The New York Giants have missed the playoffs three of the past four seasons, with the lone exception being the 2012 playoffs in which the Giants were Super Bowl champs. NFL.com analyst Elliot Harrison believes that the upcoming season for the Giants will be reminiscent of the other three.
Harrison does not believe the Giants will make the playoffs next season. He cites the fact that the Giants were able to win both of their most recent Super Bowls due to hot stretches at the right time, rather than being the best team in the playoffs. He thinks that this type of play is unreliable when looking to make the playoffs, as it's impossible to predict when a team will get hot or a when a team will cool off.
This type of unreliability stems from lapses of mediocre play during the regular season. The Giants are notorious for lengthy winning streaks followed by lengthy losing streaks. Harrison doesn't like that type of play, and understandably so.
Of the five reasons listed by Harrison, defense accounts for two of them. Why? Well, likely because there are plenty of question marks surrounding that unit heading into the season. The team's defense ranked 31st in the NFL last season, largely in part to inconsistent efforts from both the defensive line and secondary. Johnathan Hankins and Cullen Jenkins are nice additions, but who really knows what type of impact they'll have in their first year as Giants?
Hankins is a rookie that will need to find his place on the crowded defensive line, while Jenkins may or may not be a difference-maker at defensive tackle. It will be interesting to see which has the bigger impact.
That's not all Harrison dislikes, though. The team also did not acquire enough talent to make sizable improvements in the secondary or linebacking unit to satisfy him. The additions of Dan Connor and Aaron Ross just aren't enough in his eyes.
In Harrison's defense, he does cite the improvement of Dallas and the overall talent of the Washington Redskins as legitimate reasons why the Giants will have a tough time reaching the postseason. Throw in the question marks surrounding David Wilson and the Giants' running game, and their are certainly enough qualms to go around.
The Giants' season will certainly be an interesting one. General manager Jerry Reese made an interesting decision in choosing to allow Ahmad Bradshaw to walk via free agency, so the running game could potentially be even more inconsistent than it has been in recent memory. That, along with the suspect defense, will put the spotlight on Eli Manning even more than it has been for the past several seasons.
The part of the equation that cannot be left out, however, is head coach Tom Coughlin. Coughlin, the oldest head coach in the NFL, will surely get the best out of the players given to him. He has the motivational skills and football knowledge necessary to put the right guys in the right spots to be successful.
It won't be easy for the Giants to make the playoffs, but Coughlin's presence at the helm will certainly make things easier. Dallas and Washington are going to be good, but you can never count out the Giants.