Tuck, a player once known around the NFL as one of the more feared pass rushers, has now been reduced to talk of being overrated, most notably by CBS Sports' Pete Prisco in a June 7 column highlighting the league's most underrated and overrated players.
Tuck really burst onto the scene during the Giants' 2007 Super Bowl season, racking up 10 sacks despite starting just two games all season. Tuck carried that effort into New York's magical postseason run, recording two sacks and a forced fumble, including two crucial sacks of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in Super Bowl XLII.
The two-time Pro-Bowler followed the 2007 season up with a 12-sack effort in 2008 and recorded 11.5 sacks in 2010, but he has since struggled. Tuck combined for a mere nine sacks in 2011 and 2012 while missing five games the past two seasons because of various injuries.
Given his resume and all of the hype surrounding Tuck and the Giants' defense, it's crucial that he steps up and proves his worth to the NFL in 2013.
With news coming out that Jason Pierre-Paul may not be ready for the season opener against the rival Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. 8, it's even more important that Tuck elevates his play like he did in 2007, '08 and '10, especially with Osi Umenyiora now playing for the Atlanta Falcons.
According to Conor Orr of the Star-Ledger, New York defensive line coach Robert Nunn believes this is the best offseason he's ever seen Tuck have, which is certainly positive news for Giants fans who are expecting to see the postseason this year.
History proves that Big Blue is successful in the playoffs when Tuck plays at a high level. He had that stellar year in 2007, and although he recorded just five sacks during the 2011 regular season, Tuck compiled 3.5 sacks in the 2011 postseason, highlighted by two sacks of Brady (again) in the Super Bowl.
The Giants will need Tuck to revert back to his old self this season after the Giants ranked 31st in the NFL last season in total defense. That alone is reason enough for Tuck to be nominated as the player with the most to prove next season.
Looking down the road, Tuck's play can impact the future of the Giants in more than one way. He'll be looked toward to help rookie Damontre Moore develop into a pass rusher and if Tuck continues to struggle, he may not be around to help the Giants' defensive line improve.
It's hard to think about the Giants parting ways with Tuck but if he continues to digress, the Giants could have a void to fill at defensive end in the coming years.
Pete Schauer is a native of the Jersey Shore where he covers the New York Giants for Bleacher Report and writes for HoopsHabit and contributes to the YES Network. You can follow him on Twitter @Pete_Schauer and find him on Google+.
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