So, as 2012 training camp approaches for the defending Super Bowl New York Giants here is a question to ponder. How good can the team's defense be if all of the primary members of the group actually remain healthy for a full season?
That means Terrell Thomas staying healthy. Prince Amukamara having two healthy feet, and cornerbacks not dropping like flies. That means Justin Tuck playing with two healthy arms -- and legs. Defensive tackle Marvin Austin actually making it to the starting gate. Osi Umenytiora playing more than nine regular-season games. Michael Boley not missing time. No projected starters missing the entire season.
Considering the talent available to defensive coordinator Perry Fewell thinking about the possibilities if the defense is close to 100 percent healthy is a delicious thought.
Fewell was asked during mini-camp if the Giants could be better defensively in 2012 than they were in 2011. His response was revealing.
"I said a year ago before we sustained all the injuries that we’d have a really good defense and I said after all the injuries that we would not be a great defense but we would be a good defense. Those guys will decide how well we can be, or how good we can be," Fewell said. "I found this out about our New York Giant football players is that if they take a stand and they’re mentally into it and I’ll use the term, if they’re "all in," we can be whatever we want to be. So, I’m not going to come out and say we can be this or we can be that. I’m going to leave that up to the players because self-motivation or their motivation to be champions again will determine where we want to go."
Giants' fans know all too well what went on with the defensive unit a year ago. Lots of underachievement during the regular season, finishing 27th in yards per game and 25th in points given up per game. We also know how much better this team played when if finally got healthy and finally ironed our many of the assignment errors that plagued the group last season.
There is enough talent for this group to be a dominant defense.
Jason Pierre-Paul, Tuck and Osi Umenyiora at defensive end. Quality tackles in Chris Canty and Linval Joseph. Solid outside linebackers in Michael Boley and Mathias Kiwanuka. A competition befween three good players for the middle linebacker job. Three quality cornerbacks in Corey Webster, Thomas and Amukamara. Good safeties in Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle.
If it's healthy, this should be an excellent defense. How good will it be? Like Fewell said, that really isn't up to him. It's up to the guys wearing the uniforms.