The 2008 playoffs have proven to be anything but what the “experts” predicted they would be.
The New York Giants, highly touted as the No. 1 seed in the NFC, fell Sunday to the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that needed outside help to qualify for the postseason, making them the perfect example of how unorthodox these playoffs have been thus far.
Despite earning the No. 1 seed, the Giants certainly have some places on which to improve for next season. The most publicized of these positions would be wide receiver. The Plaxico Burress fiasco left a void in the Giants' arsenal of deep-threat wideouts.
Domenik Hixon did well, but he doesn’t have the obvious height advantage of Burress, nor does he share an uncanny chemistry with Eli Manning. I’m not saying that Burress was the magic that was missing from the Giants’ attack on Sunday, but the five touchdowns Burress has scored against the Eagles since 2006 certainly would not have hurt the Giants’ offense.
Going into 2009, the receiver position will be a focus of the Giants’ front office. Mario Manningham, last year’s second-round pick out of Michigan, Sinorice Moss, Hixon, and Steve Smith will be returning at the position.
While the Giants have Amani Toomer, he is getting older, and retiring is certainly not out of the realm of possibility. What the Giants need is a younger receiver who has leadership and a proven track record. With Burress most likely out of the picture, the Giants might be picky shoppers in the offseason.
One player that would be a great addition to the Giants would be Anquan Boldin, from the Cardinals. He is a young player and has certainly proven to be a difference-making, deep threat-type of receiver.
Another player could be Andre Johnson of the Texans. Either player would certainly cost the Giants a draft pick—and probably more. Ideally, to get Boldin or Johnson, the Giants would have to give up a second-round pick and, potentially, Derrick Ward, since New York won't be able to afford both he and Brandon Jacobs next year.
Ahmad Bradshaw could be on the table as well, but not signing Ward and getting rid of Bradshaw would not good for the Giants' rushing attack. Not only is Bradshaw a great change of pace from Jacobs, but he has proven himself valuable on special teams.
Smith is turning into a very reliable receiver for Manning. He has a nose for the sticks and is a great possession receiver. Moss, more than Manningham, has shown flashes of what could be a promising career in New York. With a young and talented, yet proven, receiver, the Giants’ receiving corps will once again have that deep threat that Burress provided.
In the draft, the Giants will probably look at linebackers. Brian Cushing, from USC, would be a good addition to the Giants' defense because of his quickness and tenacity.
The Giants can certainly use another linebacker to go along with Antonio Pierce. Since the Giants have Manningham, Moss, Hixon, and Smith (all young guys), I cannot see them going with another unproven receiver, especially with their first overall selection.
The Giants' first-round exit from the playoffs this year is no doubt disappointing, but they proved that their Super Bowl championship was no fluke. This is a good, solid team, and with Eli’s continued leadership and confidence, this team will continue to be a threat in the NFC for years to come.