The Giants were disappointing in 2009, missing the playoffs and finishing 8-8 after a 5-0 start. The defense gave up 40 points or more in five games this season (427 points total) behind only a franchise-record 501 in 1966. They also had a 26.7 points-per-game average that was the third highest in the National Football League this season. The 2009 Giants became the eighth team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to miss the playoffs after starting the season 5-0. Huge disappointment? HELL YES!
I think the most positive outlook of the 09 season was the play of our offense. Though what happened to our running game? (Possible problem growing?) Eli did come through and had one of the best seasons as a Giant, posting 4,021 passing yards, 27 TD's and a 93.1 rating. Steve Smith posted Pro-Bowl number's and has become Eli's top go-to-guy in clutch situations. Also some of our young guys like Nicks and Manningham (though still developing) have proved they can play at a high level.
Overall, the defense was what hurt the Giants this season, due to injuries and an inconsistent pass rush, which has been a force for the giants the past couple of years. This also exposed our inexperience and lack of depth in the secondary. Which brings me to my first position break-down and probably the most important upgrade needed...
- SAFETY - The pitiful safety play is the primary reason the Giants surrendered 61 passing plays of more than 20 yards in 2009, including 10 plays of more than 40 yards. Some of these safeties proved to either not know what they were doing or to be incapable of making a play even when they somehow got into position.
- Kenny Phillips - When this guy went down for the season after just two games with an arthritic condition in his knee it was probably the most devastating blow the Giants suffered all season. With his future in question because the arthritic condition, which may never improve, we need to plan ahead. Though I hope he comes back healthy because, let's be honest here, we need him.
- Aaron Ross - I like this guy at cornerback. Obviously that's his niche. In the three games his hamstring did allow him to play he was at safety. Was he spectacular? No. But he was playing in a position not familiar to him. If healthy he would provide more speed and better coverage skills than Johnson, Rouse, or Brown. Moving him around a bit (corner/safety) could be a option?
- Micheal Johnson - Check his numbers from the last two seasons and tell me what you see? He is one of the worst safeties in the league. Too many misreads or he is out of position. Maybe it's because he is not fast enough? He is just as bad in the run defense. He is either never in position or it's too many missed tackles.
- CC Brown - I think we can agree this was the worst pick-up for us. He will not be in Giants blue next season. Period. Quarterbacks had a 142.6 rating throwing in his direction, second to Jacksonville safety Reggie Nelson who was the worst in the league. He did play very well against the run but he is clearly a player that's not worth the space. We need coverage men!
- Aaron Rouse - Third year player released from the Packers due to poor coverage and playing soft against the run. He has done the same for most of his time with the Giants. This could be do to adapting to a new system in midseaon. He was ranked 81st in the in the NFL against the pass. Oddly, though, Quarterbacks had just a 68.2 rating throwing in his direction.
Keep - Aaron Ross, Kenny Phillips
Gone - Brown, Johnson, Rouse
I would rather see special team players Sha'reef Rashad and Vince Anderson compete for a spot than see these three back out on the field again. I also like Chad Jones from LSU and Earl Thomas from Texas. They could be great picks in the coming draft. These spots are clearly an issue and safety should be a big concern on the draft board. There are also some FA out there the Giants could acquire.
- Nick Collins, Green Bay Packers (27) – Restricted FA
- Antoine Bethea, Indianapolis Colts (26) – Restricted FA
- Roman Harper, New Orleans Saints (27) – Restricted FA
2. Defensive Tackle - I think Tom Coughlin said it best...
"We have lost our identity in terms of who we are. We are a football team that has always prided itself on the physical aspect of the game, which is running the ball and stopping the run...we are having difficulty running it, we are having difficulty stopping the run."
- Jay Alford - Alford was another guy who looked outstanding in camp and could have had a breakout season. Coming off a knee injury I think its safe to say that this will not happen next season. From Osi Umenyiora we learned players are not back full strength following knee surgery. He will be a nice rotation guy but don't expect anything spectacular.
- Fred Robbins - 33 year old run defender has been excellent for the Giants since 2004. I'm afraid though, old age and injuries are catching up to him. He has not been what he used to be. In 2009 he had only two sacks and 25 tackles, which are the worst of his career since being with Minnesota in 2001. His contract is up and it might be time to replace him with a younger more athletic player.
- Rocky Bernard - Decent player for Seattle for seven seasons. Bust for the Giants with only one sack and 22 tackles. I think he will be gone. He can go take some other teams money.
- Barry Cofield - Probably the best tackle on the roster which is sad to say. He is average at best with 35 tackles in '09 and just 6.5 sacks over the last four seasons. His contract is up so that means we will overpay him unless the Giants decide to start over at this position. I don't see that happening so they will probably try and keep him. Like I said though, he will be overpaid.
- Chris Canty - $42 million! Wow. That's a lot of doe for a first year of disappointment! 13 tackles and a half-sack. He was hurt quite a bit and he was coming from a 3-4 end to a 4-3 tackle so I'll give him that. I still have faith in this guy even though most Cowboys fan said we paid to much. He's shown a lot of athleticism and at 6-7 300 pounds, I think he can come back strong. He just needs to come out healthy and perform on game day.
Keep - Canty, Alford, Cofield
Gone - Bernard, Robbins
Either we are jumping back into the free agency or we take a stud DT early. Some FA names available
- Vince Wilfork, New England Patriots (28)
- Richard Seymour, Oakland Raiders (30)
- Casey Hampton, Pittsburgh Steelers (32)
3. Middle LineBacker - I think we can get better play out of this position and its been a concern the last couple of seasons. Lack of solid run stoppage has been an issue and now with Fewell in the mix we are going to need a linebacker that can handle a lot more coverage responsibilities. New faces coming soon? Or do we have the players currently that can fill this role?
- Antonio Peirce - He has been the Quarterback of the defense for the Giants since he's been here and I think we definitely missed that when he went on the IR in '09. Smart player but I think he has lost a step the last couple of seasons. He has slowed down and has been liable in pass coverage. He's come through against the run but not big and physical to be a real force. He has been average at best the last few years. His 100+ tackle seasons might be over.
- Chase Blackburn - Excellent special teams player and became a solid fill in guy. Starter? I don't know about that one. 60 tackles, half a sack and a pick in '09. He is consistent on special teams and has led the team in special teams tackles in each of the previous four seasons. He is needed there.
- Jonathan Goff - Only seen a four game run with this guy at the end of the season. So can this guy can step up and fill AP's role. I don't know? He is athletic and is decent against the run but I don't see him as a real force at 235lbs. Also, coverage is not his strong suit. I won't write him off yet.
KEEP - Blackburn, Goff
GONE - Antonio Perice
Another position we could address through the draft. I like Rolando McClain from Alabama and Brandon spike from Florida. Here are some interesting free agents that will be out there...
Will these moves happen? I don't know. It's just my opinion. I trust our GM to make the right moves and select the best players possible for the team. Any thoughts or feedback? I just want another '07 run! Thanks for the read. Go Blue! =)