As the New York Giants found out in 2012, it's not easy repeating as Super Bowl champions. In fact, it hasn't been done since the New England Patriots won Super Bowl XXXIX. However, the Giants blew a golden opportunity to at least make the playoffs by losing five of their last eight games. So what went wrong? Here's a look at five reasons why the Giants failed to make the postseason.
Strength of Schedule -- The Giants' strength of schedule was the toughest in the league in 2012. That's not an excuse, just a fact. As defending Super Bowl champions, New York faced teams with the highest combined winning percentage from the previous season. The Giants were able to rise to the occasion some weeks -- for instance, there were convincing wins over the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers -- but the brutal schedule eventually wore them down in the second half.
Call Out the Coaches -- Normally, I'm not one to fault the coaches -- players have to make plays. However, the play-calling on offense and defense left a little to be desired this season. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride dialed up too many third-and-long runs and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell didn't make enough adjustments when the pass rush wasn't clicking. Furthermore, head coach Tom Coughlin has to take responsibility for the team flat-lining at key times during the season.
Bunch of Sad Sacks -- The defensive line was the backbone of last year's championship team with an NFL second-most 48 sacks. However, the Giants dropped all the way down to No. 22 in the league with 33 sacks this season. The pass-rushing trio of Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora finished the season with a combined 16.5 sacks. Pierre-Paul had 16.5 sacks by himself in 2011. The lack of consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks left the Big Blue's weak secondary exposed.
Soft Secondary -- The Giants' injury-riddled secondary may have been the team's weakest link. New York finished the season ranked No. 29 against the pass (4,082 yards allowed) and yielded many big plays. Two of the main culprits were defensive backs Corey Webster and Justin Tryon. Plus, the experienced Kenny Phillips played in only seven games due to injuries. Stevie Brown was a bright spot with eight interceptions, but the Giants' secondary didn't make enough plays as a group.
Mann Down -- Last season, Eli Manning played like an elite quarterback by throwing for a career-high 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns. However, he took a step back this year with nearly 1,000 fewer yards (3,948) and didn't reach 300 yards in any of his last nine games. Furthermore, Manning's quarterback rating slipped to 87.2 from 92.9 the previous season. Manning deserves credit for leading the Giants to a pair of Super Bowls, but he also should take a hit for the team missing the playoffs this season.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who grew up in Queens, N.Y. rooting for the Giants despite being surrounded by Jets fans. He proudly wears his Rodney Hampton jersey on Sundays during the football season. Adam follows back Giants fans on Twitter @Pegcitysports.
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