Talent. It's what makes the NFL go 'round. Every team wants it, not every team has it, and even some who are fortunate enough to acquire it still find a way to fall flat on their face. Talent is one of many words that can be used to describe the 2012 New York Giants, and it is also what gave fans hope heading into the season that this team would be different.
Maybe they would finally be able to break out of their shell, play with consistency and become perennial title contenders. Maybe Eli Manning would take another step towards solidifying a place in Canton. Maybe Jason Pierre-Paul would emerge as the next Lawrence Taylor and maybe this team could repeat as Super Bowl champions.
None of those "maybe's" came to fruition this year. Today, safety Antrel Rolle apologized on behalf of his teammates for the colossal failure that was the 2012 season.
"Just want to apologize for a letdown," Rolle said on WFAN. "Unfortunately, we came up a little bit short this year. Something that pretty much caught all of us by surprise."
Rolle was the leader of a secondary that ranked 28th in the league in yards given up through the air. It's hard to pin the blame on any one player, because there were breakdowns throughout the entire unit. The pass rush was non-existent, Corey Webster was atrocious and Kenny Phillips missed over half the season with a knee injury. This unit was rarely, if ever, at full strength and there was not enough depth to account for any shortcomings.
However, in the NFL, there are very few teams who can say they played the majority of their games at full strength. The physically demanding nature of the game makes injury a daily issue with every team. The Giants can't use that as an excuse for their shortcomings on defense this season, nor can they rely on a magical resurgence at the end of the season to carry them into the playoffs again. We saw that strategy fail this year, and it's imperative that this team gets its act together over the offseason.
"We have to attack the game, and we just didn’t do a great job of doing that on a consistent basis," Rolle said. "We’ve had the same defensive coordinator now for three years. You’ve seen us at our very best, and then you’ve also seen us at our worst. So it’s all a matter of what are we going to go out there and do that day? How are we going to go out there and perform? Are we going to be hungry? Are we going to go out there and play with heart? Are we going to go out there and play like wild dogs? That’s the question that’s still up in the air, why were not able to do that on a consistent basis."
For the time being, the New York Giants are still the defending Super Bowl champions. However, as we prepare to watch 12 other teams compete for the right to hold that distinction into next season, the Giants have some soul searching to do.
Mainly, what does this team want to be remembered as? An overachieving group who were incapable of consistently competing with the best the NFL had or offer, or as one of the great dynasties in NFL history. The players on this roster have the talent to to fit either description and 2013 will go a long way into determining their legacy.
Also…Corey Webster, Eli Manning, Football, Jason Pierre-Paul, Kenny Phillips, Lawrence Taylor, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Super Bowl
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