A Stimulus Plan for the 2009 New York Giants
Like any good stimulus plan, one must form it by way of examining basic principals of success, as well as the causes of the recession, thus triggering the foundation of success to crumble. We shall start with the basic principals of success.
Each NFL season is a marathon, a test of will. Games are won and lost in the trenches, he who dominates the line of scrimmage will more often than not emerge victorious. A great defense, a great ground game, and clutch quarterback play are key as well.
Explosive players on both sides of the football are also a big part of the success. In examining the New York Giants' roster, many of these aspects of the game are addressed, but surely there are some holes, or they would not have faltered in their quest.
Let's examine the causes of the Giant's recession.
Many people view The New York Giants' receiver situation a desperate one, but that is hardly true.
Think back to the January loss to Philadelphia in the windy Giants stadium. The score was 13-11 in favor of Philadelphia, as they faced a third and twenty. Michael Johnson, Terrell Thomas, among several Giant's linebackers approached the line of scrimmage, showing blitz.
I remember my exact thoughts, but before I could even finish the "no" part of the "oh no" which was passing through my apprehensive mind, Donovan McNabb fired a strike to Jason Avant on a slant route which he proceeded to take beyond the first down marker.
Philly drove into the end zone on that drive and sealed the Giant's fate.
That was the turning point. It was that moment when I knew that dreadful thing that all Giant's fans refused to accept as a possibility, was a reality: The New York Giants season would end, and it would end without hoisting The Lombardi Trophy.
As I give more thought to that game, I think of other opportunities New York failed to make good on.
A 1st-and-5 scenario inside the Philadelphia 40 yard line saw three straight incomplete passes out of an empty set formation. Not a single running play to advance the ball closer for a field goal attempt. After gaining no yards, John Carney proceeded to miss a field goal.
Prior to Philly's key drive to win the ball game, Eli Manning hit Domenik Hixon for 30 yards and a big first down. After said completion, The Giants settled for yet another field goal, a missed field goal (all this aside from both his and Tynes' horrid kickoffs).
In each of those scenarios, as well as the grand scheme of that ball game, the receiving corps themselves were not the issue.
The defense got worn down, forcing Steve Spagnuolo to employ five and six-man rushes to pressure Donovan McNabb, John Carney (no longer a Giant) missed two field goals, and Kevin Gilbride employed what I can only refer to as a totally asinine scheme considering the wind and the strength of Philly's pass defense.
Going empty set and passing the ball on first and five when you have the best rushing team in the league is not the way to approach that set of circumstances.
The reason I reviewed the circumstances of that game again is to make one very crucial point: with better defense and special teams, The Giants would have won that ball game.
Enough self scouting on the part of the Giants (much like the review of that Philadelphia game) will surely point New York in the direction they need to go in come Apr. 25 and 26.
Jerry Reese is no fool, as he has addressed many of the team needs quite rapidly, allowing him a considerable amount of room for maneuvering come draft day. The defensive line rotation (Canty, Bernard, the return of Cheif Osi) and the linebacker situation (Boley) have for the most part, been addressed.
Anyone who expects Reese to feel pressured in selecting a receiver based on "need" in this upcoming draft is simply wrong. Defense wins championships, as does a great, clock killing ground game.
One can see Reese's knowledge of such facts in the way he has approached this offseason thus far. Most of the pieces are in place, and with an injection of youth on both sides of the ball, along with some explosive new play-makers, the Giants are in line for another championship run.
The 2007 Super Bowl run was perfect proof of how important it is to be strong in the trenches and to have an injection of youth into the lineup. Guys like Aaron Ross, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Kevin Boss stepped in immediately and provided a spark for the Giants in whatever capacity they could.
Jerry Reese knows it, you know it, we all know it; The Giants are a team poised to win it all right now. The draft this coming April will be determine who the final pieces to the championship puzzle are. After that, all one can do is wait and see if those pieces fit.
Here is how I see the upcoming draft playing out for New York.
Round One, Selection 19 (Acquired via trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers)- Rey Maualuga, LB, USC
The Tampa Bay Bucs are in full- blown rebuilding mode, and they dealt their second and fifth round picks to Cleveland for Kellen Winslow Jr. It has been rumored that they are looking to get out of the nineteenth slot in an attempt to get more picks to build around.
The Giants have ten picks themselves, and in this scenario they deal their first (No. 29), late second round (No. 61) pick, a late fifth-round pick, plus defensive end Dave Tollefson for the 19th slot.
Tollefson isnt spectacular, but his is a good special teams player and depth guy that Tampa could use. In essence, Tollefson is just the icing on an already good deal, he's not really the deal maker. While it sounds like too much for the Giants to give up, examine the entire draft first before making that judgement.
Now for the selection itself, it has been almost two full decades since The Giants had a linebacker with some serious attitude, and the play to back it up.
Back in the days of Taylor, Carson, Van Pelt, and Johnson, that was commonplace, as the Giants' linebackers looked not so much to play the game itself, but to ravage their enemy.
Maualuga is a player who could come in on day one and be a leader at the strong side or in the middle.
He is a downhill, hit people in the mouth-type player with a great physical skill-set. His tenacity is always a commodity and his attitude will be welcome in New York. He has his issues in coverage, as he lacks fluid hip rotation.
Regardless, he can be coached up and just has the look of a perennial Pro-Bowl player.
Round Two, Selection 45- Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
Kenny Britt is a big (6'4") target who is The Big East's all time leading receiver (ahead of Marvin Harrison). While the success rate of young receivers is usually very low, Britt does possess many aspects to his game that could prove to be commodities immediately.
With or without Burress, Britt is an amazing go-to guy in the red zone, which is something Big Blue is desparate for. He runs very crisp routes and knows how to use his body to be physical, fight through tackles, and win the jump ball.
Moreover, he has the look of an eventual No. 1 receiver in the NFL, so with Plaxico, he makes a great duo and eventual successor, and without him Britt is an amazing red zone target at worst.
Round Three, Troy Kopog, OT, Tulane
Not many people see offensive line as a big need for the New York Giants, but believe it or not, left tackle is one of few positions that, if selected, could yield a starter in 2009.
David Deihl would move back to left guard where he is an all- world player, while Rich Sueburt becomes a very versatile depth guy.
Kopog could be the player that flattens the speed rushers that Deihl struggles with, and could inject even more youth and staying power into an already stacked offensive line. If offensive line isnt the pick, what would be in this situation?
Round Three, Captain Munnerlyn, CB, South Carolina
In a league where so many teams are employing the three and four wide receiver sets more often, nickel and dime packages are all the more key to a defense.
While corner has actually become a strength for Big Blue, with Corey Webster, Aaron Ross, Terrell Thomas, and Kevin Dockery, if one were to go down, nickel and dime packages become harder to employ.
Corner is also one of the most important positions on any team to have fresh competition at.
Round Four, Cornelius Ingram, TE, Florida
Until suffering a knee injury at the start of the 2009 season, Ingram was considered a top talent. Many may remember his great National Championship game in 2008 against Ohio State.
This guy has a first-round skill set and makes The Giants two-tight end sets really dangerous, as well as red zone sets.
Round Five, Joe Burnett, DB/KR, Central Florida
Here is where the special teams focus begins for The Giants. Burnett was a dominant kick and punt returner at Central Florida, and its about time the Giants took their chances at landing a Devin Hester-like player for the sake of improving their offense. We all witnessed the instant credibility that Hester gave the Bears in 2006.
It's time to take a chance on someone similar.
Round Six, Graham Gano, K/P, Florida State
Gano is both a punter and a kicker from Florida state who has a monster leg. Big Blue needs kickoffs in the end zone, as well as long distance field goal kickers. Tynes has a five-year deal, but Gano can replace Feagles' eventually as the punter and be a kickoff specialist to boost the defense.
No way Jerry Reese invests the money he did on defense and allows opponents to start at the 40 yard line consistently. Field position is one of the biggest keys late in the seaon and post season.
Round Seven, Ryan Shuman, C, Virginia Tech
Interior linemen have almost no value early in the draft (because so many teams are focused on the tackle position), so there may still be some value here. The Giants have not one guy on the roster to back up O' Hara right now. Big Blue has had success in this round with Tyree, Michael Johnson, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Deihl was a fifth rounder.
As I mentioned, with the low value of interior linemen, this may be a great pick. The Giants may look to go here earlier because of what I mentioned about O' Hara.
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