The New York Giants once again failed to make the playoffs in 2010.
Despite a 10-6 record, late season losses to division rival Philadelphia and Green Bay put the Giants in the back seat of the NFC Wild Card race.
Fans were yelling for coaching changes on both offense and special teams.
Jerry Reese and management have made it clear that head coach Tom Coughlin will stay for at least one more year. Coughlin has also said that he does not intend to make any changes to his coaching staff. He may not have a say in some of his staff changes.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has been rumored to be a candidate for the head coaching gig at Connecticut.
The Giants new defensive coordinator, Perry Fewell, has also been rumored for head coaching jobs around the NFL with Carolina, San Francisco, and Miami.
It would be devastating for the Giants to lose their second great defensive coordinator in three years to another NFL team. But I digress.
The Giants still had one of the better teams in the NFL in 2010-11. And with the success comes hardware. Here are the end of season awards for the New York Giants.
Perry Fewell helped turn around a struggling Giants' defense.
The New York Giants were flat out bad on defense in 2009.
Former defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan didn't have a good game plan or the respect of his players. The defense showed that with five separate games allowing 40 points or more, including losses to Philadelphia (twice), New Orleans, Carolina, and Minnesota.
In steps Perry Fewell.
The former Buffalo Bills interim head coach was called upon to breath life back into a lackluster Giants pass rush and restore a defense that was 30th in the league in points given up.
Under Fewell, the Giants defense improved by giving up 80 fewer points and also ranked second in turnovers forced. They also ranked in the top ten for passing and rushing yards allowed.
There is little doubt as to what was the key addition to the Giants defense. Antrel Rolle, Deon Grant, Keith Bullock and Jason Pierre-Paul were added through free agency and the draft to help out, but it was Fewell's schemes and swagger that helped reignite the careers of Osi Umenyiora and Chris Canty on the defensive line.
Giants fans are praying every night that Fewell will stay instead of jetting for a head coaching job, but it is understandable if he does leave for more money and a chance to lead a team. He has earned it.
Jeff Feagles was missed in 2010.
One of the most painful things for Giants to watch in 2010 was special teams. This unit was not so special.
Matt Dodge was selected in the seventh round to take over for Jeff Feagles. He had improved over his college career in average and punts inside the 20. In his rookie year, Giants fans were calling for his release. Feagles was badly missed.
Feagles was one of the best in the history of the NFL in terms of putting opponents deep inside their own territory. Feagles lacked some power, but his accuracy has left the Giants with something to be desired in Dodge.
The score was 31-10 with under eight minutes left in the game. Eli Manning just found Kevin Boss for his fourth touchdown pass of the game to most assuredly put the game out of reach. That is as far as any Giants fan wants to remember.
The Giants collapse was monumental and still stings deep in the hearts of the Big Blue faithful. However, those first 53 minutes were unbelievable.
The running game had been working over the past several weeks. Averaging over 180 yards per game through those weeks, the rushing attack was piling up the yardage and running over opponents. Philadelphia came into the game knowing they had to force Eli to throw the ball. Manning obliged.
Eli threw for four touchdowns and finished the game with a rating over 100. He did his part.
The defense also played phenomenal in the first half. The Eagles came into the game with one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. The Giants forced three turnovers and held the Eagles to 74 total yards in the first half. Vick, who was a candidate for MVP, accounted for only 33 through the air in that first half. The defense bottled up the most explosive player in the NFL.
The Giants held Philly to 10 points through the first 53 minutes. They went into the half with a 24-3 lead. They came out with a certainty that they had won the game. Unfortunately for the Giants and their fans games aren't played for 53 minutes.
With a great upside, is Pierre-Paul the next big pass rusher in the Big Apple?
When Jason Pierre-Paul was selected with the 15th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, many fans were confused.
Linebacker appeared to be the most pressing need and even the secondary was worse off than the defensive line. Jerry Reese took a gamble and drafted a project that he hoped would lend a hand to the Giants famous pass rush.
It appears he made the right choice.
The defensive end out of USF only played one year of collegiate football at the D-1 level. He had tremendous upside and a prototypical body for a 4-3 defensive end. But why waste a pick on something the Giants had a lot of?
When Mathias Kiwanuka went down with a season ending injury in a contract year, it appeared Reese had made the right move. Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora are Pro Bowl defensive ends, but they are great teachers as well. They brought JPP under their arms and taught him what they know about the game.
JPP had his coming out party against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He had eight tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles, a game most veterans in the NFL would love to have. Sound like some other Giants?
How could Pierre-Paul follow up his best career game? How about another two sack performance against division rival Washington. It is evident that Pierre-Paul is ready to make a leap towards being a great defensive end.
JPP finished his rookie campaign with 30 tackles, four and a half sacks, two forced fumbles, and six passes defended.
Without Steve Smith for most of the season, Eli Manning had his highest interception total in his career.
Eli Manning can be great at times. But he also goes through rough patches. One of the biggest reasons he struggled was the injury to Steve Smith.
Steve Smith is Eli's safety blanket. Whenever protection is broken or Eli needs a first down Smith is the first guy Eli goes to. Smith has become one of the best possession receivers in the NFL and runs routes second to none.
If you don't count the Minnesota game in which Smith caught one pass because he left with an injury, he only played in eight games. In those games (including the Minnesota game), Eli threw 14 of his 25 interceptions and threw 14 touchdowns.
In games in which Smith played, Eli threw 11 interceptions (still not very good) and 16 touchdowns. It is obvious to see that Eli did perform better when Smith was on the field.
Now, saying that Eli's interceptions are all his fault is ludicrous. Many passes went right off of his receivers hands and should have been caught, including Smith. But not having that guy you want to throw to can be tough on a quarterback.
The injuries to the offensive line or the receiving corps in general could have been named here as well, but the injury to Smith was the biggest one for the Giants in 2010.
Hakeem Nicks is in line to become one of the best Giants receivers in recent memory.
The Giants had several candidates who could have won this award.
Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck both saw significant increases in production following down years in 2009. Their sack, tackle, forced fumble and fumbles recovered totals were up.
However Hakeem Nicks is my selection for Most Improved.
Nicks went from a pretty good rookie in 2009 to the New York Giants number one receiver in 2010. Nicks saw Giant leaps in touchdowns (11), receptions (79), yards (1052) and yards per game (80.9).He was a steady work horse and saw passes come his way in bunches.
Nicks started off the 2010 season with a three touchdown performance against Carolina and added multi-touchdown games against Dallas and Houston. Nicks also saw only four games in which he had less than five catches. He topped 100 receiving yards four times.
Nicks is not even close to matching his potential, which is scary for opposing defenses. Nicks has the uncanny ability to make the big play. If Nicks played in every game its possible that he would have topped 90 receptions, 1,300 receiving yards, and 13 touchdowns.
Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora played some of their best football in 2010.
The Giants brought the blitz back this year, forcing 35 turnovers, good enough for second in the league. Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora were big reasons for those numbers.
Osi forced 10 fumbles to go with 11.5 sacks, and Tuck also had 11.5 sacks to go along with his five fumbles forced and five fumbles recovered. That's 23 sacks between them (Denver had 23 sacks total this year).
This is amazing considering Osi was close to losing his starting job coming into this year to Mathias Kiwanuka because Kiwi can play the run better. But after recovering from a leg injury in 2008, Osi appears to be back and better than ever. If Osi added three sacks he would have matched his All-Pro numbers in sacks and would have more than doubled his forced fumbles mark.
Tuck bounced back from a down 2009 season when he was injured on a dirty play by Flozell Adams. Tuck's sacks and tackles from this year are almost identical to his All-Pro year in 2008. He did have an interception returned for a touchdown that year, but his fumbles forced and recovered are much better.
I would not be surprised if he is selected to the first or second All-Pro team this year.
Tuck and Osi are perhaps the best defensive end combo in the league right now with the exception of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Both of these end combos are astounding when it comes to pressuring the quarterback.
Without these two, the Giants would have suffered a far worse number in the turnover differential column. These two were the biggest reason why the Giants defense was so successful. If they can match what their 2010 numbers were in 2011 and the offense figures out how to not turn the ball over, we may be talking about the best team in the NFC.