New York Giants: Biggest Obstacles in the Way of a Super Bowl Repeat
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This kind of confidence and talk bolsters the team morale, but given the Giants' recent injury woes as well other problems, you have to wonder how much of this talk is grounded in reality.
But there is a lot that needs to be sorted out between now and September for this talk to become more substantial.
The Giants are going to need more than Tuck's mouth in 2012 to put together another championship season.
2011 and Beyond: G-Men and the Injury Bug
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According to Coughlin, "I think we must raise the bar for our own performance, whether it be in the meetings, on the practice field, on the game field." In order for them to raise their game, they need to be on the field first.
Last season, Justin Tuck incurred injuries to his neck, shoulder and groin, which kept him out of four games in the regular season. He attributes it to a lack of conditioning on his part, something he has refocused on this offseason.
Osi Umenyiora's troublesome sprained ankle limited his playing time to a nine games.
This season, Hakeem Nicks will be out for about five weeks with a broken metatarsal, the same injury Prince Amukamara sustained last year.
Terrell Thomas tore his ACL last season but is rounding into form this offseason. He says that he will be ready for all the two-a-days in no time. On the flip side, cornerback Brian Witherspoon tore the same ACL that kept him out all of the 2011 season.
Offseason pickup Antwaun Molden pulled up lame the same day Witherspoon tore his ACL. Luckily for the Giants, Molden's injury appears to be less serious.
Tight ends Travis Beckum and Jake Ballard are still recovering from their ACL injuries sustained during the Super Bowl.
Durability issues have plagued the Giants these past few seasons. If they even want to entertain the notion of getting into the playoffs, nonetheless win the Super Bowl, they need to figure out something out.
The Giants have shown that they are formidable team on both sides of the ball. But that only happens when everyone is healthy and there. Injuries force the coaches to shuffle personnel around, decreasing team chemistry and leading to more broken plays.
Defensive Chemistry and Consistency
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Last season, the Giants secondary looked lost. There was a lot of finger pointing and yelling about who was supposed to cover who. Miscommunication and broken coverages led to the Giants giving up touchdowns or plays that eventually led to touchdowns.
It looked like the Giants secondary might cost them a playoff appearance, but the last two games of the season, they clicked. Aaron Ross, Corey Webster, Kenny Phillips, Deon Grant and Antrel Rolle started to lock down opposing offense and helped carry the team to another Super Bowl championship.
With Jacksonville picking up Ross as a free agent as well as injuries to other defensive backs, the Giants secondary is a big question mark for this upcoming season.
Thomas will definitely be ready for the beginning of the team's minicamp July 26th. Hopefully, the Giants can figure out their starting secondary, while also maintaining some depth to offset any future injuries.
In regards to the defense in general, as long the injuries are kept to a minimum, chemistry amongst the defensive starters will help keep the Giants in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy. After Tuck and Umenyiora came back from injury, the defensive line and rest of the defense were able to act as a unit and shut down the Packers, 49ers and Patriots.
Let's hope the defense stays strong, otherwise the Giants have little chance of repeating as Super Bowl champs.
The Offensive Line
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If the Giants want to win, one of two things needs to happen for David Diehl: He either drastically improves his pass-blocking or cheers from the sidelines. He is a liability for Eli Manning, as he was ranked last in pass-block efficiency at guard and tackle.
The Giants drafted linemen in the fourth and sixth rounds of the 2012 draft as insurance.
Since Will Beatty is back from injury, he will start again as the left tackle, leaving Diehl as the starting left guard. If he doesn't shape up, the Giants should consider giving Mitch Petrus more snaps at the position.
Last season, Eli was sacked 39 times versus 16 times the prior season. The huge increase is partially due to Diehl's ineffectiveness.
Maybe rookies Brandon Mosley and Matt McCants may surprise fans, but expect Petrus to get a few more starts at left guard this season.
David Wilson and the Revamped Running Game
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With Brandon Jacobs heading west to San Francisco, the Giants addressed the hole at running back by drafting David Wilson out of Virginia Tech.
Wilson brings a lot to the Giants that will help them on their road to the Super Bowl. He has the size and speed similar to Ahmad Bradshaw.
He runs efficiently between the tackles, something they lacked last season. The lack of efficient running led to Eli and the Giants relying on the pass, a lopsided pass-to-run ratio of 62-to-38. In 2010, their offensive numbers were more similar, 56-44 pass to run.
As defenses key in on Eli and his passing, Wilson will serve as another target for Eli as well as a pass-blocker, better than predecessor Brandon Jacobs.
Besides his size and speed, Wilson also is younger and could potentially become the starter in a year or two. The combination of Bradshaw and Wilson out of the backfield will prove to be invaluable in the Giants' quest for another ring.