2005 Season Synopsis: The Giants had, what I would like to call, a fortunate season. They had a very fortunate schedule the first 5 weeks of the season, especially their first 2 games. Those first 5 games were all against teams that did not make the playoffs, and yet they still lost to the most challenging of the two teams. Coming out of that start at 3-2, the Giants would go on to step up their play. Having to only play 4 games against eventual playoff teams (splitting them 2-2) for the rest of the way, the Giants had a fairly easy route to the playoffs and were carried by their MVP tailback and the emergence of Eli Manning.
Manning’s showing in the 4th quarter of games was quite impressive and very lucky for the Giants. It allowed them to rely on the talent they put around him, and unlike many other scenarios around the league, very little of the success of the Giants was dependent on their quarterback. Manning did not win too many games for the Giants, but he did lose some. That is what has to change in 2006.
Off-Season: The Giants made very little news in free agency in terms of signing offensive players. On the defensive side of the ball, though, there were a few key acquisitions. Lavar Arrington was picked up from the Washington Redskins, and if his knee is okay, Arrington will bring a presence to the Giants front seven that has not been there for a while. His ability to rush the passer, run down the rushing game, and cover the pass is a triple threat skill-set at linebacker that many players in the NFL do not possess. Arrington got a bad rap in Washingtonfor not being a disciplined enough player, but his big plays and pro-bowl selections speak for themselves. The acquirement of CB Sam Madison was another big defensive attainment.
Madisonbrings a veteran presence to a secondary that has been void of playmaking for sometime now. Although he is getting a little long in the tooth, Madison still has the savvy and the savoir-faire to play some very tactful football at the cornerback position. Much like Aneaus Williams, Troy Vincent and Deion Sanders at the end of their careers, Madisonis aware of how not to be beat, knowing what is coming, and how to make the big play.
2006 Draft: The Giants went with DE Mathias Kiwanuka with their first pick of the draft. Kiwanuka, who many thought would be the #1 overall in the 2006 draft at this time last year, is a DE with a lot of upside. Thought to be the eventual replacement for Michael Strahan, Kiwanuka has a lot of upside. Besides his dramatic fall in the draft, I still believe that Kiwanuka can become a dominant player in the NFL. He is very much like Mario Williams without the girth. Mario ran a faster 40-yard dash and had better agility tests, but something that is often not mentioned about combine results is that the people with the better times are often a product of just working the system on those individual tests. I mean, there is probably not a corner in the league that did not run a faster time in the 40-yard dash than Anquan Boldin, but he sure runs right by them on Sundays. So my belief is that Kiwanuka is a much better athlete than Mario Williams, and in time, and with tutelage from a great DE tandem, he will be much like a younger Javon Kearse when it is all said and done. The drafting of Sinorice Moss was also a great pick-up for the Giants who will expect Moss to win the slot position.
DT: Not a glaring need, but if someone inside could demand a double team, it would really free up Strahan and Umeniyora.
O-LINE: The Giants need to surround Eli with the same type of o-line the colts immediately built around Peyton upon his arrival
PLAYMAKER: Don’t know what position on offense is lacking, but after that playoff loss (in shutout fashion) to Carolina, they need something on “O.”
I must admit the Giants do not have a lot of holes, but for some reason I see them having a lot of problems. I’m not sure that Tiki Barber will have another season like last year, and maybe his poor showing in the playoffs is a sign of things to come. There is no big deep threat other than Plaxico Burress, but hopefully Sinorice Moss is the answer to that. Defensively, the Giants have a hard time causing turnovers. Despite a great pass rush off the edges, the players in the secondary seem to make very few plays on the ball. That will have to change in order for the Giants’ “D” to become a feared unit in the National Football League.
Tiki Barber was an MVP candidate last season and if he can even produce up to 75% of what he did last season he will be an elite back in the league. But the Giants will only be able to afford a drop-off like that if Eli has grown as much as everyone is saying that he has. He has a great arm, great vision, and great patience. Eli will not throw the ball before he is ready, and even though that may result in far more sacks than he should have, it does mean that he will throw very few interceptions. TE Jeremy Shockey should be the answer to Eli’s “holding-of-the-ball-issues.” Getting him more involved in the offense, especially in the red zone, will open up the outsides of the field, and make Shockey the feared player he was in his first 2 seasons. Defensively, the Giants have the best DE tandem in the league. Nobody gets as many shots at the quarterback as these two guys do, and if their play holds to form, they will be terrorizing quarterbacks even more this season. DE Umeniyora should be much improved and a whole lot smarter. Despite being called by Head Coach Tom Coughlin, he loves the pass rush and is not soft on quarterbacks.
Projected Giants 2006 Record:
Overall: 8-8; Division 2-4