While football is undoubtedly a team sport first and foremost, it seems as though every team within the National Football League has one true MVP; namely, that one player who can carry the team to victory, and that one player whom that team certainly wouldn’t be successful without.
With that said, I will now assess the players who I believe will be candidates for the title of the New York Giants’ MVP for the 2009 football season.
Eli Manning, Quarterback
Any MVP discussion in football always has to begin with the team’s quarterback.
Eli put forth a solid 86.4 passer rating last season, complemented by 21 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. However, following the suspension of Plaxico Burress last year, Manning’s numbers took a serious dip as a result of missing his No. 1 target.
Physically speaking, Eli features an above average arm with solid mechanics and good touch on the deep ball. Furthermore, Eli has grown to become extremely proficient passing out of the play action and many of his greatest passes last year were a result of exactly that.
All in all, if the Giants’ are to have success this year, Eli Manning will have to be a major part of it, and for that reason I would say he is a solid team MVP candidate.
Brandon Jacobs, Running Back
With my second nomination, I will now take a look at Brandon Jacobs, the 6’ 4", 264 lbs running back who can literally carry his teammates on his back.
Despite his massive frame and reputation for not being one of the faster running backs in the game, Brandon averaged an outstanding five yards per carry last season, and can be expected to put up similar numbers next season.
Brandon’s totals of 1,089 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns are simply a sneak peak of what he can accomplish if he can stay healthy for a full NFL season.
In more qualitative terms, Brandon is a bruising running back who has the ability to both run around defenders as well as run over them.
Not only does he help his team by accumulating yardage and touchdowns, but the physical damage that he inflicts on the opposing defense benefits his team in ways that cannot be quantified.
However, Brandon’s receiving game does have much room for improvement, and his pass protection abilities could certainly be better for someone of his size.
If Brandon Jacobs can stay healthy next season and continue to improve in both his receiving and blocking duties, he will certainly be one of the most valuable members of the Giants’ 2009 squad.
Chris Snee, Right Guard
While the quarterback may be the most important individual on a football team, there is certainly no more important unit than the offensive line.
On the New York Giants' offensive line, there is no better player than the 6’ 3", 317 lbs Chris Snee.
Chris, who is actually the son in law of head coach Tom Coughlin, is a bruising road grader who helped pave the way for the New York Giants’ rushing game last season. In 2008, the Giants led the entire league with 157.4 team rushing yards per game, and Chris Snee certainly deserves a great deal of credit for that statistic.
In terms of his actual game, Chris Snee is the type of guard that running backs dream of. Chris is one of the best in the game when it comes to opening up lanes for the running back to run through, which is probably why so many different running backs have seemed to have success behind the Giants' offensive line.
In pass protection, Chris is certainly above average, and Eli seldom seemed to feel significant pressure from his side of the line. At the same time though, it should be noted that a right guard certainly has an easier assignment in terms of pass protection than a left tackle.
While Brandon Jacobs and the other running backs on the Giants’ squad get most of the credit, it would be hard for any of them to have the same kind of success without Chris Snee’s prolific run blocking.
For that reason, Chris undoubtedly deserves his nomination as team MVP.
Justin Tuck, Defensive End
In 2008, Justin Tuck absolutely exploded onto the NFL scene, becoming one of the most dangerous and well-rounded defensive ends in the game. Last season, Justin recorded 12 sacks, 67 tackles, three forced fumbles, and even one interception. These numbers rightfully placed Tuck in his first ever Pro Bowl.
On the gridiron, Justin features a solid repertoire of pass rushing moves that gives him a chance to get to the quarterback in any situation.
Not only can Justin rush the passer off the edge, but on third down he is even sometimes put in as a defensive tackle to rush the passer from the middle. Justin has had great success in this role, making him one of the most versatile defensive ends in the game.
Furthermore, at 6’ 5" and 274 lbs, Justin has the size to hold his own anywhere on the defensive line.
In 2008, Justin Tuck was arguably the best player on the New York Giants. While the Giants’ defense as a whole can be looked at as the key to the team's success, I firmly believe that Tuck’s contributions to this side of the football will be key in determining how far the Giants go in 2009.
Jeff Feagles, Punter
With my final nomination for the honor of team MVP for the New York Giants in the 2009 season, I will take a look at a very special teamer. This nominee is the 43-year-old punter, Jeff Feagles.
Despite his age, Jeff may still be the best punter in the NFL today. While several punters around the league have greater leg strength than Jeff, there may never be a better punter at pinning the football within the 20 yard line of the football field.
In fact, Jeff’s ability to place the ball exactly where he wants it is so prolific that he can sometimes carry his team towards victory on his leg alone. I believe Jeff is the only punter in NFL history, other than the great Ray Guy, to be that important to his football team.
While Jeff isn’t exactly a physically imposing guy, he does measure in at a formidable 6’ 1" and 215 lbs. Jeff’s longest punt in 2008 was a whopping 61 yards long, which is certainly impressive for any punter, let alone one at 43 years of age.
With 23 of his 64 punts last year placing the opposition within their own 20 yard line, Jeff can certainly be said to have been one of the better players on the Giants last year, and I expect to see more from him this year.
So, if Jeff Feagles continues to help the Giants win football games by pinning opposing teams in the tightest of corners on the field, he may very well come to be the team’s 2009 MVP.
Who do I think the New York Giants' 2009 MVP will be? I could tell you, but my opinion really isn’t that important. The question is; who do you think the New York Giants' 2009 MVP will be?