Life After Manningham

Seems like that is it for the Manningham Era with the Giants. People can now come out of the woodwork and nitpick the guy as he is out the door–He drops balls, He drifts on his routes (this one isn’t original. We all heard Cris Collinsworth say it during the Super Bowl. Sure happy Mario “drifted” on his 38-yarder)–but the bottom line is that he is a damn good (and improving) football player and more likely then not, our replacement will be a downgrade. Reese has mentioned looking in-house to fill the potential void but lets look at free agency too.

Domenik Hixon
-The two-year long ACL battle really hurts his case but Hixon is a hard-worker and the kind of guy who will rehab dilligently . When he’s healthy he’s a pretty damn good receiver with a nice set of hands on him. We all know about his catch this season. Hixon did catch 43 passes in 2008 and played pretty well after Burress went down considering the enormitiy of the situation he was thrown into. On a side note—it’s going to be refreshing to see a healthy Hixon get a shot at his punt return job back. The Giants see something in Hixon (or else they wouldn’t have kept him around for this long) and appear set to re-sign him and give him a chance to prove himself this summer. If he is healthy, I truly think he can be a producer.  He certainly has the ability to fill in for Manningham, especially with the guys around him. If healthy, he deserves a shot.

Jerrell Jernigan 
-Jernigan certainly progressed as the season went on, or else the Giants wouldn’t have given him chances as the season wore down.  We even got some appearences from him in the playoffs. From the sound of things Reese is willing to give Jernigan the chance at the spot, but how does he fit in with Nicks and Cruz? Just from the eye test, not that well. While I have no doubts Cruz is good enough to run the whole route tree from any spot, I just can’t see Jernigan on the outside, but this guy….

Ramses Barden 
The 6’6” frame is just too hard to pass up on and it seems the Giants feel this way as they are going on year four with Barden despite a career filled with limited opportunites and some injury issues. He made a pair of nice catches in New England this year in a pretty big/difficult spot but didn’t look out of place in the moment. Why doesn’t he get more of a shot? The Giants must not trust him yet. Who knows, maybe Barden feels the pressure of year four (maybe his last chance to prove himself) and turns in a nice effort in camp.

-Let’s not get too wrapped up in giving the outside position to just one guy. There’s no reason (although it is not likely) that all three of these guys can’t come into camp and impress enough that they all earn some reps in 2012.  That would be ideal for the Giants, who seem to like what each guy brings to the table in one way or another.

Free Agents

Pierre Garcon
Probably will be a bit out of the Giants’ price range but he is at least worth the look. Odds are he will go for something in the range of what Manningham will get (whoever signs first will set the market) but Garcon is a good, young player who too has turned in an impressive Super Bowl game of his own and had a great season in a miserable situation in 2011.

Jerricho Cotchery 
Doesn’t seem like Pittsburgh is going to let him loose and that is probably a smart move. Cotchery is a gamer. He’s someone who earned Ben’s trust and is someone who Roethlisberger sees as a replacement for Hines Ward. That is the kind of guy who would be a good compliment to Nicks and Cruz if you ask me. 

Eddie Royal
Speedster from Denver who can get over the top and turned in an impressive rookie year in 08 with nearly 100 catches and 1000 yards and has gone downhill ever since. Not to make excuses (since Lloyd was great in Denver) but a rocky QB situation, at least in the last few years, has really hurt the stock of any receiver to wear orange and blue. He still has a ton of upside and he is someone that can come in for around $1 million, which is worth a look.  

It’s still early and Mannigham hasn’t even left yet so this may all be premature. I’d love it if Manningham returned and all this proved to be a moot discussion.  With the free agents, it’s all a guessing game.  Discussion is all we really have this time at this moment, but it does prepare us for some of the “route trees” that face the Giants in 2012.

Packers Tip Their Cap and Call The Giants Their Daddy

My trip to Lambeau was a success. I must say Green Bay is a top-notch football town and nine out of ten Packers fans were gracious in defeat to the HUGE Giants contingency in attendance at the game. There could have been as many as 10-15 thousand there, and from what I saw and it must have been evident on TV. One definitely feels something special when you’re in that place.  Watching that Hail Mary come in right towards me from 25 rows up was something that was pretty unforgettable.

-The downfield coverage was great. I tried to tweet this during the game, but the coverage was flat out great. Downfield especially. While its frustrating that Rodgers was able to run so much in the game, that is a testament to THE BEST GAME OUR SECONDARY HAS PLAYED ALL YEAR. We frustrated Rodgers with that and disrupted their timing. As Dilfer said on ESPN Sunday night: the Packers passing game is SO dependent on timing, whether it be in the three step or the play action game. Plant that foot into the ground and get rid of it.

-The Giants disrupted that timing with their downfield coverage and by getting in his passing lanes. Rodgers was forced to take off or throw on the run. That means the timing is off. Although the Packers had six drops, two or three of those (haven’t seen the game on TV yet) looked to be on broken plays such as those. The bottom line is that the Giants got to Rodgers. And when we needed the pass rush it was there. I cannot see how this unit doesn’t show up every week now.

-Did anyone else have a flashback to Pierce’s huge screen stop in the last playoff run when Williams nearly took down Starks on that screen play?  Just missed it. To me–he’s someone who is getting better every week.

-I know nothing needs to be said about No. 10, but things are starting to get interesting with him when we compare him to his contemporaries—he’s played as well as anybody in the league for a good chunk of weeks now.  I didn’t even blink twice at his performance yesterday. He has been that good on third down too, reinvigorating many drives that seemed set for a three and out. I know this is looking ahead (my apologies as some of you worry about the jinx) but he’s 120 minutes from being a serious hall of fame candidate. Man oh man. 

I was hoping for this from McCarthy after the game.

Early quick thoughts for next week:

-SF is a tougher matchup for us right now than Green Bay was, make no mistake about it.  The Giants need to continue to be hitting on our passing game, in spite of the conditions. The Niners will give us a much tougher look when we have the ball and we have to be THAT much more crisp next Sunday. Can’t make like the Saints and give up on the run. Keep at it even if it isn’t producing. Can’t win without it.

-I know we hear a lot about it with the Niners but the specialists will be big. They are obviously the class of the league in that area and we need to match that—across the board—kicking, punting, coverage, returning game. Could come down to the special teams (in potentially bad conditions).

-HOWEVER. I just don’t think they are better than the Giants right now. I just can’t see them bringing anything but their A game to San Francisco. And when it comes down to it our best is better than theirs. Quick question- throw the regular season out the window, now tell me who the best team left in the playoffs is. For me the answer is easy.

In Coughlin We Trust. In Eli We Trust. ALL IN.