Projected Starting Lineup
Defensive End- Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora
Defensive Tackle- Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard
Middle Linebacker- Antonio Pierce
Outside Linebacker- Michael Boley, Danny Clark
Safety- Michael Johnson, Kenny Phillips
Cornerback- Corey Webster, Aaron Ross
Unit By Unit Breakdown
Defensive Line- As the 2008 season concluded, it was painfully obvious how gassed Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka were.
In the final four games, they registered a single sack between the two of them. To compound the problem, defensive tackle Fred Robbins was not healthy, as he had two broken hands and a fractured shoulder.
With Osi Umenyiora absent and the remaining troops banged up, the Giants simply could not muster up the ability to stop their opponents when they needed to.
That said, New York was still one of the better defensive units in the NFL in 2008, and a big part of the reason why was the defensive line.
The same line which led New York to a top ten finish defensively in 2008 saw the additions of former Cowboy Chris Canty and former Seahawk Rocky Bernard, not to mention the return of Osi Umenyiora.
The amount of flexibility and depth which this new-look defensive line brings to the table for New York is a very scary thing for opponents.
If Justin Tuck is able to remain fresh throughout games and rotate down into the defensive tackle spot during pass rush situations, he will be as dangerous as any defender in the league, especially when he is flanked by the likes of Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka.
Probably New York’s weakest unit in 2008, the linebackers, may have quietly improved as much as the defensive line did through the addition of Michael Boley.
It’s a league of matchups, and in the NFC East, not even the best pass rush can stop opposing quarterbacks from checking the ball down to the likes of Brian Westbrook, Chris Cooley, and Jason Witten.
Boley will provide some much needed speed out in the flats where the aforementioned players seem to thrive. This is not to say that he can cover them one on one, but the amount of support Boley provides underneath in comparison to someone like Chase Blackburn is significant.
Couple his presence with the youth the Giants have at the safety position, suddenly Witten and Westbrook just got slightly less scary.
Antonio Pierce and Danny Clark are both returning parties, and should both be in for better seasons than they had in 2008. We all know what Pierce is capable of when he plays up to standard, and it stands to reason that someone as prideful as Pierce would bounce back from a sub-par 2008 campaign.
As for Clark, simply having another season in the 4-3 as opposed to Houston’s 3-4 should benefit his performance.
Maybe one of the most exciting and young units in the league is the secondary of New York. Led by fifth-year pro Corey Webster, the secondary is primed for a big season.
In the past, lethargic, underachieving players like James Butler occupied starting roles, but times have changed for the Giants.
The dynamite second-year player Kenny Phillips will now start at safety alongside third-year player Michael Johnson, who is also developing exceptionally well.
Corey Webster and Aaron Ross will be the two starting corners, and Webster is coming off of a stellar performance in 2008, allowing just over 200 yards receiving on the season. If Webster can improve upon that, he is well on his way to being one of the better corners in the game.
Ross still has some improving to do, but he can become an asset to the secondary as well.
Predictions- Webster, Tuck, Phillips, and Osi will achieve Pro- Bowl status.
- Kenny Phillips will have six or more interceptions
- Michael Boley will record 100 tackles
- Justin Tuck will record 15 sacks
- The defense as a whole will eclipse 55 sacks and finish in the top 3 defensively