Who Is the Best New York Giant Right Now?
The New York Giants Super Bowl XLVI win was a complete team effort.
But who's the best on the team? Who wears the crown?
Let's start behind center, where the magic for the Giants always starts.
It's hard to remember for some people the derision and cynicism that surrounded Eli Manning during his first five years with the Giants: He threw off balance, off his back foot and into coverage. He looked down receivers, he looked—well—bewildered on the field and apathetic off the field.
What a difference five years can make.
Who is the best player on the New York Giants
Today, Manning is the toast of NY, with two Super Bowl trophies and two Super Bowl MVPs on his resume.
His 2011 season was one of the NFL's best ever. He threw for 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns, leading the Giants to five fourth quarter comebacks.
This year after a rough six quarters to open the season, Manning has rebounded with six of the best quarters he's ever put together, throwing for 583 yards and four touchdowns. He continues to punish teams who only play three solid quarters.
Eli Manning and Victor Cruz have only one season under their belt, and a short one at that, but there's no doubt that Cruz is one of the best players in New York.
In just seven starts last year, Cruz caught 82 passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns, a Herculean 18.7 yards per catch.
He led the league last year in yards per catch for players with 45 or more receptions. So far his 2012 campaign is off to an equally impressive start.
Cruz collected 11 catches for 179 yards and one touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday.
He has 279 yards through three games this year, good for sixth in the league, and continues to build his resume as part of one of the most dynamic duos in the NFL.
Justin Tuck may be the Giants defensive captain on paper, but Jason Pierre-Paul is the player who leads the Giants on the field with his aggressive play and veteran-like discipline.
JPP is no doubt the Giants best defensive force, raking in 16.5 sacks last year while chasing down quarterbacks, batting down balls and harassing receivers in short pass coverage.
Pierre-Paul puts his blazing speed to the test every game, playing until the whistle blows, motivating his teammates around him and dominating games like few NFL defenders do.
Take last year's season-saving victory over the Dallas Cowboys: JPP sacked Tony Romo for a safety, forced Felix Jones to fumble, then blocked a game-tying 47-yard field goal attempt with the clock running down.
He has the ability to take over a game and right the ship like no one else on his side of the ball.
Hakeem Nicks has been Eli Manning's go-to guy for a decade. OK, not quite, it has only been three years.
But Nicks and Manning work so well together that it seems like they've been a tandem forever.
Nicks hauled in 76 catches for 1,192 yards last year, but more importantly, he almost always delivered a big game when the Giants needed it most.
His Hail Mary against the Green Bay Packers in the divisional playoffs was a dagger in the heart of cheeseheads everywhere.
This year, Nicks is at it again, putting up one of his best games ever against the Buccaneers, hauling in 10 catches for 199 yards and a TD.
Nicks and Cruz are as good a pair of wideouts as the NFL has to offer.
So who wears the crown?
Who's the biggest, baddest Giant?
On defense, there is no doubt that JPP is the on-the-field leader of these New York Giants. But these Giants, whether old timers want to acknowledge it or not, are about the offense.
On Offense, both Nicks and Cruz are among the elite wide receivers in the league, so they certainly warrant consideration for the best player on the Giants.
But, Cruz and Nicks are only as good as the guy throwing them the ball.
Eli Manning is the straw that stirs this New York sports drink circa 2012. He is, at 31, the Cool Hand Luke of an oft topsy turvy team.
He clearly deserves to wear the crown as the Giants best player in 2012.
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