Daniel, my freshman year roommate back in college, is a huge Giants fan. Before we even met each other, we were already talking trash as to who was the better Manning. The rivalry was set prior to moving in and quickly cemented over heated games of Colts-Giants in Madden. There was bad blood and neither of us refused to back down. Our Manning was better. As it turns out, Peyton is obviously the superior quarterback and thankfully proved it the first week of the season dissecting the ‘vaunted’ Giants defense. Daniel wasn't not impressed.
What a way to start off a roommate relationship. We didn’t speak for days.
Fortunately, four fellow Indy guys and high school buddies also came out east to Georgetown so I was well protected. We had our crew. As all of us grew closer, Daniel softened and became part of the group. The amount of ribbing he took was overwhelming to the point where he probably caved out of exasperation more than anything else. Regardless, come December Daniel was an honorary Colts fan. His Giants took precedent but he started cheering for big brother too.
By playoff time, there was no doubt in our minds. Our good friend managed to secure 5 tickets. With 4 Colts fans the fifth had to go to Daniel. Friday after class we packed up our bags and off we went to Indianapolis for the AFC championship.
After an agonizing first half, the Colts stampeded back. I will never forget his face at the beginning of the 4th quarter when Jeff Saturday came out of the end zone scrum with the ball. Daniel was screaming as loud as anyone in the building. Maybe his excitement was generated from his mutual hatred of the Patriots, but from that moment on I had a soft spot for the Giants.
One year later, afterDavid Tyree’s miracle catch, we Colts’ fans shared in his excitement. An unshakable roommate bond was forged.
After this past season of disappointment for Giants fans, I shared his pain.
Season in Review: DeSean Jackson’s punt return said it all and ended it at the same time
The Giants were one of the most inconsistent teams of the year. With the talent they had, it seemed inexcusable why they didn’t make the playoffs. Then you watch theEagles tape (if Giants fans haven’t already destroyed it) and you understand why they didn’t: inconsistency, not just from week to week but half to half and sometimes even quarter-to-quarter, was the Giant's demise.
Tom Caughlin is a disciplinarian who has always had his teams prepared to play so seeing drastic swings in the players’ focus level was startling.
Giants fans were clueless as to which team would show up. Was it the group that dominated Houston, Minnesota, Seattle and Washington or the team that got run-out-of-town byDwight Freeney and the Colts (2 Me – 0 Daniel).
Was it the team that was pounding Philly mercilessly for 3 quarters? Or the team that gave up the final 21 straight points?
Their season was like a seesaw except with Giants’ players were sitting on both ends. The Giants started 1-2 and then reeled off 5 straight. At 6-2 they looked great, until they lost 2 in a row. The Giants bounced right back tearing off another 3 consecutive wins until they dropped 2 of their final 3. Up, down, up, down, up, down... It was dizzying.
In fairness, the Giants played in a much improved NFC. A similar 10-6 record allowed the Colts to sneak into the playoffs, but left the Giants high and dry.
They finished top 10 in the 4 main statistical offensive and defensive categories but couldn't catch the Eagles, losing both division games.
As Daniel wrote me, "It was another tough year for Giants fans. We saw Eli Manning turn into a careless turnover machine, our offensive line age by the day and our defensive secondary vanish into thin air. All of this ultimately resulted in yet another late season collapse. But hey, we New Yorkers can take solace. Carmelo is coming to the Garden!!!"
Offseason Momentum: Its still strong
The Giants are the opposite of San Diego. They start strong and then fade.... So even if the big MO runs out towards the end, its hard not to fathom another strong burst out of the gates.
Giants fans have voiced their unhappiness and concerns, but there is still a lot to like. The Giants have a top flight Qb who threw for 31 touchdowns, and good - mind you eccentric - running back duo in Bradshaw and Jacobs and two of the best young receivers in the league. Kevin Boss is a nice option at tight end, and while the offensive line is aging, its still productive.
Defensively, NYG fans are still shaking their heads at what happened. Why the secondary "vanished into thin air" is still anyone's guess. The unit is better than they played down the stretch and should play up to their standards next season. They should continue to benefit from a fierce, Colts' like pass rush with Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora accounting for 23 sacks (11.5 each) and 6000 Subway commercials.
Offseason Anxiety: Aging offensive line, Eli Manning's decision making
Eli may have thrown for 4000 yards and 31 scores. He also threw for 25 picks! 25!!! That was 21 more than Tom 'Bieber Brady (given Biebs recent haircut I guess Tom is the last one standing to carry the mantle for silky flowing boy bangs).
Colts fans cringed at some of big brother Peyton's throws, yet even in a down year for Peyton he still made 8 fewer poor decisions.
Eli lead the league in interceptions thrown, tossing 3 more than second place Drew Brees. Whats more concerning however is that he only ranked 7th in pass attempts meaning his interception per throw ratio was even more astounding.
Like in Indy, the offensive line definitely deserves some of the blame after giving up more qb hits and pressure than in years past. Still even though age is a concern, the line held up pretty well. It may have been a down year for the group, but that shows you what an elite unit it has been.
Eli was only sacked 16 times (same as big brother Peyton) ranking 31/40 quarterbacks in the league. Say what you want about Eli getting hit, 1 sack a game is better than average protection.
For comparison sake, here are Eli's and Peyton's stats taken from ESPN.com
Peyton Manning, QB
|Eli Manning, QB||NYG||539||339||62.9||4002||7.43||92||31||25||16||85.3||250|
Peyton's still got him, but aside from the interceptions, Eli is more than holding his own.
Draft Desires: Interior line, best player available
Like the Chargers, the Giants have the luxury of taking the best player available for most of the draft. In the first round they need to address the interior offensive line positions and taking University of Florida's OG Mike Pouncey, brother of Steeler's center Maurkice Pouncey, would do wonders. He might challenge to start right away, but if not, he would have the good fortune to be tutored by Chris Snee.
Linebacker is also an area where an upgrade would be nice. A guy like Bruce Carter from UNC, who is considered by some to be the best outside linebacker in the draft, or Michigan St. linebacker Greg Jones, would be ideal fits.
The rest of the draft is about youth and depth, primarily along the offensive line and in the secondary.
Free Agent Farewells: The Giants are in danger of losing good skill players
Free Agency could negatively impact the Giants who will have to work hard and spend big to re-sign several key players.
Kevin Boss is a free agent as are Ahmad Bradshaw, Keith Bullock, Barry Cofield, Deon Grant, Mathias Kiwanuka and Steve Smith.
All of those guys were starters for the Giants last year and New York would be hard pressed to let anyone go. You also can't forget about Jim Sorgi, who I would actually hope is resigned bu New York. Not to focus too much on a backup quarterback who hasn't seen more than a few snaps in his career, but to Colts fans he could actually be a threat floating around on the free agent market. I say this because 1. I love the guy, but more importantly, he is a treasure chest of knowledge about the Colt's offense. Fortunately Eli knows Peyton better than anyone else so Sorgi's influence is limited. However in Tennessee or Houston, he could provide state secrets to the enemy.
Getting back to the main group of free agents, I think Bullock's presence will be the easiest to replace. At 33, soon to be 34, Bullock was brought in as a quick fix way to shore up the linebacking unit. And while the Giants don't have much depth at that position, I don't think they will spend too much energy or money to resign him.
Bradshaw ran for 1,200 yards and proved to be one of the top running backs in the league. Plus he is only 24.
Cofield is another player the Giants can ill afford to let go. If they do, you better believe (hope) the Indianapolis will make every effort to get him in a Colts' uniform next year. He, probably more than anyone else, could be the biggest difference maker for the Colts. At 6'4 306 pounds Cofield is the ideal run stuffer that the Colts have been lacking.
Coming off a 55 tackle, 5.5 sack season he has shown he is ready to be considered among the best in the league. Indy fans should be anxiously waiting to see what happens. Its doubtful the Giants will let him walk.. Here's to hoping otherwise.
Threat to the Stampede: Mehh
The Giants are a much better team than what they showed last year in Indy when the Colts annihilated them 38-14. I know Daniel was rather embarrassed and while that may have been a down week, forgive me if I don't seem too concerned.
The Colts don't face the Giants next year and unless the Giants can fix their inconsistencies their chances of making the playoffs, let alone reaching the Super Bowl, are in question. With Philly and an improved Dallas in the picture, the Giants have their work cut out for them.
At least New Yorkers got Melo....
Thanks to my man Daniel Eden for the input.