Appearing on NFL Network Wednesday morning, now-former New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw suggested that the defending Super Bowl champions rested on their laurels in 2012. Per Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger:
Everybody seemed to think the season would come together in one game. We didn't have the chemistry we had the year before... We didn't play together, take advantage of the opportunities we had.... Everyone thought the games would just be handed to us. It was a tough season.
I think this is any easy thing to suggest when you're trying to use hindsight to determine what went wrong, but I appreciate that Bradshaw's being a little more candid now that he's not a member of the organization.
While I didn't spend a ton of time in the Giants' locker room this year, I agree with Bradshaw's assessment based on what I saw from them during seemingly important moments.
A very different Giants team didn't suffer from the same problem while defending a title in 2008. That year, they started 11-1 and ran out of gas. This year, they looked sluggish from the get-go, becoming the first reigning Super Bowl-winner to lose a prime-time home opener since the league started that annual tradition back in 2004.
Considering the blood, sweat and tears that go into a Super Bowl season, it's possible the Giants were simply victimized again by stacked odds and a feeling that their ultimate fate was likely beyond their control—just as it was late in their two recent championship campaigns.
So, yes, the Giants probably didn't approach the early part of the season the way they should have. However, that merely extended a long-lasting trend that might just be a byproduct of the state of NFL football.