Should the reigning Super Bowl champion New York Giants’ once-promising 2012-13 season bitterly conclude on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, there will be a litany of “what ifs” for their front office to go over in the offseason.
From a season-opening, 24-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, to kicker Lawrence Tynes attempting a game-winning, 54-yard field goal that fell a few yards short in a 19-17 loss in Philadelphia, the Giants will have plenty to discuss with regard to the missed opportunities that are threatening to end their reign as champions in a few days.
Now, what do the Giants (8-7) need to happen on Sunday in order to qualify for a postseason berth? Well, they need a win over the Philadelphia Eagles at home … losses by both the Minnesota Vikings (9-6) and Chicago Bears (9-6) … and, finally, a Dallas (8-7) loss or tie. Let’s just say they’re going to need a gargantuan amount of luck, and some, for such a scenario to play out.
With pass rushers Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora not nearly as imposing as they were years ago, look for the Giants to go back to drafting defensive linemen to rebuild a front line capable of consistently putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Giants’ pass defense ranks 28th in the NFL, having given up a total of 3,861 passing yards on the season. While that stat denotes a need to strengthen their secondary defense, it also illustrates the price they’ve paid for their defensive line’s inability to, frankly, regularly deliver hits on quarterbacks.
Receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, quarterback Eli Manning and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul form as good a nucleus as any in professional football. Manning has thrown 21 touchdowns and racked up 3,740 passing yards this season, but he’s also thrown 15 interceptions. He’ll need to reduce his turnovers in 2013 for the Giants to avoid the fate that likely awaits them this weekend. At running back, expect talented 21-year-old David Wilson to get a larger share of the workload next year, because he’s now second on the RB depth chart behind veteran Ahmad Bradshaw.
The Giants don’t need a comprehensive makeover the same way perpetually bad teams do, obviously. After all, they still field many of the same players who helped them win a Super Bowl title less than one year ago. It’s just that, as soon as this Sunday, perhaps, a chapter of great disappointment will precede any return to glory.
By Ray Monell