Despite winning the Super Bowl, the New York Giants were and are still a flawed team.Their record was 9-7, and they were outscored by six points, 394-400.
One of their primary weaknesses in the regular season was a porous secondary. It allowed 255 passing yards per game, good for 29th in the NFL. The defense allowed an average of 7.5 yards per pass attempt, good for 10th worst in the NFL.
Most concerning is that it allowed 60 pass plays of more than 20 yards, fourth worst in the NFL. For comparison’s sake, the 2010 Giants defense only allowed 44 pass plays of 20 or more yards. It also gave up seven plays of more than 40 yards this year.
A good portion of this can be put on the safeties, primarily Antrel Rolle who once again was terrible in coverage. The Giants seem committed to keeping him though, so he will likely return as a starter in 2012 as will Kenny Phillips, who is one of the few bright spots for the Giants in their secondary.
This leaves the cornerbacks for the Giants to improve. In an ideal world, the Giants would target Cortland Finnegan or Brandon Carr as a complement to Corey Webster, who has never been able to replicate his 2008 season, when he was one of the top cornerbacks in football according to Pro Football Focus, but has been solid enough for the Giants.
Unfortunately, the Giants are dealing with cap issues, and depending on what report you are reading, are anywhere from four million to nine million over the cap. Given all their other needs, they will more than likely not be in the market for an expensive cornerback in free agency.
From all the reports, it would seem like the Giants are trying to handle their cornerback issue in-house. They view 2011 first rounder Prince Amukamara as the future, but given the short offseason last year and the amount of time he missed, Amukamara will be entering training camp as essentially a rookie.
Therefore, the Giants will be looking to resign either Aaron Ross, the starter for 2011, and Terrell Thomas, who tore his ACL in the preseason last year but is expected to be fine for the 2012 season.
The choice should be easy for the Giants: Terrell Thomas must be resigned, and Aaron Ross should be let go without any hesitation.
Terrell Thomas, a 2008 third round pick for the Giants, struggled mightily in 2010, but in 2009, he was one of the best cornerbacks in football, finishing eight overall according to PFF. Thomas also just turned 27, so he still has considerable upside.
Aaron Ross, the Giants first round pick in 2007, does not. Ross has flashed signs of potential at times, but it has never really worked out, and in the last couple of years, he’s simply been bad. 2011 represented a new low for him, as he completely collapsed in coverage.
Of 84 balls thrown at Ross, 57 were completed, good for a 67.9 completion percentage. Ross also gave up 811 yards, ninth most in the NFL. Every other corner in the top 10 of receiving yards allowed had at least 11 more balls thrown at them than Ross. The quarterback rating when throwing at Ross was 102.8, 10th worst in the NFL.
To summarize, when Ross was targeted by the opposing team, very bad things happened for the Giants.
Given everything he’s done in his career, there’s absolutely no reason to expect Ross to suddenly “get it” in 2012. He also turns 30 in September, so he isn’t young.
The secondary is something that the Giants must work to improve on, and the first step to doing this is letting Aaron Ross go and resigning Terrell Thomas.
If Aaron Ross is a Giant in September, something will have gone very wrong for them.