(Long Island, NY) The Giants kick off their 2006 season on September 10th against the Indianapolis Colts in primetime for the return of NFL action on NBC. They will cap off the opening weekend of the football season with a ‘Manning versus Manning’ match-up. The highly anticipated game has many side-bars, but the true fan realizes that it pits two teams that won their respective divisions last season looking to get off on the right foot.
This game is a microcosm of why the NFL always does things right. The league scheduled an amazing game on Sunday night, which will make the ‘Peacock network’ happy. Both teams are very formidable and have strong offenses. The Giants also have a very good defense which was tweaked in the off-season. Linebacker LaVar Arrington, the former Penn State Nittany Lion, was signed as a free agent to add to an already tough linebacker corps. Never living up to his billing of being the number two overall selection (by division rival, the Washington Redskins) in the 2000 draft, he still has the ability to change a game. He joins MLB Aaron Pierce (98 tackles) and WLB Carlos Emmons.
Sam Madison (Miami Dolphins) and R.W. McQuarters (Detroit Lions) were also signed to add veteran leadership to the secondary. The defensive line should pick up right where it left off with DE’s Michael Strahan (11.5 sacks) and Osi Umenyiora (14.5 sacks) and DT’s Fred Robbins and William Joseph being strong against the pass and run.
On the other side of the ball, Eli Manning (3,762 yards passing) leads an offense that can strike from many different sides. The running game is in the capable hands of Tiki Barber (1,860 yards rushing), with FB Jim Finn opening up holes. The wideouts are Plaxico Burris and Amani Toomer (seven touchdown receptions each). Keep your eyes out for Sinorice Moss, the brother of former Jet and current Redskin Santana Moss. The diminutive receiver was picked in the second round out of Miami. He can be a weapon that Manning can look to for the long ball. Tight End Jeremy Shockey (seven touchdown receptions) keeps plodding along and must be concentrated on by opposing defenses.
The offensive line is one of the better in the league. Center Shaun O’Hara is in the middle and flanked by guards Chris Snee and David Diehl. The tackles are ex-Jet Kareem McKenzie and Luke Petitgout.
Punter Jeff Feagles (42.1 average) and place kicker Jay Feeley (35 for 42 on field goals, 43 for 43 PAT) give the ‘Jints a strong Special Teams unit. Chad Morton is the main return man and had a good first season with the Giants in 2005 (23.3 average on 24 kickoff returns and 9.6 yards and one touchdown on 47 punt returns).
Head Coach Tom Coughlin has the team playing hard and he runs a tight ship. General Manager Ernie Accorsi has put enough talent around his prized young quarterback and to win a division in his first full season was impressive for Manning. Now he has to take that next step.