The Philadelphia Eagles spent all offseason, as short as it was, improving their already good team that won the NFC East in 2010.
They signed and traded for Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, respectively, and now field a defensive backfield with three Pro Bowl corner backs.
They also beefed up their defensive line with the addition of Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins. For all intents and purposes, they are the proverbial favorites to win the NFC East.
This article will list three statistics that prove the Giants are actually the team to beat and not the Eagles, despite supposedly staying relatively quiet in free agency.
Here are the numbers from last year's defensive stats:
Yards per game:
Passing and Rushing yards per game:
- NYG—209.5 and 101.3
- PHI—216.8 and 110.4
Points allowed per game:
This probably doesn't mean anything to you because, despite these better numbers for the Giants, the Eagles still won both head to head matchups and the division.
Well, not only will the Giants defense be better this season, but the Eagles will get worse despite their many offseason acquisitions.
As little as people want to point it out, the Eagles hired an offensive line coach with no prior defensive coordinator experience to run their defense.
It makes the Bill Sheridan move look like a smart decision.
As talented as the Philadelphia defense may look on paper, the schemes have just as much to do with the performance of the defense as the players.
It's why guys like Rex Ryan and Dick LeBeau are able to get anything and everything out of guys we would have never heard of otherwise.
Oh, and did I mention their linebackers and safeties are average at best? This defense is going to get run all over, and the improvements they made to the defense, while great, won't help the run defense.
Perry Fewell proved last year he could figure out a way to stop Michael Vick, and after he did so Vick's season took a turn for the worse.
Not to mention, the only real loss the Giants suffered on defense was Barry Cofield signing with the Redskins, and they are prepared to replace him with two second-round picks at defensive tackle who dominated while in college.
The gap between the two defenses will get even bigger this year.
For some reason, it felt like last season was something every Eli Manning hater wanted to see—him throwing 25 interceptions.
Of course, you'll never hear a single one of them admit that he had some bad luck—10 of those interceptions fell through the hands of his receivers and into the waiting arms of defenders.
Basically the point is that the Giants had 39 turnovers last year, and it was an exception not the rule.
Over the previous five seasons, the Giants have averaged only 26 turnovers per season. That is almost a one per game increase, and turnovers seemed to be the only thing keeping them from the playoffs last year.
In 2009, the defense was awful but they generally took care of the ball. In 2010 the defense was better but they were careless with the ball.
In 2011 they will put the two together.
When you look at the guys the Giants lost, you might say "Well come on, they lost two offensive line starters, a full back, a tight end and their second best wide receiver, they are going to be worse."
They lost Shaun O'Hara and Rich Seubert to make some salary cap room, but neither one of these guys were expected to play up to his ability in 2010 because of health issues.
The Giants signed David Baas to replace O'Hara, and if the 49ers priorities tell you anything, it's that Baas was important to them. They apparently told Baas before the lockout that he was going to be their first priority to re-sign, but the Giants proved to be too much of a better situation.
The Michigan product was a co-winner of the Dave Rimington trophy in 2004, which is given to the nation's top center. He was also a finalist for the Outland trophy, given to the nation's best interior lineman.
He started all 16 games in 2009 as a guard, and all 16 games in 2010 at center and did so at a high level. He was the No. 33 pick in 2005 NFL draft, and the best thing he offers over O'Hara is health and youth.
O'Hara is 34 and has had foot problems the last two seasons—he played only six games in 2010. The Giants will definitely miss O'Hara, but it was time to move on.
Rich Seubert was voted as the team MVP last year by Giants forum Big Blue Interactive, but unfortunately the 10-year veteran suffered a dislocated knee cap in the season finale. The Giants reportedly didn't even think he could pass a physical.
They have moved on by sliding David Diehl inside to left guard, which is his natural position in the first place and a long time coming. He will be much better as the guard, and Will Beatty is easily an upgrade over Diehl at left tackle.
Beatty, a second-round pick in 2009, has beefed up from 305 to 319 pounds this offseason in an effort to become a better run blocker. Not to mention he's been going against Jason Pierre-Paul for most of camp (and Osi Umenyiora the past week) and doing a great job against him.
In fact, it appeared the Giants were set to move Beatty to the starting left tackle job last season before he broke his foot and missed the first two months of the season.
Beatty has been one of the most impressive players so far in training camp, and he attributes the battle with Umenyiora over the years as why he's been able to make the transition so easily.
The offensive line allowed a league best 16 sacks last season; these moves will allow them to keep up that dominance.
Not only did they lose those two guys, but they lost their starting full back. However, they signed Henry Hynoski who is an undrafted free agent out of Pitt, and if training camp is any indication, the Giants got a bargain for The Hynoceros.
Hynoski is an old school guy who loves contact and blowing up linebackers who dare to meet him in the hole. He is blue collar and a perfect fit for the Giants—not to mention he can catch the ball unlike the guy he is replacing (Madison Hedgecock).
He likely would have been drafted, but a hamstring injury caused teams to shy away from him. He has shown no signs of the injury and is likely going to be the team's starting fullback, allowing Bear Pascoe to move back to tight end.
So while the Giants lost Kevin Boss, the fact that they are allowed to now move Pascoe—who started several games at fullback when Hedgecock was hurt—back to tight end still gives them a capable player at the position.
The Giants rarely use the tight end in the offense, but if they do need to they always have Travis Beckum, who was drafted in 2009 as a receiving threat. He's had two touchdowns in each of the last two seasons and that was in very limited action.
I'm not willing to call this a gain like the fullback or offensive line positions, but it is at least a push.
Wide receiver Steve Smith will be missed by the Giants—he could run routes as well as anyone in the league and had vacuums for hands.
However, taking into account everything I've presented, it really feels like Smith is the only significant loss on offense, and that was to a receiver unit that was deep in the first place.
That brings the total losses from five down to three gains, one push, and one loss. The offense may not be as explosive as 2010, but there won't be a big drop off if any.