By Steve Silverman
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The further away we get from the disappointing end of the regular season, the harder it is to believe that the New York Giants finished on the outside looking in at the playoffs.
The Giants had a few brilliant moments during the 2012 season — most notably the wins over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 6 and the Green Bay Packers in Week 12 — but the team lacked the consistency to outlast the Washington Redskins and win the NFC East.
It’s not enough to say that the Giants won the Super Bowl last year and that they have the talent to bounce back and win it next year.
The NFL is always changing and nothing is a certainty. At the start of the season, it looked like Peyton Manning was in trouble in Denver because he did not have the arm strength he had during the prime of his career in Indianapolis. It seemed as if he could not grip the ball and that it would just be a matter of time before he had to call it a career.
Instead, Manning bounced back and was perhaps the most valuable player in the league (or perhaps second to Adrian Peterson).
On the other hand, players can lose it just as quickly. Personnel moves have to be made if a team is going to perform at its best.
The Giants were not at their best last season, particularly on the defensive side of the equation.
Statistics don’t mean everything, but the Giants were 31st on defense in 2012. They were 24th against the run and 28th against the pass.
The defense was the primary reason that the Giants won the Super Bowl the year before. In 2012, Tom Coughlin coached and the Giants played as if they were waiting for the defense to turn on the engine and start dominating as they did the year before.
It simply did not happen.
The absence of defensive tackle Chris Canty had a lot to do with it, but injuries are not going to justify such a poor performance. Canty is a powerful defensive tackle who only played nine games last season as a result of a knee injury.
His presence makes the Giants a lot more dangerous up front, but good teams find a way to adjust when injuries occur.
There were no decent adjustments during the season.
The personnel on the defensive line is probably not going to change very much in the offseason. When you can throw Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Linval Joseph up front on a regular basis, Coughlin and Giants general manager Jerry Reese have every reason to believe that they are going to play much better next season.
Coughlin may have to push them a bit harder next season, but they can still play.
But the secondary has serious issues.
Corey Webster was awful in 2012 and he may do better next season, but the Giants would be a lot better off if he proved it for some other team. Free safety Antrel Rolle did not have his best year either, and it’s going to be up to Reese to upgrade this area in the offseason.
Reese has shown that he can hold a hard line when negotiating with players, but now he must bring in new talent. There will be no excuses if he can’t upgrade the Giants’ defensive personnel next year.
The Giants showed that occasional spectacular performances were not the answer this year. They dominated the 49ers and the Packers, but they were dominated by the Bengals, Falcons and Ravens.
It’s about staying hungry every week and not relying on past accomplishments.
Coughlin has shown that he can rally a team after a substandard year. Now, it’s up to Reese to make the moves so Coughlin can work his magic again.
What moves do you think Reese should make to improve the defense this offseason? Let us know in the comments section below…