Commentary

Can the Giants become a dynasty?

Eli Manning is in his prime and the D will be stronger with returning starters

Originally Published: February 5, 2012
By Rivers McCown | Football Outsiders
Eli ManningRob Carr/Getty ImagesEli Manning strengthened his case for Canton by winning his second Super Bowl ring.

New York Giants fans can be forgiven for getting a little greedy after Sunday's win made them only the third NFL franchise in the past 11 years to win multiple championships. The reason? This team has the core to continue to compete for titles next season and beyond. General manager Jerry Reese has assembled a terrific core that can go toe-to-toe with the league's best, and though the Giants had their usual late-season dive in the standings, they made the playoffs and proved their mettle en route to a Super Bowl triumph.

The biggest problem that New York faced this season was a leaky defense. The Giants ranked 10th in the league in defensive DVOA through Week 9, but their defense was completely trashed at the hands of the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys, and that knocked their season rank all the way down to 20th. (DVOA is Football Outsiders' defense-adjusted value over average, explained here. Since a higher DVOA means more offensive efficiency, a higher rating on defense actually means the defense played worse.)

In 2010, New York fielded the third-best defense in the NFL by DVOA, and that was before Jason Pierre-Paul had fully arrived on the scene. Next season, Pierre-Paul will anchor a stout defensive line that can generate pressure on the quarterback without sending many blitzers.

So why was the defense so poor in the second half of the season? Well, one reason to point to is injuries. Football Outsiders uses a statistic called adjusted games lost, which measures how much value a team has lost to injuries. It's not just about missing games; AGL also takes into account the fact that players who are injured (and listed on the injury report) but play at less than full strength. Looking at starters and important situational players, the Giants had 63.4 AGL, the highest number for any defense in our database going back to 2000.

Rivers McCown

Football Outsiders
Rivers McCown is an associate editor for Football Outsiders.