By: Evan Slavit
We have talked several times about the disappointing season the Giants had. Now the big question is, why is this team going to be better next season, or more specifically how will the defense improve? We could talk about potential free agent signings or the draft, but if the Giants are going to truly improve next season, off-season acquisitions won't be a huge part. It is rare rookies have big impacts and after the free agency failure last year, it would be surprising to see the Giants dish out a lot of money.
The first step the Giants took to improving the defense was firing defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan and bringing in Perry Fewell. It is hard to argue that Sheridan wasn't overwhelmed in his first season, and while people try to defend him by saying he has tons of football knowledge, there is more to being a coordinator than X's and O's. Sheridan never had a feel for the game, not calling the right blitzes, misusing his players, and failing to keep his players focused. Fewell should be more respected and has had a lot of success at creating turnovers for his defenses.
Another positive for the Giants is injuries. There has been some murmurs that the Giants have been injury prone, but outside of last season the Giants have stayed relatively healthy ever since Reese took over as GM and rid the team of some of the older players. Tuck, Boley, Alford, Canty, Ross, and Phillips should be back at full strength, and Osi and Cofield will be a full year removed from surgery. That is a lot of reinforcements to help Fewell turn this team around.
Also there have been a lot of complaints about the free agents Reese brought in last season, but there is even reason for optimism here. Before Boley stepped foot on the field for the Giants, he injured himself and needed surgery. He missed almost all of training camp and preseason. Still he came back to play fairly well for the Giants early in the season. Unfortunately he injured himself again and had to go back under the knife. He was rushed back because of the Giants slide and just never showed that explosiveness again. With the entire off-season to get healthy, there is plenty of reason to believe Boley can come back and be effective. For Canty he was making the switch from 3-4 defensive end to 4-3 defensive tackle. Like Boley he got injured during training camp with speculation he would be put on the IR. He went through a rigorous rehab, and went into the line-up while still injured. His injury coupled with his lack of knowledge of the system caused him to be a non-factor. He is a young player and should come back strong next season.
The Giants were one of the top defenses in 2007 and 2008 and have a lot of the same players on the roster. The big differences were the injuries and change in defensive coordinator. With a healthy roster and an established coordinator, the Giants should be able to put this past season behind them and return to the playoffs.
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