New York Giants' Regular Season Report Card
The Giants finished up their regular season with a 12-4 record, which was good enough to win the NFC East Division, achieve the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and receive a first round bye in the playoffs.
I will give out grades, in report card form, for the Offense, Defense, and Special Teams for the regular season.
Eli Manning lead the offensive charge this year with an excellent passing game and put up great numbers in most of the games. He actually did very well considering that he lost his No. 1 target, Plaxico Burress, half way through the season.
Eli was one of the top Quarterbacks in the league and was voted to the NFL Pro Bowl. Although Eli did have a fantastic year, he still had some usual, "Eli" games against the Browns and Cowboys, if you know what I mean.
Earth, Wind, and Fire led dominated defenses on the ground.
Brandon Jacobs (Earth) pounded defenders week in and week out. He paved the way for Derrick Ward (Wind) who attacked already beaten up defenders on Off Tackle running plays, draws, and screens. When the fourth quarter rolled around, the Giants would just hand the ball off to Ahmad Bradshaw (Fire) to run out the clock or hit the big play.
Many critics and non-Giant's fans may think that the Wide Receiver position is the weakest on the Giant's offense due to the loss of Plaxico Burress. But, really, its not.
Veteran leader Amani Toomer had a typical Toomer year, putting up some good, but not flashy, numbers. Many young receivers, like Domenick Hixon and Steve Smith, stepped up in Burress' absence. Hixon became the vertical threat, while Smith was always Manning's option on third down.
Second-year tight end, Kevin Boss, also had a very productive year, even though he had no catches the first couple of weeks in the season.
Now, to the part of the Offense where many people say is the best in the league—the offensive line. Anchored by Pro Bowl Center Shaun O'Hara, the line created huge holes for the running backs and gave Eli plenty of time to throw.
Guard Chris Snee also made the NFC Pro Bowl team, while Guard Rich Sieburt did a fantastic job of pulling and trapping defensive tackles. Tackles David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie also did a great job on blocking quick and speedy defensive ends on the edge.
Ever since 1925, New York Giant's football has always been about the Defense, and this year was no different.
Defensive End Justin Tuck, who also made it to the Pro Bowl, lead the defensive line up front. He was always coming quick off the edge, attacking quarterbacks and eating up run plays.
The men in the middle, Barry Cofield and Fred Robbins, did a fantastic job of clogging up the middle, making sure that no running back came through there without getting hit.
Second-year man Jay Alford out of Penn State also came in at defensive tackle and did a nice job. Mathias Kiwanuka did a very good job at the other defensive end position as well.
When either Kiwanuka or Tuck would get tired, Dave Toffelson goes in at defensive end and does a very nice job.
At the Linebacker position, defensive captain, vocal leader, and Middle Linebacker Antonio Pierce led the way. He is the Quarterback of the defense, always making audibles and constantly changing things up in a positive way.
First-year Giant Danny Clark played outstanding at outside linebacker. He made all the plays he needed to, defended in pass coverage, and rarely missed any tackles.
Gerris Wilkinson stared off the year at the other outside linebacker position, but he went down with an injury, so special team phenom Chase Blackburn stepped in and played very well.
I like to think about the Giant's secondary as a bend, but don't break scenario. They kept most of the plays in front of them and rarely got beat deep.
Cornerback Corey Webster is the No. 1 corner for the Giants and stayed hot throughout the year after coming off a very productive post season last year. He is usually matched up with the other team's best receiver and always does a very nice job.
At the other Cornerback position, Aaron Ross had an average year, sometimes looking like he was lost on the field or other times just flat out getting beat deep.
Little man Kevin Dockery also had a very productive year, while rookie Terrel Thomas out of USC got a lot of playing time and is expected to step up in the playoffs.
The Giant's Safeties did a fabulous job this regular season. James Butler stepped up and truly became the leader of the secondary while Michael Johnson stepped in nicely as the other starting safety in only his second year out of Arizona.
The Giants key newcomer was Kenny Phillips. He did a great job coming in on passing situations and also provided big hits when the Giants needed one. Phillips also got one start this year against the Eagles.
Special Teams: A-
Veteran leadership came in handy when it had to deal with the Giant's Special Teams considering that they have the two oldest players in league, Punter Jeff Feagles and Kicker John Carney.
Feagles, as always, did a fantastic job this season pinning opponents inside the ten yard line and making sure that the Giants won the battle of field position.
Carney came in this season replacing NFC Championship Game goat turned hero, Lawrence Tynes who got injured in the Pre Season. Carney was virtually automatic throughout most of the regular season, despite missing his last field goal last week against the Vikings.
The Giants punt and kick return game was pretty solid with return men Domenick Hixon and Ahmad Bradshaw carrying most of the load, while veteran R.W. McQuarters returned a couple of punts as well.
The only flaw in the Giant's Special Teams is their kick off team coverage. They let to many teams come out passed the thirty yard line and that puts the defense in a little bit of a hole. That team will have to improve if the Giants want to succeed in the playoffs.
Overall Grade: A
The New York Giants had a very good regular season, but the mission is not over. The Giants must keep up their good play in order to do well in the playoffs and win the Super Bowl, like they did last year.
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