In July of 2009, we correctly predicted that lack of depth at Safety was a major issue and that Wide Receiver (despite everyone's offseason cries) would not be significant. Here are the issues for 2010:
1) How much press coverage does Fewell use? If you want to know how effective Corey Webster (/Thomas/Ross) is going to be watch them in press coverage. If you want to know how porous and passive the Giants will be, watch these guys in zone. Webster's fortunes were down with Lewis, up with Spags in press coverage, and back down as Sheridan went with more zone. It's 2010. If your defense is not on the attack it will be picked apart.
2) LBer LBer LBer. It gets late early around here. Boley's injuries. Wilkinson's injuries (even the Giants.com link to Wilkinson's video was injured). Wilkinson moving to a new position. MIKE by Committee. Sintim's work ethic. Sintim as a starter. Sintim in coverage. No competition at SAM. LBer unit cohesiveness. New scheme. So many questions for us, but we will get the answers in time. If you are an optimist, you see this as a normal changing of the guard. The NFL is about turnover. If you are a pessimist, you see the people who are taking over the reins as unproven and uninspiring. These guys will not stink if they stay healthy. But how do they play well and make an impact? Outside of the flashes of pass-rushing ability of Sintim and range of Boley, there are too many issues and not enough talent.
3) Depth at Offensive Line. Some people are asking questions about this unit's ability to be the dominant force it was in 2008. I am not. I just have questions about the durability of guys like Seubert, McKenzie and O'Hara. Beatty IS the depth (I am upbeat on Petrus, but he's a rookie) so with those guys a year older, depth could mean problems.
4) Special Teams. We lost Domenik Hixon for the season. We have a new punter. Lawrence Tynes inspires no confidence. And get this- Chad Jones may have very well been an impact player on specials, but we lost him too.
5) Kenny Phillips' health. No, it is not life and death. It is the difference between good (Rolle and Grant) and excellent (Rolle and Phillips).
The good news is... there is a LOT OF GOOD NEWS. If Seubert, McKenzie and Diehl stay healthy, I really think the offense is going to be in very good shape. If only one gets hurt and Beatty is there (yes Beatty can even start ahead of Seubert too), we can be fine that way as well. So besides the scheduled lobotomy, I am VERY bullish on the offense.
YES, I DID NOT PUT RUNNING BACK AS AN ISSUE IN 2010. I did not have RB as an issue after Barber retired and I did not have WR as an issue last year. So I know I am once again going against conventional wisdom in not being concerned as many others about RB in 2010. I just think Jacobs will have a lot better year. Sure, he'll invariably get hurt, but this time around it won't be week 1. Ahmad had offseason surgery too, so I think he'll deliver. And between Ware and Brown, we'll have someone healthy to get it done.
Hakeem Nicks is going to rival Apple's stock price, one big bull market. Good stuff.
So it all boils down to the Linebackers and the aggressiveness of Perry Fewell. There is a lot of caution there. Trust me, if I were GM, we'd have Rey Maualuga, Jerry Hughes and Daryl Washington in Giants training camp right now and we'd be loaded with what could be a suffocating defense. Instead we have a few wheelchairs and a slew of 4th rounders. Heeelp!
Here is the plan to win in 2010: Phillips and Boley are healthy, we have 6 or 7 others at LBer who give us ONE net player who can deliver, and then we play a 4-2-5 nickel and 5-2-4 with success.
Summary: The offense is going to be very good. Gilbride is, as always, the weakest link. The Linebackers are the weakest link of the defense. The best QBs and Offensive Coordinators will try to exploit this unit. If (1) Boley stays healthy (2) the balance of Not Ready For Primetime Linebackers finds one guy who is ready and (3) Fewell attacks, then the Giants can win a lot of games. Let's see what training camp brings.