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So it’s all said and done. The 9-7, Eli Manning-led Giants stumbled into the playoffs, picking up full speed just in time to shock the Patriots and Vegas sports books in another magical Super Bowl run. Coach Tom Coughlin has gone from the hot seat to Hall of Fame consideration and New York sports fans have gotten their fair share of joyous victory with the spiraling Knicks hanging their championship hopes on a Harvard grad with one career start under his belt. So what happens now? What does the future of the New York Giants hold looking forward to next season and beyond?
The NFC East will again emerge as one of, if not the toughest division in the NFL. The “Dream Team” over in Philadelphia is still saturated with young talent and along with a healthy Michael Vick, they have an offense that is as explosive as any. They have all the motivation they need after such a disappointing season and gave glimpses of the powerhouse they can really be in the last couple games of the season.
Tony Romo is in his prime and has the weapons to finally bring some success to a Jerry Jones that aged about 10 years each time the Giants played the Cowboys last season. Add to that mix a Washington Redskins team that will somehow guarantee the Giants lose at least one game next season and the defending Super Bowl champions will by no means have an easy time even making it to the playoffs next season.
Undrafted wide receiver and salsa-dancing sensation Victor Cruz will have nowhere near the same production he enjoyed this year. Teams will be ready for the Patterson, NJ native slot receiver that shredded defenses for 82 catches and 1,536 yards this season. The running game will likely lose Brandon Jacobs and an injury plagued Ahmad Bradshaw will be less effective in the games he manages to stay healthy for.
Luckily, there is no longer any doubt that Eli Manning is an “elite” quarterback, fully capable of leading an offense that will dominate the tough NFC East. His receiving corps is young and includes some young tight ends that will only improve with another year of experience under their belts and a top tier quarterback under center.
Coming off a dismal, statistical regular season, the Giants defense exceeded all expectations in the postseason. The defensive line came together as a frightening, quarterback nightmare-inducing unit and the secondary shut down some of the most potent offenses in the league. How this carries over to next season all depends on the defensive line, which has always been key to the Giants’ success. With Jason Pierre-Paul leading the way, the Giants defense will be the most improved aspect of a 9-7 team that in many ways didn’t look like Super Bowl contenders for most of the season.
Far removed from his spot on the hot seat when his team dropped to 7-7, Coach Coughlin has now fully developed an atmosphere that players fully believe and will apply themselves to. He has made himself into a coach players are happy to play for and it’s for the right reasons. It’s not because he makes bold statements and promises to make it to the Super Bowl at the beginning of every season. It’s because he speaks the loudest with results when it counts. He wins championships.
If the New York Giants want to get a dynasty conversion started they need to show consistency next year. Two Vince Lombardi trophies in four years is a good start, but their performance during the seasons in between isn’t. The Giants have the team and the coach to achieve greatness. They have proven themselves as underdogs and road warriors but how will they respond to the expectations their success has created? Peyton’s time has come and gone. It’s Eli’s time now.