New York Giants: Why Fans Shouldn't Worry About Other Teams in NFC East
The NFC East is a perennial powerhouse in the NFL, widely considered the toughest division of the eight in the league. Despite this, the New York Giants have managed to overcome arduous competition to win the Super Bowl twice in the last five seasons.
In 2012, the Giants’ road to defending their Super Bowl crown won’t be easy. According to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, the Giants have the toughest strength of schedule heading into the season.
The Eagles and Cowboys each finished just one game behind the Giants in the NFC East standings while the Redskins defeated the Giants in both of their meetings during the season. This offseason, all three teams have made drastic improvements, primed to give the Giants a run for their money in 2012.
Next season will not be an easy one for the defending Super Bowl champions—it never is—but there are plenty of reasons Giants fans shouldn’t worry as they look toward the future.
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The New York Giants cannot be successful without Eli Manning. He is the heart and driving force that keeps them alive in even their most grim performances.
Manning’s unmatched ability in the clutch accounted for seven fourth-quarter comebacks and an NFL record 15 fourth-quarter touchdowns, almost single-handedly keeping the Giants’ season afloat on a weekly basis.
In 2012, Manning and the Giants will likely hope for some more comfortable victories, but they can bask in the delight of knowing their star quarterback does not quit.
Manning is coming off a career-best 4,933 passing yards in 2011 and is playing in the prime of his career. With supreme talent at wide receiver and certain desire to be even better in 2012, Manning gives Giants fans plenty to be optimistic about against their NFC East rivals.
Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz
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Speaking of the New York Giants wide receivers, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz might be the NFL’s best receiving duo since the days of “The Greatest Show on Turf” with the St. Louis Rams’ Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce.
Nicks and Cruz brutalized opponents on a weekly basis, proving to be dependable outlets for Eli Manning throughout the season. They combined for 158 receptions, 2,728 yards and 16 touchdowns—more than half of Manning’s offensive output.
Nicks and Cruz are difficult to keep under wraps. When teams lock one up, the other makes you pay. They both boast outstanding speed and agility, breaking even the simplest of plays into a game-breaking touchdown.
In 2011, this dynamic pair kept a lot of Giants fans at the edge of their seat. With another year of experience alongside Manning under their belt, they should be a much more lethal combination in 2012.
A Rejuvenated Defensive Unit
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The New York Giants was an embarrassment for most of the 2011 season. They finished as one of the worst defensive units in the NFL and gave up a wide array of big plays every week.
Though their poor performance was inexcusable, much of their struggles can be attributed to devastating injuries that shorthanded the Giants in the secondary.
In 2012, the Giants will have key players returning from injuries that shelved them for the season, most notably Pro Bowl-caliber cover man Terrell Thomas. Cornerback Prince Amukamara missed training camp, preseason and the first half of the regular season during a rookie year already affected by the lockout. He should perform much better with an opportunity to really practice with the team and catch up on what he missed out on in 2011.
Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora should both be back to health, contributing to a dangerous defensive front that includes the likes of third-year pass-rusher Jason Pierre-Paul who finished with 16.5 sacks in 2011.
Talented stars Antrel Rolle, Michael Boley and Linval Joseph complete a defensive group that, if healthy, should be one of the best in the NFL under the guidance of defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.
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On paper, there is little that has distinguished the top three teams—the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys—in the NFC East over the last few years. Each team has playmakers on offense and boasts a dominant defense that comes after the quarterback.
There has been one key difference that has separated these three teams—Tom Coughlin.
Love him or hate him, the Giants head coach has been able to get the most from his team even at the worst of times. Faced with injuries, off-the-field drama and dissension within the locker room, Coughlin has flourished where Andy Reid and Jason Garrett have failed, overcoming adversity and guiding his team to victory.
As a result, Coughlin and the Giants have two Super Bowl wins in five seasons to show for it while the Eagles and Cowboys are found searching for what went wrong at the end of every year.
The 65-year-old coach isn’t ready to call it quits, and that’s something Giants players and fans alike should be happy about. His philosophy doesn’t always rub everyone the right way, but the end result is well worth the headache.
The NFC East Has Improved, but the New York Giants Are Still Better
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Each NFC East team has certainly improved this offseason, with the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys making the biggest splashes this offseason. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles have done their best to keep current company happy in hopes of another long run of success in the NFC.
The New York Giants’ moves have been dismal at best, though vital, especially with the re-signing of cornerback Terrell Thomas. A simple move such as that has helped to keep the Giants atop the NFC East, bolstering a defensive unit that desperately needed Thomas’ presence downfield and still won the divisional crown.
While the Redskins’ moves could do a lot for them down the line, the Cowboys’ pickup of Brandon Carr should improve one of the league’s poorest pass defenses and the Eagles may have the best looking talent on paper, the Giants are still the kings of the NFC East.
The mass amount of injuries suffered by the Giants did serious damage in 2011, but they were still able to transcend it all en route to capturing the NFC East title and then, of course, the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
A healthy Giants team easily makes them a fearsome squad to be reckoned with, not only in the NFC East, but in the NFL. With a Super Bowl title to defend, expect Eli Manning and company to be focused on retaining their championship at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.