The New York Giants looked like they were headed back to the postseason in 2009 after a perfect 5-0 start, but things quickly went downhill after that, losing eight of their final ten games to finish the season a very disappointing 8-8. A lot of the blame was put on the defense, and that led to the Giants firing defensive coordinator bill Sheridan, and replacing him with 2009 Buffalo Bills interim head coach Perry Fewell. the Giants believe they will be back in the mix in the NFC East in 2010, and here is a look at what they will send onto the field on both sides of the ball, plus my prediction on where they finish the season in the NFC East.
Offense: As bad as the Giants were down the stretch in 2009, quarterback Eli Manning put together a career year throwing for 4,021 yards with 27 touchdowns to 14 interceptions, and he is a big reason why this team can turn things around in a hurry.
As good as Manning was in 2009, the Giants would love to be able to run the ball more effectively in 2010. the two-headed monster of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw were slowed down with injuries in 2009, and both are expected to come into the 2010 season healthy and ready to go.
The Giants headed into the 2009 season with a bunch of questions surrounding the receiving corps, but behind the strong arm of Manning, this unit performed way better than anyone expected. Steve Smith emerged as the no.1 weapon on the outside, while rookie Hakeem Nicks and third year pro Mario Manningham both shined in their first season seeing extensive playing time. the Giants also like what they have in young tight end Kevin Boss, who tied for third with five receiving touchdowns in 2009.
The offensive line provided three Pro Bowlers in left tackle David Diehl, right guard Chris Snee, and center Shaun O’Hara, but need more out of left guard Rich Seubert and right tackle Kareem McKenzie for this unit to be an elite group.
Defense: the Giants were unable to put the same pressure on opposing quarterbacks that caught them their Super Bowl win in 2007 and no.1 seed out of the NFC in 2008. A big reason for that was defensive end Justin Tuck spent most of last season dealing with a shoulder injury, and the downfall of end Osi Umenyiora. Mathias Kiwanuka is the projected starter at the other end spot over Umenyiora and first round pick Jason Pierre-Paul.
The Giants took a big blow at linebacker with the loss of middle linebacker Antonio Pierce and strong side linebacker Danny Clark, but the hope is that second year pro Clint Sintim can take over for Clark on the outside, while Jonathan Goff has the early edge to take over in the middle. Michael Boley is slated as the other starting outside linebacker, and the hope is for a much better season after spending most of 2009 battling injuries.
Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas will be the team’s starting duo at corner, while strong safety Kenny Phillips will be joined by newcomer Antrel Rolle, who is a big playmaker at the free safety position. Look for this unit to put up much better numbers in 2010 if the front seven can get back to putting pressure on the quarterback.
Prediction – 4th NFC East: Don’t get me wrong when I pick the Giants to finish fourth in the NFC East, it doesn’t mean I don’t think this is a team capable of making the playoffs in 2010. the NFC East is absolutely stacked, and as of right now I think the Giants are just slightly behind the Eagles and Redskins, with the Cowboys the heavy favorites to win this division.
After 16 games of inconsistency, frustration and consternation, the Giants have found their way into the playoffs.
At 9-7, they are among the NFL’s final 12 teams because of a mediocre NFC East, a year after missing out on the postseason with a 10-6 record. It is the first time that a team has won that division with less than 10 wins since it was formed in 1970. But now the Giants have a chance to make that luck pay off in a big way, starting with Sunday’s wild-card matchup against the Falcons at MetLife Stadium.
“the Giants have had injuries, struggles, all of that, but they made some changes and they fought through it,” ESPN analyst and former Steelers running back Merril Hoge said.
Getty Images NICE TO OSI YA:Osi Umenyiora’s return from injury gives the Giants a fearsome pass rush.
“now they’ve found some things that work, especially with matchups. I would expect to use their four defensive ends [Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Mathias Kiwanuka and Osi Umenyiora] at times. It will be interesting to see how they use those four guys against Atlanta and how Atlanta handles them. Their offensive line is not very athletic, but they are maulers.”
Or dirtbags, depending on whom you ask.
The matchups the Giants have exploited have led to consecutive impressive defensive performances in wins over the Jets and Cowboys. the Giants limited Dallas to 300 yards in their regular season-ending, division-clinching 31-14 victory three weeks after allowing 444 yards in another win salvaged only by Eli Manning’s late-game heroics.
But after leaning on their quarterback’s career year through those first seven wins and seven losses, the Giants now have Tuck and Umenyiora at their healthiest to join Pierre-Paul, who gets more dominant with each week, and Kiwanuka, now a full season removed from a career-threatening neck injury.
“one thing the Giants can be is one of those teams that can get on a roll,” Hoge said. “the Falcons, too. Both of them have had their struggles, but they are playing their best football now.
“the Packers, Saints and 49ers are the three elite teams in the conference, and the other three are a shade behind them, but that doesn’t mean the Giants can’t beat them. History has shown that, and the Giants have experienced that, obviously.”
That would be a reference to 2007 when the Giants stunned the football world when they reeled off three straight road wins at Tampa Bay, Dallas and Green Bay before upsetting then-unbeaten New England in the Super Bowl. That team used a harassing pass rush that this team is just starting to discover.
Like 2007, this team will start the postseason against an NFC South opponent in the Falcons. Atlanta is a 10-6 team that is more than capable of snuffing out any nostalgic recollections of four seasons ago.
“the Giants have to contain the Falcons running game,” Hoge said. “the Falcons are probably the best in football with all the things they do to run the ball.
“they have so many wrinkles to their game that makes the ground game extremely difficult to handle. Michael Turner (1,340 yards, 11 touchdowns) is obviously a beast, but it’s all the ways they disguise it that makes it more difficult than some.”