Coach Coughlin is holding up one finger to signify Justin Tuck’s place on the list
With the news that Mathias Kiwanuka will miss the rest of the season I began to wonder which players could the Giants least afford to lose to injury for a year?
Obviously, like 95 percent of NFL teams the QB is the most important player, so, let’s call this list the 10 most important players who do not qualify as a Super Bowl winning quarterback.
#10 Antrel Rolle
I think this might be even a little low for Antrel Rolle this season, who I think has made a tremendous difference in the way the Giants defense has played this season.
There is still a strong possibility that Antrel Rolle’s criticism earlier in the year jump started the Giants season, and while I know they lost the next game to the Titans, they came out that game with some passion and fire. Probably too much fire they couldn’t control their emotions.
Rolle is a respected player who was coming from a different (winning organization) who put the team on notice “Hey this is unacceptable. Let’s get it together”.
On top of that Rolle has been instrumental in run support this season. Rolle leads the team in tackles with 43, many of which have come in run support and allowed the Giants to play the run well and force teams to be one dimensional.
#9 Steve Smith
This might be a little low for Steve Smith because he is Eli Manning’s security blanket and according to assistant coaches interviews he’s drawing a lot of double teams this season.
And this is not the Giants list of best players it’s the list of players they can least afford to replace if they were to miss significant time.
Steve Smith is a very good pro and has great chemistry with Eli Manning, but I think the nature of the Giants team is one that has a lot of depth at WR. I think Mario Manningham could step in admirably for Steve Smith.
#8 Darius Reynaud
#8 Barry Cofield
One of the biggest problems last season with the Giants was that they could not force any pressure up the middle and this season and the biggest reason for that is Barry Cofield who has an impressive thirty tackles and 3 sacks from the defensive tackle position in a 4-3 which is impressive.
Cofield has been a revelation this year and the Giants are going to have to call Jerry McGuire and Show Him The Money!
#7 Chris Snee
Offensive line is one of the most important positions in the N.F.L. and Chris Snee is one of the best interior offensive linemen in the N.F.L., but the reason he’s only #7 on this list is because I am drinking the Andrews kool-aid. I think Shawn Andrews could replace one player on the line if they were to get hurt at either guard or tackle. He’s extremely talented and has been very good this season.
I would hate to lose Snee for any extended period of time, but I think they could absorb that and be O.K.
#6 Jonathan Goff
Again, this is not the list of the best NY Giants football players, just the ones the Giants could least afford to lose. The reason Jonathan Goff is so high is because Im’ scared to death about what the Giants would do if Goff were to get hurt. If Goff got hurt they’d have to hope that Phillip Dillard could take over or that Bulluck could slide back into the middle, be healthy, and that Clint Sintim could take over Bulluck’s spot (which he has done O.K. with). Gerris Wilkinson might also be forced into the middle, but he has a broken hand already and I just don’t want to see that.
5a Corey Webster
Webster has been the Giants best cover corner on the Giants this season and one of the better ones in the league. He has 9 passes completed against him this year (at least at one point late in the Dallas game I can’t remember if any of the remaining passes were completed against him). Webster has played very well. It’d be nice to see him get his hands on some balls the rest of the season, but as long as he continues to shut down whoever he is faced up against the Giants will be in good shape.
5b Deon Grant
I know this seems outrageously high for Deon Grant, but he is playing a position on the team that no one else could play if he were to get hurt.
He’s not as good as Kenny Phillips, but he has provided leadership and has seemed to help to solve the communication problems that plagued the defense last season.
Deon Grant has also been very productive and seems to be making clutch plays every game.
He has added a dimension to the Giants they didn’t have last year or wouldn’t have without him. Grant’s absence would also mean much, much more of Aaron Ross and Bruce Johnson and I don’t really want to see that.
Deon Grant is NOT the fifth best player on the Giants, but what he does for the team schematically could not be replaced this season (the Giants drafted Chad Jones, I read, to play the pseudo linebacker spot Grant is playing…which is brilliant use of him, I think. Hopefully he’ll be back next year, or sometime in his lifetime).
#4 Hakeem Nicks
I know I made the argument that Smith is so low because the Giants have depth at WR, but that’s because I think Manningham could alleviate some of what Smith is asked to do as far as being a possession receiver, or the Giants could use Boss as a possession receiver. But if Nicks were to go down, what would the Giants do in the Red-zone? I’m not sure.
The Giants offense has been MUCH, MUCH better in the Red zone this year, and that is almost directly related to Hakeem Nicks’ abilities in that area. He has 8 touchdowns this year and is playing at an All-Pro (not pro bowl) level this season.
Please stay healthy, Mr.Nicks.
#3 Osi Umenyiora
What a difference a healthy, content Osi makes on the defense. He has been great this season, and is another player who could be considered for Giants M.V.P up to this point. His knack for forcing fumbles is uncanny and like last year, he’s leading the team in sacks.
#2 Ahmad Bradshaw
I’ve been tough on Bradshaw during the off-season and heading into the season, but he wins. He’s playing very, very well. He’s been great. I still think the Giants could use another guy as a third down reception guy, and Bradshaw needs to hold onto the ball, but the Giants have a balanced attack this season because Bradshaw has overcome some of the deficiencies of the Giants offensive line.
#1 Justin Tuck
The leader of the defense and one of the best all around defensive players in the league.
Tuck has been much better in rushing the passer this season after struggling to do so last year, AND at the end of 2008 (.5 a sack in the final 5 games of the 2008 season).. He’s also doing very well and getting to the fumbles that Osi has created during the season. Most importantly though he’s stepped up as a leader this season and inspired his teammates to play better.
WoW, this is much harder than I thought it would be. And I’d change things if I had to do it again. I left off Kenny Phillips which was not intentional, but I don’t think he’s all the way back yet, though he’s playing very well and his position could be filled by Deon Grant (but his loss would have the same effect of losing Grant as the hybrid linebacker).
Kevin Boss is also very important because if he got hurt Bear Pascoe and Beckum would have to fill his void of an above average blocker and receiver. Beckum can be a better receiving option than Boss and Bear Pascoe can block, but they can’t be on the field at the same time.
So Boss could fit on this list, I just don’t know who to take off? Rolle? Cofield? Goff? Smith? It’s a tough call.
Lastly, I was doing this as players, but if I didn’t have this list limited to players I could definitely make an argument for the inclusion of Perry Fewell, especially after watching the pathetic performances of the defense last year.
Thoughts and comments, I’m sure there are a lot of divergent opinions on this list. Let me have it!