Expectations for 2009 New York Giants Heading into Summer Camp

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Expectations for 2009 New York Giants Heading into Summer Camp
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The New York Giants have had quite a stretch since beating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42 in what may be, arguably, one of the greatest games ever played.

With the injury to Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan's retirement, the Giants were basically written off entering the 2008 season, but the G-Men surprised everyone and appeared unstoppable.

Then Plaxico Burress shot himself in, well...the foot, and the Giants went into a tailspin that found them losing to the hated division rival Eagles in the Divisional Playoffs.

The offseason has been just as drama-filled, with Plaxico being cut from the team before the draft and the Giants having a hole in their receiving corps that is as big as the one in Burress' leg.

The acquiring of UNC Tar Heel stud wide out Hakeem Nicks should help fill those six foot shoes Plaxico left, but the G-Men are once again coming into this season looking like the underdogs.

Here is what to expect and the keys to victory for the 2009 edition of The New York Football Giants.


Another Division Title

While the Giants did experience some difficulties during the final stretch of the 2008 season, they still controlled the ultra-competitive NFC East.

Expect more of the same again, even with the stellar draft Philadelphia had and the acquiring of Albert Haynesworth by the Redskins.

The Giants still have the core squad of last year's team, and Umenyiora is coming back to help what is an already impressive defense.

Fans should expect the Giants to tough out the wins with veteran leadership and stingy defense on the road to a repeat NFC East title.


Improved Production from Brandon Jacobs and Ahmed Bradshaw

While the Giants during the PB&J era (Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey) were more of a fun and gun football outfit who would outscore you, they have morphed into a lower scoring ground attack team, especially with the skilled trio of running backs of Brandon Jacobs, Ahmed Bradshaw, and Derrick Ward.

With Ward's departure to Tampa Bay, look for increased numbers from Jacobs and Bradshaw.

Good Old Smash Mouth Football

As mentioned above, the Giants have transformed over the last two seasons and are more of a ground attack team, look for hard hitting, high numbers of rushing attempts, and low scoring wins.


The Emergence of Young Receivers

The Giants have basically had the same familiar faces catching passes from Eli Manning, which include Burress, Toomer, and Shockey mostly, but that should change as rookie Hakeem Nicks, Sinorice Moss, former Michigan standout Mario Manningham, and Domenik Hixon bring in a new era of wide outs in the Big Apple.


An NFC Championship Berth

The Giants had too much drama going into the playoffs last year and had an offense loaded with fade routes to Burress. Fans can look forward to a change in play and some surprise players to step it up much like last year, which hopefully, and I am predicting will, lead to an NFC Championship Berth.

I don't feel that the Giants will be able to pull off enough offence to close it out and make a Super Bowl appearance when it is all said and done, but they have just enough depth and veteran leadership, mixed with some hungry, young players to do a fair amount of damage in the playoffs.

There are high hopes as always in the Big Apple, and as usual high expectations need high performance to be achieved. Here are the keys to success for the Giants this year.


Eli Manning

Eli Manning, in the words of Joe Buck, "matured right in front of us" during the New York Giants' Cinderella season, but after a hot start last year, he sort of faded away once Burress was out for the season. The Giants need a great season from Eli Manning to ensure playoff success.


A Healthy Osi Umenyiora

While the Giants defense did improve without him, Osi Umenyiora is an integral part of what the Giants do on defence, and with him they have one of the great front lines in football. With the departures on offense, Osi and the rest of the defense will have to carry the team on their backs to steal some big games, especially once January arrives.


Brandon Jacobs

Brandon Jacobs has had his highs and lows in a Giants uniform; he has had big games, and ho-hum efforts. With the departure of Ward, Jacobs will be getting more carries and he is running out of excuses. It is time for Jacobs to show he is the successor to Tiki Barber.


The Young Guns

The Giants have eight players who are 25 years old or younger that will have big roles with the team. Of those eight players, four will be catching passes this year and two will be defending the pass.

If these players do not learn on the fly, the continued success of the franchise rests on these young men's shoulders. If they have what it takes, then we can all look forward to a winning season. On the other hand, if they choke on the pressure we can look forward to a very long football season.


Final Prediction

This year's squad is in search of a new identity. It has much of the same pieces as the championship team, but some of the key parts of the puzzle are missing. It is up to the young players to fit into the championship puzzle.
I think they will, but just not this year.

My prediction: 12-4 First in NFC East loss in NFC Championship.

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