You all may or may not be familiar with my previous post. While I stand by what I wrote, I feel the other, Negative Nancy side should be represented as well. Why must I temper my enthusiasm with unneeded negativity? Who knows, but here goes. (Rhyme unintended, but noted.)
Let’s start with Eli Manning, Super Bowl Hero and MVP. He has been consistently poor, and at best average through his four seasons as the Giants quarterback. Half of his throws seem to be off his back leg and he routinely throws mind-numbing interceptions so easy to catch it seems as though he’s colorblind and doesn’t know to whom the ball should be thrown. He tied for the most interceptions thrown in the NFL this past year. He had a nice 5 games, starting from the last game of the regular season against the Patriots. Everybody talks as though he’s become John Elway or Joe Montana. If you actually look at those games, he didn’t play great games. What you can say is that he managed the games well and didn’t blow it (minus the huge final drive which included a circus catch by Tyree). Thanks Mr. Dilfer. Eli has been a mediocre first overall pick for the first four seasons of his young career. Let’s not forget that most people were clamoring to see what big Jared Lorenzen could do a few weeks earlier. Now that he had a good month and change, people forget how mediocre he’s been. Did he “bloom” and “blossom” as some have predicted, or did an average player get hot? 2008 will show us which Eli he truly is.
Were you concerned about Brandon Jacobs’ health over a full season? If you weren’t, you should be now. He missed 5 complete games and almost a full 6th game. When he did play, for most of the year he was terrific. He was the big bruising back we were hoping for, but seemed to be able to make the quick cuts, as well. We obviously don’t expect him to be a speed guy, as his longest run of the year was 43 yards, with no more than 4-5 runs of more than 20 yards the whole season. During the playoffs, he seemed to be stopped with a much greater frequency, averaging 3.17 yards per carry. While he was hurt, Derrick Ward stepped up with some tremendous, completely unexpected, play. He ran for between 80 and 94 yards in the first 4 weeks and a monster Week 13 against the Bears with 154 yards with a remarkable 6.4 per carry average. Ahmad Bradshaw had a huge 151 yard Week 16 against Buffalo under terrible conditions along with a really nice playoffs, but his overall report card is incomplete. We’ll have to see how he plays next season to call him a complete steal. As a side note, as of my writing this, Ward is a free agent, so we might lose him.
Plaxico Burress had a monster year. He set career highs in Touchdowns, caught 70 passes for over 1000 yards, and all this with a torn tendon is his foot, along with knee and back problems. In years past he usually has disappeared in the second half of the season, earning the nickname “Plexiglass”, but this year he really was a warrior, and fought through injuries that probably would have sidelined most players for the year. He is 30 though, so hopefully any off-season surgery and regular football aging won’t hurt him next year. Amani Toomer had a nice 59 catch season, but, at 33, appears to not be the same guy as he was 6 years ago. He had 83 yards receiving or more four times during the regular season, and in the playoffs he came up huge, with 74 and 80 yard games, along with an 84 yard game in the Super Bowl. Besides these two, there are a number of question marks and incompletes. Sinorice Moss has yet to be healthy enough to play with any level of consistency. He is constantly hurt and some have even speculated that he would be released. Steve Smith had really nice playoffs, with some key catches to save the game, including the Super Bowl. He was inactive for 11 of the 16 games though, so we’ll see how he can play over a full healthy season. Beyond them, there is David Tyree, who, as a special-teams specialist, hasn’t gotten much of a chance to prove himself as a full time receiver. He does seem to take advantage of those opportunities, as we saw in the Super Bowl.
Jeremy Shockey continues to be an enigma, and an annoying one at that. He is hurt often, and he is known as a complainer. Tim Hasselback (former backup Quarterback for the Giants) said, “People there are relieved he’s not around. There’s this big stink about he’s on injured reserve. How come he’s not on the sideline supporting his team? Let me tell you something, they don’t want him there. They’re going to say all the right things, ‘Oh yeah, we’d love to have him around’ and all that stuff because he’s their teammate, he’s under contract next year and you can’t do that. But when they’re talking to people and it’s not necessarily being reported they don’t want him around. He’s a distraction.” While people have disagreed with that statement publicly, he has yet to remain on the field, quietly, and without dropping the ball at an alarming rate. We did see some nice play out of rookie Kevin Boss in limited action. People want to anoint him the next Mark Bavaro, but he actually only had 9 catches in the regular season and 5 in the post-season. I am excited to see him get some real playing time and see how he responds.
Antonio Pierce had a pretty solid year. As did Kawika Mitchell. Mathius Kiwanuka didn’t exactly thrill you with his pass coverage. But then, he got hurt pretty early in the season so his grade would be incomplete. It’s a tremendous change from DE to LB, one I hope he makes well.
Ok, so we have a bunch of Cornerbacks, but they’re either old or unproven. Sam Madison and R.W. McQuarters are kind of elderly, and while they have their moments, they probably aren’t starters in the NFL anymore. Kevin Dockery does not inspire confidence. We are left with Aaron Ross and Corey Webster. Ross had a pretty solid rookie year and post-season and I look forward to seeing him start the season as a starter and see what he can do. Corey Webster had a terrible year and was in the doghouse for almost the entire season. Injuries forced him back on the field and he took advantage by having a really nice playoff run against some of the league’s best receivers with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Which Corey Webster will show up next year in camp is anybody’s guess.
The safeties are also an interesting bunch. Gibril Wilson had a nice, solid season. James Butler, who was a feel-good story after making the team as an undrafted free agent two years ago really has not stepped it up, and just looked pretty bad for a majority of the year. Craig Dahl and Michael Johnson, both rookies, had Ok years that we hope they’ll improve next season.
Despite the fact that he went 23/27 this year, including 8/8 from 40-49, Lawrence Tynes inspires little confidence. I mean, he’s known as the hero for the field goal in overtime, but what of the ones he missed in the 4th quarter? Big time kick, he makes me really nervous. We just signed him to a five year deal. That’s a long time. As far as Jeff Feagles, you gotta love the guy. He is the best at the coffin punt. The only issue is, of course, is that only one punter in the NFL averaged fewer yards per punt. Putting that aside, (besides the shooting, Mrs. Lincoln how was the play?) I like that he was signed to a two year contract extension.
Tom Coughlin apparently did a complete 180 when it came to his interaction with his players. Last year they all hated him and now they all love him. More power to him (and the Giants). Steve Spagnuolo completely changed the environment for the Defense and really sold them on his system. That we were able to sign him long term is tremendous. Kevin Gilbride as Offensive Coordinator still hasn’t sold me on anything. If the Giants would like someone that’s uncreative and predictable, I will do it for far less. He sure had his moments; the best of which was “having a feeling” that Plaxico would be open for that touchdown in the Super Bowl.