New York Giants: 7 Reasons Why Big Blue Will Be an NFC Powerhouse in 2012
We are three weeks away from the start of the 2012 NFL season kicking off.
We are three weeks away from the New York Giants' season kicking off.
The reigning and defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
It's been four years since the Giants entered a season as the defending champions after they won Super Bowl XLII back in February of 2008. After one of the most stunning finishes to a season, the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI by knocking off the New England Patriots.
A lot of people have wondered what to expect from the 2012 version of the New York Giants.
Will they be a good team or will they have the Super Bowl hangover and miss the postseason?
From everything that I have seen of the team and everything that has developed over the last year, I think the Giants will be a very good team in 2012.
In fact, here are seven reasons why I think the Giants will be a powerhouse team in the NFC in the 2012 season.
They're Too Good to Have a Super Bowl Hangover
Some teams can't handle the pressure of being the champs and coming in with that bull's-eye on their back.
The Giants aren't one of those teams, because they've been through this before.
In the 2008 season, fresh off winning Super Bowl XLII, the Giants came in and got off to an 11-1 start and finished 12-4, winning the NFC East and securing the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.
Granted, they were knocked off by the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round, but that reason is for another time and place.
Then the Giants didn't suffer from a Super Bowl hangover. In fact, they had the look of a championship team that could compete with anyone in the league.
That same team that ended the 2011 season winning six straight with a ton of confidence and playing well is going to roll into 2012 with the same championship swagger.
The Green Bay Packers were the same after they had won Super Bowl XLV, winning their final six straight, then started off 13-0 in 2011.
That championship confidence does wonders for a team, and I expect the Giants to have a great start to 2012.
No Major Injuries to Key Players
The Giants have to stay healthy in 2012.
Last year, the Giants had a small village on the injured reserve and eventually the injuries added up.
So far, the only major injury to the Giants is the loss of defensive tackle Shaun Rogers for the entire season due to a blood clot in his leg.
Terrell Thomas suffered a knee injury about two weeks ago, but is expected to be back in three to six weeks.
Hakeem Nicks has been recovering from a broken foot, but was just medically cleared by the Giants to practice. Michael Boley has also been suffering from a nagging hamstring injury.
Some of the players have been suffering from sore backs, like Will Beatty and Marvin Austin, but apparently that can be attributed to the housing situation at the University of Albany, as the beds are way too small for the players and causing a lot of discomfort.
That kind of pain the players eventually will get over. Tearing an ACL, like Thomas did last summer, isn't something that you get over in a week or two.
The Giants need to keep their main players healthy; Eli Manning, Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Victor Cruz, Nicks, Boley, Chris Snee and Ahmad Bradshaw.
Their health is critical to the success of 2012. If they stay on the field, there's a great chance the Giants are going to win.
They're the Underdogs in New York...Again
If you live in New Jersey or New York, you would think the New York Jets were the Super Bowl champions.
Because whether it's in the media, newspapers, radio, talk shows or anywhere else, that's all you hear about.
The NFL media sensation and darling, who captivated everyone's attention while playing and leading the Broncos to the playoffs in 2011, took his talents to East Rutherford after the Broncos signed Peyton Manning.
Bleacher Report's own Michael Schottey wrote about how the Giants are again the underdogs coming into the 2012 season.
And that's quite all right. Personally, I think it's fine the Giants get to play the underdog role and fly under the radar, even as the Super Bowl champions.
It's fine that Eli Manning is regarded as the third-most popular quarterback in New York, behind Tebow and Sanchez. All that matters is in the end, Manning is head and shoulders better than both Sanchez and Tebow.
And so what that Rex Ryan has made all of his declarations of saying his team will win multiple Super Bowls and the Jets are the big brothers of New York. Because Tom Coughlin is the one who got to hoist up the Lombardi Trophy and celebrate down the Canyon of Heroes in Manhattan twice.
Despite all of that, the Jets are the team that get the media attention in New York. Let them have it.
The Giants will just keep on winning quietly.
The Defense Is Loaded with Talent
At one point during the 2011 season, the Giants defense looked absolutely awful.
So awful in fact, that there was chatter of defensive coordinator Perry Fewell getting fired.
By Week 16 against the New York Jets, the Giants defense really turned it around and straightened themselves out.
They got back to pressuring and sacking the quarterback and striking fear into opposing offenses.
In the postseason, they allowed a total of 54 points (the two points in the Falcons game don't count) in four games, averaging out to 13.5 points.
Lead by Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka, the Giants possess perhaps the NFL's best pass rush.
With all of them on the field and healthy, opposing offensive lines will have nightmares trying to stop them.
The linebacker unit of the Giants has gotten better, especially with Michael Boley, Chase Blackburn, Keith Rivers, Jacquian Williams and Mark Herzlich, who continues to get better in his efforts to win a starting job.
The secondary, which will eventually have Terrell Thomas back, plus Corey Webster, Prince Amukamara, Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips is a solid unit.
Fewell likes to bring a lot of pressure from his defense with different blitzes. He also likes to cause turnovers and have his players try to create fumbles while a play is still going on.
I don't know if I would say the Giants defense is the very best in the NFL, but a top-five defense? I'd put them in there.
The Offense Is Pretty Good, Too
The New York Giants scored 394 points in 2011. That's pretty good.
Eli Manning threw for 4,933 yards. Not only was that career high, but a Giants high for any quarterback.
In the playoffs, the Giants scored 102 points, averaging to 25.5 points per game.
The Giants offense really established itself as a high-powered one that relied on a lot of big pass plays with Manning utilizing Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz quite a bit.
Nicks had 76 catches for 1,192 yards and seven touchdowns while Cruz had 82 catches for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns.
Despite losing Jake Ballard to an ACL injury and then off waivers to the New England Patriots, they added former Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett, who looked solid early on for the Giants, especially in their first preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Randle could end up with the No. 3 receiver spot and Wilson could end up with the number two running back job.
The Giants will also look to get back to their bread-and-butter running game, which suffered in 2011 as it ranked No. 32 in the league.
With Wilson, Ahmad Bradshaw and D.J. Ware, the Giants will look to have a more balanced running attack mixed in with a dynamic passing attack.
With this offense, the Giants could end up scoring more than the 394 points they scored a year ago.
Tom Coughlin Is an Elite Coach
For a long time, Tom Coughlin was always in the discussion for being one of the top head coaches in the NFL.
After 2011, by winning his second Super Bowl with the Giants, he's not only in the discussion, but in my mind, he's tied with Bill Belichick as the best head coach in the league.
Coughlin preaches respect and discipline, two things that have always followed him going from Boston College to the Jacksonville Jaguars and now with the Giants.
He's not as much of a dictator as he used to be and once thought of. He has changed some of his philosophies about how to handle and deal with his players, which has translated into success.
Even at his age, which will be 66 years old when the regular season begins, he still knows how to motivate his players to perform at the highest level possible.
He also makes sure that his players don't ever panic when times are tough, nor do they get arrogant when they are winning.
With the Giants, Coughlin's track record speaks for itself.
His only losing season was his first one in 2004, where the Giants were 6-10 and Eli Manning was a rookie who was transitioned into the starting role midseason.
Since then, Coughlin's worst season has been 8-8 with at least a .500 or better record with a 136-104 career record.
As long as Coughlin is the head coach of the Giants, they are in good shape.
The Giants Are "All In"
Every Giant fan knows this motto from last year.
Who knew that a speech given the night before Christmas Eve to the players by a New Jersey high school teacher would motivate the Giant players to not only change their football outlook, but their lives.
The news of the "All In" motto caught on, as it was printed on rally towels during the Giants season finale against the Dallas Cowboys and then again in their NFC wild-card playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons.
What this motto meant to the Giants players and coaches was to put aside personal egos and to concentrate on one thing: winning.
It meant giving 100 percent on every single down of every single play because tomorrow is not a given in the NFL.
The Giants players finally got it. All In became their way of life. It's a meaning of unselfishness and willing to win no matter what.
And it's a philosophy that the Giants will take with them into the 2012 season and help them be a top team in the NFC.