The New York Giants 2012 regular season played out basically the same way their 2011 regular season did. A strong start, a second half collapse followed by a win in the final game of the year. The team finished 9-7 both years, as the entire squad lived and died by the right arm of Eli Manning. Obviously, the end result of the last two seasons will be viewed in drastically different lights. The 2011 Super Bowl team will be remembered as one of the best Giants teams of all time, while the 2012 squad will eventually fade into obscurity. However, these teams were not all that different.
2012 was a wasted opportunity. This team had all the pieces to make a run at repeating as Super Bowl champions. Instead of coming up big during the most crucial points of the season, the Giants failed to meet even their most meager preseason prognostications. Despite several areas of concern heading into the 2013 offseason, team owner John Mara believes that Big Blue's window to win another Super Bowl is still flexible.
"Obviously, when you miss the playoffs, everybody is a little more concerned about what went wrong," Mara said, "You have to have patience. You can't get too high when you are winning and too low when you are losing. You just have to have some confidence in your organization, and I have confidence in our organization. We have a franchise quarterback, and we've got a lot of good players on defense, but obviously a couple parts were missing, and that’s something we need to look at."
Not even the most optimistic of fans can deny that this team has some serious issues to solve this offseason. Osi Umenyiora and Kenny Phillips are likely gone. Victor Cruz, Will Beatty and Kevin Boothe all need new contracts. The offensive line is aging and there is very little depth at linebacker. There are going to be some major decisions made this offseason regarding the future of several players on the team.
However, as long as Eli Manning is at quarterback, the Giants have a chance to win a Super Bowl. In 2011, Big Blue had a porous offensive line and the worst rushing attack in the NFL. Despite their shortcomings, Manning was able to lead the team to their second Super Bowl victory in five seasons. Mara believes that Eli still has a lot of productive seasons left in the tank.
He’s (32) years old; he’s got a lot of years left," Mara said. "I think our window is still pretty wide. I think as long as he’s under center, we have a chance to win."
Eli Manning can not be expected to deliver Super Bowl championships year after year. His performance in 2011 was nothing short of heroic. He didn't play at to level in 2012, but that's not to say he can never get back there again. With the right pieces around him, Manning has proven his ability to win in this league. Moreover, he's proven his ability to put the team on his back and win under extremely adverse circumstances. He still has plenty of time left in his career to return to dominance, but the decisions made in the front office this offseason will play a major factor in how soon that happens.
Also…Eli Manning, Football, John Mara, Kenny Phillips, Kevin Boothe, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Osi Umenyiora, Super Bowl, Victor Cruz, Will Beatty