New York Giants: 5 Reasons 2012 Will Be Even Better

Louis Musto@LouisMustoContributor IIIFebruary 6, 2012

New York Giants: 5 Reasons 2012 Will Be Even Better

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    For the New York Giants, it’s hard to imagine a greater season than a year where they were able to finish off with a phenomenal victory in Super Bowl XLVI over the New England Patriots, 21-17.

    Still, though not trying to turn the attention so quickly from the Giants historic Super Bowl win, there is much to be optimistic about looking ahead to what the future may hold for New York in 2012.

    The roster is filled with talented superstars, one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks and the Giants are led by one of the top head coaches when it’s crunch time, Tom Coughlin. It will not be easier to top a Super Bowl championship in 2011, but here are five reasons why the Giants will make it happen.

A Healthy Defense

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    The New York Giants defense was the worst it has been in years in 2011. Fortunately, much of that had to do with serious injuries that struck the Giants early and left the team in shambles trying to piece a strong unit together for much of the season.

    The Giants lost five players from their linebackers and defensive backs positions to the injured reserve, including starters Terrell Thomas and Jonathan Goff before the opening week of the regular season. Key players Osi Umenyiora and first-round draft pick Prince Amukamara missed valuable time to injury as well and their season’s lacked because of it.

    In 2012, the Giants should enter fresh with their key pieces healthy, delivering the defense with a major boost it will need to successfully defend their Super Bowl championship.

The Draft and Free Agency Should Fill Needs

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    While injuries marred the Giants quite a bit, there are still major needs that must be filled in the offseason.

    The offensive line showed their age in a poor 2011 performance as well as a plethora of injuries that forced the Giants to move players all around to make things work. The linebackers were exposed as the young, subpar group they were expected to be and should be one of the Giants’ top priorities to improve in the offseason.

    With wide receiver Mario Manningham becoming a free agent, as well as questionable futures in New York for running back Brandon Jacobs and defensive end Osi Umenyiora, the Giants will also need to assess the possibility of bringing them back and who to replace them with if they do not.

    Regardless, a New York Giants team that improved over the course of the season can only get better with the additions General Manager Jerry Reese makes in the offseason.

Eli Manning Is Among the Elite

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    It might sound like a broken record at this point, but there is no arguing with facts: Eli Manning is elite.

    His outstanding MVP performance for the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI only cemented that point. Now, Manning enters 2012 better than ever, rightfully labeled “elite” and seeking to add a third Super Bowl ring to his hand.

    Manning has become the leader the Giants hoped he would become and has the capabilities to win with whomever he’s given to play with.  But with a talented core including Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Ahmad Bradshaw—amongst other offensive weapons—there is no doubting Manning will have another career-year in 2012.

Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz

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    Perhaps the most beneficial improvement for the New York Giants in 2011, outside of Eli Manning’s leap to “elite” status, was the emergence of Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz as one of the most dangerous wide receiver tandems in the NFL.

    Together, Nicks and Cruz amassed an astounding 158 receptions for 2,728 yards and 16 of Eli Manning’s 29 touchdown passes. They gave opposing teams fits on a weekly basis and made nearly every big play the Giants needed them to make.

    In 2012, expect much of the same from a duo that can only improve with more experience alongside Manning in Kevin Gilbride’s offensive system. Both men combine to make two of the league’s most lethal big play threats and should see even more opportunities as opposing defenses try to figure out how to stop them.

Still Something to Prove

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    Usually, a Super Bowl championship means a team is the very best in the NFL. For the New York Giants, the argument will likely be that they got hot at the right time more than anything else.

    That means that, though the Giants will be the defending champions in 2012, they will have much to prove to show that they are one of the very best in the NFL. Luckily for the Giants, as displayed by their outstanding run to the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl title, Tom Coughlin and his team do best when they have something to prove.

    In 2008, the Giants started 11-1 following their miracle Super Bowl win over the undefeated New England Patriots, but crumbled at the end losing four of their last five and were eliminated early from the playoffs.

    A similar hot start in 2012 would be great for the Giants, but the key is to keep that momentum going all the way through the playoffs rather than collapsing under immense pressure or distractions—such as Plaxico Burress accidentally shooting himself.

    Thankfully, perhaps more so than in years past, Coughlin has control of his Giants team and should have them focused and ready to defend their championship in 2012.  And there’s no reason to think that 2012 Giants squad will not be better than this year’s Super Bowl champions.