Defense wins championships, but the offense needs to win a few games for the team to get that far.
I was kind of hoping the 24-hour frenzy over the sighting of a private jet with the "NY" logo painted on the tail was the first indication of a trade for Brandon Marshall. The Broncos were looking for a linebacker from the Jets for the wideout; I think Bryan Kehl or Jonathan Goff with a mid-round draft pick would have been a steal for Mr. Marshall.
Given last year's problems with another excellent receiver whose name starts with "B" and ends with "Shot myself in the leg," I can understand that some people would be hesitant to bring in another WR with a less-than-ideal reputation. After all, Antonio Pierce's recent quote, "Team First, Team Last, Team Always," makes it seem that the current roster is on the same page and ready for another championship run. Even Osi Umenyiora's recent outburst paled in comparison to most other disruptions in the league; he returned to the Giants' training facility on the same day that he left, met with his coaches, and publicly called himself irrational.
So we know that the team is in the right frame of mind, but are they talented enough to win it all in 2009?
The defense looks poised to become the stuff of legends. If the brigade of linemen can ever be healthy enough to all play in the same game, no offensive line in the league has a chance to protect their quarterback for a full game. Having No. 91 and No. 72 on the field at the same time is fearsome enough, but returning tackles Cofield and Robbins, plus the new acquisitions of Bernard and Canty may be enough to lead the league in sacks.
A historically weak section of the Giants' defense, this year's secondary also looks ready to produce a couple of Pro-Bowl players. Kenny Phillips had an incredibly productive camp and by all accounts, his coaches believe that in 2009 he is going to unleash his raw talent with brutish results.
While the safety's publicity has overshadowed every other story line this offseason, I also believe that Aaron Ross is going to have a very productive season. Since coming to the Giants in 2007, he has shown tremendous talent and now that he's entering his third year in the league, his experience should help him bring his game to the next level.
Corey Webster and Michael Johnson are also solid backs, and promise to be able to keep up with most players in the league.
Even the weakest part of the 'D', the linebackers, do not look all that bad. Antonio Pierce appears ready to return to his old AP-self and move past the disappointment of last year's late-season breakdown. Personally, I'm chalking up that lackluster performance to a Super Bowl hangover and distractions from his Plaxico-related legal issues. If Michael Boley is 100% healthy, it looks like he'll be a nice complement to No. 58 and will provide the best LB support on the outside for some time.
But of course, all of this will be for naught if the Giants' offense can't step up. Despite an impressive late-game performance from Hakeem Nicks against a second-and third-string defense, it was pretty clear that the wide receivers are just not ready for the primetime. Significant drops by Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon were the most noticeable examples of this problem.
There are plenty of things that I'm worried about with this unit in 2009:
- An aging offensive line that, while they may be the best in the league, has very little depth behind them and may be prone to injuries.
- The unit's reliance on a torrential running game that would be threatened by OL injuries.
- An extremely young, but talented WR corps that seems to have a major case of the dropsies.
Picking up a veteran WR like Brandon Marshall would help with all three problems. By having a reliable wideout that can make opposing defenses think twice about crowding the line, the Giants could take the pressure off the OL (thereby reducing the risk of an injury), and allow the young receivers to get experience without having to endure the pressure of carrying the game on their backs.
IMAGE SOURCE: (http://www.fm1043thefan.com/Channels/DMacAndOren/Story.aspx?ID=1135998)