Boley's playing time a sign of future?

December, 27, 2012
12/27/12
5:49
PM ET
New York Giants linebacker Michael Boley says he's "a little bit" frustrated with the reduced playing time that's resulted from the many injuries he's had this year. A vital part of last year's Giants Super Bowl run, Boley is one of many players on the defensive side of the ball that's got to be wondering what the future holds for him in New York after the terrible way the past two weeks have gone. Per the New York Daily News:
Against Baltimore, he played only 25% of the defensive snaps, despite the fact that the Giants often used four linebackers at once. On Monday, Tom Coughlin had called Boley's reduction in playing time "a cumulative health thing," hinting that the back, hip and hamstring issues the linebacker dealt with all season had compromised his ability.

Boley said Wednesday that those issues "could have" been a factor, and he admitted that 2012 has not been "how I would like it to be." But he added that he's "still here, still playing," and that he felt he could have been effective on Sunday, especially since "at this time of year, nobody is 100%."

People have started to ask me whether the Giants would make major changes this offseason, especially if they don't get the four results they need Sunday and miss the playoffs. My answer is that I don't think the Giants have had those discussions yet, since I think they've been caught off-guard by the swift tumble this team has taken from first place to third place in such a short period of time.

But looking at a guy like Boley who's banged up, a guy like Justin Tuck who's not himself, a guy like Osi Umenyiora who seems eager for free agency, a guy like Corey Webster who's had a rough year... you start to wonder if next year's Giants defense could have a drastically different look from this year's and from the one that won last year's Super Bowl.

Sweeping offseason changes would be out of character for the Giants, but the team's decision-makers could, in a few days' time, be evaluating a roster that's missed the playoffs in three of the past four years. And that's the kind of thing that can change a team's opinion of itself.

The Giants expected to elevate their level of play this year to that of the elite teams in the league, using their Super Bowl experience to add consistency and reliability and not have to live on the edge as much as they did in 2011. Their inability to do that takes nothing away from last season's accomplishment, but it might underline for those in charge of building and maintaining the roster the idea that they're not what they hoped they'd be. And whether that means more reductions in playing time for some of their old reliable veterans or wholesale roster changes, you can believe the Giants will be looking at many different options.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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