Nobody can deny that the New York Giants 2009 season was a complete disaster. Despite a strong 5-0 start, Big Blue finished the year at 8-8 and completely folded down the stretch allowing opponents to score at will.
Co-owner Chris Mara's post-debacle comment that the record felt more like 2-14 was well understood by Giants fans. At times, it seemed like the Giants were the worst team in the league. At times, defensively, they were.
There were injuries on the defensive side of the ball as well as an overmatched coordinator, and in the end, the team appeared to completely give up.
The question that needs to be answered is whether it was an aberration or a bad omen for 2010.
If you've been paying attention, you'll realize that the Giants were in the exact same situation three years ago. In 2006, the Giants started off strong, sprinting out to a 6-2 record. But a spate of injuries turned a promising start into a miserable 8-8 finish.
After the 2006 season, they fired their Defensive coordinator and brought in a new, energetic young coordinator to help the underachieving unit. Spagnuolo breathed new life into the defense, much like Giants fans hope the fiery Perry Fewell will do this year.
After the 2006 season, they didn't make any big splashes in free agency and instead lost their offensive leader in Tiki Barber. This year, the addition of Antrelle Rolle could be considered a "splash," but other than this transaction, they were quiet. And while they suffered no major losses on the offensive side of the ball, they lost their defensive leader in Antonio Pierce.
After the 2006 season, they were widely considered to be a team in the middle of rebuilding and destined for a subpar season.
And then they went out and won the superbowl.
Whether they can do it again depends on a number of variables. One thing working in the Giants favor is the maturation of Eli Manning.
Manning is a better, more confident, and more consistent quarterback than he was three years ago. As long as Eli is behind center, the Giants will continue to be a contender.
To win it all, though, they need to regain the balance that made them champs in '07 and the number one seed in the NFC in '08. If the running game and defense return to form in 2010, Eli may once again be hoisting the Lombardi trophy in February.