5 Injuries That Would End New York Giants’ 2013 Playoff Hopes
5 Injuries That Would End the New York Giants' Playoff Hopes
Every year one or two teams have a devastating injury that can ruin their playoff hopes immediately. The Indianapolis Colts in 2011 had playoff, and maybe even Super Bowl, aspirations, but once Peyton Manning went down, all hope was lost. Other times “playoff hopes” are a little more nuanced. For example, last year the Houston Texans went into the playoffs but had just lost star linebacker Brian Cushing. That meant that even though they made the playoffs their Super Bowl hopes were dead. The list goes on, as the Chicago Bears lost Jay Cutler and Matt Forte last year. I might even argue the loss of the coach Sean Payton for the New Orleans Saints had the same effect. Even the New York Jets last year. People forget they were 2-1 with a great defense before Darrelle Revis went down. Jet fans knew Mark Sanchez was bad, but with a good enough defense they could still make the playoffs. Once their best defensive player was gone, it was over.
For many rock solid teams like the Texans last year it takes multiple injuries to slow them down completely. The New York Giants are not like that. This team was 9-7 last year and has not improved much. For them to make the playoffs they need their key players to be healthy. One injury and things could fall apart fast.
These five players all could have great replacements who help keep the team afloat. A good example was last year when Kenny Phillips went down Stevie Brown stepped in beautifully. Even though the Giants' secondary suffered, all was not lost. Still, if any of these players get hurt their backups will have to play well above their level to ensure stability to a highly inconsistent Giants team. Every Giant fan should be biting their nails if one of these guys goes down.
Jason Pierre-Paul is out right now, but the saving grace is that he just came off the PUP list. If he had started the year on the PUP list it would have caused him to miss at least six games, a devastating blow to the Giants' defense. Hopefully he can start Week 1, but even if he can’t he should not miss too much time.
Pierre Paul is the best player on the Giants' defense, plain and simple. In 2011 he literally carried games for the whole defense, a great example being the Dallas Cowboys game in Week 16. There he had multiple sacks, a forced fumble and blocked a field goal. No one else showed up, and the Cowboys still moved the ball well but just fell short because of Pierre-Paul’s brilliance. The Giants will need that force again this year or their pass defense will quickly fall apart. He cannot go down for too long. It is simple; after Eli Manning, there is no one close to as important for the Giants as JPP.
Antrel Rolle can be overrated at times because he is so vocal, but this year the Giants desperately need him. Rolle is a force inside the box but often has trouble playing center field as a true free safety. That's what was great about Stevie Brown, who seemed perfectly comfortable there. Brown’s backup, Ryan Mundy, is not horrible but probably should not start for most teams. Rolle will have to have a big season to cover for the loss of Brown, and if he goes down the secondary will be razor thin. The Giants' pass defense was nothing to write home about last year, and if they lose two safeties it could mean lots of teams run the score up on them. With Stevie Brown out, Rolle becomes a key cog in the Giants' defense.
Will Beatty is a key piece in the Giants’ offense and possibly the biggest X factor for them. With David Diehl and David Baas out, there is simply no solid backup for Beatty. The logical choice would be Sean Locklear, but there is no way Manning will feel comfortable with his blindside being defended by a true backup player. If Beatty goes down before Diehl is healthy the Giants’ offense will be in deep trouble. Diehl should be back in 6-8 weeks, and after that happens he could step in if Beatty were to go down. Even then, it would be a scary proposition. Diehl seems to have lost a step, and having a player who just lost a step at left tackle is an unpleasant thought.
Prince Amukamara being on this list is a testament to how much he has improved. He was rated in the top ten cornerbacks by Pro Football Focus and has done a great job of making quarterbacks throw into tight windows. In fact quarterbacks are completing under 50 percent when they throw his way. Basically he is turning average quarterbacks into Tim Tebow.
Amukamara being on this list is also a testament to how bad Corey Webster was last year. Webster needs to be better. He ranked in the bottom ten cornerbacks for Pro Football Focus. He played so poorly last year that he agreed to take a $3 million pay cut. That suggests he would be unwanted in the open market. Amukamara going down would put immense pressure on Webster to step up, and after last season, it is hard to believe he would. If Webster can stay covering opponents' number two receivers he should be fine, but forcing him to play top guys is something the Giants do not want to see.
Eli Manning is the Giants' single most important player. The Giants have done a great job at picking up good backups for if he gets hurt, even though Manning never seems to get injured. He has never missed a start. The Giants actually have three capable backups, one of them being Ryan Nassib who could be the quarterback of the future.
Truth be told, none of that matters. If Eli goes down the Giants would be lucky to get six or seven wins. Here’s to hoping Manning, and all of the guys on this list, stay healthy.
Jay Cullen is a New York Giants writer for RantSports.com. Like him on Facebook at Jay Cullen-Rant Sports or add him on Google.