The 10 players your team can least afford to lose to injury, Giants edition

The Giants are in big trouble if they lose Kenny Phillips again.

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:

Justin Tuck Tackles Sacks TFL FF
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:

Opponent Rec Yards TD
Falcons 6 115 2
Packers 7 165 2
Niners 5 55 0
Patriots 10 109 0
Totals 28 444 4

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.


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  3. […] NFC East team could least afford to lose to injury.  In the Giants’ edition of that series, I had Hakeem Nicks ranked 3rd.  Sorry for the jinx, […]

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  8. giantsfan says:

    Hopefully all these guys stay healthy.

  9. ct17 says:

    NHL ’94 was the greatest game ever. The universal language of college guys at the time. Jon Favreau had it exactly right in Swingers.

  10. joe d says:

    Webster has had some up and down seasons. he was phenom last year , which was hard to do in that giants secondary…wow how did they win a sb lol

    1. Troy O says:


  11. WEEK OLD TUNA says:

    yeah Rolle was pretty terrible last year. Theres a reason the Cardinals moved him to safety, he has no business playing corner in the NFL. All the corners being hurt last year forced Perry Fewell’s hand. With Deon Grant gone, he’ll be back at safety this year full time and hopefully start to be worth all that cash the g men threw at him.

  12. rage114 says:

    No offensivelinemen? I don’t know. Maybe a collective spot for the entire group.

    1. There’s an argument for Snee, and maybe one for Beatty, but the Giants don’t have a single offensive lineman that’s truly a devastating loss. Chris Snee would have been if he were Chris Snee circa 2009, but his play fell off a cliff in 2011.

      1. Troy O says:

        Snee should bounce back, being as he played hurt all yr and had off-season surgery.

  13. ArthuroMolenda says:

    Rolle did play at lot of snaps as a nickel CB though. I expect (or maybe just blindly hope) that him moving back at FS will enable him to show what he can do.

    I agree with no LB in there, pressure and coverage are what we play on.

    1. Troy O says:

      YES and YES on Rolle.

  14. andiamo says:

    I think Boley almost has to be on this list….

    all you would have to do is watch the Defense when he wasn’t playing or watch the SF game

    Boley went out and the Giants gave up 2 scores in like 2 minutes and G. Jones was running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off…

  15. andiamo says:

    i’d put Webster much higher….top 6 with Eli, JPP, Nicks, Boley, Webster, and KP.

    if he went down last year you could have pretty much mailed the season in. There were games when Ross wasn’t even thrown at b/c some NFL teams just WANT to go to their #1 guy (Miami, Buffalo, ARZ)….for the record, the Giants won all those games.

    and Webster’s ’08 campaign was the definition of spectacular…BUT not many people know that b/c he didn’t have a ton of picks.

    1. I wouldn’t disagree. I mean… I guess I would since my order is different, ha. But I think very highly of Webster. I think that the guys I have at 5-8 could be in any order.

      I also like Boley, and he’d probably be my 11th, but I think the impact of his loss wouldn’t be as big as the other guys. LB just isn’t as important as the other positions in the Giants’ D, in my opinion.

  16. BBI says:

    A HUGE hat tip for the Kenny Phillips recognition. He and Corey Webster were the only players in the secondary worth a damn last year. Definitely think he’s the best S in the NFC East, and a top 10 S in the league.

    He isn’t a star, but he’s a very solid starter, and one that we’d be in deep shit without.

    I completely agree with the order and analysis. Thumbs up.

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