New York Giants 2006 Preview

I know the New York Giants went 11-5 last season and won the NFC East in surprising fashion after performing admirably on several occasions during the regular season. However, after their 23-0 washout in the playoffs at the hands of the Carolina Panthers, the Giants needed to reevaluate – and upgrade – several areas on their still improving team.

The 2006 season should tell us whether the Giants are for real or not. They will be facing an even better NFC East and will not sneak up on anyone this season. If head coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning, can both improve (and that’s not a certainty) then the Giants could be looking at an NFC title game appearance. If not (which is definitely a possibility) the Giants may have to take another analysis of themselves and the direction they’re going in under Coughlin, whom I’m no fan of.
Here’s my 2006 preview on the New York Giants.

Quarterbacks
Eli Manning has been maddeningly inconsistent since he arrived in New York a couple of years ago. One minute, Manning is standing tall in the pocket showing all of the poise and decision-making abilities of his renowned brother, Peyton. The next, minute, Manning is throwing the ball all over the field like a blind Ryan Leaf.
If Manning can become more consistent in 2006, then the Giants could be one of the best teams in the NF. If not, the Giants will continue to struggle against top-notch defenses. Tim Hasselbeck is a competent backup should the Giants need to turn to him for any reason.

Running Backs
Simply put, Giants running back, Tiki Barber is one of the best multi-purpose backs of his era. The 30-year-old Barber will once again be the focus of the Giants running game, but should get a spell every now and then from Brandon Jacobs who will do the bulk of the short-yardage. Jim Finn is a more than capable fullback, so the Giants look pretty good here.

Wide Receiver/Tight End
I like the Giants receivers a lot – and rightfully so.
Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer and tight end Jeremy Shockey are all above average receivers capable of making a big play at any time. The Giants also have two speedy receivers who can also make big plays in Tim Carter and Sinorice Moss.
All in all, this bunch is better than most teams in the league and I know for a fact that the Giants division rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, would love to have even one of these guys.

Offensive Line
I don’t know if it’s Barber’s amazing ability that makes the offensive line look good or whether it’s the other way around (although I suspect the former) but the Giants offensive line isn’t as bad as it may seem at times, although tackles, Kareem McKenzie and Luke Petitgout are mediocre at best.
Guards, Chris Snee and David Diehl are competent, but not what I’d call outstanding by any stretch of the imagination as is center, Shaun O’Hara.
The more I think about it, yup, Barber got the majority of his rushing yardage on his own.

Defensive Line
Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora, are arguably the best tandem of defensive ends in all of football. It’s too bad the Giants don’t have any capable defensive tackles or else they would probably possess the best defensive line in the league.
If defensive tackles, Damane Duckett and William Joseph can perform at a level somewhere above novice, the Giants could really unleash their bookend pass rushers to wreak havoc. Until then, I’d run it right up the middle until the G-Men prove they have strengthened the middle of their defensive line.

Linebackers
Middle linebacker, Antonio Pierce opened a lot of eyes last year and is the unquestioned starter in the middle. Joining him will be the talented Lavar Arrington, who, if he plays up to his talent level, could have a Pro Bowl season in New York. A competent Carlos Emmons plays on Pierce’s other side and is a steadying influence when he’s healthy.
The Giants had better hope these three stay healthy, because their backups definitely aren’t ready for prime time.

Defensive Backs
Former Miami Dolphins perennial Pro Bowler, Sam Madison, who, while aging, is still better than most corners in the league. If talented second-year player, Corey Webster, can continue the growth he showed last season, the Giants could actually have a pair of competent corner backs.
The Giants also have two heavy hitters at safety in youngsters, Will Demps and Gibril Wilson. Whether they can make an impact in pass coverage and not get beat deep remains to be seen, but the Giants also have veteran corner R.W. McQuarters and safety James Butler, should either falter.

Special Teams
Matthew Ross, BetUS.com radio show host, always tells me I write for so many publications that I must have written something in the Bible somewhere. Well Matt, if that’s the case, Giants punter Jeff Feagles must have been one of the Biblical characters I wrote about. Is it just me, or does it seem like Feagles has been punting forever?
Kicker Jay Feely is solid and gunner David Tyree, is a wild man who was selected as the NFC’s Pro Bowl special team player last season. Moss will most likely double as a return man, so it would appear that the Giants are indecent shape with their special teams.

Coaching
It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of head coach Jim Coughlin. To be blunt about it, I think his grating, overbearing demeanor wears on his players after a few seasons to the point where some of his players actually despise the man.
Can Coughlin coach the game of football?
Undeniably. I’d be lying if I said he couldn’t. Coughlin is a man who knows how to mold an underachieving franchise into shape. However, after three years or so, Coughlin seems to lose his players’ respective ears.
I think the Giants had better build – and play – for today. The reality for the Giants in 2006 is that they could either win the NFC East outright or come in fourth place. Whatever transpires, it’s going to be interesting for sure.

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