5 Things That Must Change for the New York Giants in 2013

Tamer ChammaContributor IIFebruary 5, 2013

5 Things That Must Change for the New York Giants in 2013

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    The 2012 season has officially come to an end after one of the craziest Super Bowl's in NFL history. It's time to look ahead to 2013 and for the New York Giants, that means getting back on track after a disappointing title defense.
     
    In order for Big Blue to seriously challenge for their third Super Bowl title in six years, they must make changes both in their performance and regarding personnel.
     
    Here are five that, if executed correctly, gives New York a real shot of playing in their home stadium next February.

More Success in NFC East Games

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    Simply put, the Giants would have been a playoff team this past season if they had played better within their division.

    If they beat Washington on Dec. 3rd—a game they led 16-10 in the fourth quarter—they
    would have won the NFC East.

    In addition, even if they lost this game but won the road game against the Eagles in Week 4 they would have qualified for the postseason as a wild card, based on having a better conference record than Minnesota and Chicago.

    Though the offseason has just begun, the division looks to be weaker in 2013. The Redskins will likely have to deal with Robert Griffin III either missing time next season or not being 100 percent after the severe knee injury he suffered in the playoffs. The Eagles are in transition with a new coach and unproven quarterback. That leaves Dallas, which has disappointed it's fans for a majority of the last 17 seasons since their last Super Bowl win in 1995.

    New York should go at least 4-2 in the NFC East next season. If they don't it may once again be the difference between making the playoffs or going home after Week 17. 



Upgrade the Linebacking Corps

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    It looks like the Giants have already started working on upgrading this unit with the somewhat surprising release of Michael Boley Tuesday afternoon. The departure of Boley saves the Giants $4.25 million
    towards the cap next season.
     
    With Boley gone, the Giants are likely hoping that Jacquian Williams can adequately fill his spot. The third-year pro has the size and speed to do just that but he did miss six games last season due to injury.
     
    New York should also look to move Mathias Kiwanuka back to the defensive line. He is simply not a good linebacker, as evidenced by his minus-8.3 rating for outside linebackers in a 4-3 scheme, according to Pro Football Focus. Big Blue can look to replace Kiwanuka by targeting an outside linebacker in the draft.
     
    The biggest change to this unit, however, has to occur at middle linebacker. The overmatched Chase Blackburn needs to walk in free agency and must be replaced with an impact player.
     
    The Giants should seriously consider pursuing unrestricted free agent Dannell Ellerbe. The current Raven followed up a strong regular season with an excellent postseason that included 32 tackles, three pass defenses, three tackles for a loss and an INT in four games. He is strong against the run and effective in coverage, and he will be 27 years old at the start of next season.
     
    If the Giants decide to go after a middle linebacker in the draft they can look to target Georgia's Alec Ogletree with the 19th pick or potentially LSU's Kevin Minter, if he slips into the middle of the second round.
     
    Targeting a middle linebacker in the draft, however, likely means that getting an outside linebacker won't occur until the later rounds, if at all. The Giants have other important needs to address in the draft (more on this later).

Get a Starting-Caliber Cornerback

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    Corey Webster was one of the worst cornerbacks in the NFL last season and now seems to be a candidate to get cut. This is especially true with the Boley move potentially showing the Giants' hand on how they plan on trying to create cap room this offseason.
     
    Jayron Hosley does not appear to be ready to assume the starting cornerback role opposite Prince Amukamara after an uneven rookie season.
     
    The Giants need to acquire a starting-caliber cornerback especially with Amukamara not exactly a shutdown corner at this point in his career.
     
    In free agency, Brent Grimes and Aqib Talib both appear to be attractive, relatively low-cost options, yet with some obvious risk. With Grimes, the risk comes with the fact that he missed most of the 2012 season due to a torn ACL. He was one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL from 2009-2011, however, so he would be a steal if he can return to form.
     
    As for Talib, his character is an issue. He has had several run-ins with the law as well as conduct issues in the NFL. These issues appear to be giving the Patriots hesitation about committing long-term to him this offseason. There is no doubt that he is a talented cornerback, however, and was for the most part a model citizen with the Patriots in the two months he was with the team last season. He is the definition of a risk-reward option.
     
    In the draft, trading up for the jewel of the cornerback position, Alabama's Dee Milliner, is a possibility. It would take the Giants giving up a lot, though, to move into the top six or seven picks where he is likely to go. In addition, the Giants rarely trade up in the first round, especially not double-digit spots.
     
    A more realistic option is Oregon State's Jordan Poyer. He has great athleticism and is coming off a senior season that saw him register seven interceptions, six pass defenses and two sacks in 13 games. The Giants can also go elsewhere with their first-round pick and still grab Poyer in the second round, where he is projected to get picked.

Replace Chris Canty with a Run-Stopping Defensive Tackle

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    Based on the Boley move, I would be very surprised if Chris Canty is a Giant next season. According to Paul Tierney of Giants 101, if New York cuts the eight-year veteran it will recoup $6.5 million in cap room. This seems like too good a deal to pass up when you consider Canty is 30 years old and coming off an injury-riddled 2012 season.

    If Canty does leave, there are two very intriguing options in free agency for Big Blue to pursue to shore up their interior run defense. One is Richard Seymour. The soon-to-be former Raider is coming off an injury plagued season like Canty and is actually three years older as well. These factors should keep his cost down.

    When on the field, though, he is still one of the best defensive tackles against the run in the NFL. As proof, Seymour registered a 8.5 PFF run rating in 2012, tied for ninth-best among defensive tackles. On the flip side, Canty managed an underwhelming 0.8 run rating.

    Another low-cost option with a lot of upside is Glenn Dorsey. The Chiefs defensive end is likely to leave in free agency partly because he is better-suited as a defensive tackle, his natural position, in the 4-3 scheme (Kansas City plays a 3-4). He did miss 12 games last season due to a calf injury but only missed two games in his first four seasons in the NFL. The former LSU product was a beast against the run in 2010 and 2011, placing in the top three in PFF rating for defensive ends in the 3-4 scheme in each of those seasons. Can you imagine what he could potentially do at the defensive tackle position? Better yet, he is still pretty young at 28 years old come the start of the 2013 season.

    If the Giants want to dabble in the expensive aisle of free agent defensive tackles, they could go after Henry Melton. The fourth-year player has 13 sacks combined in his last two seasons, which is excellent for his position. More importantly, he consistently brings pressure, as his 26 QB hurries in 2012 proves. When you thrown in the fact that he is solid against the run and has been relatively injury-free in his short career, it is no wonder he will command a lot of money this offseason.

Get Younger on the Offensive Line

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    It is likely that the offensive line will look the same in 2013 as it did in 2012, with the possible exception of David Diehl getting cut and/or William Beatty leaving via free agency.

    At most one of these things will happen and it is possible that the Giants look to retain both players.

    The Giants' focus this offseason should be on the offensive linemen behind the starting five. They really do not have any young players that are ready to step in for injury or ineffectiveness. All that is in the cupboard, so to speak, is Jim Cordle, who is adequate yet unspectacular, and a free agent in his own right, as well as James Brewer and Brandon Mosley, who are raw and unproven.

    With David Baas, Chris Snee and Diehl all over the age of 30, this lack of depth is a real concern. Big Blue needs to select no less than two offensive linemen in rounds three through six of the draft in order to fix this lack of depth.

    Some players to keep an eye out for in this part of the draft are tackle Oday Aboushi of Virginia, tackle Dallas Thomas of Tennessee, guard Gabe Jackson of Mississippi State and center Mario Benavides of Louisville, among others.