The New York Giants were coming off a magical season last year; which concluded as Super Bowl Champions.
This season had hoped to have promise and great expectations as the Giants were favorites by many to repeat as NFC East division champions and make the playoffs.
Unfortunately, someone failed to remind the Giants that last season was a mirage of their true talent level and this season they have been exposed.
Let’s break down a few major differences from last season and this season; which have caused the Giants to miss the playoffs.
1. Eli Manning: Last season, Manning was the No. 1 reason why the Giants had such a magical season and eventually won their 2nd Super Bowl in five seasons.
Last season, Manning played liked a super hero as he led the Giants to countless 4th quarter victories and also out-shined Matt Ryan, Alex Smith, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady en route to a Super Bowl championship.
However, this season Manning has been more human like and the team finds themselves on the outside looking in. Unfortunately for Manning, the Giants depended too much on him each week this year and it finally caught up with them.
2. Running Game: Last season, the Giants' running started out near the bottom of the league. This all changed when both Jacobs and Bradshaw got healthy and the Giants' running game emerged late in the season and helped carried them to a Super Bowl victory.
Moving forward, the Giants need to focus on having a more balance attack on offense and not rely on the arm of Manning. To accomplish this, the Giants need to revamp the offensive line and become a better running team.
An extra year of experience for players such as Wilson and Brown, along with a healthy Bradshaw should help. However; the main focus should be on the offensive line as Chris Snee is the only legit guy on the starting line, but even he is in his early 30’s. Last season, the Giants drafted offensice tackles Brandon Mosley (4th rd) and Matt McCants (6th rd) but neither made much of a contribution and will once again battle for a roster spot in 2013.
3. Secondary: This has been a concern for the Giants over the last two seasons as injuries and under-performances have hindered the teams overall success. Corey Webster and Antrel Rolle both under-performed and both could be victims of the salary cap next season.
The status of Terrell Thomas (could switch to safety) is unclear after his third surgery on the same knee. The slow development of Prince Amukamara limits the Giants at the cornerback position. The emergence of Stevie Brown almost guarantees a departure of Kenny Phillips (free agency) at the strong safety position and another year of experience for Hosley and Hill should help with the lost of Webster and Rolle.
4. Linebackers/Defensive line: This was a mix/match rotation all year as many key players battled injuries throughout the season. The Giants' linebackers as a group played well below expectations as did the entire defensive line of the Giants. Justin Tuck is on the down side of his career. Umenyiora is most likely out the door and JPP saw too many double teams as his sack totals were down considerably from last season.
Moving forward, the Giants will need to revamp their roster with younger, faster players at key positions. Over the next few months the picture will be a lot clearer on which direction the Giants will take.
Look for the Giants to be active in free agency, but not for a big marquee player with a big price tag (not the Giants style), but selected players that will fill a need and contribute to the team. As for the Draft, a lot will be written (mock drafts) from now until the eve of the draft. Normally, GM Jerry Reese never reveals his hand and I expect the same this year.