New York Giants Training Camp Unit Breakdown: Special Teams
With the Giants breaking camp and withdrawing from Albany, Joe Bianchino breaks down their special teams.
Deep into the 2012 NFC Championship game, the Giants were floundering, trailing, and in need of a momentum shift. And while Giant fans everywhere looked for such a play from the likes of Tuck or Manning, it was, instead, the Giants' Special Teams that answered the call. A turnover deep in 49er territory set up a touchdown. The same in overtime put them in position to win. And Tynes gave them such with a confident boot through the uprights - a dazzling effort made all the more spectacular when considering that in just one game the Special Teams Units had equaled a decade's worth of their usual output.
Indeed, for the past few years, Giant fandom has brought with it nervous breaths and furious head scratching when those most special of teams took the field. But having survived the eras of Jason Sehorn and Ron Dixon, of Brad Daluiso and Matt Dodge, you can't help but think that things really aren't that bad. Woeful deficiencies may color the return game, but the cover game is solid and their kickers are above average. All things considered, it could be worse.
Strength - Punting: Though a better answer might be kicking in general, I choose to focus on a long overlooked position on this Giant team: In 2007, the skillful leg of Jeff Feagles took the Giants all the way to the Super Bowl. A gross exaggeration, perhaps, but the punter's value was appallingly understated. The same can be said for current Giant punter Steve Weatherford - whose ability to negate return games, change field position, and pin opposing offenses deep inside their own territory has been a crucial part of Giant success.
Weakness - Returns: Not since Dave Meggett have the Giants enjoyed a solid, confident, competent return man...Dave Meggett last played for the Giants 18 years ago. Since then, while each kickoff and punt hung in the air, my fingernails became the victim of eager nerves - past muffs, fumbles and losses running roughshod over and through my head. So far, training camp has done little to assuage these fears, as two different return men fumbled in the first preseason contest against Jacksonville. Though perhaps there is one player who could turn the team's fortunes...
Key Addition - David Wilson: When I heard that the Giants had drafted a speed back with above average agility, my first thought was that Big Blue had spent their first round pick on a return guy. My second thought is that it was a stroke of genius. As I detailed above, for too long the Giants have left the return duties to the likes of R.W. McQuarters, leaving little choice but to languish in a state of consistent deficiency. Perhaps Wilson's prolific burst and impressive quickness can take the Giants beyond the disappointment that has been.
Though camp has broken, 1045theteam.com is still your place for all things Giants. Check back for more throughout the preseason, and be sure to check out my column, "Diary of a Giants Fan" for full in-season coverage.