New York Giants: Strengths of a Troubled Playoff Contender

Chris ValContributor IAugust 24, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 06:  Steve Smith #12 of the New York Giants makes a reception in the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Giants Stadium on December 6, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Last season, the New York Giants faced a few giants of their own.  After starting the season 5-0, they finished the season 3-8 for a final record of 8-8.  A promising season with Super Bowl hope just fluttered away at the bat of an eye.

For the 2010 season, Giants' fans hope they have found a solution to chop down those giants.  One solution was hiring highly-touted defensive coordinator Perry Fewell from the Buffalo Bills.  Fewell, even though he was fired from the Bills last season, gave them great production on the defensive side of the ball. 

In 2008, the Bills had one of the best defensive years they had seen this decade.  They finished fourth in the NFL in red zone defense, and were able to hold teams under the 100-yard rushing mark seven times that year. 

Let's also not forget that Fewell served under Lovie Smith for the Bears as a defensive back coach in 2004 and 2005, which makes a very good fit for the Giants, whose secondary was atrocious for the second half of last season. 

To add some more excitement to this addition, who can forget the five-INT game the Bills had versus the Jets last season? To say the least, Fewell is definitely a good sign of things to come for the Giants defense in the near future, and if they make the playoffs, you better believe he will be a big reason why.

Moving on, all eyes are set on "Jet Blue," the new nickname given to the Giants' wide receivers by Jon Gruden in the first week of this year's preseason game.  "Jet Blue" consists of wide receivers Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham. 

Smith led the Giants last year, catching 107 balls for a new team record.  Only in his fourth year, he is Eli Manning's most trusted receiver, and fans can rest assured they will see a repeat performance out of the reliable Smith in 2010. 

Second-year Nicks is the playmaker of this group.  Give him a block, and he has the ability to turn a five-yard curl route into a 50-yard touchdown.  Look for him to be a bigger part of the offense this season as he has earned it through last year's play.  He had a few drops last year, but look for the jitters to dissipate this season.

Manningham is the other wide out that defenses need to game plan for this season.  He has the quickness and explosiveness to be an absolute huge playmaker. 

The noted problem with Manningingham is his consistency on catching the football.  If he can prove that he can make big plays in big-time situations, look for him to push for that No. 2 spot this season.  Otherwise, look for undrafted rookie, Victor Cruz out of UMass, to push Manningham.

Cruz has come out in camp and absolutely astonished fans, players, and coaches with his play.  It is still early to tell whether he can stay healthy, perform on a consistent basis, and have success against first-string defenses. But if he continues his play, he is going to make it very hard for Tom Coughlin to keep him out of a starting position.

All in all, the Giants have all the talent and coaching to be a playoff contender in the 2010 season.  The question remains, can they stay healthy, and can they put it together as they did in 2008?  Only time will tell, and we are only two weeks away from finding out.