From the desk of: DO IT FOR THE DUKE
NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL ~ The Defense That Wasn't.
No Super Bowl title defense for you... So what happened? For me, the failures were equally on both offense and defense. I am also inclined to agree with the coaching staff's general consensus that there was a tremendous lack of execution this past season. After Hurricane Sandy, I didn't get to watch many games on TV. In hindsight, perhaps that was best. But I certainly didn't like what I heard on radio.
I will start this post season assessment with the Defense, and coordinator Perry Fewell. His victory parade is over. It's time for him to get back to the drawing board. I'll let him slide for throwing his players under the bus at season's end regarding their overall performance. But next season, his defense must yield far better results. There is much change that needs to emanate from the top, meaning from Mr. Fewell. He doesn't exactly fit the mold of Giants offensive coordinators and their strategies of the past. Bill Belichick, John Fox, Steve Spagnuolo - they were very good coordinators here. Perry Fewell's Read and React schemes however drive me batty. His defenses are not terribly aggressive. But that's as far as I'll criticize Perry Fewell. Many other factors contributed to an overall poor defensive effort. As a unit, the Giants Defense couldn't stop the run. They couldn't stop the pass. And they couldn't stop themselves from looking downright amateurish at times.
At Cornerback, year one in the post-Aaron Ross era was a disaster. For starters, the secondary was ravaged by injuries for a second consecutive season. On that note, for the second consecutive season Terrell Thomas was lost for the year. Michael Coe was lost for the season as well. Prince Amukamara is still yet to play like a #1 draft pick but showed improvement. And Coery Webster had perhaps the worst season of his career. Rookie Jayron Hosely had his moments. But he is too short for the position I believe, and is easily picked on.
At Safety, I feel yet another injury to Kenny Phillips was also a huge blow to the defense. He was turning into an impact safety until sidelined....again. On the bright side however, Antrel Rolle had a stellar season. Will Hill and the amazin' Stevie Brown filled in tremendously.
Next, there are two ways I would describe the Giants situation at Linebacker - average and without impact. Chase Blackburn, we hardly knew ya. Where would the Giants have been without him? Because truth be told, Michael Boley, Keith Rivers, Jacquian Williams, Mark Herzlich, and Spencer Paysinger put forth rather inconsequential seasons.
Up front, it's like the Defensive Line kept bumping into each other in the fun house. No one ever adequately explained what happened to the Giants pass rush last season. Osi was his own worst enemy, constantly playing his way out of a sack or tackle. The league made adjustments against JPP. He will now be taking lessons from Michael Strahan on how to deal with getting double-teamed. That's not a bad idea. But Justin Tuck remains a bit mystifying. I was satisfied with Chris Canty when he managed to stay on the field. He only played nine games.
Staying on the field - what a task. With regard to injuries, the Giants have questions that need answers. How long should the Giants stick it out with Terrell Thomas before cutting the cord? As mentioned, he has missed the last two seasons with the same injury. Kenny Phillips can be viewed similarly. We also need to consider Chris Canty missed almost half the season. And Keith Rivers, dealing with his fair share of injuries, also has not fulfilled his potential here.
On the free agent front, GM Jerry Reese has his hands full. Osi's situation is well known to us by now. He has most likely played his last game as a New York Giant. Kenny Phillips is also an unrestricted free agent. I do not want to see him leave. But since he first hit the field as a rookie, he's had troubles staying on it. When Chris Canty went down with an injury, Rocky Bernard teamed up with Linval Joseph and plugged the Tackle position well. Rocky Bernard is also now an unrestricted free agent. Some very fine play at linebacker just might have earned Chase Blackburn a handsome little raise for him and his family. It just won't be with the G-Men. I can't see them paying-up for Chase. The Giants cap situation is too restrictive for that.
What now? If I had my druthers, I'd have Jerry Reese address the linebacker situation. The Giants need more impact from that position. While Boley is still a fine player, and Rivers is worth a further look, the rest of the corps perhaps needs fresh meat. Unfortunately, I do not believe there is any money in the budget to spend quality dollars here. If Osi has indeed played his last game as a Giant, then Mathias Kiwanuka seems certain of returning to the defensive line.
In spite of the injury to Kenny Phillips, I'm hoping he can be re-signed to an extension. In his absence however, Stevie Brown was able to show what he's capable of. And it was good. With Antrel Rolle, the Giants are looking pretty good at Safety. It is the Cornerback situation they need to fix. Jerry Reese faces a quandary as to how, be it holding out hope for a healthier Thomas, revamping the position, or throwing money at it. And we know the latter suggestion is simply not the Giants way. That said, Jerry Reese also has a very hard decision to make regarding Corey Webster as well. After two very sub par seasons, Webster comes with a mighty hefty price tag next season. He could very well get cut.
On the defensive line, my concern is at Tackle. The Giants might be forced to take a closer look here. While Chris Canty has an ally in me, the position has not been right since Barry Cofield left. Linval Joseph played okay. No major gripes. But overall, the Giants ability to stop the run must improve. Improvements to the linebacker and tackle positions would be my way to go about that. As far as stopping the pass, give me less Jayron Hosely and give me more size at the corners.