The 2012 calendar year started off great for the New York Giants. They surprised everybody again and won their second Super Bowl in four years.
While that put a nice cap on the 2011 season, the 2012 regular season was pretty disastrous. A 6-2 start turned into a 9-7 finish, and the team ultimately missed the playoffs.
Everyone can dissect what went wrong, and plenty did. But the truth is that 2012 was just a minor speed bump for the New York Giants.
For one, the Giants were hit by a wave of injuries. Star receiver Hakeem Nicks missed three games with a knee injury and was not fully healthy throughout the year. He had his worst season ever, catching only 53 passes for 692 yards and three touchdowns.
To put that in perspective, in 2011, Nicks had a remarkable season, when he caught 76 passes for 1,192 yards and seven touchdowns. This year, however, he was just not the same.
That led to a ripple effect throughout the offense, as a lack of a reliable third receiver allowed defenses to focus their efforts on Victor Cruz. Thus, the offense was not as dynamic as it has been in previous years.
With a healthy Nicks next season, the Giants offense should get back to normal.
On defense, Kenny Phillips played in only seven games, and his presence was sorely missed. While Stevie Brown was able to step up and play well at safety, Phillips has long been a calming influence for what has long been an inconsistent secondary.
His absence allowed opposing teams to throw for 254.3 yards per game. That number is unacceptable, and a healthy Phillips would have done a lot to prevent it from reaching such a high total.
Finally, the defensive line, which has long been the best part of the Giants' defense, was abysmal.
Jason Pierre-Paul, who had 16.5 sacks a year ago, had only 6.5 sacks this year. Justin Tuck also had only four sacks. While it's not clear why they struggled, it is clear that they are far too talented to have another bad year next season. The defensive line, especially Pierre-Paul, should rebound.
The Giants are a talented team. This was evidenced by the fact that they were able to beat Green Bay 38-10 in Week 12 and then the Saints by a score of 52-27 in Week 14. But bad losses against the Falcons and Ravens really did them in.
The inconsistency was an issue all year long, but truthfully, the Giants are too talented to be that inconsistent again next season. They should have Phillips and Nicks healthy next year, and their presence will go a long way to ensuring consistency and a return to dominance.
Expect a big turnaround for the New York Giants in 2013.