Thursday, May 3, 2012
Giants: One big question
By Dan Graziano
Did the New York Giants get better?
History will make it easy to forget that the 2011 Giants were a 9-7 team that needed to win its final game of the season just to make the playoffs. Sure, they won the Super Bowl, and if you do that it doesn't matter how close you came to not getting the chance. But if the goal is to do it again (as I'm certain it is in the minds of those who play for and run the Giants), then it's fair to assume they'll need more than nine regular-season wins this time. So the question is not whether they've done enough to make themselves better than they were in January and February but whether they've done enough to make themselves better than they were from September to December.
The Giants are incredibly strong at certain key positions, such as quarterback, wide receiver and defensive end. They are wise to prioritize those positions, because in today's NFL, being ultra-strong in those areas can help you cover weaknesses in others. But that's not to say they can allow weaknesses elsewhere on the roster to fester, and that's part of the reason they took a running back in the first round and a wide receiver in the second. Will David Wilson be an upgrade over the 2011 version of Brandon Jacobs? Probably someday but not necessarily right away. Will Rueben Randle be an upgrade over the 2011 version of Mario Manningham? Maybe someday but not necessarily right away. Will the offensive line be better with Will Beatty back at left tackle and David Diehl replacing Kareem McKenzie at right tackle? Depends, in part, on whether Kevin Boothe can play as well as he did at left guard in December and January, and whether David Baas and Chris Snee can play better than they did at center and right guard.
The Giants don't panic, and they shouldn't. They have ample proof that their faith in themselves to replenish the roster and regenerate a contending team on the fly is fully justified. But they have a lot of questions to answer in the offseason and in training camp. They don't know whether Terrell Thomas can come back fully healthy and be the emerging star cornerback he was before last summer's knee injury. They don't know whether Corey Webster can repeat his career year. They don't know who the starting middle linebacker is, or how the alignment will work around newcomer Keith Rivers. They don't know whether Osi Umenyiora is going to hold out. They have questions at tight end, and elsewhere on the offense. The Giants don't know, right now, whether they're better than the team that won the division at 9-7 and then got on a roll and won it all. They've done the best they could this offseason to try to make themselves so, but they don't know yet whether they have.