Last Year's Record: 8-8
Wins: Redskins (2x), Cowboys (2x), Buccaneers, Chiefs, Raiders, Falcons
Losses: Saints, Cardinals, Eagles (2x), Chargers, Broncos, Panthers, Vikings
Biggest Playmakers: Defensive Ends
The biggest playmakers on the Giants team are their defensive ends. With the addition of rookie Jason-Pierre Paul, they now have four guys who can really get after the quarterback.
Last year Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and Mathias Kiwanuka did not put up the same numbers, sack-wise, as they had in previous year, but still were able to force 11 fumbles. If their defensive ends produce what they are cable of producing, the Giants should be a very scary team for QB’s to go up against this year.
Impact Player: Steve Smith
WR, USC, Drafted #51, fourth year
He may not be the flashiest receiver, but Smith knows how to get open. In his first full year as a starter, Smith had 107 receptions and 1,220 yards receiving.
Biggest Offseason Addition: Antrel Rolle
FS, U of Miami, Drafted #8, sixth year
Adding Rolle is a huge addition for the Giants. Rolle was considered one of the best free agents available and should help stabilize the Giants shaky secondary that let up 31 touchdowns through the air and 26.7 points per game.
Biggest Offseason Loss: Antonio Pierce
MLB, Arizona, Undrafted, ninth year
The Giants surprisingly released Pierce this off-season after he was plagued with injuries. Pierce had been a mainstay at middle linebacker for the Giants for the last 5 years. The Giants will miss Pierce’s leadership on the defensive side of the ball.
Biggest Draft Steal: Jason Pierre-Paul
DE, South Florida, Drafted #15, Rookie
The Giants' biggest need going into the draft was the linebacker position, but when Pierre-Paul fell to them at 15, they had to select him. Pierre-Paul is a 6’5” 270-pound freak who has all sorts of potential. He is going to be able to learn from some of the best defensive ends in the game, so I cannot imagine him not succeeding.
Biggest Draft Mistake: Passing On LBs
The Giants added free agent Keith Bullock, a 33-year-old veteran coming off knee surgery.
Bullock is obviously a short term fix for the Giants, and it will be interesting to see if he still has his edge. Michael Boley is solid, but other than that, the Giants depth at linebacker is very thin.
They will be going into the season relying on guys who have little to no experience starting in the NFL. In a draft that was heavy with linebacker talent, the Giants waited until the fourth round to select their first linebacker.
Offseason Grade: C+
Adding Antrel Rolle and Jason Pierre-Paul were both big additions. But releasing Antonio Pierce and not bringing in some linebacker help seems to be a huge mistake. If I am an opposing team I would be running the ball all day against the Giants.
X-Factor: Running Game
The Giants offense relies heavily on their ability to run the ball effectively. Last year, they just never seemed to be able to get the running game going. They only had two games where one of their backs rushed for over 100 yards. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmed Bradshaw must have good seasons for the Giants to be successful.
Name You Should Know: Kevin Boss
TE, Western Oregon, Drafted #152, fourth year
Boss does not have the same speed or athleticism as former Giant tight end Jeremy Shockey, but he is a very good, fundamental player. At 6’6” and 253 pounds, he gives Eli Manning a big throwing target. He may never be a star in the league, but he is a great fit for the Giants offense.
Rising Star: Hakeem Nicks
WR, UNC, Drafted 29th, second year
Even though he was bothered with hamstring and foot injuries in 2009, Nicks had a very impressive rookie season, with 47 receptions and 16.8 YPC, sixth best in the NFL. Nicks could have a break out year for the Giants.
Offensive Outlook: B
They have some good young receivers, and QB Eli Manning has proved he can very good at times. Their offensive success really depends on their ability to run the ball. If they can consistently run the ball like in years past they will have an impressive offense.
Defensive Outlook: C+
Their defensive line and secondary should be very good, but if I am a fan of the Giants, I would be very worried about the linebacker core.
Special Teams Outlook: B-
Domenik Hixon is a solid return man and Lawrence Tynes is an excellent kicker. The punting situation is up in the air after Jeff Feagles retired. Seventh round pick Matt Dodge may be the answer.
Projected 2010 Record: 7-9
The NFC East should be a very competitive division this year, and I would not be surprised if the division winner only ends up having 9 or 10 wins.
There are still a few questions on this Giants team, but I think they are still capable of playing like the 2008 super bowl team.
They still have the pieces in place to have an amazing pass rush and a good running/play action offense. With all that being said, I still don’t trust Eli Manning to be consistent throughout the season and carry this team to the playoffs. He is just too streaky.
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