New York Giants: The Five Over Hyped and Unsung Heroes
The New York Giants head into the 2010 season feeling comfortable with 21 starters. There's only one question mark, and that's the unproven middle linebacker Jonathan Goff.
Throughout the season players will shuffle their roles with a few great performances mixed in with mistake-plagued games. And of course there's the most dreaded word in the NFL other than work and stoppage—injuries.
Still there are players heading into the year who are being over hyped by experts to the point where it's almost like they only have to be as correct as a weatherman.
Meanwhile, players who consistently perform at a high level are overlooked, and rightfully so as they don't put up top-tier stats.
Here are the Big Blue players that are receiving too much praise and the others who aren't getting enough appreciation heading into this season.
Overrated: 5. Sinorice Moss
Moss made a highlight play in his only catch of 2009.
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In the 2005 NFL Draft, New York traded away their 25th overall pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who selected Santonio Holmes, for the 32nd overall pick along with third and fourth round picks.
The Giants couldn't turn this deal down knowing they still had a chance to get a receiver with the 44th overall pick they got from the Baltimore Ravens. That pick was used on Moss after Mathias Kiwanuka was selected with the first-round pick from the Steelers. Giants fans WERE happy.
Now, four years later, Big Blue has avoided a Pro-Bowl receiver with off-the-field issues and find itself with a injury-plagued receiver with on-the-field issues—that being performance.
In those four years since joining the team, Moss has 421 yards, three touchdowns and two lost fumbles on 39 catches. Those are questionable numbers for a rookie year, and for a 37-game veteran, those numbers are atrocious.
Aside from his lone highlight catch from a week three game against the Buccaneers, Moss has rode the coattails of his older brother Santana.
The fact that Moss is still on the team (though, being on IR might have saved him) is amazing and the reason he makes the list.The reason he's so low is because people are starting to realize he may have reached his potential.
Overrated: 4. Antrel Rolle
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While it is too early to tell how well Rolle will play as a Giant, it is also too early to give him as much hype New York fans have since he signed this offseason.
Rolle's play ever since moving to the safety has certainly improved, but it's hard to forget how much he struggled in his first three professional seasons at the cornerback position. He did have a career-high five interceptions—in two games—in his final season as a corner, but his constant blown coverage made him a liability and lost him his starting job.
This sixth-year vet is definitely an improvement over the former likes of James Butler, but fans' expectations are a bit too high this early.
Overrated: 3. Osi Umenyiora
As much as Giants fans might hate to see Umenyiora here and would argue against it, it's necessary.
He has definitely had his impressive seasons in 2005 (14.5 sacks) and 2007 (13 sacks), but has only amassed 48.5 total sacks in six years—less than double his two Pro-Bowl performances. And in 2007, six of those sacks came in one game against a struggling backup left tackle. This is somewhat problematic for player who's job is pass-rusher.
To add to it, Umenyiora lost his starting job late last season because of his problems covering the run. His competition isn't light either, with a loaded defensive line that includes fellow defensive ends Mathias Kiwanuka and rookie Jason Pierre-Paul.
There are reports that new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell already has plans to get all three of these guys, along with Justin Tuck, on the field at the same time which is a scary thought given what Umenyiora has proven he can do in the past.
He just has to be more consistent.
Overrated: 2. Brandon Jacobs
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Jacobs runs through tacklers like a Mike Tyson haymaker. His shoulder charge is more solid than a cement pillar. Apparently no one has told Jacobs that defenders are supposed to punish running backs and not the other way around.
However, Jacobs does punish himself often with his wreckless style of play. He also has trouble getting upfield on runs to the outside, doesn't have the best hands for catching and has another back behind him who is substantially better at doing just those things.
In his five-year career, he has only eclipsed 10 touchdowns once. While he did come close in his first two seasons with seven and nine touchdowns respectively, Jacobs has only recorded nine total touchdowns in his other sub-10-touchdown seasons as New York's top running back.
His running style hasn't changed (not that it should), so another injury is as certain as bad pass from Matt Leinart. If his injuries don't catch up to him, his backups will, and he may not find himself on the Giants for too much longer.
Overrated: 1. Aaron Ross
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Like Moss, Ross was selected after another player of his position (Darrelle Revis) who has proven to be far more successful in the same amount of time.
Even before an injury-shortened 2009 season where many expected the fourth-year corner to show his worth, Ross has not played up to his expectations as a first-round draft pick.
He clearly hasn't shown that he has what it takes to be a coverage corner. And Ross has has shown flashes of a playmaking corner, but hasn't really improved much since his rookie season in that aspect either.
Like Sinorice Moss, New York as a collective whole is running out of patience for him. Unless he has another injury-plagued season—he is already dealing with a physical ailment—Ross has to show he can stay with players at this level.
Underrated: 5. Eli Manning
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Even after a Super-Bowl winning drive and his best season as a professional, people still question Manning's ability to play as a quarterback in the NFL. It also doesn't help that he will always been known as Peyton's younger brother.
While he may not have the same stats as his brother or the quarterback he was traded for in Philip Rivers, Manning does have one thing—composure. Whether it was the 2005 comeback drive against the Denver Broncos, the Super Bowl XLII comeback drive or the week two performance against Dallas last season, Manning has shown that he can stay calm when he is needed.
And the fact that he's been able to do this with arguably the worst offensive coordinator in the entire league, Kevin Gilbride, makes his performance that much more impressive.
Expect Manning to put up less-impressive touchdown and yards stats this season, but only because of the improved performance of the rushing attack. Manning will continue to play with the same Cool Hand Luke composure.
Underrated: 4. Ahmad Bradshaw
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While in continues to become clearer who should, and will most likely, be the Giants starting running back, those who don't regularly follow Big Blue still don't realize how much talent Bradshaw has.
Not only does Bradshaw have better breakaway speed than Jacobs, but his cuts are sharper than John Belushi's samurai sword. To add to it, Bradshaw has proven he has enough power to carry defenders for a few extra yards.
Still not a believer? Watch his 51-yard shovel pass play against the Jets in the first week of preseason. Bradshaw shows off all his talents as he races down the sideline, comes to a near stop while cutting left and shoves off a wishful tackler before finally going down.
Bradshaw will lead New York in rushing yards and touchdowns this season and will put up even more yards and TDs in the receiving column. He will prove that he is a No. 1 back.
Underrated: 3. Terrell Thomas
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While Aaron Ross has been disappointing Giants fans, Thomas has been inspiring hope.
In just his second year as a pro, this second-round pick had a team-high 18 deflections, four interceptions, a forced fumble and showed off his blitzing skills numerous times—just ask JaMarcus Russell.
Thomas was rarely ever out of position even in Bill Sheridan's mess of a defense and should prosper even more with new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. With Corey Webster—who has developed into a good cornerback himself—at the other corner position, the Giants' 4-3 formation should be solid in the secondary.
Thomas has certainly locked down a starting spot, and with another year of experience, a Pro-Bowl year isn't out of the question.
Underratted: 2. Madison Hedgecock
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Much has been made of the Giants offensive line over the past few years, and rightfully so. They clear lanes as good as any other group in the league. Right there with them is Hedgecock.
In five years with New York, and formerly the St. Louis Rams, Hedgecock has two rushing yards and 235 receiving yards with two touchdowns (both coming with the Giants). Clearly he's not a stat machine, but he doesn't need to be either.
His job is simple. He needs to pick up would-be tacklers in the last two lines of defense and blitzing linebackers. He does just that.
Watch any rushing play over the past three seasons and you'll see Hedgecock doing his job. In Ahmad Bradshaw's first big NFL play (an 88-yard touchdown run against Buffalo) you'll see the fullback pickup the strong-side blitz, stopping two people.
Hedgecock is simply one of the best blocking backs in the league.
Underrated: 1. Kenny Phillips
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There is no player on the Giants roster who has more upside than Kenny Phillips. He has been compared to fellow Miami University alum, the late Sean Taylor, whom was a top-tier safety in the league.
Phillips immediately impressed in his rookie season recording 67 tackles, five pass deflections and an interception while getting the least amount of playing time with Michael Johnson and James Butler.
He followed that up with a short-lived 2009 season. In just two games, Phillips had two interceptions—both against the celebrated Tony Romo.
He was forced to miss the remainder of the season after microfracture surgery on his left knee due to a prior diagnosis of patellofemoral arthritis proved to worsen. If he can fully recover from this serious injury (which it appears that he can), Phillips will go back to his playmaking ways and could enter elite status by the end of the year.