2012 New York Giants Defense:
Eli Manning won the Super Bowl with a tremendous, game-winning drive, but he couldn't have done it without his defense - a unit that struggled early in the year but banded together in December and January, shutting down both Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady during its playoff run.
The Giants tallied a whopping 59 sacks, finishing well ahead of second-place Houston's 53. They were able to do this because of Jason Pierre-Paul (16.5 sacks), one of the league's fiercest pass-rushers despite just completing his second season. What's scary is that Pierre-Paul is just scratching the surface of what he'll be able to do; he was raw coming into the league, so imagine how dangerous he'll be in two or three years.
Of course, Pierre-Paul wasn't the only Giant who consistently put pressure on the quarterback. Ends Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck had 13 and 10 sacks, respectively (including the playoffs). Those were both remarkable achievements considering that both missed several games with various maladies; Tuck played in just 12 contests, while Umenyiora suited up for only nine.
The three talented defensive ends will once again sandwich interior linemen Chris Canty and Linval Joseph. Both also provided a solid pass-rush while serving as quality run-stuffers. Marvin Austin, chosen in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, will push for playing time after missing all of last year with a torn pectoral. Austin is a talented defender, so it's crazy to think that New York's front could conceivably be more potent and deeper than it was during its Super Bowl run.
New York ranked 18th versus the pass overall (7.21 YPA), but maintained a very impressive 6.1 YPA during its postseason run, thanks to all of the pressure the linemen were able to generate. Some of the defensive backs stepped up as well, including cornerback Corey Webster, who surrendered a 45.5 completion percentage and zero touchdowns in the playoffs. Aaron Ross, who started across from him, is gone, but the Giants will have Terrell Thomas back from ACL surgery; Thomas tore that ligament in the 2011 preseason, but he says he's healthy. There's also Prince Amukamara, last year's first-round pick, who didn't play well as a rookie because of a foot injury.
Kenny Phillips was another defensive back who stood out; he was a mainstay for the Giants at free safety despite making up for Antrel Rolle's poor play at strong safety. Rolle was often torched in coverage, surrendering a 73.7 completion percentage.
Rolle was bad, but the weakest area in New York's defense last year was at middle linebacker. Countless defenders tried out for that spot, with Chase Blackburn finally playing there and making a great pass break-up in the Super Bowl. The Giants, however, weren't completely satisfied, trading for Cincinnati's Keith Rivers. If Rivers can stay healthy, he could start at weakside linebacker, moving Michael Boley inside. The skilled Mathias Kiwanuka, meanwhile, would man the strongside linebacker spot. Rivers is always hurt though, which could mean that Boley will stay at his spot and Blackburn would reprise his role as the middle linebacker.
2012 New York Giants Schedule and Intangibles:
During their first Super Bowl run, the Giants won all of their playoff games on the road and boasted about how they were "road warriors." They were 9-1 as visitors and 3-0 on neutral sites in 2007. History repeated itself, as New York was 8-3 outside of the Meadowlands and just 5-4 as hosts in 2011.
Lawrence "New York" Tynes hit a Super Bowl appearance-clinching 47-yard field goal in overtime of the NFC Championship at frigid Lambeau in January 2008. However, Tynes was coming off offseason surgeries for a sports hernia, an ankle and a heel last year, and consequently went just 19-of-24. He'll be better in 2012.
Steve Weatherford did a good job as New York's punter, maintaining a 45.7-yard average with 25-of-82 punts placed inside the 20.
The Giants have to improve on punt coverage, where they were outgained by 3.8 yards. They were about even on kickoffs. No touchdowns were scored on either side.
New York has a pretty brutal schedule. In addition to playing in the tough NFC East, it has to take on the Panthers (road), 49ers (road), Steelers (home), Bengals (road), Packers (home), Saints (home), Falcons (road) and Ravens (road).
2012 New York Giants Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
2012 NFL Draft Grade: B
Goals Entering the 2012 NFL Draft:
Jerry Reese generally takes the best player on his board, and I don't see why that would change this April. The Giants don't have any glaring needs.
2012 NFL Draft Accomplishments:
So much for that. Reese was set to take the top player available, but the Buccaneers spoiled his plans and moved up one spot ahead of him to snag Doug Martin. This caught Reese completely unawares, and so he panicked and reached for David Wilson at No. 32 overall.
Wilson wasn't a terrible pick because he filled a need and was still the best player at his position. It wasn't a quality choice though, but it was the worst move Reese made all weekend. The rest of his selections were at least very good. He filled needs with solid values in Rounds 2-7.
All in all, the Giants had a good draft. I won't completely downgrade Reese for the Wilson situation because something unexpected happened, and he had only 10 minutes to adjust his plans.
2012 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
32. David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech: C Grade
I usually love the way Jerry Reese drafts, but this is a bit of a reach. I think Reese panicked a bit, which isn't really like him. He really wanted Doug Martin but was caught unawares when Tampa Bay leapfrogged him. Why not go with Jonathan Martin or Cordy Glenn to improve the offensive line?
63. Rueben Randle, WR, LSU: A Grade
Rueben Randle was the last player in the green room. Well, I think it was worth the wait because he now gets to play with ELIte Manning. Randle fell because of lack of explosion and the fact that he couldn't separate from top cornerbacks (Dre Kirkpatrick completely shut him down twice), but he has nice size and should be a good end-zone target for Manning.
94. Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech: B Grade
Jayron Hosley would have gone in the second round if he hadn't tested positive for marijuana at the Combine. The Giants must be convinced that it's not a big deal because they're using a Day 2 selection on him. He's pretty talented, so it's worth the risk.
127. Adrien Robinson, TE, Cincinnati: B- Grade
If Bazuzu were still possessing Al Davis, the Raiders would have drafted Adrien Robinson. He has enormous potential, but he also has a huge bust rate. I don't mind such a boom-or-bust pick toward the end of Round 4, especially when it could fill a need.
131. Brandon Mosley, OT, Auburn: A Grade
As usual, Jerry Reese finds some value in the NFL Draft. Brandon Mosley was a borderline third-round prospect, so he's a great pick at the end of Round 4. The Giants had to find a tackle to play behind the injury-prone William Beatty and unproven James Brewer.
201. Matt McCants, OT, UAB: B+ Grade
Another tackle. I like it. The Giants need to shore up Eli Manning's protection as he enters his 30s. Matt McCants fits the range.
239. Markus Kuhn, DT, N.C. State: B Grade
Jerry Reese loves drafting pass-rushers, so it's shocking that he waited this long for a defensive lineman. Markus Kuhn fits the range.
The Giants weren't even supposed to be in the playoffs, but like the Packers last year, they got hot at the right time and went on a magical run. Give Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning major credit; they have a knack for coming through when all the chips seem to be down.
Giants re-sign DT Rocky Bernard
Redskins sign ILB Jonathan Goff
Giants sign DT Shaun Rogers
Giants re-sign ILB Chase Blackburn
Giants acquire OLB Keith Rivers from Bengals for 5th-round pick
Giants sign CB Antwaun Molden
Giants sign OT Sean Locklear
Raiders sign DE Dave Tollefson
Giants sign S Stevie Brown
49ers sign RB Brandon Jacobs
Bears sign WR Devin Thomas
Jaguars sign CB Aaron Ross
49ers sign WR Mario Manningham
Giants re-sign P Steve Weatherford
Giants sign TE Martellus Bennett
Giants re-sign QB David Carr
Giants re-sign CB Terrell Thomas
Giants cut RB Brandon Jacobs
Giants re-sign WR/KR Domenik Hixon
- Left Guard: The left guard position was a problem for the Giants all year. They tried David Diehl, Mitch Petrus and Kevin Boothe there, and they all failed. A Day 2 pick could suffice. Drafted Brandon Mosley
- Tight End: Jake Ballard was a decent tight end, but he tore his ACL. He needed to be upgraded anyway. Signed Martellus Bennett; drafted Adrien Robinson
- Free Safety: Blowing coverages is a weekly routine for Antrel Rolle. Unfortunately, this safety class is terrible, so New York will have to stick with him for one more year. Signed Stevie Brown
- Inside Linebacker: Chase Blackburn played well down the stretch, but can he hold up in coverage for an entire year? I have my doubts. Traded for Keith Rivers (Michael Boley to inside linebacker); re-signed Chase Blackburn
- Offensive Tackle Depth: Right tackle Kareem McKenzie is a free agent, but he looks done anyway. The two starting tackles next year will be the injury-prone William Beatty and unproven 2011 fourth-rounder James Brewer. A veteran should be acquired for competition. Signed Sean Locklear
- Running Back: Brandon Jacobs is due $4.9 million in 2012. He can't be back for that kind of salary. If he's let go, the Giants will need to spend an early selection in the 2012 NFL Draft on a running back because Ahmad Bradshaw is injury-prone. Drafted David Wilson
- Cornerback Depth: Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross will both be hitting the market in March. If New York doesn't re-sign some of these guys, it'll have to find replacements. Re-signed Terrell Thomas; signed Antwaun Molden; drafted Jayron Hosley
- Defensive Tackle Depth: The Giants have a couple of free agents at this spot, so they might need depth depending on what happens. Signed Shaun Rogers
- Backup Quarterback: David Carr is a free agent. Re-signed David Carr
- Punter: Steve Weatherford is a really good punter, but his contract is up. The Giants should re-sign him. Franchised Steve Weatherford
2012 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Shaun Rogers, NT, Saints. Age: 33.
Signed with Giants
Shaun Rogers stuffed the run well this past season, but offered nothing in terms of rushing the passer.
- Martellus Bennett, TE, Cowboys. Age: 25. -- Signed with Giants (1 year, $2.5 million)
- Antwaun Molden, CB, Patriots. Age: 27. -- Signed with Giants
- Dante Hughes, CB, Chargers. Age: 27. -- Signed with Chargers
New York Giants Free Agents:
Salary Cap: TBA.
Mario Manningham, WR, Giants. Age: 26.
Signed with 49ers (2 years)
Mario Manningham is a talented, young receiver who caught 60 balls for 944 yards in 2010. His stats were down this past season because of a nagging knee injury.
Terrell Thomas, CB, Giants. Age: 27.
Re-signed with Giants (4 years, $28 million; $11 million guaranteed)
Can you imagine if the Giants had the skilled Terrell Thomas in their secondary as a complement to their fearsome pass rush? Thomas is coming off a torn ACL, but he should be ready for training camp because the injury occurred in August.
Steve Weatherford, P, Giants. Age: 29.
Re-signed with Giants (5 years, $12.75 million)
Steve Weatherford averaged a whopping 45.7 yards per punt in 2011 with 25-of-82 attempts inside the 20.
Chase Blackburn, ILB, Giants. Age: 29.
Re-signed with Giants
Chase Blackburn was the best of New York's inside linebackers in 2011, but that's not saying much. He's good in run support and finished the season really strong. He's not as good in coverage, but that certainly wasn't the case in the Super Bowl.
Jonathan Goff, ILB, Giants. Age: 26.
Signed with Redskins
Jonathan Goff did a solid job as New York's inside linebacker in 2010, but he missed the entire 2011 campaign with a torn ACL.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants. Age: 30.
Signed with 49ers (1 year)
Brandon Jacobs had some good games down the stretch, but he averaged 3.8 YPC for the year. He'll be 30 in July, and considering his running style and ineptness in the passing game, he could be close to done.
Aaron Ross, CB, Giants. Age: 29.
Signed with Jaguars (3 years, $15.3 million)
When Terrell Thomas suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason, Giant fans groaned because that would mean Aaron Ross would have to play more. Ross lived down to those expectations, allowing a 65.9 completion percentage and six touchdowns.
Kareem McKenzie, OT, Giants. Age: 33.
Kareem McKenzie has been a very good right tackle for a long time, but he just had a miserable season. Whether that's because of eroding talent or a troublesome knee is unclear.
- Deon Grant, S, Giants. Age: 33.
- Rocky Bernard, DT, Giants. Age: 33. -- Re-signed with Giants
- Justin Tryon, CB, Giants. Age: 28.
- Dave Tollefson, DE, Giants. Age: 30. -- Signed with Raiders (2 years, $2.5 million)
- Stacy Andrews, G, Giants. Age: 31.
- Bear Pascoe (RFA), TE, Giants. Age: 26.
- Will Blackmon, CB, Giants. Age: 27.
- Devin Thomas, WR, Giants. Age: 25. -- Signed with Bears
- Jimmy Kennedy, DT, Giants. Age: 32.
- Tony Ugoh, OT, Giants. Age: 28.
- Domenik Hixon, WR/KR, Giants. Age: 27. -- Re-signed with Giants
- David Carr, QB, Giants. Age: 33. -- Re-signed with Giants
- Michael Coe, CB, Giants. Age: 28.
- Derrick Martin, S, Giants. Age: 27.
- Rhys Lloyd, K, Giants. Age: 30.
- Michael Clayton, WR, Giants. Age: 29.
- Bruce Johnson (RFA), CB, Giants. Age: 24.
2012 NFL Free Agent Rankings Coming Soon
Divisional Rival History:
Dallas Cowboys: The Giants, for whatever reason, dominate this rivalry; they've taken seven of the last nine meetings.
Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles have taken seven of the past eight matchups, including the Miracle at the New Meadowlands.
Washington Redskins: New York used to dominate this NFC East rivalry, having won the past six meetings prior to 2011. The Redskins swept last year.
Features to be Posted This Offseason:
- 2012 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)
- Detailed season preview
- Fantasy football projections
- Positional rankings
- Daily updates on free-agent signings
More 2011 NFL Offseason Pages:
DAL / NYG / PHI / WAS /
CHI / DET / GB / MIN /
ATL / CAR / NO / TB /
ARZ / SEA / SF / STL /
BUF / MIA / NE / NYJ /
BAL / CIN / CLE / PIT /
HOU / IND / JAX / TEN /
DEN / KC / OAK / SD /
2012 NFL Offseason Pages
2017 NFL Mock Draft - Feb. 12
2016 NFL Mock Draft - Feb. 11
NFL Free Agents
NFL Picks - Feb. 7
2016 NBA Mock Draft - Feb. 2
Fantasy Football Rankings - Jan. 15
2012 New York Giants Analysis: There hasn't been a repeat Super Bowl champion since the Patriots did it in 2004. The Giants can certainly buck that trend. Their playoff run wasn't some magical surge that came out of nowhere; it occurred because a slew of injured players suddenly got healthy.
It helps that many of the Giant players have won the Lombardi Trophy recently, so they know what to expect the year after. With that in mind, it'll be shocking if New York isn't playing come January.
Projection: 11-5 (TBA in NFC East)
2012 Fantasy Football Rankings
More 2012 NFL Season Previews
*** 2012 NFL DRAFT GRADES, OFFSEASON NEEDS BELOW COMMENT BOARD ***