The Giants retained two of their own players, while plucking another from a division foe.
On Tuesday, the Giants re-signed cornerback Terrell Thomas. Thomas, an emerging defensive star, suffered a season ending knee injury in the preseason. This torn ACL kept him out for the entire 2011 season. Prior to this injury, Thomas was on the cusp of greatness. From our August game recap, here is our take on Thomas.
Terrell Thomas is the best cornerback on this team. Not only is he good in coverage, out of all of the cornerbacks on the Giants, he is their best tackler. As a matter of fact, last season, Thomas LED the team in tackles with 81. (SURPRISE, he led the team in tackles in 2009 as well.) Besides being a very good tackler, Thomas is an effective blitzer. Ironically, on the play in which he got injured, Thomas was blitzing off the edge. Furthermore, over the last two seasons, Thomas led the Giants secondary with FIVE interceptions. Sadly, like Jason Sehorn 13 years ago in another preseason game, the Giants lose their best cornerback to a serious knee injury. Although Sehorn did make a comeback, he was not the same player. We can only hope TT can recover from this injury and upon his return play at a high level.
The Giants are banking on Thomas for a full recovery. But his recovery may take time. Think Osi 2008 and Kenny Phillips 2009. Both Osi and KP did not ascend to their optimum playing levels until the following year. Nevertheless, the Giants structured his contract based on performance. Newark Star-Ledger's Mike Garafolo has Thomas' contract in detail. The Giants are hedging on Thomas coming back from his grave injury. If Thomas struggles, the Giants can choose not to pick up on his 2013 option. In the meantime, Thomas' return will only bolster the Giants defense. As mentioned, he is a superb tackler, blitzer, and can guard a slot receiver. Neutralizing a slot receiver is pivotal to shutting down a team's offense. Because of his size, arm span, and physical play, Thomas matches up very well against slot receivers. A few days ago on the NFL Films Blog, Greg Cosell examined the importance of Saints Marques Colston's importance to the Saints offense. Colston, a slot receiver, inked a lucrative contract to remain with the Saints. Let us hope Thomas can regain his pre 2011 form.
David Carr will he holding the Giants clip board for another season. The Giants and Carr agreed on a one year contract.
When the Giants trailed the Cowboys by 12 points late in their December match up at Texas Stadium, then Cowboys TE Martellus Bennett must have been taking notes. If Eli Manning can make undrafted TE Jake Ballard look awesome, he can then make Bennett into the next Kellen Winslow Sr. Bennett, a huge disappointment with the Cowboys, looks to revitalize his career with the Giants. Bennett signed a one-year 2.5 million prove it deal with the Giants. If Bennett was worth his salt, he would have put up better numbers in Dallas. According to the Dallas Morning News' Brandon George, Bennett is a great blocking tight end who never came into his own in the Cowboys' passing game. He had too many drops when given chances. At least Reese addressed this issue immediately. The immediate signing of Bennett indicates the recovery times for Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum are going slower than anticipated. As Bill Parcells would say, you need hold down the fort guys. And Bennett fits this bill. If he exceeds expectations and blossoms with the Giants, it would be gravy.
The Giants retained two of their own players, while plucking another from a division foe.
First off, thanks to Brandon Jacobs, who always seemed proud to play for the New York Giants up until his last game on us. While he will probably be picked up by another team, he ended his career with the Giants on top. No matter what he said in the media or did during the week, Jacobs came and gave the Giants his best effort every Sunday.
Still--he had to go.
For a team that is trying to shed salaries, Jacobs provided a great opportunity to do just that. No reason the Giants should be paying their backup RB $4.9 million base salary (or even half of that number to be perfectly honest). I mentioned recently that the Giants could look to upgrade the position through the draft. Perhaps they choose to bring in a veteran who is willing to play for around $1 million a year. That question will be answered soon.
Anyway let's look back at Jacobs' tenure with the Giants. Stats wise--he averaged just about nine rushing TDs per season over his seven-year career. Pretty impressive. His lowest total was four in 2007, which also may have been his best year. He broke the 1000-yard mark and rushed for 92 yards per game.
After showing flashes as Tiki's backup in 06 it seemed like everyone had high expectations for Jacobs heading into 2007. And while he was great in 07 and 08, breaking the 1000-yard barrier in each season, it always seemed like he was falling just a bit short below of the (maybe unfairly) high expectations that everyone had for him. Then again the timing was never right for Jacobs to be a star. Splitting carries with another 1000-yard back in Ward (and to an extent, Bradshaw) prevented Brandon from ever having a 250-300 carry season in the heart of his prime. Who knows what a fresh-legged Jacobs could have done behind one of the best run-blocking lines the Giants have ever seen. That is something that seems to get lost on some people.
By 2011 many had become frustrated with his inability to hit the hole with purpose (while the logical fan knew it was some combination of that and the struggles of the offensive line) and ruled out the back as a viable option. But the running back's second half of the season proved that Jacobs still could run well, despite the Giants' struggling o-line.
He always showed up for the big games, especially Dallas (that goes a long way with me) including this season when he lit up the Cowboys in a game where Bradshaw was suspended. He was pretty solid for the Giants down the stretch this season and turned in some pretty good games while Bradshaw was hurt. None bigger than the Dallas game.
By the end of his time with us he became a very good pass blocker, something he inexplicably wasn't earlier in his career. I'll always have the lasting image of the "veteran Jacobs" in Super Bowl XLVI taking on a blitzing Rob Ninkovich and just absolutely standing him up and delivering a massive blow. Great stuff.
Jacobs Giants run can also be quantified in the collection of YouTube moments that he has compiled throughout his career---like this one, or this one, this one, this one, this one or this one. I mean--come on--Jacobs just seems like a natural fit in professional wrestling. Seriously. The man is a football player AND an entertainer.
While all of that is great stuff, it'd be foolish not to focus on Jacobs' on-field production and contributions. He played a major role on two world champion teams as both a player and a team leader. He's no longer a NY Giant, but he was a very effective player who was a major contributor to two world championship football teams.
The Washington Redskins traded away their R1 pick this year, the #6 overall pick, for the St. Louis Rams' #2 overall pick. Ostensibly the Skins will be taking Robert Griffin III after the the Colts take Andrew Luck with the #1 overall pick.
The story here is the Rams executed a Brinks heist in broad daylight. Make no mistake, this was a stickup. For the ability to "choose" ahead of their peers, the Redskins had to also give the Rams the #39 pick overall this year, which is a very high R2 pick bordering on R1. They also had to give away their R1 pick in 2013. They also had to give away their R1 pick in 2014.
This trade is in clear violation of The Rules for Winning in the NFL. To move up 4 slots in the draft, you give up two first round picks and a high second rounder? Why can't every other team get that kind of booty?!!! If the NFL had any sense, they would block the trade for being a violation of the 8th Amendment on a "desperate" franchise.
RGIII can be the next best thing since sliced bread. He can be a savior to the franchise. He can be a Hall of Famer. We get that. We know what the upside is in a Quarterback-driven league. But here is what we also "get:"
1) RGIII can also be Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch, Akili Smith or an Alex Smith that takes 6 years to see only two WR routes.
2) RGIII can be injured. All of your eggs are in one basket.
3) What about the other 4 picks you WOULD HAVE HAD? A R1 6th overall, a R2 39th overall, another R1, another R1? That isn't just another player, that is practically an entire TEAM.
4) Freakonomics Football. We spent a great deal of time analyzing TEN YEARS of Round 1 draft picks from 2000-2009, and the conclusion we were able to OBJECTIVELY draw was that General Managers overpay for the right to pick ahead of their peers. They get much less in return than they think they are getting. And this conclusion was even more rigorously defended in a 2005 University of Chicago/Duke University study.
What the Redskins needed and still need is patience. You miss the carousel on Griffin because he goes in front of you, so you wait and the carousel comes around again. It always does. In general the Redskins are busy impatiently trading up, when they should be confidently letting things come to them. Griffin may be a tremendous QB, but how are you going to surround him with the quality players that collectively build a franchise? 3 other cornerstones to your team are a 100% complete miss because you have given them to the Rams.
The Rams. Now there is a team that has a future. They will be able to build something there. The Jimmy Johnson/Jerry Jones 1990's were built on the Herschel Walker trade's draft picks. If the Rams select reasonably well, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
Let's look at some other QB deals. We are still on record as not liking the Eli deal to move 3 spots and paying a 1, 3 and 5. The deal has worked because Ernie Accorsi was correct about his assessment, and because he was lucky about Eli being a healthy QB, something no one could forecast. Compared to the Redskins gifts send to St. Louis, the Giants got off cheap! We panned the Carson Palmer deal last season, but at least Palmer was a known variable in the NFL. Even less is known about Griffin by the nature of him being a draft pick and not an NFL player. The Bears gave up a ton for Jay Cutler, but at least what Cutler could do in the NFL was KNOWN. As we commented 3 years ago, at least you knew you were getting a Pro Bowl QB who was 25 years old. And considering what Cutler has done for the Bears, you could see that the reward was a tremendous amount of competitiveness, his health notwithstanding.
This trade for the Redskins does not have to be a death sentence. Griffin can deliver, and that will make them reasonably competitive. But IF, big IF.. if Griffin does NOT deliver, the trade will certainly set back the franchise the better part of a decade. This is a very high stakes gamble which illustrates just how much value that the Redskins franchise has given away to get a QB.
While the Saints Bounty gate and Peyton Manning's release are making arresting headlines, let us talk about the Super Bowl Champions.
The Giants decided to tag punter Steve Weatherford. With Weatherford handling the punting duties in 2011, the Giants got much needed consistency. Over the last several seasons, the Giants special teams have not been too special. Having Weatherford was a breath of fresh air. And he was splendid in Super Bowl XLVI. Three of his four punts landed inside the Patriots 10 yard line.
WR Domenik Hixon was resigned. This means it is over for Mario Manningham. Since Victor Cruz has emerged as a top notch receiver, especially in the slot, Manningham has become expendable. Having Hixon return also helps the Giants special teams return game. As a team, the Giants averaged 6.1 yards per punt and 23.3 yards per kickoff return respectively. Here are links to see how the Giants fared in kickoff and punt returns. After seeing we are at the bottom of the NFL, let us hope Hixon can help the Giants improve in these areas.
Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw had some work done on his ankle. He received an injection to help his ailing foot. Sheesh! With multiple surgeries performed on his wheels, it is amazing he has been so productive for the Giants. Over his NFL career, Bradshaw has had surgery on both his ankles and feet. Being that feet are a running back's life blood, as an outsider, is Bradshaw's best days behind him?
Speaking of the running back position, the Giants have RELEASED RB Brandon Jacobs. This does not come as a surprise. Once a bruising runner, Jacobs has been limited due to serious injuries. Over the last two seasons, Jacobs was relegated to a reduced role. Last season, Jacobs gained a disappointing 571 yards. Since Jacobs publicly expressed an interest in playing with the Jets, ESPN's Jets reporter Rich Cimini compiled some statitstics on Jacobs. And Cimini caputured a snap shot of Jacobs' unimpressive 2011 numbers:
1. Jacobs had one rush for 20 plus yards.
2. For a 265-pound man, Jacobs doesn't break many tackles. His yards-after-contact average last season was 1.66, which ranked 44th in the league. (In fairness, we should point out he brought it up to 2.25 in the NFC playoffs.)
3. The Giants finished last in rushing and next-to-last in short-yardage rushing, with only a 52-percent conversion rate.
With Eli Manning restructuring his contract and Jacobs being released, the Giants appear to be under the projected salary cap. So what are their immediate needs?
Pro Football Focus examines the Giants major areas of need. Needless to say, after crunching their numbers, the Giants have to revamp the guard, tackle, and slot cornerback positions. It is evident, the Giants have to address the offensive line. On Thursday, reliable RT Kareem Mckenzie was told to go shopping. With no McKenzie, William Beatty recovering from surgery, and Diehl coming off an awful season, the Giants have to retool their offensive line.
As for the cornerback position, I think the Giants are okay in this area. Since 2007, Giants GM Jerry Reese has invested a lot of high draft picks in the secondary. Ross in 2007. Thomas in 2008. Prince in 2011. Reserve Bruce Johnson was resigned. And they will most likely retain Justin Tryon. Recall, this guy played with a broken arm against the Dolphins this year.
As the March 13th free agency signing period inches closer, the Giants have to think about the TE and RB positions. In Super Bowl XLVI, the Giants lost not one but both of their tight ends. Right now, the Giants have Bear Pascoe as the only effective TE. Look for Reese to sign a TE. And with the news of Jacobs' release and the uncertainty of Bradshaw's injury situation, the Giants have to upgrade the running back position. Let us not forget RB D.J. Ware has been concussed twice. He suffered a concussion in 2009 against the Broncos. And this year, he suffered another one against the Packers. Without question, Ware could be one hit away from being out of football. The Giants may have their future starter already on the roster- Da'Rel Scott could be the Giants next star running back. In the meantime, Reese has to pick up a veteran running back as insurance.
To sum up, Reese will use free agency to shore up the TE and RB positions, while using draft picks to stabilize their offensive line.
Days like today do not happen very often. The NY Giants are Super Bowl Champions! Today, we raise a new banner for the blog.
We keep score with titles. This is the 4th Super Bowl championship for this franchise. That is pretty rare air. We specifically designed the logo to be part of planned obsolescence. It was part of the plan to make us "work" at another banner. Go ahead, give us some trouble, make us take this one down too. And quick!
31 teams lose. Only one team wins. These are the memories that we will have for a lifetime. XLVI gave us some moments that will be savored. Who can forget the drive to beat the Patriots in Week 9?! JPP blocking the FG to beat the Boys?!! Victor Cruz in Week 16 vs the Jets?!!! Hakeem Nicks running away from 38 defenders vs the Pack?!!!! Mario Manningham getting a perfect pass from Eli Manning to midfield in the Super Bowl?!!!!! We'll remember them all.
Eli Manning had an incredible year. Could the Giants have gotten to the playoffs, let alone won a title without him? Impossible. A year like that gets you on the banner forever.
THE NY GIANTS ARE SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS!