Pat Kirwan at NFL.com has some solid advice for the New York Giants, as usual: Re-sign RB Ahmad Bradshaw and TE Kevin Boss, and grab a decent Linebacker in Free Agency while you’re at it.
From the report:
Re-sign Ahmad Bradshaw: The Giants have a nice two-headed monster in the backfield. However, Bradshaw is more valuable than Brandon Jacobs. It is going to cost the Giants more to re-sign Bradshaw now than it would have before the lockout, but it is worth it. If they lose out on getting Bradshaw to return, then they will have to turn to guys such as DeAngelo Williams or Jason Snelling. Still, keeping Bradshaw is the best option.
Sign at least one linebacker: The position group needs an injection of talent. I would take a close look at middle linebackers like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ Barrett Ruud, the Buffalo Bills‘ Paul Posluszny or the Tennessee Titans‘ Stephen Tulloch. The middle linebackers are the quarterback of the defense and can make all the adjustments. If the Giants feel they can handle the middle with what they have, then an outside linebacker like the Washington Redskins‘ Rocky McIntosh might fit well in their 4-3 scheme.
Retain Kevin Boss: Travis Beckum is penciled in as the starting tight end and he is more of a complimentary H-back than a replacement for Boss. Last year, Boss averaged 15.2 yards per catch and has 10 touchdown receptions over the last two years. Unless they could sign the Oakland Raiders‘ Zach Miller in free agency, Boss needs to be brought back.
My only issue with this is most everyone that reads it will say to themselves – “of course.” I am actually surprised Special Teams was not mentioned, easily the most daunting negative of the entire outlook from 2010. But that’s truthfully where the Giants are right now. A couple of less big plays given up on defense, a few less turnovers on offense — and 2010 ends on a completely different note. The Giants have to keep several keys in place to make another playoff run in 2011, and Bradshaw and Boss are two of those keys. I would argue that TE/FB Bear Pascoe is another one of those keys, but he’s not going anywhere (more on that later).
Bradshaw has proven to be an integral part of the equation as the starter. Aside from the fumbling issues, Bradshaw is the most explosive back on the roster and has been for years. He was given his starting opportunity and ran circles around the defense at times. Busted plays, Bradshaw was busting tackles and turning surefire losses into improbably gains. You bank on that guy, you re-sign that guy, you build an offense around the talents of that guy. Bradshaw is the Giants running game – and he’s taking it to the next level. Jacobs is the compliment, and I love having him there. Granted, the 2 stretch plays a year that Jacobs runs and catches the offense off guard is a great call and execution — but 98% of that time the ball should be in Bradshaw’s hands after the ball is snapped.
Boss, like I say every year around this time, needs to be utilized more – ESPECIALLY IN THE RED ZONE. Even though he had a very handsy 2010 — he’s due for a huge year in 2011. And frankly the whole team was dropping passes when it mattered most, in many cases deflecting them into defenders hands. But beyond that, Bear Pascoe will be an interesting candidate for the second TE/FB especially if the Giants experiment with more 2 TE sets this year. I think Boss and Pascoe could make a great blocking/catching set of TE’s and the Giants could stand to break out of the excessive blocking mode and get the ball into these guys hands more. You don’t have to take more sacks Eli, you have to get the ball out quicker to your short outlets if the play is busted. Bradshaw, Boss, Pascoe — the tragically overlooked quick pass options when all else fails.
Does lightning strike again or will the Giants finally have a solid rebound from their 2008 collapse?
Well interestingly, a signing at Linebacker may surprisingly not make the difference. You ask — how many times can the Giants be gashed up and down the middle of the field before they address the situation? Well — THEY HAVE! Obviously CB Prince Amukamara will make a difference this year, and (the sleeper) LB Greg Jones out of Michigan State was selected in the 6th round by the Giants — the only back-to-back consensus All American pick in the schools history. He’s now a NY Giant in case everyone forgot. Is it too much to hope that the Giants have a rookie that can step up year one and call the shots as the QB of the defense? How about 2 rookies?
Yes and no.
Jon Goff did an admirable job as a first time starter at MLB last year and played well for much of the season, but dropping back in coverage was never his strong suit and the middle of the field seemed to go largely uncontested when the zone broke down. But this is nothing new, it happened all the time even when Antonio Pierce was the man in the middle, as great a visionary as he was he had a hard time collapsing on the holes in his zone. It’s a tough job, but someone has got to do it — and I’m not sure Paul Posluszny is really a better answer than Goff or Jones at this point. Buffalo was amidst their own defensive transition last year, keep in mind. It may be best to stay the course with such a critical position.
Let’s just say LB Keith Bullock ends up on another team next year, S Deon Grant leaves too, and LB Chase Blackburn isn’t resigned either. THEN maybe I’d want a guy like Posluszny to come in and give Goff and Jones some competition for staring MLB and see where the chips fall. But it’s not a guaranteed solution whatsoever. Goff really got the respect of the locker room last year, he hits like a freight train, and he improved dramatically over his 2009 numbers and really seemed to own that middle spot. I think with another year under his belt, Goff could continue on his upward trajectory and things would be fine. Jones would be that added playmaker needed, you’ve still got Michael Boley as a lock, and Clint Sintim is waiting in the wings with his breakout year. AND, potentially Mathias Kiwanuka as your wild card player that can play DE or LB in an experimental sub package.
The Giants have the tools they need to win right now and make the playoffs. If they resign Bradshaw and Boss — I like their chances in 2011 even without a Free Agent LB added to the roster.