From 9-7 to beating the Patriots in the Superbowl. Only Eli Manning. The Giants second Superbowl win in four years featured a dominant display in the playoffs to render the potent offenses of Atlanta and Green Bay inert and the ferocious defence of San Francisco broken.
The play from Manning in the final featured throws usually reserved only for the post season and sees him overtake his brother in the one stat that matters most; Superbowl victories. The stage is set for Manning to cement his place in history and take home more rings in the near future.
Tom Coughlin and his staff will be desperate to stave off any Superbowl hangover. He’ll be keen for the gap between his next Superbowl to be lot shorter. One reason he might be able to accomplish this is star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
The third year player emerged last season as a threat to register 20 sacks a season. His incredibly long arms and devastating speed make any blocker assigned to him tremble. His play elevates the play of his line mates and allows his defensive backs pick off errant passes that are thrown wildly because of his pressure.
Pierre-Paul is key to New York’s defensive pressure while Manning will hope to continue his excellent form from last season. The Giants are post season beasts. If they get there in 2012, don’t bet against them to pull off some more upsets.
2011 Record: 9-7
Head Coach: Tom Coughlin
Off. Cord: Kevin Gilbride
Def. Cord: Perry Fewell
Eli Manning was just 67 yards away from joining the 5000 yards club in 2011. Throwing for 4933 yards and 29 TDs while completing 61% of his passes backed up Manning’s claim that he belong in the conversation of elite quarterbacks.
Manning is as established and experienced as they come. He has a thick skin that helps to deflect the criticism that comes with being a quarterback in New York City. He will no doubt face more questions about his play despite his two rings, but now Manning has proven he was not just a one hit wonder. He will become a better quarterback in 2012, his confidence currently sky high.
David Carr backs up Manning. He might not see a lot of time, but I’m personally glad to see Carr with a Superbowl ring. His term in Houston is seen as a failure on his part, but the tough growing up period of franchise cannot be attributed solely to him. Carr gives the Giants a capable backup with starting experience.
In the Backfield
Earth Wind and Fire is now just Fire. Losing Brandon Jacobs will be big blow for the Giants. Jacobs maybe getting on in life, but his fiery attitude and powerful running were an excellent part of New York’s attack.
Instead, Ahmad Bradshaw takes over as the main tailback in New York with a 659 yards and 9 TDs showing in 2011. Rotating in for Bradshaw will be D.J. Ware and the 32nd pick in this year’s draft, David Wilson form Virginia Tech. If the rookie can contribute in key situations like Bradshaw did for the Giants in 2009, New York’s rushing attack will not feel the sting of Jacobs leaving and should improve the unit as a whole.
It may not have been the deepest unit in the league last year, but the New York pass catchers were on form and contributed to Eli’s Manning’s best season in years, and the Giants Superbowl victory.
After a strong showing in the preseason two years ago, Victor Cruz burst onto the scene in 2011 with 1536, 9 TDs and a salsa routine that had every big blue fan dancing. Cruz also had a 99 yard reception this year, a distinction only given out by luck.
He teamed up with the already established pair of Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. While Manningham joined Jacobs in leaving for San Francisco, Nicks returns after posting 1192 yards and 7 TDs last year. Nicks is currently side-lined with injury, but is slated to play in the Giants first game of the new season. New rookie Reuben Randle is also expected to contribute in his first year in the league.
Tight end Jake Ballard (604 yards and 4 TDs) in what has been confirmed as a mistake by Tom Coughlin was claimed off waivers by New England, leaving newcomer Martellus Bennett and fourth round pick Adrian Robinson the most likely candidates to replace him as starting tight end.
The Big Uglies
The Giants oline only gave up 18 sacks in 2011 making them one of the better units in 2011 despite battling injuries. Players such David Diehl and Chris Snee have been great leaders and solid rocks on this line for years, and it is to their credit that they have helped this line deal with big loss in the past such as Rich Seubert, Shaun O’Hara and Kareem McKenzie.
Younger members of this specific line that will be called upon in 2012 include David Bass and Will Beatty, and they along with the likes of Diehl and Snee will have the task of keeping Manning upright and confident.
The Giants were not among the better defensive units in 2011 in terms of total yards allowed, but in terms of sacks, they were one of the best. Easily the best Giants defender in 2011 was Jason Pierre-Paul who had 16.5 sacks last year to go along with 86 tackles. Pierre-Paul is a scary defender who relies on his speed and vast arm span and is a genuine threat to break Strahan’s 22.5 sack record.
Pierre-Paul leads a line that saw a multitude of returning players get to the quarterback often in 2011. The major names such as Justin Tuck (5 sacks) and Osi Umenyiora (9 sacks) (who stays in New York after his contract was renegotiated) remain as important and influential as ever with both using their experience to motivate the other members of the line such as Rocky Bernard, Linval Joseph and the currently injured Chris Canty.
The Giants made a bold move and traded for former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers in order to bulk up the unit. Rivers has battled injuries, he does bring leadership qualities to the group, and if he can get up to speed, will be a dominant force in the middle for the Giants.
New York already has hard grafters at the position however, with Michael Boley posting a 93 tackle season, Mathias Kiwanuka making 84 tackles and 3.5 sacks, Jacquian Williams registering 78 tackles and a sack, Chase Blackburn contributing 26 tackles and an interception.
If Mark Herzlich can improve steadily throughout his second season, he will provide good depth for the unit moving forward.
Sacks weren’t the only statistic the Giants were proficient in acquiring. The Giants also captured 20 INTs in 2011, not a bad stat line. Despite missing most of 2011 with injury, in the limited time he was active the Giants’ first round pick last year cornerback Prince Amukamara broke up 3 passes and made an interception. The Giants will be hoping Amukamara has a great sophomore season as he is most definitely a vital cog in this defence’s future.
Despite losing Aaron Ross (4 INTs last year) to Jacksonville, the secondary returns safety Antrel Rolle (96 tackles and 2 INTs), Kenny Phillips (82 tackles and 4 INTs) and Corey Webster (51 tackles and 6 INTs). All three are core members of this defence, and along with a healthy Amukamara, will be formidable unit in 2012. The unit also has depth in numbers with Terrell Thomas resigning and Chris Horton joining the team.
2011’s main kick returner Devin Thomas is no longer with the team meaning running back Da’Rel Scott and receiver Jerrel Jernigan will get plenty of looks in the preseason, but an adequate starter will have to emerge. Domenik Hixon will also have to step in the punt returner job with cornerback Aaron Ross also no longer with the team.
With no new kickers or punters on the team, 2011 pair Lawrence Tynes and Steve Weatherford are set to start in 2012. While Weatherford excelled averaging 45.7 yards per punt, Tynes disappointed with only a 79.2% field goal accuracy. Tynes, a two time Giants hero with his post season nerves, may have the benefit of the doubt after last season, but he will have to improve in order to secure his job for 2013.
If you discard their offseason performance, the Giants were only good for 9 wins. This was good enough to win the division, but all three NFC East opponents got better in the summer, making the division battles even more brutal. The Giants have made some moves of their own, and while they have lost some key players, they can win without them and make the division race one of the fiercest in football.
Eli Manning set his critics straight last year and will hope to continue his form into 2012 and lead the Giants to the defence of their Superbowl title. He will have to win big in the regular season however, as the NFC has become a battlefield with plenty of teams capable of winning those coveted wildcard spots.
But as we saw last year, once the Giants get to the post season, they elevate their play beyond their opponent’s and suddenly become a very hot team. It will be up to Coughlin and Manning to make sure they get there first.
Be sure to check out other great articles at Heavy in the Games.
Delivered to your inbox
|Best of Yardbarker||NFL News||MLB News||NBA News||NHL News|
Today's Best Stuff