Big Blue Review: The New York Giants in the 2000s
The 2000s have been a decade of ups and downs for the New York Giants. They have been through new coaches, quarterbacks, and seen many other players come and go.
But as they are looking good going into the new decade, let's take a look back at the one that has passed.
Coming off a 7-9 season in 1999, it was going to be a make or break year for New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel. The Giants had a great year, making it all the way to the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately, once they reached the Super Bowl, they ran into a brick wall. That brick wall was Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens defense. They lost the Super Bowl 34-7.
Coming into the season, the Giants were hoping that they could return to the Super Bowl and finish what they started the year before.
The 2001 season didn't go that way though, and they had another disappointing 7-9 season and finished third in the NFC East.
The bright spot of the season came from defensive end Michael Strahan. Strahan broke Mark Gastineau's record of 22 sacks on a controversial sack on Brett Favre. This earned Strahan the Defensive Player of the Year award.
The Giants bounced back from their 7-9 season to win 10 games and get the wild card. They were once again stopped in the playoffs, 39-38 by the San Francisco 49ers.
Once again, the team followed a 10-win season and a playoff appearance with a below .500 season and missing the playoffs. Missing them once again cost head coach Fassel his job.
The 2004 season would be a turning point for the New York Giants and set up the future of the franchise. In the 2004 NFL draft, the New York Giants traded the rights to QB Philip Rivers and a future first round pick for highly coveted QB Eli Manning, who was selected with the first overall pick and refused to play for the Chargers.
The Giants also hired new head coach Tom Coughlin, who had previously coached the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Giants also signed QB Kurt Warner, who had previously played for the greatest show on turf in St. Louis.
The season was a disappointment though, as they went 6-10. Manning was put into the starting position and started seven games. He won one game and had six TDs and nine INTs.
The Giants finished the 2004 season 6-10.
This year the G-men would get back to the playoffs, with an 11-5 record and first place in the NFC East.
The Giants would get beat by the Carolina Panthers in the first round, 23-0.
With one year of experience in the NFL, Manning improved his stats to 24 TDs, 17 INTs, and 3,762 yards.
The Giants made another big move this offseason, signing free agent linebacker LaVar Arrington.
The Giants started the 2006 season with a 6-2 record but fell apart down the stretch and went 2-6. They would finish third in the NFC East and grab a wild card spot but lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the playoffs again.
The 2007 season would be a season to remember, and a miracle season.
The Giants lost the first two games of the season and almost lost the third to the Washington Redskins. They then turned their act around and won six straight games.
The Giants became road warriors though and didn't lose any road games besides the Week One loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
Week 17 would change the course of the season. The Giants were playing at home against the undefeated New England Patriots. Even though the Giants had locked up a playoff spot, they decided not to rest their starters and tried to end the Patriots' quest for perfection.
The Patriots won a close 38-35 game, but the Giants came out the real winners. They had gained momentum going into the playoffs, and they would need it when these teams would cross paths again.
The Giants finished second in the NFC East with a 10-6 record and were looking at a first round game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They beat the Bucs 24-14 and ended their first round woes in the 2000s. They hadn't won a playoff game since the 2000 Super Bowl run.
Next the Giants found themselves against conference foe Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys had beaten the Giants in both of their meetings that season. But the Giants held on to get the win in that game, with a fourth quarter interception by R.W. McQuarters sealing the 21-17 win.
The Giants were now one game away from the Super Bowl, and they found themselves playing against the Green Bay Packers in historic Lambeau Field. With game time weather recorded at minus-one degrees, the Giants hoped they could continue their amazing playoff run.
After intercepting Brett Favre in overtime, the Giants got into field goal range, and Lawrence Tynes hit the game-winning field goal to give the Giants the thrilling 23-20 win.
The Giants were headed to the Super Bowl, on fire with the momentum that they had from their game against the Patriots. They came up a field goal short of the win, but this time would be different.
Coming into the game the Patriots were 13.5-point favorites, but they would barely even put up that many points. In a game that will be remembered for ages, the Giants and Manning played a great game and were only down 7-3 at halftime.
The one moment that we would all remember from this game, of course, is "The Catch" by David Tyree. Four plays later, Manning would throw the game-winning touchdown pass to Burress to give the Giants a 17-14 miracle win.
The Giants had shocked the world by winning the Super Bowl and stopping the Patriots one game short of their perfect season.
The 2008 offseason brought sad news to the Giants organization. Future Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan announced his retirement after their Super Bowl season.
Even without Strahan, the Giants fired off to a 4-0 start, and by Week 13 the team was 11-1. The chances of repeating for the Giants were looking good.
Then on Nov. 28, 2008, superstar wide receiver Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg in a New York nightclub. Burress would be suspended by the team and later released.
Even with this huge distraction and setback, there was still football to play. Unfortunately, the Giants slipped down the stretch, losing three of their last four games and finishing 12-4.
Even with this slip-up, the Giants had the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and in the divisional round they were put up against their division rival the Philadelphia Eagles.
As they had their last four games, the Giants once again struggled against the Eagles and lost 23-11.
As the 2009 season for the New York Giants was ended last week, it was once again a disappointing season considering how it started.
The Giants once again flew out of the gates and got off to a 5-0 start. Then, repeating their 2008 season, the Giants stumbled the next four games, losing them all and giving up a combined 133 points.
The Giants never recovered from that point on, only winning three more games and virtually giving up the last two weeks in 41-9 and 44-7 losses.
While the 8-8 ending to the decade was a big difference from the way they started it, you could say this decade was a success for New York Giants football.
An important part of building a football team is the NFL Draft, so let's look at the Giants' first round draft picks this decade.
First Round, 11th overall: Ron Dayne, Wisconsin, RB
Dayne didn't exactly live up to what he was supposed to be coming into the NFL. He stayed on the Giants until 2005, getting 2,067 yards and 16 TDs. The last time Dayne played was 2007 for the Houston Texans.
First Round, 22nd overall: Will Allen, Syracuse, DB
Another draft pick that didn't exactly live up to what the Giants had hoped he would. Allen played for the Giants until 2005, when he left for the Miami Dolphins, where he played just this past season. Allen only has 15 career INTs.
First Round, 14th overall: Jeremy Shockey, Miami (FL), TE
A very successful draft pick for the Giants, Shockey has been a very reliable tight end this decade and later became quarterback Eli Manning's favorite target. He would later get traded to the New Orleans Saints in 2002, though, after problems with the organization.
First Round, 25th overall: William Joseph, Miami (FL), DT
William Joseph could have had a better career with the Giants if he could have avoided injury. He missed six games in 2005 and the whole 2007 Super Bowl season with injury. Now Joseph plays for the Oakland Raiders.
Other notable 2003 draft picks: Osi Umenyiora, Visanthe Shiancoe, David Diehl, and David Tyree.
First round, fourth overall: Philip Rivers, North Carolina State, QB (traded to Chargers for Eli Manning)
Of course this pick has worked out fine for the Giants. While Manning struggled at first, he has since been a good QB, although at sometimes inconsistent. I'm sure I'm not the only Giants fan who wonders what the team could have done with Rivers though.
Other notable 2004 draft picks: Chris Snee and Gibril Wilson.
No first round picks
Other notable 2005 picks: Corey Webster, Justin Tuck, and Brandon Jacobs.
Notable undrafted players: James Butler and Ryan Grant.
First round, 32nd overall: Mathias Kiwanuka, Boston College, DE
It's been hard to tell how Kiwanuka's career will turn out so far, but he has been a solid player that the Giants have been able to use at the linebacker position as well as DE.
Other notable 2006 picks: Barry Cofield.
First round, 20th overall: Aaron Ross, Texas, CB
I personally am a big fan of Aaron Ross and think he can be a Pro Bowl cornerback in the future. He was injured this past year.
Other notable 2007 picks: Steve Smith, Zak DeOssie, Kevin Boss, Michael Johnson, and Ahmad Bradshaw.
First round, 31st overall: Kenny Phillips, Miami (FL), FS
Just like Ross, I think Kenny Phillips will be a big advantage in the secondary for the Giants in the future. Just like Ross though, he was hurt last year.
Other notable 2008 picks: Terrell Thomas and Mario Manningham.
First round, 29th overall: Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina, WR
Hakeem Nicks was a big success for the Giants' young receiving corps this year. At the end of the year, Nicks was even a candidate for offensive rookie of the year.
The 2000s have been a successful decade for the Giants, and we can only hope that their success continues into the next decade.
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