Monday, August 25, 2008

Umenyiora injures knee, out for season

Preseason injuries have sculpted or better yet ended a season for many playoff contending teams in the past. Another big name went down in season-ending fashion Saturday night as New York Giants standout defensive end Osi Umenyiora suffered ligament damage during the game against the Jets.

It is a significant loss to the Giants, as they lose 13 sacks and a major contributor to the defensive front that wreaked havoc throughout the postseason, making lives for QBs miserable. The front four was clearly the unit that made the Giants go last season during the stretch run, while thoroughly dominating one of the best lines in all of football en route to a legendary victory in Superbowl XLII.

While the loss is a significant one for the New York Giants, as it hurts the bread and butter of the team, I truly do not believe it is crippling. You have the possibility of bringing back a Hall of Famer in Michael Strahan, one who had a good year last season and proved his worth after a slow start. You have the option of playing Mathias Kiwanuka who is also a good pass rusher and has shown the ability to cause problems for offensive lines in limited duty.

I'm not saying that Osi is a bad player or that his impact on the SB team is overlooked. I just personally think that the Giants, even without him, can be effective as a unit since they have guys who can pick up the slack. I do think that they will sign Strahan, and once he gets his legs under him he will be a good replacement. I think we will see a lot of what we saw in the postseason, especially the Superbowl, when the Giants lined up the 3 DEs on the field during passing downs to maximize the pass rush. This worked, especially in the SB where Justin Tuck absolutely owned Logan Mankins up and down the field that day.

Losing a pass rusher of Osi's ilk is never good, and I am not portraying it to be that way. I just don't believe its really that big a blow considering they have people up to the challenge of replacing him and might be adding another in Strahan. I think if the Giants lose any of the following, Eli Manning, Plaxico Burress and Antonio Pierce they would then be in serious trouble. Without Eli Manning, I need to go no further than to say David Carr would be starting for the New York Giants in that case. Read that sentence again, it scares me just writing it. Plaxico Burress is the only thing that is even close to resembling a playmaker on the offensive side of the football. While the Giants can plug in a few guys who could play decent enough to keep the Giants from falling into an abyss, Burress' playmaking ability would be sorely missed. Look at how he abused Al Harris in the NFC title game for reference as to why Burress is vital to this team's success.

As for Pierce, I still think the guy is one of the most underrated players in the game. He is a stout player in the middle of the Giants defense, and a sound tackler but his value as far as his emotional leadership, being the captain of that defense and his knowledge of the game and the Giants defense as a whole. Pierce is the heart and soul of the Giants defense and there isn't exactly someone waiting in the wings who could take over.

All in all, the loss of Umenyiora certainly is a bad thing, but it could have been worse. The Giants at least have viable options who can step in and be production. The loss of Umenyiora certainly doesn't spell the end of the Giants season. They will still make the playoffs, and still have a relatively successful season.

1 comment:

Po Politickin said...

They should sign Strahan.... Preseason football sucks...