When healthy, Philips is a play-maker at the safety position against both the run and pass. Before ending up on Injured Reserve in Week 3 of the 2009 campaign, Philips was playing like a man possessed. The defense never was able to overcome the loss of Philips in the back seven, and his future remains a Giant question mark as he recovers from the dreaded “microrofracture procedure,” as he attempts to return to the field patellofemoral arthritis. While I am not a doctor, I don’t like the sound of a twenty-three year old who is suffering from an incurable form of arthritis. While the Giants are in wait-and-see mode with Philips, Jerry Reese, while hoping for a healthy return, has to plan on not having Philips ready/healthy for the 2010 campaign.
A 3rd round pick of the Packers in 2007; picked up by the G-men during the last week of September of 2009 after being waived by the Packers; Rouse is a classic “in-the-box” safety; Rouse showed good ability against the run but predictably struggled in pass coverage. Rouse should be brought back for depth, but can not be counted on to be a starter in the secondary.
Can’t Cover Brown; signed as a free agent from the Texans on a one year deal, Brown is an unrestricted free agent and was abysmal in pass coverage before being replaced by Aaron Rouse. Brown is not a starter and never should have been a starter for the G-men in 2009, but injuries forced him into the lineup. Brown is unlikely to return to the G-men. (The sound of relief from Giants fans can be heard knowing that Brown will not be wearing blue in 2010.
A 7th round pick out of Arizona, Johnson’s play has regressed after a decent start to his career. Johnson is not a play-maker at the safety position; Johnson had 46 tackles last year and has only three picks in three years. Clearly, the G-men need to upgrade here; I can see Johnson perhaps being brought back for depth and on special teams, but no way Reese pencils Johnson in as a starter at either safety position.
Undrafted free agent out of Michigan State, Rashad spent most of his time on the practice squad in 2009. Perhaps, Rashad can contribute on special teams, but it is premature to think that if he even makes the final roster, he will see any significant playing time.
Ok, admittedly, Ross should be left for our cornerback discussion, but he did play out of position at Safety for the latter part of the year, with mixed results. Not sure if he will be effective in a nickel-role defending smaller, quicker receivers, but also not sure he gets his starting spot back from second year man, Terrell Thomas, who played well in his absence, leading the G-men with 5 interceptions this past year. Giants faithful can only hope that his overly sensitive hammy is fully healed and that Ross stays on the field. But, Ross is clearly not a safety and should return to his natural position of cornerback.
Prognosis NEGATIVE. I think we can expect a major overhaul of the safety position for 2010; the Giants need to become more athletic and faster here in order to compete with in-division rivals like the Eagles (DeSean Jackson) and the Cowboys (Miles Austin). The league is becoming more of a passing/spread offense league and the G-men need to adapt accordingly. The safety position will likely be addressed in both free agency and the draft. Philips is sure to return, but whether we see the normal Kenny Philips is a Giant question mark, and Jerry Reese and company will be monitoring his progress carefully. Either way, expect new blood in Big Blue secondary in 2010.