As the defending Super Bowl champions, the New York Giants, the NFC's top seed heading into last season's playoffs, did not expect their run to end on Jan. 11. But as the Philadelphia Eagles' defense held the Giants' offense scoreless in the final quarter of that first round game, the dream of a repeat became as distant as the possibility of seeing tank tops in the crowd at Giant Stadium that afternoon.
As the Giants prepare for their final season at Giants Stadium, the team has made several off-season moves that, they hope, will catapult them to their fifth consecutive playoff appearance.
No discussion of any recent Giants' season would be complete without the mention of Plaxico Burress. Widely considered one of the reasons the Giants stumbled in the playoffs last season, Burress was released by the organization on April 3, leaving a hole in the vital wide receiver position. The team hopes to plug the hole with Hakeem Nicks out of North Carolina, the Giants' top pick in the recent NFL Draft. It remains to be seen if youth can compete with Burress' eight years of experience in the pros.
Another offensive concern emerges among the running backs. With Derrick Ward heading to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it will be interesting to watch how the break up of the "Earth, Wind, and Fire" trio will impact the team's offense. Ahmad Bradshaw, the previous third string running back, should step up to take Ward's place, and the return of Brandon Jacobs in the lead position should help stabilize the offense, but one of the younger players, possibly the newly retained Danny Ware, needs to fill the void left by Ward.
The Giants have two names going for them-- Eli Manning and David Carr, the newly re-signed back-up quarterback. These two play makers will lead the team this season, for better or worse. Ultimately, the season will come down to the execution of these two along with their coaches. How Bill Sheridan, the team's former linebackers coach, steps into his new role as defensive coordinator will be key to the team's success. On the top of the coaching hierarchy, Tom Coughlin begins his sixth year at the helm with the team. Hopefully his experience combined with the off-season talent acquisitions can propel the team farther in the playoffs this coming January.