10 and 9. Chris Canty and Linval Joseph: The Giants have next to nothing in the way of depth at DT. They recently signed Shaun Rogers, who is a shell of his former self, and they’re still hoping to get production from 2011 second round pick Marvin Austin. Austin is a bit of a wildcard. He has (or at least had) talent, but if he sees any game action 2012, it will be the first time he’s done so in 3 years. Rogers and/or Austin are just not the kind of guys you would like to count on if you absolutely had to.
8. Corey Webster: Corey Webster was always a solid but unspectacular player that has quietly become one of the best corners in the league. And now he’s becoming more of a playmaker. In Webster’s first 5 years in the league, he had 6 interceptions. In the last two, he had 10, and 6 in 2011. The Giants have a lot of other corners that might be good in 2012, but no sure things. Terrell Thomas was an above average starting corner when he was lost last season with a torn ACL, Prince Amukamara was up and down in the chances he received last year, and rookie Jayron Hosley is a very talented player, but obviously, as already stated, he’s a rookie. Webster is the only sure thing the Giants have at CB.
7. Osi Umenyiora: You know why the Giants aren’t trading Osi Umenyuiora to a team like the Ravens for something like a 3rd round pick? Because they’re not stupid. Umenyiora, including the playoffs, had 12.5 sacks in 13 games last season. In 2011, he broke the single season record for forced fumbles. Osi has been whining about his contract for the last 3 or 4 years, and he’ll be a free agent at the end of the 2012 season, so I think people see that as a reason to take pennies on the dollar for what he’s worth. But that production isn’t easily replaced, even with 2 other star DEs already on the team. The guy simply makes huge plays.
6. Justin Tuck: Way back in my freshman year of college, I lived in a dorm in which 3 sets of roommates occupied one suite. A cluster of my friends all lived in a suite down the hall from me, and included in their suite was this one guy that was always depressed. Let’s call him Paul. We would all be hanging out playing Super Mario Kart or NHL ’94 or Mortal Kombat or something, and in would walk Paul, all slouched over, looking sad, not really wanting any part of human interaction, but at the same time, feeling compelled to hang out. We tried to include him, but all conversations resulted in one or two word responses, followed by silence. Whenever he’d enter, one of my smartass friends would already have a this song all queued up on his stereo, and would hit play.
That’s essentially what Justin Tuck was like this past season on his weekly radio spot with WFAN’s Mike Francesa, that always seemed to line up perfectly with my drive home from work every Monday evening. He was a little banged up, wasn’t playing all that well, and sounded downright sad on the radio. In Madden, his “Swagger” rating would have been zero. Through Week 14, Tuck had 24 tackles, 2.5 sacks, just 1 TFL, and no forced fumbles. It was by far the worst season of Tuck’s career since he became a regular starter in the Giants’ defense. And then, in the last three games of the regular season, seemingly out of nowhere, Justin Tuck began to climb out of his funk:
|Through Week 14||24||2.5||1||0|
|Week 15 and beyond||25||5.5||1||1|
Everyone knows that the Giants’ defensive line is amazing when it’s firing on all cylinders. That wasn’t the case for much of the season. Jason Pierre-Paul was a star for 20 games, but the same couldn’t be said for the rest of the line. The Giants need Justin Tuck to be healthy and on his game.
5. Victor Cruz: Terrell Owens’ best season of his career, yardage-wise: 1451. Victor Cruz last year: 1536.
4. Kenny Phillips: I don’t think people realize how bad Antrel Rolle was last year, especially for all the talking he did. Pro Football Focus is imperfect, but according to them Rolle had the following dubious distinctions:
- He was targeted more than any other safety in the league (76 times).
- Opposing QB’s completed more passes on Rolle than any other safety in the league (57 completions). That’s a completion percentage of 75% (4th worst in the league). The next closest player on completions allowed was Buffalo’s Bryan Scott, who allowed 42.
- Rolle gave up more yards (642) than any other safety in the league, with a cushion between him and the 2nd highest player (the Jets’ horrid Eric Smith) of over 100 yards.
- He gave up the 2nd most yards after the catch, behind only Eric Smith.
- He had just one PBU on the season.
- His 5 penalties were good for 5th most in the league.
And yes, we’re talking about an even playing field, as those numbers don’t include the playoffs.
In a division without much talent at safety, Kenny Phillips is the best safety in the NFC East. If he goes down, the Giants would be looking at a safety pairing of Rolle and either Tyler Sash or Chris Horton. Yikes.
3. Hakeem Nicks: Victor Cruz got all the pub last season, but if given the choice between the two players, I’m taking Hakeem Nicks 100% of the time. Nicks in the playoffs last year:
2. Jason Pierre-Paul: If I were some GM from one of the other teams around the league and had the choice to take any player in the NFC East (Quarterbacks aside), I’d take JPP without much hesitation.
1. Eli Manning: No-brainer.