If we really boil it down, the New York Giants had two problems in 2010. They committed too many turnovers, and they couldn’t beat the Eagles.
Unfortunately, after an offseason in which the G-men signed exactly zero impact free agents and lost several key veterans and the Eagles added about a dozen talented contributors, those two mutually inclusive problems still exist.
Eli Manning, who threw a league-high 25 interceptions in 2010, is still the starting quarterback, yet he’ll be down a pair of receivers and a pair of offensive linemen this time around. Ahmad Bradshaw, who fumbled a conference-high seven times in 2010, has shiny new contract. And the Eagles? Well, the Eagles look good.
2010 in a nutshell: After jumping out to a 6-2 start and taking the reins in the NFC, they once again implode down the stretch, losing twice to the Eagles to blow the East crown and miss the playoffs despite a 10-6 record.
Three predictions for 2011:
1. Osi Umenyiora will once again have a double-digit sack season: It took him a year to fully get back to form after missing the 2008 season with a knee injury, but Umenyiora bounced back with a great 2010 campaign. He and Justin Tuck are the best pass rushers on the team, and the Giants’ pass rush isn’t the same without a healthy and motivated Umenyiora. Word from his Thursday appointment with an Atlanta knee specialist is that he might be healthy by the start of the year, and his contract situation might provide the perfect motivation.
2. They’ll miss Steve Smith and Kevin Boss: The Giants were 6-2 with a healthy Smith last season and only 4-4 without him. Boss was an underrated blocker and the only tight end on the team who could actually catch passes. Both fled as free agents and weren’t replaced. The drop-off from a healthy Smith to Victor Cruz is large, and the drop-off from Boss to Travis Beckum is even larger. I don’t think Manning will throw 25 picks again, but I think he’ll have trouble getting back on track without Smith, Boss and two departed offensive linemen, Shaun O’Hara and Rich Seubert.
3. The pass defense will be inconsistent…again: With Umenyiora probably okay and second-round pick Marvin Austin stepping in to replace Barry Cofield, I’m not overly concerned about the front seven. And while the secondary still looks good on paper, it lacks depth and consistency. They tried to address that by taking highly-touted Nebraska corner Prince Amukamara in the first round of this year’s draft, but Amukamara quickly suffered a foot injury that could ruin his rookie campaign. Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle, Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas are quality components, but I’m concerned about the sum of those parts.
The final word(s): Can they really say they got better? This is still a talented team, and they still won 10 games despite the injuries and the turnovers last season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they took step backwards in 2011. Let’s give ‘em eight wins, maybe nine.