COMMENTARY | The New York Giants have been busy making moves since they finished with a record of 9-7 and missed the playoffs. But have they improved?
Whether or not the Giants have improved since the end of last season is debatable. What's not is that they have more work to do. Unfortunately, New York is up against the salary cap, so don't expect any major player news before the start of training camp. Big Blue's best chance to reload will be during the NFL draft (April 25-27) and they'll probably be looking to bolster the team's defense.
The Giants had the 13th-ranked defense (points allowed) in the National Football League this past season, but don't be fooled. Despite giving up 21.5 points per game, they were ranked No. 25 against the run and No. 28 against the pass. Moreover, New York gave up a franchise-record 6,134 yards. The Giants have tried to address these problem with a series offseason moves.
Starting in the secondary, the G-Men brought back experienced cornerback Aaron Ross, a member of the last two Super Bowl teams, and oft-injured defensive back Terrell Thomas. Plus, cornerback Corey Webster restructured his contract to stay with the team. Safety Kenny Phillips signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, but Stevie Brown, who had team-leading eight interceptions in 2012, should be able to take his place without a problem. Still, the Giants are thin at the corners and gave up too many big plays. They were burned for a league-high 29 passes of 30 yards or more last season.
As if the secondary wasn't enough to worry about, the linebacking unit and defensive line are in flux. The Giants signed defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, who should bolster the run defense, but they lost leading-tackler Chase Blackburn and defensive end Osi Umenyiora to free agency. The once-formidable pass rush, which was ranked No. 22 in the NFL in 2012, will suffer without Umenyiora. And the success of the linebacking corps may depend on improving but mediocre ball-stoppers Jacquian Williams, Mark Herzlich and Spencer Paysinger.
Fortunately, New York will get a chance to bolster its defense in the upcoming NFL draft. It has been widely speculated that Big Blue will take a defensive end or linebacker with its first pick (No. 19) and focus on shoring up the secondary in the mid-late rounds. Two names that have been mentioned as potential first-rounders are Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner and Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree. John Harris listed other potential draft targets for each round in an article for Yahoo! Sports last month. The possibilities are endless.
So should Giants fans be concerned about the team's defense? There may be some holes there, but a post-draft assessment of the defense will reveal an honest answer.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer with more than 15 years of experience covering amateur and professional sports for several print and online media outlets. He tracked the New York Giants for Yahoo! Contributor Network during the team's Super Bowl run in 2011-12. Adam can be found on Twitter @Pegcitysports.
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