From the desk of: DO IT FOR THE DUKE
NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: A not so exact look into the off-season and Big Blue's needs.
In my opinion, the biggest move of the Giants' off-season, by far, remains placing the Franchise tag on punter; Steve Weatherford. Go figure - a punter.? I said on numerous occasions during the season, aside from Eli Manning, Weatherford was the Giants' MVP. I said it in jest then. But it's as close to absolute truth as you're going to get. That man's right foot played an invaluable role for the Giants last season. And it's our good fortune the Jets didn't think too much of him and let him walk away when they did.
The second biggest move of the off-season? Eli Manning restructured his contract to give the Giants more cap maneuverability. Some of last season's back lash to losing Kevin Boss and Steve Smith was directed at Eli for not volunteering to restructure his deal just as Brandon Jacobs had in accepting a pay cut to facilitate Ahmad Bradshaw's resigning. Eli answered those critics this past season with another Super Bowl MVP award, and has now reworked his deal. So I ask you, - What more can he do?
Super Bowl XLVI left the Giants with a huge hole at Tight End. Thursday, they apparently signed their man. It won't be Kevin Boss returning after being cut by Oakland. It won't be Jeremy Shockey who seems to be begging for a Giant handout. And not incidentally, he is making a fool of himself in the process, as he tried kicking-up some dirt on Amani Toomer Thursday on Twitter. It should be noted however, that Shockey's comments came in reaction to initial statements made by Toomer.
Drama aside, the Giants instead found their man hidden behind Jason Witten in Dallas. After four years as the Cowboy's back-up tight end, Martellus Bennett, will get his shot at starting with Big Blue next season. He and GM Jerry Reese agreed on a one year deal. The only thing I know about him is he's big; he's agile; and can catch. That sounds good to me. If he can run block, even better. And if Jerry Reese likes him, I like him too. Welcome to the Family!
Mario Manningham is no closer to signing with another team today than he was yesterday. I think the League recognizes him for what he is; a very dependable third, or maybe even second-tier receiver. The premium isn't too steep for those. Perhaps his price range can fall into the Giants' lap unlike the Kevin Boss situation last season. It would certainly be nice to have him back in the fold. But I can understand if Jerry Reese doesn't meet his price. The truth is, he's actually expendable as the Giants have created depth at the position since Plaxico Burress' departure.
The Giants also now need someone in the backfield to replace Brandon Jacobs and more importantly, give Ahmad Bradshaw's feet an occasional rest. Brandon Jacobs was cut by the team. They could not agree on a new reduced rate deal.
As goes the Giants' Offensive Line, so goes the running game. Last season, Jerry Reese started it's reconstruction. Center Shaun O'Hara and Guard, Rich Seubert, were both released prior to the season. That leaves David Diehl, Kareem McKenzie, and Chris Snee, remaining from the Giants' former record setting front five. I think Kareem McKenzie had one on his best seasons as a pro. And together with Chris Snee, the right side of the Line provided the Giants' running game with the most daylight. David Diehl was to moved to Left Tackle again. He was dependable enough for albeit short yet consistent yardage on the right side. And as always, his pass protection was dependable. But the three Linemen are getting up in age, and will soon be meeting the same fates of their former team mates.
The question is, how much attention will Jerry Reese pay to the Line this off-season? In addition to eventually having to move on from Diehl, Snee, and McKenzie, and without knowing for sure if he will return, I believe the Giants should take a pass on Will Beatty moving forward. He missed most all of last season with an eye injury. Kevin Boothe suits me fine at Left Guard. It's at Center where I'm concerned. David Baas turned in a season that wound up a little less than advertised. And I also think he's undersized for the position. But he was last season's big free agent pick up. And with him signed, I guess Jerry Reese will concentrate elsewhere. However, I would like Jerry Reese to re-explore acquiring more depth at Tackle-Guard for either side, or Guard-Center. Mitch Petrus supplied some surprisingly inspired Line work last season and helped open up the running game somewhat when he received playing time in David Baas' absence. But at the moment, he is all the depth we have. And then there were none....
ON BRANDON JACOBS BEING RELEASED:
I have spent much time fending off Jacobs' detractors; not because I was any great fan of his, but because I thought he was being misused. Because he absolutely abhorred the Media, I also knew he never quite knew how to deal with them. They often flustered him, or just pissed him off. Thus he was made to look bad and was vilified at times as a result.
But he was always a very good, supportive team mate, and always respected Tom Coughlin. He always had respect for this organization. And after winning his second Super Bowl with the only organization he's ever known, the man was humbled.
He gets it. And we should too. When it came to matters of Football, he was always a professional, so to speak. He took over Tiki's job without any pomp or braggadocio on his part. He just worked quietly and let Tiki Barber implode. Then for a few years, he went on to become a Destroyer of Wills. What criticisms he drew for holding out in a contract dispute, or say Helmet Gate, or some ill-spoken words directed at the fans, should have long been forgiven for giving back what he originally held out for, and helping the Giants financially in the age of non-guaranteed contracts. Forgive him for accepting his secondary role behind Bradshaw. And for doing so with not only class, but his dignity in tact, as he had nothing but encouragement for his team mate and friend, and never gave the Coach a problem about it.
Did you see him after the Super Bowl during the locker-room celebrations? Did you see him in complete appreciation of the moment standing along side John Mara and his Mom? Brandon Jacobs knows what it means to be a Giant. He's relatively undeserving of the impression of him the Media has led many to adopt.
Instead, in saying goodbye, say thank you for chipping helmets, and for helping us win two Super Bowls. Think and say, thank you, and we appreciate you for being the N.Y. Football Giants' All Time Rushing Touchdowns Leader. Give him that, and let him run off to daylight with it. Don't let him leave off on bad terms like Tiki did. Remember him as the 2-time champ, and the BULLY!, that he was. I defy a fellow Giant Fan to tell me he or she didn't appreciate how Brandon Jacobs responded to the Dallas Cowboys. And tell me you weren't filled with a sense of vindication and satisfaction when he told Rex Ryan where he could go, or what he could do with his Big Green self.
In any event, his time is over now. And for GM Jerry Reese, it was the right thing to do.
Cornerback Terrell Thomas, sorely missing from action last season, was also re-signed by GM Jerry Reese. I just hope he can finally stay on the field this time. Aaron Ross still remains unsigned at Corner. And as Aaron Ross and Corey Webster have indeed been playing together for some time now, Jerry Reese may need even more of an overhaul of the Secondary than initially meets the eye. Injuries have hampered this unit extensively; not to mention stunting the overhaul Reese initiated, or thought he initiated, most recently with Amakumara. Depending on the Aaron Ross outcome, this unit should still be able to put together one more solid season as is. They deserve their fair share of credit for some of the complete break-downs in coverage last season. But Coach Fewell deserved a chunk as well. Once they ditched zone, things ironed out. They always tackled well and coverage vastly improved as the weeks went by.
The Giants Safeties are a different matter. Free agents have served to plug these holes in recent years. And I guess I should be giving Antrel Rolle more credit than I have. But the Giants clearly need reinforcements here, and are officially in need of at least one replacement. My hope is Kenny Phillips comes back to have a stronger 2012-2013 season than this last campaign. Overall, they played well enough against the run, and were sure tacklers. But they lost too many receivers lined up in the slot.
Other areas the Giants need addressed, either during the free agency period, or in the coming Draft, are Linebacker; Linebacker; and Linebacker. Linebacker has been an issue for two; near three; solid seasons now. Michael Boley ended the season superbly. But the differences in the Defense with and without him in the game and healthy, were like night and day. Jacquian Williams had himself a fine rookie season. And Mathias Kiwanuka remains The Hybrid. But injuries depleted the Giants of any depth heading into the season and were forced to be overly reliant on their rookies. The Giants were behind the 8-ball from go, as Jonathan Goff and Clint Sintim were both lost to season ending injuries before ever getting started.
I trust Jerry Reese will handle all these matters, and those regarding the salary cap, while still resigning some more of our own key players, smartly.
Let's Go Giants!