2012 New York Giants: How the Giants Can Return to Juggernaut Form
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In 2011, a 9-7 record was enough to propel the New York Giants to the Super Bowl. This season, 9-7 signifies that it's time to address a litany of shortcomings.
The past two seasons represent a paradox that will have general manager Jerry Reese toeing the line between engineering major changes or making minor adjustments to personnel.
There is no denying that the Giants are a very talented team on paper. Quarterback Eli Manning played at an all-time clutch level in 2011. Wide receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks should have a long future together as one of the NFL's top receiving tandems.
The most promising signs of success could rest with rookies David Wilson and Rueben Randle, who showed they can be valuable weapons for New York in the coming years. Despite having a plethora of talent, there are deficiencies on this roster that have held the team back.
Here's a look at some of the moves the Giants must make in preparation for the 2013 season:
Key Departing Players
Osi Umenyiora -- The first way Reese can revive the Giants as title contenders, is to resuscitate an aging defensive line. For the first time since 2009, the Giants failed to have a player reach 10 sacks in a season. Umenyiora's age and expiring contract will likely end his 10-year career in New York.
David Diehl -- Former GM Ernie Acorsi always thought it was best to let a player leave one year too early rather than a year late. Unfortunately, Reese missed that memo with offensive tackle David Diehl.
New York went 3-5 after Diehl returned from an MCL injury in Week 9. After replacing Sean Locklear---for reasons that can only be described as a sad case of nepotism---Diehl was atrocious at the right tackle spot. Fortunately for Manning, his close friend will not be in a Giants uniform in 2013.
Lawrence Tynes -- Tynes was a major asset for the Giants for most of 2012. He also kicked New York to two Super Bowl appearances. The fact remains; however, that Tynes no longer has the leg to make 50+ yard field goals. Tynes had critical misses against Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington this season.
Corey Webster -- Webster is yet another stalwart who may be released this spring. In Week 16, Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith picked on Webster in an alarmingly successful fashion. Do the Giants have enough faith in Prince Amukamara and Jayron Hosley to part ways with Webster?
Key Players to Re-Sign
Victor Cruz -- Cruz is a restricted free agent who will be looking to cash in on the success he's had the past two seasons. It's safe to say he will be salsa dancing all the way to the bank in the coming weeks.
Kenny Phillips -- It's no secret that Stevie Brown has a nose for the football, but Phillips is far more seasoned at the safety position. The former Miami Hurricane may never be an Ed Reed or Sean Taylor, but Phillips is an elite player when healthy.
Will Beatty -- Re-signing the Giants' starting left tackle will be a top priority this offseason. Eli Manning was rarely hit from his blindside in 2012, as Beatty showed marked improvement as a pass/run blocker. The Giants are compelled to lock up Beatty after he finally showed he can be durable enough to play all season.
Kevin Boothe -- Boothe did not get the credit he deserved in 2012 when his teammate Chris Snee was chosen over him for the Pro Bowl. Hopefully New York won't make the same mistake in overlooking this budding offensive lineman.
Chase Blackburn -- Let's face it, Blackburn is slow. But what the Giants middle linebacker lacks in speed, he makes up for in play recognition. As the defensive signal caller, Blackburn has shown he can be a leader for the Giants. This is all compounded by the fact that Mark Herzlich is the furthest from the answer at middle linebacker.
Free Agent/Draft Needs
Linebacker -- Michael Boley saw his time on the field diminish significantly this season, albeit due to nagging injuries. Both he and Chase Blackburn will need to anchor the linebacking corps with a fresh face in 2013.
Philip Wheeler could be a viable free agent option for Reese this spring. Wheeler tallied 109 tackles for the Oakland Raiders in 2012 (no Giant had over 100).
Right Tackle -- Sean Locklear was exceptional before he went down with a knee injury late in the season. With Diehl's impending release and Locklear's durability concerns, the Giants will need to add depth to their offensive line.
Eric Fisher is a tackle prospect out of Central Michigan who could be an enticing option in April's draft. Fisher would be a long-term solution for New York at the right tackle spot.
Cornerback -- Regardless of what happens with Webster, the Giants will need to add a veteran defensive back. Justin Tryon and Michael Coe are good special teams players, but are a liability in nickel situations on defense.
The Giants are strapped for cash in terms of salary cap, so they'll likely need to add a veteran at a discounted price. They can also address the position in the draft, where UCLA senior Sheldon Price is a promising day two prospect with plenty of upside.
Defensive line -- The Giants put tons of stock in the value of a solid pass rushing rotation. With Umenyiora likely on his way out of New York, Reese will be keeping his eye out for a solid replacement.
Adewale Ojomo is a likely candidate to replace Umenyiora at defensive end. The former Miami Hurricane is an ideal choice because he is currently under contract with New York and has tremendous potential. Fans caught a glimpse of Ojomo's ability during an outstanding preseason campaign in 2012.
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