The New York Giants suffered a blow to both their defense and Super Bowl hopes Saturday evening with a season ending injury to Osi Umenyiora.
Umenyiora suffered a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee, which will sideline him for the entire 2008 season. Surgery is schedule for Tuesday August 26th, and rehabilitation should take four months.
Who does New York replace Umenyiora with?
What does his loss mean for the Giants' Super Bowl hopes?
Will the Giants make a pitch to bring Michael Strahan back from retirement?
These are all questions that Giants fans have been asking since Saturday night.
Lets take them one at a time:
Right defensive ends like Umenyiora don't grow on trees, so free agency or waivers is unlikely to yield much. That means the obvious short term move is to shift Mathias Kiwanuka back to defensive end, his natural position.
The Giants have Renaldo Wynn, Dave Tollefson, Wallace Gilberry, and Alex Morrow competing at defensive end. All may be capable, but none of them inspire fear like Umenyiora, nor do any have the speed and physical attributes of Kiwanuka. If one of them steps up, that's great. But for the short term, shifting Kiwanuka is what the Giants likely will do.
As far as New York's Super Bowl hopes go, I see them as slightly worse than I did prior to Saturday. A successful Super Bowl run is equal parts talent, luck, and staying healthy. Now, they're obviously not as healthy, and at a significant position to boot.
But while Umenyiora's injury diminishes the overall defensive talent, don't forget that Kiwanuka had nine sacks last year before going down with a broken leg and could go a long way to replacing Osi's sack total.
Also, since defensive ends do not have the opportunity to change the complexion of a game on every play like an offensive ball handler does, it's less devastating than losing Eli Manning for the season.
Now onto Strahan.
It's a virtual no brainer that the Giants should do everything possible to bring him back.
There is simply no one of his caliber out there to pick up or to sign off the street. He provides veteran leadership, knows and has thrived in the defensive system, and is accustomed to the coaches and players.
The real question is why would he do it?
He has a sweet gig with Fox, he finally gets to live in his L.A. beach house and seems perfectly content with retiring while on top.
Personally I don't think he will come out of retirement, so Giants fans like me are just going to have to get used to life without Strahan, and at least for this year, Umenyiora.
Injuries are part of the game and every team goes through them. Maybe we'll just have to wait and see who has the heart to step up, grab this chance and make the most out of it.
Gilberry, Wynn, Morrow, Tollefson: Are you guys listening?