In 2008, the New York Football Giants were coming off one of the greatest Super Bowl victories of all-time. Many sports analysts across the country, picked them to win the big one again.
The men in blue were showing everyone how good they really were. they tore through their opponents, starting the first half of the season 7-1.
The one bad apple, that the Big Apple had to worry about, was disgruntled wide receiver, Plaxico Burress. Standing, 6'5", the receiver is an unique specimen on the field. he shows great size, with great ability to catch the ball. Most people remember him catching the game winning pass from Eli Manning, in Super Bowl XLII. They went on to beat the then undefeated New England Patriots.
Many Young fans looked at Burress as a hero, too bad he didn't act like one off the field. There were reports that, the Giants receiver was fined by the team numerous times before the 2008 season started. During the season, he was suspended one game for missing a mandatory team meeting. That wasn't the only trouble he was in during the season.
On Nov. 28, 2008, Burress suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound, while out with teammates Antonio Pierce and Ahmad Bradshaw. This caused him to miss the remainder of the 2008 season. The Giants suspended Burress without pay for the remaining four games of the season.
The absence of the 6 foot 5 inch receiver, paid large. The tall statue of a receiver was missed, as the Giants finished the regular season with a 1-4 record. They went on to lose to their division foes, the Eagles, 23-11, in the Divisional Round.
After the disappointing finish to the season the Giants had some work to do, both on Offense and Defense. Their overall main concern was the vacancy left by Burress, at the wide receiver position. There were several reports linking the Giants to star receiver, Braylon Edwards, of the Cleavland Browns.
They were said to be interested in acquiring the receiver for a second and fifth round pick of the 2009 NFL Draft. Cleavland, not only wanted the two draft picks, but they also were rumored to want either, Defensive End Mathias Kiwanuka or wide receivers Steve Smith and Dominick Hixon. The Giants were reluctant to give up those players and stood their ground with their initial offer of a second and fifth round pick.
With the Offense on the back burner during the first few weeks of the offseason, the Giants turned their attention to the Defensive part of the ball. They already had one addition to their Defensive line from last year, by getting their Pro-Bowl Defensive End Osi Umenyiora back.
Aside from getting Umenyiora back, they went out and signed to big Defensive Linemen. They added a 6'7", 304 pound, beast in Chris Canty. Many thought, Canty, was the third best available Free Agent available in the offseason
Also, signed was another 300 pound Linemen, Rocky Bernard. With these two signings the Giants look to go back to thier formula, for their Super Bowl winning success, with a dominant pass rush. They now have a massive rotation of Linemen that include Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard, Barry Cofield and Fred Robbins.
The Giants didn't just assure depth to the line, they found it a necessity to assure depth to the linebacking corp. Many saw the Giants linebacking corp struggle in the latter part of the 2008 season. Their head honcho, in middle linebacker, Antonio Pierce, wasn't the same after the nightclub incident. He continuously got burned by Philadelphia running back, Brian Westbrook.
2008 offseason aquisiton, Danny Clark, was moved into the starting strongside linebacker position, when Mathias Kiwanuka took over at Defensive End for Umenyiora. Clark was originally signed to fulfill a backup role, but finished the season as a started with a total of 48 tackles and no sacks.
The weakside linebacker spot was also a weakness for the team. Gerris Wilkinson, started the season at that position and then was hurt. Rookie Bryan Kehl filled in nicely at the position for 12 games.
With that in mind, the Giants went out and signed former Atlanta Falcons linebacker, Micheal Boley. In Boley's four years with the Falcons, he totaled 330 tackles, 6 sacks, 6 forced fumbles and five interceptions. He excels in pass coverage an is slated to take the weakside linebacker position.
The Giants didn't stop at the linebacker position. They also saw the Safety position as a need. No, they didn't go out and sign C.C. Sabathia to a $180 deal. Instead, they went for another guy named C.C., C.C. Brown, who was formerly of the Houston Texans. He is expected to compete with fellow safety, Micheal Johnson, for the starting Strong Safety position.
As the 2009 NFL Draft approached the G-Men were still thin at the wide receiver position. As draft day approached, Dominick Hixon was there starting X receiver and Steve Smith was the starting receiver opposite Hixon. That left 3rd round pick from a year ago, Mario Manningham and disgruntled Sinorice Moss fighting for the slot receiver job. Many believed the Giants would go out and make a trade with Cleavland and get star receiver Braylon Edwards.
Giants running back, Brandon Jacobs, was quoted on ESPN 1050 Radio as saying, "I don't want him. There are great players in the league that I don't want. I just think the chemistry between the teammates that I have now is great. We don't need to add a new veteran to the whole group."
The Giants ended up drafting, with their 29th overall pick, North Carolina receiver, Hakeem Nicks. He is a big receiver at 6'1" and 212 pounds. he has big hands, which many compare him to the former Dallas Cowboy and Hall of Famer, Micheal Irvin. The Giants are hoping he can step in right away and take the place of Burress.
The Giants didn't not stop there. In the third round, they took Ramses Barden out of Cal Poly. He is a mirror image of Plaxico Burress, standing at a whopping 6'6". Many believe he is a more of a work in progress than Nicks. Though he figures to make an impact immediately in Red Zone situations.
Other notable picks on the Offensive side of the ball include running back Andre Brown, Offensive Tackle William Beatty and Tight End Travis Beckum. Brown was selected in the fourth round. He is expected to compete with Danny Ware, an undrafted Free Agent from Georgia, for the third running back spot behind Jacobs and Bradshaw, to complete the trio, Earth, Wind and Fire.
Offensive Tackle William Beatty was selected in the Second round. Earlier in the year he was projected to go in the first round, but fell all the way to the third round because of a broken leg. Also, many believed he had maturity issues. The Giants drafted him, believing his maturity improved as well as his play.
Tight End Travis Beckum, from Wisconsin, was selected in the third round with the 100th overall pick. He also is coming off a season in which he broke his leg. He could have a deep threat impact for the passing game and Eli Manning, but has to work on some skills. There were recent reports from Giants rookie camp that Beckum could be switched from Tight End to H-Back.
The Giants didn't forget about the defense in the draft. They drafted Virginia Linebacker, Clint Sintim, in the Second round. He could eventually start this season at the strongside linebacker spot.
But, he may have some difficulty adjusting to the NFL because in College he was part of a 3-4 defensive scheme, here in the NFL the Giants run a 4-3 defensive scheme, under first year Defensive Coordinator, Bill Sheridan. The Giants don't envision any trouble, they see him as a great pass rusher, a physical guy at the point of attack and could play both on the line and in coverage.
Some great news coming out of Giants rookie camp, was that Nicks and Barden reportedly caught everything in sight.
Look for the New York Giants to compete with the Philadelphia Eagles once again for the top spot in the NFC East. The Giants look to make the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season under Head Coach Tom Coughlin.