A GIANT 2009 DISASTER FOR THE NEW YORK (FOOTBALL) GIANTS

                                  Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

So, what happened to the 2009 New York Giants? Off to a 5-0 start (although they beat nobody (really) but the up-and-down Cowboys in that fast start), the Giants, especially their vaunted defense, collapsed, going 3-7 in their next ten games before their final (meaningless) game against the Vikings this Sunday. Two seasons removed from a miracle Super Bowl win, and one season removed from the Plaxico Burress debacle, the Giants appeared, with their fast start, to have righted the ship, complete with good receivers, an upgraded Eli Manning and that very good to excellent defense and running game.

DID THE DEFENSE REST?

Well, it certainly wasn’t the defense of the prior two seasons. Supposedly overloaded with pass rushers and with guys like Rocky Bernard and Chris Canty coming in to make an excellent defense even better, it just didn’t work out. Was young star-in-the-making Kenny Phillips that good of a safety that, when he was lost for the season early on, the Giants secondary collapsed? Or was the lack of that vaunted pass rush the culprit – the Giants rarely got pressure on a consistent basis – that caused the secondary to look feeble in many a game? Was star-already-made Osi Umenyiora, from walking out in training camp over a disagreement with first-year defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan to his demotion in the all-important Carolina game, a negative factor on this team? Was Bill Sheridan that bad and/or was the now-departed Steve Spagnuolo (now a head coach with one win for the Rams) that good? Could guys like Bernard and Canty and the criticized- to-the-hilt C.C. Brown have done less for this team?

It’s hard to fathom they could be this bad (you know, New Orleans 48, Giants 27; Philadelphia 40, Giants 17; Philadelphia 45, Giants 38 (at home); Carolina 41, Giants 9 (also at home).

But they were. And, now, the Giants will have to pick up the pieces for next season.

WHAT ABOUT THE OFFENSE?

Well, what about the offense? Eli Manning, off to a great start, looked like he was about to enter that top echelon of quarterbacks. But whether it was the foot he hurt or the better defenses he played against, Manning never quite entered the “great” quarterback stage. He was inconsistent and up-and-down after the 5-0 start. While nobody expects him to be his brother or even a great vocal leader, the Giants can certainly win with Eli. But he doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of the opponents the way the great QBs do in today’s NFL.

And, frankly, that’s not going to change.

WHERE DID BRANDON JACOBS DISAPPEAR TO?

After steamrolling guys in the two seasons prior to this one, Jacobs seemed to have left the building this year. Maybe you know the stats: 224 rushes for only 835 yards, a low 3.7 yards per carry. No 100-yard rushing games. Only five touchdowns (compared to 15 last season).

Arguably as important, you just didn’t see as many bone-jarring hits. Jacobs, for whatever reason, just didn’t steamroll guys or crumble defensive backs. It just didn’t happen. Maybe it was his lingering knee injury that will now be scoped? Who knows?

But Brandon Jacobs did make an appearance this week. Did you hear about it? Yes, Brandon Jacobs was a “guest ringmaster” at the Big Apple Circus this week. No, seriously, he really was. You have to wonder who his public relations guy is cause you could hear the snickering from even die-hard Giants fans – what is this guy thinking going in as a ringmaster when he just walked out of a ten-game circus with the Giants?

OTHER PROBLEMS AS WELL

Some experts are saying that the offensive line is getting old. They might have a point. While the starters average just under 30, which you wouldn’t think is “too old,” there’s a lot of wear and tear on this group. Shaun O’Hara, 32, is finishing his tenth season in the NFL. Rich Seubert and Kareem McKenzie, both 30, are finishing their ninth seasons. With David Diehl, who will be 30 next season (which will be his eighth NFL campaign) and Chris Snee, at 27 the baby in the group (finishing his sixth year), this line, which has been together as a starting unit for a long time, seems to be on the down side.

Maybe that’s what happened to the running game.

And the kicking game has seen better years. Is it the end for the great Jeff Feagles, who, at 43, while still a great directional kicker, seems to have lost leg strength when he’s not trying to kick it inside the 20? And while Lawrence Tynes had a good statistical year (27-32), he missed some big kicks and four under forty yards (with two of those under 30). It seemed like Tom Coughlin would have replaced him after he missed a field goal in three consecutive early-season wins if he could have found a good replacement. It never happened and Tynes kicked much better the last three-quarters of the season, but you never were quite confident that he would make the big kick.

AND WHAT ABOUT THE HEAD COACH?

Well, the coach isn’t going anywhere. Maybe the defensive coordinator, but not the head coach. Tom Coughlin has his Super Bowl ring and a contract. But the disaster that was Carolina 41, Giants 9, with the season on the line (and many Giants greats in attendance for the last home game at Giants Stadium) falls squarely on the head coach’s shoulders.

WHERE DO THE GIANTS GO FROM HERE?

This season was beyond disappointing if you are a Giants fan. The real question is, have we seen the best of this Super Bowl-winning group? As previously discussed, without major changes, I think we have (see Kallas Remarks, 11/27/09).

We’ll see what happens.

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

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