Friday, July 24, 2009
2009 NFL PREVIEW- New York Giants
NEW YORK GIANTS
2008 Record: 12-4
(1st in NFC East)
HEAD COACH: Tom Coughlin
Key Additions: LB Michael Boley (FA/Falcons) DE Chris Canty (FA/Cowboys) LB Kelvin Smith (FA)
Key Losses: WR Plaxico Burress (FA) RB Derrick Ward (FA/Buccaneers) DE Renaldo Wynn (FA/Redskins) WR Amani Toomer (FA) CB R.W. McQuarters (FA) RB Reuben Droughns (FA) CB Sam Madison (FA)
Offense: The Giants approach to offense is run the ball, run the ball, run the ball... and run some more.
Running back Brandon Jacobs (1,089 yards rushing in '08 with 5.0 avg. and 15 TDs) combined with Derrick Ward to help the team pound the ball last year. But Ward has left and that means Jacobs will carry more of the load along with Ahmad Bradshaw, who ran for 355 yards while averaging 5.3 yards per carry in limited action last year.
Quarterback Eli Manning is back again after riding high in 2007 when the Giants were winning the Super Bowl.
Manning threw for 3,238 yards a year ago while passing for 21 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. Not bad numbers for the "other" Manning. Of course, he does have a Super Bowl ring as well and that counts for something in the NFL.
He has shown he can win and after the team lost to the Eagles in the Divisional round of the 2008 playoffs, Manning took it hard and knows the team can bounce back in '09.
His targets at wide receiver will be Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith, along with Tight End Kevin Boss. Rookie Hakeem Nicks (1st Rd. pick from North Carolina) and Mario Manningham will be the backups.
Manning's favorite target (Plaxico Burress) is gone after being suspended for the last part of the season after legal problems last December. Amani Toomer, who bolted New York City for free agency, is also gone. So Manning will have to distribute the ball all over the field. He can also dish it to backs Bradshaw, Jacobs and fullback Madison Hedgecock.
The Giants led the league in rushing with 157 yards per game a year ago and that is always a plus for a ball control team that is the signature of Head Coach Tom Coughlin.
The Offensive Line will feature Shaun O' Hara at center, guards Rich Seubert and Chris Snee and tackles David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie.
Defense: This is the strength of the team as the Giants were fifth in total defense in 2008 while also finishing fifth in the NFL in points allowed.
However, turnovers and sacks were down from the Super Bowl winning season of 2007. The team had 42 sacks last year, down from 53 two years ago. Osi Umenyiora (Defensive End) missed the season with a knee injury and of course Michael Strahan retired following the championship season. Ouch!
Umenyiora is back and will line up with tackles Justin Tuck (12 sacks in '08), Chris Canty (free agent from Dallas) and End Mathias Kiwanuka to form a formidable front four.
The linebackers are Antonio Pierce, Danny Clark and Michael Boley. The front seven can stop the run as well as rush the passer and for New York to succeed in 2009, that will have to be the case for the defense.
The secondary, which got lit up at times last year down the stretch, includes safeties C.C. Brown and Ken Phillips and corners Aaron Ross and Corey Webster. The Giants thrived on takeaways in '07 and need to get back to that type of defense again after picking off just 17 passes a year ago.
OUTLOOK: The New York Giants can run the football and play defense, meaning they can control the clock. Sprinkle in Manning and the receivers doing their part and the recipe for success is there.
However, the Giants play in the rugged NFC East and it will not be easy to go 12-4 again. As long as they do their thing on offense and the defense keeps opposing teams out of the end zone consistently, the Giants will be a strong team.
They cannot have the injuries on either side of the ball (especially not on defense) again this year. Coughlin got the monkey off his back when the team won it all and last year did not have to put up with the added pressure from the New York media.
But only one thing matters in the city that never sleeps... and that is success on the football field. Anything short of a Super Bowl title will be a disappointment in the Big Apple in '09.
Disappointment it is then for the Giants as they go 11-5, but fall short of the Super Bowl once again this season.
Week 1- vs. Washington (Sept. 13)
Week 2- at Dallas (Sept. 20)
Week 3- at Tampa Bay (Sept. 27)
Week 4- at Kansas City (Oct. 4)
Week 5- vs. Oakland (Oct.11)
Week 6- at New Orleans (Oct. 18)
Week 7- vs. Arizona (Oct.25)
Week 8- at Philadelphia (Nov. 1)
Week 9- vs. San Diego (Nov. 8)
Week 10- BYE WEEK
Week 11- vs. Atlanta (Nov. 22)
Week 12- at Denver (Nov. 26)
Week 13- vs. Dallas (Dec. 6)
Week 14- vs. Philadelphia (Dec. 13)
Week 15- at Washington (Dec. 21)
Week 16- vs. Carolina (Dec. 27)
Week 17- at Minnesota (Jan. 3)