Examining the Giants' Biggest Flaw in 2006 and How They Fixed It
The adage, “The lows make the highs that much sweeter,” is typically said in order to instill hope in fans and players that are passing through a dim period.
Coming off a terrible 2006 season and a mediocre 2007 campaign, the consensus response of nostalgia after the Giants' Super Bowl victory further proved that old cliché.
As we pass through a time in the world that would certainly be classified as a “low,” the Giants are floating on a cloud. Their general manager’s drafting ability parallels to King Midas’s touch.
After an off year from their defensive line, the Giants brought over three players that can attack the quarterback (Boley, Bernard, and Canty), and will essentially acquire a fourth when Osi Umenyiora comes back from reconstructive knee surgery.
With five picks in the first 100 and very few pressing concerns, the Giants are in the midst of an unmistakable high. So, what better time to look back at the low?
In Sep. 2006, the Giants' defense was undoubtedly the worst defense in the league. Following an offseason of hype that was triggered from the signing of LaVar Arrington and the self-label of the defensive unit as “Voltron,” the unit likely would have had trouble containing a high school team based in Wyoming.
Then, powered by the seemingly incessant need to take a jump shot following a sack, the Giants' defense blasted through the entire league, peaking in a 36-22 clobbering of the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.
However, with injuries, questionable coaching, and disturbingly horrid performances from the quarterback, the Giants finished the season losing seven of their last nine, including the playoffs.
Drama was certainly prevalent during the season. Tiki Barber’s weekly appointments with the media discussing his retirement, Michael Strahan and his peanut butter sandwich, Plaxico Burress quitting on plays, and Jeremy Shockey being Jeremy Shockey made the Giants the place to be for any media outlet.
Three years later, each of these players have all traveled in different directions, but remain connected by a single fact.
None of them will be wearing blue on Sundays this fall.
Star power can be a wonderful thing. For team owners, it improves jersey sales and grants your franchise additional exposure, which, according to Jerry Jones, is always a good thing. It helps keep butts in the seats, and the stars can be an integral piece to achieving a goal that involves holding up a certain trophy in the last game of the year.
But it can come with a hefty price. The wrong combination of large egos and old-fashioned coaches can be fatal, and was proven to be so for the 2006 Giants.
After the season ended, the general sentiment among fans and media was that Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning were the ones to blame.
With the likes of Jeremy Shockey, Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer, and Tiki Barber to toss the ball around to, there was no reason for the once highly touted prize from Ole Miss to fail. Shockey deserved the ball more. Barber deserved better. And the head coach was at fault.
How wrong everyone was. In reality, Shockey was a self-glorified tight end that had above average potential but was not nearly as good as he thought he was.
Barber was poison in the locker room, and it became increasingly evident as time passed that he was the “source who wished to be unnamed” who fed the media tidbits of negative information regarding Tom Coughlin.
Conversely, the two scapegoats no longer appear to be as worthy of blame as they once were. Young Eli was the victim of having two talented yet immature and combustible targets to throw to. Tom Coughlin was partially at fault, but the bashing that followed from the mere mention of his name was at an unfair level.
Now, as we head into the 2009 season, the Giants lack the player that garners the type of attention the stars in 2006 commanded. With the release of Plaxico Burress, the Giants have officially cut ties with each headline grabber from 2006. Yet, they appear to be as poised as they can be to take their second world championship in three years.
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