thomas.
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Re: Giants have lost too much to regain playoff berth

Post  Pizan on Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:23 pm

You guys bring up some good points as does the writer.

On offense We don't need beckum to replace boss, he needs to replace the role smith had on third downs. That's something I'm worried about. Our oline is improved. I really like what we did there. Jacobs should have a ton of success up the middle. I'm anxious to see what barden can do once he's healthy. Him and beckum can add a different aspect to the offense that could replace boss and smith.

On defense it looks like our dts will be interchangeable. That has it's positives as well as it's negatives. We still have one of the weakest lb groups in the NFL. We are without our defensive leader and best corner which really sucks but we have flexibitly back there.

On specials we got better with our cover units which was something we need to get better on. We also got more consistent with the change at punter. The return game can't get much worse.

I'm the end j think we did enough to maintain what we had but didn't do anything to really improve the the team. We are relying heavily on the development of our younger players.

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