How can the Giants return to the promised land?
Undoubtedly one of the most difficult feats in professional sports is pulling off a successful back to back championship run. With the team parody in today’s NFL, and the ‘gold rush’ mentality of players that usually follows a Super Bowl run, this elusive feat has become more difficult than ever before. This season, The New York Football Giants will be the latest team to attempt a successful repeat campaign since Tom Brady and his hooded comrade pulled it off almost a decade ago. Historically, a Super Bowl champ repeats only about once per decade, and the NFC alone has sent 10 different teams to the SB in the last 11 years. The only team to go twice…the NYG. The team’s vets look poised to return to form, so where will Big Blue need to improve to join the very exclusive back-to-back club? Here’s the rundown:
1. Come together on the O-line.
The Super Bowl 42 team was built around O-line chemistry and solidarity, mixed with a whole bunch of mauling. Led by C Shaun O’Hara, they were mean and played as a unit as much as any squad in recent memory. Fast forward to 2011. Although the Giants won Super Bowl 46, their O-line was wildly unreliable. They were ranked by Pro Football Focus as THE worst pass protecting unit in the league, and the 31st overall O-line ahead of only Da Bears. Luckily, Giants fans can rejoice over the fact that playing behind such poor O-line play, obviously what Elisha and his WR’s did last season was no fluke. However, if they want to get to N’awlins next February, the O-line will need to come together and protect the pocket, while keeping defenses honest with at least the threat of a smash-mouth rushing attack. If not, instead of feasting on oysters and beignets in NO, the big boys will be getting corn beef hash at the Diner on Rt. 17 in NJ.
2. “Heavy is the head that wears the crown”. Translation – prepare for the media storm
It would be cliche to say that every team in the league will be gunning for the defending champs. That’s like saying “everything is better with bacon”. Thanks Cpt obv. What most teams don’t prepare for though, is the media’s extreme magnification of every team issue, every post-game statement, and every tweet for the entire season, until you win it again or you are Ko’d. (Predictably, in this case the papers would inevitably dub the team that beat them the “Giant Killers”.) Big blue did lose some veterans who went on to sign big money offseason contracts elsewhere, but they definitely have a solid core of leaders and basically a full roster of returning starters on both sides of the ball. And the glue that holds it all together while the media tries their best to tear it all down? Recently resigned HC Tom Coughlin will lead a familiar coaching staff that suffered no real personnel losses, something that really hurt them after their previous SB victory in 2007.
3. Early round draft prospects need to start paying dividends
With the departure of key role players like Ross, Jacobs, Manningham and Ballard, the Giants should be thankful that GM Jerry Reese has been earning his paycheck on draft day. Through his ingenuity, they still have a long list of high upside prospects that all have the potential to be impact players in the NFL. First round corner Prince Amukamara, blue-chip DT’s Marvin Austin and Linval Joseph, along with rookies Rueben Randle and last year’s ACC player of the year (as a junior) RB David Wilson, should all get a legitimate chance for significant playing time. Two other 2012 offseason moves by Reese that could pay big dividends right away; the signing of behemoth blocking TE Martellus Bennett, and the team’s trade of a 5th rounder for LB Keith Rivers, a former top-ten pick who is only 26. Throw into that mix certified sub-25 studs Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and JPP, and these Giants shouldn’t be thinking about a SB hangover. Hangover? Shiiiiiiiiiit, let’s be real, everyone knows when you’re 25 you don’t even get hungover.
Does this guy look like he gets tired?