Plaxico Burress is credited with winning a Super Bowl for the Giants, and is blamed for losing a Super Bowl for them. Last time I checked, there are 52 other players on the team. Coach Coughlin preaches team first, and there is "No I in Team."
This year, it is going to be important for not only Coughlin, but the rest of the staff to earn their paychecks.
Some people may think losing Burress is the end for the Giants, especially after their poor finish down the stretch last season. Don't worry, this roster is loaded with talent and there is no reason to believe they will not be in the playoffs and Super Bowl contenders.
Kevin Gilbride. Some fans believe he is an awful play caller, and think they can do a better job. Look for his creativity this year to come out, and use all of the horses in the stable, exploiting other defenses by showcasing the Giants players best attributes. Look for a lot of WR bubble screens, quick slants, hooks, and out routes.
This way, the ball will come out of Eli Manning's hand quicker, and give the receivers the ability to make people miss with their quickness, speed, and elusiveness.
The Giants are a running football team. No doubt about that. Brandon Jacobs wears down the defense, and then the home run hitter, Ahmad Bradshaw comes in for the big play. Last year, the Giants were able to spread the field with Plaxico Burress as he occupied double teams.
Right now, Giant fans fear there is no receiver on the roster to warrant that respect. Just wait. Have faith in Jerry Reese. Mario Manningham (big play ability), Hakeem Nicks (great hands with nice size), and Sinorice Moss (small, quick, elusive, and fast) are going to step up big.
Then comes the red zone, where king size Ramses Barden and all 6'6" of him, will come into play right away as a rookie.
Another new toy is Travis Beckum. This rookie from Wisconsin is going to cause matchup problems for opposing defenses with his speed, and exceptional hands. Playing the "H-Back" he can be compared to Chris Cooley and Dallas Clark. Not too shabby, as both players have been to Hawaii for the Probowl.
Due to the strong swirling winds in the Meadowlands, it is important to have a great short passing game, which the Giants will possess this season.
On the defensive side of the ball, the biggest change doesn't come on the field, but on the sideline. Bill Sheridan takes over at Defensive Coordinator for Steve Spagnuolo.
Coach Spags was known for the relentless pass rushing style that he brought to the Giants from our foes down I-95, the Philadelphia Eagles. Sheridan has come out and said not to expect a big change from the defensive style from last year.
One big difference from the team last year and this year is the depth in the front seven. Players will be able to stay fresh throughout the entire season. Osi (you know you're good when you only go by one name) Justin Tuck, and Mathias Kiwanuka are only the tip of the iceberg. Robbins and Cofield are great in the middle.
The Giants were able to add Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard, and Michael Boley through Free Agency, and Clint Sintim in the second round (45th overall pick) from the University of Virginia. All four players fit great in the Giants system.
Canty can play defensive tackle and defensive end. Bernard is a great fit at defensive tackle. Boley has the speed to cover sideline to sideline, and can rush the quarterback too. Sintim was a standout at UVA, recording 26 career sacks. Bill Sheridan has already come out and said he plans to use Sintim as the starting Strong Side Linebacker.
With the great pass rush, this will open up opportunities for the secondary, and soon to be Hawaii bound, Kenny Phillips. Phillips was the No. 1 rated Safety coming into college, where he attended Miami. Now being a product of "The U" (University of Miami) Phillips follows a long line of productive safeties.
Benny Blades, Ed Reed, the late Sean Taylor, and Brandon Meriweather. Phillips was rated as the No. 1 Safety coming into the NFL, too, and the Giants were lucky enough to see him fall to them with the 31st overall pick.
Phillips this year will take on more of an Ed Reed type role, where he will be allowed to roam in the secondary and play off instinct. The defensive front should be able to force the quarterback into bad decisions, and Phillips athleticism and smarts for the game will take over from there.
The Giants already employ two great cover corners in Corey Webster and Aaron Ross. With Michael Johnson calling out the plays in the secondary, the secondary should be in for a great season.
The Giants' keys to success are that they stay true to their roots, and don't try to get fancy. The power running game, short intermediate routes, and play action will win games.
The defense will be a top three defense this season with the new additions. Much will stay the same from last season, but now it is more important than ever that Coughlin, Gilbride, Sheridan, and the rest of the staff earn their paychecks.