Special teams is an aspect of football that is often overlooked, but a great special teams unit can be the difference between a good team and a Super Bowl team.
Here is a quick look at how the Giants' offseason will shake up the special teams:
Lawrence Tynes Replaces John Carney as Place Kicker
NFC Championship Game hero Lawrence Tynes will return to full kicking duties, retaking the job from Pro-Bowler John Carney.
With the stronger-legged Tynes, Coughlin may feel more comfortable going for longer field goals than he did with Carney.
He may also decide to leave the offense on the field in 4th-and-short situations, as opposed to attempting a mid-range field goal, as Tynes does not have the most accurate leg.
That is, if Tynes does not run onto the field before Coughlin has had time to make a decision.
Plaxico Burress's Departure Affects Return Game
Because of the departures on offense, Domenik Hixon and Ahmad Bradshaw are set to see increased workloads on offense. Depending on how positional battles at wide receiver and running back play out, the team could have two new return men.
Both Hixon and Bradshaw excelled in the return game last season, so replacing their productivity will not be easy, and might not even be possible with the existing options on the roster.
Potential replacements include Sinorice Moss, Mario Manningham, Danny Ware, and Hakeem Nicks.
The Giants could also look outside the organization for kick returning help, although I do not see this as likely. A possible fit could be Joshua Cribbs, who has voiced his displeasure with his current situation in Cleveland. Cribbs is one of the best return men in the league, so the Browns would not give him away for cheap.
Another option would be trading for a wide receiver such as Braylon Edwards or Anquan Boldin and moving Hixon back to kick returner. These options seem extremely unlikely unless the passing game struggles mightily.
Free agent Matt Jones is another tall wide receiver that could replace Hixon in the passing game, but it is even more unlikely that the Giants would sign him, given his legal troubles.
The best-case scenario for the Giants' special teams is that Manningham or Nicks steps up and claims a starting wide receiver spot, making Hixon the full-time returner, a position in which he is most dangerous.