Super Bowl Champs: 5 Moves the Giants Need to Make to Repeat
After knocking off the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and Patriots, the Giants became the first nine-win team to win the Super Bowl since the NFL expanded to a 16-game season in 1978.
By no means were the Giants dominant in the regular season—well, at least for the first 15 weeks. The Giants started a torrid stretch during Week 16's game against the Jets and didn't look back on their way to the top.
The Giants willed their way to victory on Sunday behind the strong play of Eli Manning and the punishing play of the entire defense.
With a 9-7 record during the regular season, the Giants clearly have room to improve during this offseason. Already considered a "weak team" by many (I can only laugh at people who say such absurdities), there is no arguing that the Giants could upgrade a few positions during free agency.
If the Giants want to improve their chances of repeating next season in Super Bowl XLVII, they should look into upgrading these positions.
Running Backs on 2011-2012 Roster: Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, D.J. Ware, Da'rel Scott
Whether you attribute it to a down season or not, the Giants finished last in the NFL in rushing in 2011. They averaged just 3.5 YDS/ATT and 89.2 YDS/G.
Jacobs struggled for most of the season, while Bradshaw was hampered by a foot injury for a few games during the second half.
The run game showed signs of improvement during the playoffs, but a prolific passer like Eli Manning needs a consistent run game to keep defenses in check.
That's why, I believe, the Giants should consider these two options:
Option 1: Sign Michael Bush, cut or trade Jacobs
Depending on who you talk to, fans either love Jacobs or hate him. Many will admit that he is a very frustrating player. Given his size (6' 4", 265lbs), you would think that he would be able to break tackles and get large chunks of yardage up the middle.
That's just it, though—he doesn't usually run up the middle.
Jacobs thinks that he can bounce it outside and break off 20-yard runs. Although it happens, on occasion, it's just not his thing.
Signing Bush, a bruiser that knows he's a bruiser, would greatly improve the Giants offense. Using him as the third down back to compliment Bradshaw would make the Giants offense tough to stop.
Option 2: Sign Matt Forte, cut or trade Jacobs
Although the end result would still be cutting Jacobs, this option would give the Giants offense a bit of a different dynamic.
Assuming he's not franchised by the Chicago Bears, Forte would become the feature back for the team, making Bradshaw the change of pace, third down back.
Forte has proved that he can be an explosive playmaker in the NFL, both as a runner and receiving threat out of the backfield.
Signing Forte would make the Giants offense one of the tops in the league next season.
Tight Ends on 2011-2012 Roster: Jake Ballard, Travis Beckum, Bear Pascoe
The Giants are in need of a tight end for next season, and not just because of the inconsistent play they received from the position throughout the season.
Both Beckum and Ballard injured themselves during the Super BowlBeckum tore his ACL and Ballard tore his meniscus.
Beckum is almost assured to miss most of, if not all, of next season, while Ballard is unsure if he'll need surgery.
There is one big name on the free agent market in Jermichael Finley, but he most likely won't be leaving Green Bay. Even if he does, he's most likely out of the Giants price range given their other commitments.
A one-year deal for somebody like Fred Davis of the Redskins or John Carlson of the Seahawks may not be a bad idea, as both players will likely look to bring their stocks back up with short contracts.
A player with something to prove is usually a good combination for success, and the Giants could just catch lightening in a bottle if they sign one of those two tight ends for next season.
The draft is always a possibility as well, but no matter what, the Giants must do something about their tight end position by next training camp.
Linebackers on 2011-2012 Roster: Chase Blackburn, Michael Boley, Zak DeOssie, Mark Herzlich, Greg Jones, Matthias Kiwanuka, Spencer Paysinger, Jacquian Williams
By no means were the Giants linebackers terrible this past season; they were very adept at stopping the run and making a big tackle.
The linebacking core's problem during the season was covering the opposing team's tight end or slot receiver.
The most athletic linebacker of the group, Jacquian Williams, a rookie out of South Florida, was often tasked with defending the tight end of the opposing team.
Now, he didn't do horribly, but there were times when it was obvious that the Giants were struggling in covering the biggest, and often the slowest, receiving option on the field.
Where the Giants could upgrade their linebackers this offseason is by signing a linebacker known for his covering ability, as well as his ability to stop the run.
A guy like London Fletcher, although 37, could be a perfect fit for the Giants.
Fletcher would most likely command a one or two-year deal, something the Giants would most likely be willing to dish out. Fletcher has been a staple of consistency in the NFL, and is revered as one of the most complete linebackers in the game today.
Even at age 37, he posted 166 tackles, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions, eight passes defended and three forced fumbles.
Signing Fletcher to a short contract could do wonders for an already strong defense.
Cornerbacks/Safeties on 2011-2012 Roster: Prince Amukamura, Will Blackmon, Aaron Ross, Corey Webster, Deon Grant, Derrick Martin, Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle, Tyler Sash
The Giants have options going into this offseason, as both positions in the secondary could stand to upgrade next season.
An injury to Terrell Thomas really hurt the Giants pass defense, as they ranked 29th in the league, allowing 255.1 YDS/G.
Prince Amukamura, after coming back for an injury, did not play as well as expected in his rookie season, but there's plenty reason to believe that he'll improve next season.
With both Ross and Thomas free agents, though, the Giants could look to sign one and upgrade over the other. My vote would be to bring back Ross, given Thomas' injury history, and go after a big name like Cortland Finnegan.
He and the Titans remain skeptical on the possibility of agreeing on a long-term contract, so the Giants could possibly pick him up and pair him with Corey Webster. His physical style of play is perfect for Perry Fewell's defense schemes.
Other notable corners for the Giants to monitor include Kelvin Hayden of the Falcons and Kelly Jennings of the Bengals.
If the Giants choose to resign Ross, they could instead decide to upgrade at the safety position.
Antrel Rolle played a huge role on the club this season, but the inconsistent play of Deon Grant and Kenny Phillips really hurt the team.
LaRon Landry could be had on the cheap, as he's looking to reestablish himself after forgoing surgery to allow a heel injury to repair itself.
The Redskins seem wary of resigning him because of it, and a one or two-year deal could be enough to entice him to join the division rivals.
Offensive Tackles on the 2011-2012 Roster: Will Beatty, Kevin Boothe, Kareem McKenzie, Stacy Andrews, James Brewer
The Giants offensive line played very well during the season, but there was a glaring weakness at left tackle throughout.
The combination of Will Beatty (who was lost for the season with an eye injury) and Kevin Boothe proved to be the weakest link of an otherwise strong offensive line.
With Kareem McKenzie likely to be resigned at right tackle, an improvement at left tackle could really help Eli Manning be even more comfortable in the pocket next season.
The big name free agents include Demetrius Bell of the Bills and Jared Gaither of the Chargers. Each of them figures to demand top dollar for their services, and the Giants would be wise to spend that money elsewhere.
Ryan Diem of the Colts could be an interesting option, as the Colts are entering rebuilding mode and are most likely looking to rid themselves of semi-pricey veterans.
The Giants could also look to upgrade any of the aforementioned positions during the NFL Draft in 12 weeks, but I chose to look at the proven options who will be available via free agency.
First up on the Giants agenda, after celebrating of course, should be to resign the likes of Mario Manningham, Aaron Ross, Kareem McKenzie, Dave Tollefson, Rocky Bernard, Steve Weatherford and Chase Blackburn.
After resigning these veterans, the Giants could look to make some of the acquisitions I suggested in the previous slides.
Of course, there are many other options available, and General Manager Jerry Reese is clearly capable of putting together a championship caliber team.
For now, the Giants should just focus on celebrating their Super Bowl victory—they've earned it.