In the end, the defending Super Bowl champs came up just one play short of the postseason. Upset New York Giants fans may be quick to point out that their beloved Big Blue was again responsible for a second-half-of-the-season collapse (losing three of your last five is undeniably poor), or that those within the New York secondary often looked like players who didn’t deserve NFL salaries (will the real Corey Webster please report to Giants training camp in 2013?). When you look back at New York’s season as a whole, however, you remember that Lawrence Tynes field goal that landed a bit short on that September night in Philadelphia, or the RG3 fumble that bounced in the one spot that could have resulted in anything other than a Washington turnover during the first quarter of the Monday night game that occurred earlier this month. The Giants certainly only have themselves to blame for not being able to defend their championship in January.
That doesn’t mean, however, that their 2012 campaign was a complete bust.
2012 New York Giants season review: Three good things
1. Victor Cruz is the real deal. While Cruz does owe quarterback Eli Manning big time for all of his success over the past two seasons, Cruz showed in 2012 that his performance during New York’s Super Bowl run was no fluke. Cruz again led the Giants in total receptions and receiving yards, and he has evolved into Manning’s favorite and arguably his most reliable target. Cruz also gets props for being half-responsible for New York’s offensive play of the season, a 77-yard touchdown that propelled the Giants to a victory over the Redskins back on October 21.
2. David Wilson is going to be a star. Wilson could have kept his head down and even pouted after finding himself in the doghouse of head coach Tom Coughlin following a bout with fumble-itis that the RB did not win. Wilson instead worked hard, earned back the trust of Coughlin, and ultimately became a threat on offense and special teams. The talent, work ethic and mindset is there, and thus the sky’s the limit for that young man.
3. Eli Manning is getting a break. Sure, Manning was a star in torching the lowly Eagles during the season finale, but he very much so did not look right throughout the second half of the campaign. Perhaps those “dead arm” rumors really were true, or maybe Manning is a little banged up due to playing in 36 meaningful NFL games in roughly a year and a half. Whatever the reason, Manning being able to take some time off isn’t the worst thing in the world.
2012 New York Giants season review: The problems
It’s easy and even a bit lazy to lay blame on single players such as David Diehl and Corey Webster for the New York offensive line and secondary being what it was in 2012. The truth is that both units need multiple improvements between now and next August, and that will include the Giants using free agency AND the draft. New York was lucky to enjoy the success they had last season without having shutdown corner Terrell Thomas for any regular season or playoff game. That wasn’t the case this time around, and the Giants also paid for not filling several holes in the o-line.
One reason it’s hard for me to be overly upset about the G-Men not making the playoffs is that there is no reason to believe they can’t make another title run in the near future. They have a reliable and dare I say elite quarterback, two quality running backs, three talented and dangerous wide receivers, a pass rush that will still be better than most even if Osi Umenyiora has played his final game with the Giants, a solid core of linebackers, and perhaps the most underrated head coach in the league. I’m disappointed I won’t be watching them play in the playoffs this winter, but no team wins the Super Bowl every year, kids.
2012 New York Giants season review: The big question
“What in the world was the last two weeks all about?” It’s the question Coughlin plans on asking “several players” on the first day of his team’s offseason, and it’s one that I doubt anybody will be able to adequately answer. For whatever reason(s), Coughlin’s Giants have consistently stumbled during the second halves of seasons, and this isn’t the first time that such a swoon cost a talented New York roster a spot in the postseason. Two Super Bowls in four years has earned Coughlin a job for life with this franchise, but I’d sure like to see the coaching staff find a way to fix this problem sooner than later.
2012 New York Giants season review: Overall
You can’t be greedy, Giants fans, regardless of how badly you want to see your team win the title every February. It’s understandable to be disappointed that New York’s season is over before January, but this team remains stronger than over half of the sides in the league. There’s no shame in a 9-7 regular season record. It just wasn’t good enough this time around.
Start prepping your mock drafts and free agency wish lists.