While the team as a whole has lived up to expectations, several players have failed to do so through the first five games. Let's take a look at who needs to raise their performance level as Big Blue heads into a hornet's nest of tough games, starting with the 49ers on the road this Sunday.
Nicks hasn't disappointed on the field this season. He's disappointed because he's barely been on the field.
Nicks' troubles started when he broke his right foot during minicamp in late May. The injury forced him to miss most of the preseason and likely contributed to a poor first game against the Cowboys, when he netted only 38 yards receiving on four catches. The fourth-year wideout seemed to be hitting his stride though when he exploded for 199 yards and a touchdown against the Bucs the following week.
Unfortunately for Nicks and the Giants, his right foot was stepped on late in that game, re-aggravating the injury. This, along with a knee problem that sprung up a few days later (possibly due to compensating for his surgically repaired right foot), has caused Nicks to miss the Giants' last three games.
There is talk that he is eyeing a return against the 49ers, but long term it doesn't look promising that Nicks will be his normal self in 2012.
With two injuries to the same leg it will be tough for him to heal while also playing games. We already saw him get re-injured simply by having his foot stepped on. His right knee and foot likely will take some substantial impact again during games once he comes back.
It is a good thing that the likes of Domenik Hixon, Rueben Randle and Ramses Barden have all had their moments in Nicks' absence. The Giants will need them all to keep the offense high octane if Nicks' injury woes continue.
No part of this Giants team has been hit harder by the injury bug than the secondary. Prince Amukamara, Jayron Hosley and Kenny Phillips, among others, all have spent time on the shelf this season.
With so much instability in their last line of defense, New York should at least be able to depend on Corey Webster, widely considered the best cornerback on the roster.
Well, despite playing in all five games, Webster has looked like he'd have trouble covering me at times this season (and I'm not very athletic for a normal person, let alone an NFL player).
Webster already has allowed three touchdowns this season and has been torched for several other big plays. He also has been severely lacking in the big-play department, with only one interception and two pass defenses.
Could it be that the 30-year-old eighth-year veteran has lost a step?
It's possible, though cornerbacks nowadays can be effective into their early 30s. The more likely scenario is that Webster is off to a slow start and will improve as the season moves along.
The veteran leader of the defense certainly isn't leading by example this season. Tuck has been average stopping the run and has made no impact getting to the quarterback (zero sacks) or creating turnovers (no forced fumbles or fumble recoveries).
In reality, Tuck has been bad for two seasons now, save back-to-back strong performances in the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl last season, when he recorded 3.5 sacks combined. He only had five sacks and one forced fumble in 12 games during the 2011 regular season.
Tuck simply isn't the dominant two-way defensive player he was from 2007-10 anymore. He still has the ability to string a couple of good games together, as he did in the playoffs last season, but expecting a high level of play on a consistent basis is unrealistic.
Luckily, Tuck brings leadership and a championship pedigree to the table, which will only serve to benefit the defense as the season moves along.
Pierre-Paul says he isn't having fun this season.
Well, it hasn't been fun for Giants fans, either, watching the team's best defensive player collect a woeful 1.5 sacks through five games.
Sure Pierre-Paul has been strong against the run, with three tackles for a loss as statistical proof, and a distraction to opposing quarterbacks with three pass defenses. Still, when one of your teammates thinks you can register 30 sacks in a season and you are only on pace for five, you've been a huge disappointment.
Pierre-Paul needs to understand that he is a marked man after his breakout 2011 season. It's not always fun being double- and triple-teamed, but all the great pass-rushers have dealt with it and persevered. It's time for the ultra-talented third-year defensive end to take his game to another level and begin to dominate games again despite the added attention.