Well gentlemen (and ladies), this season was clearly a heart breaker. It hurts knowing what this team could have been.
That being said, we were 10-6 despite a number of key injuries. Let's not don the brown bags yet. This season saw Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, and countless other receivers go down with injury. How many times did we actually have the same OL play from week to week? I'd like to take a second to recognize a couple of players who have gotten a fair amount of grief from Giants fans over the course of the season and their career.
Mario Manningham (WR): He doesn't run the routes of Smith and he doesn't have the physicality of Nicks. The guy has made some key mistakes. For those mistakes he is criticized plenty. That being said, he let our offense function despite the injury bug. Lining up next to walk-ons for countless weeks he still ALMOST recorded his first 1000 yard season of his career. He may never be THE guy, but he deserves credit. Part of me is worried that other teams will take notice of him and take him once he reaches free agency.
Rich Seubert (LG/C): Most of us expected him to be a solid backup this season with David Diehl sliding over to his spot while Will Beatty took over left tackle. His injury sucks and brings his future into question, but Richie was our best and most versatile lineman this season. I say that with all deference to Chris Snee; and while Snee deserved his Pro Bowl nod, Shaun O’Hara most certainly did not. Seubert may be in the twilight of his career but he put forth a solid effort for us all season.
Osi Umenyiora (RDE): Despite everybody telling us it takes more than a year to come back from an injury like Osi’s Giants fans (myself included) were ready to kick him to the curb last year. 11.5 sacks this year is solid, but what makes him special is his mastery of the strip sack. 10 forced fumbles this season as a defensive end. He also showed that he’s better at defending the run then we give him credit for. It’ll be interesting to see what our defensive line looks like next year with Cofield and Kiwanuka in interesting positions.
Jonathan Goff (MLB): I had to think twice before I put him in here. Maybe it’s because the LBs around him didn’t do a great job this year, (I’m looking at you Keith Bulluck) but our linebackers don’t fly around to the ball like they should. It’s not like we have a mediocre defensive line that is unable to occupy blockers. That said, Goff played well and emerged as a defensive leader. He’s a heady guy and a strong run defender, but he isn’t the fastest or most athletic guy which begs the question. Is he the right MLB for Perry Fewell’s defense. This is actually a decent draft for LBs so we’ll see.
I’m sure there are guys I’ve left out but let’s applaud these guys. Here’s to the offseason, where hope springs eternal.