Double Coverage: Award Time

Ken Palmer and Paul Schwartz collaborate to give their own awards to deserving Giants' players for the season.

Paul Schwartz: Sure, the regular season is gone, but it's not forgotten here at Double Coverage. We like to reminisce about the good (yes, there was some), the bad (so much to choose from) and the ugly (you ever see Kenny Palmer's training camp attire?) from the Giants 2006 season. My offensive MVP is Tiki Barber. Gee, what a shocking selection. There's no other option and it's remarkable that the guy had the most prolific rushing season (1,662 yards) of any NFL player in history during his last year in the league. My second choice would be David Diehl, who plays every game. My defensive MVP is Fred Robbins. Don't laugh. The obvious pick is Antonio Pierce and his team-leading 159 tackles and he's a fine choice. But Robbins has exceeded everyone's expectations. Remember back in the summer when it seemed like he was headed to the bench? Well, he started all 16 games, had 62 tackles and a surprising 5.5 sacks, a team-high three fumble recoveries and a shocking two interceptions. Quite a season. For rookie of the year, it's Barry Cofield. The big guy at nose tackle has worn down late in the season but he made it through 16 starts and did a decent job against the run. It hasn't exactly been a banner year for this draft class and although Mathias Kiwanuka shows great promise, he can't get the award because of two really bad plays: Letting Vince Young escape and an awful fumble after an interception.

Ken Palmer: Gee, Paul, it took all season, but apparently you're finally starting to get it. Tiki Barber was the obvious offensive MVP. No one else even comes close. Plaxico Burress? Yeah, he makes quite a difference in the passing game, but he has to be a distant second. As for your love affair with Diehl (and yes I'm starting to truly believe that your lovely wife should be worried), he wasn't even amongst the two Giants offensive linemen named by their peers as Pro Bowl alternates. You want an OL worthy of MVP consideration? Two candidates are Chris Snee and Shaun O'Hara. You did nail it correctly regarding Robbins though. One of the main reasons that Pierce had the superb season he did was because Robbins was doing his job up front. And he obviously wasn't just occupying blockers, as his standout Pro Bowl-level stats would attest. And to complete the unlikely hat trick of Schwartz accuracies, Cofield was indeed the Giants' top rookie. Before all's said and done, names like Moss and Kiwanuka – and maybe even Wilkinson – will be viewed with higher regard than Cofield from the draft class of ‘06, but big Barry was by far the best freshman this season.

PS: For once, your choices are correct. Our next assignment is to determine what we're most pleased and displeased with from this season. I'd like to say I'm most pleased with the lovely holiday card I received from Tom Coughlin, but I suppose it got lost in the mail. Oh, well. You know what, here's a strange one, but I'm most pleased with the return of Jeff Feagles. We all thought he was headed toward retirement but at the age of 40 he decided to give it a go for NFL season No. 19. It's a pleasure watching the guy punt the ball with skill and precision, placing the ball exactly where he wants it virtually every kick. I hope he comes back for a 20th season because he's a gentleman, a joy to talk to and plus, he makes me feel young. There are so many things to be displeased with around this team. Topping my list is the sluggish development of Eli Manning. I was a major Eli supporter and thought he was on his way to greatness. Now I don't know what the heck he's on his way to. I can't say he's appreciably better at this moment than he was one year ago. He sure is frustrating to watch, with his throwing the ball while back-pedaling, his lack of accuracy, his flat personality. I still believe there's more there and maybe a new support system (new offensive coaches around him) can bring it out of him.

KP: Funny, I never got my holiday card from TC either. Hmmm, you think something's up with the mail? As exciting as Jeff Feagles and his punting is, I derived the most joy from watching Tiki Barber finish his glorious career in such style. Barber in year 10 was every bit as good as he was at any point prior. With teams loading up to stop him and the supposed distraction his early retirement ‘announcement' caused, all he did was go out on top. What a fitting end to a record-breaking career: rushing for 234 yards in Washington, DC to clinch New York a post-season spot. Barber will be missed both on the field and off. While it's impossible to be anything but disappointed with Eli and his regression this season, there's still hope in that regard. He's going to turn out just fine. Whether he reaches star status or not remains in question but there's no doubt that he's plenty good enough to lead a long and at least somewhat successful, NFL career. What really had me down this season was the secondary. We know it was going to take some time before all the new pieces meshed together. But we went an entire season and the DBs still didn't look all that good. All we can say about Sam Madison and Corey "The Toe" Webster is that R.W. McQuarters is clearly New York's best cover guy. At safety, Will Demps finally came around very late in the year after a terrible start and Gibril Wilson didn't exactly earn himself megabucks heading into his restricted free agency year. We all said the DBs couldn't be worse than last year's group; I'm afraid we all were wrong.

PS: When I think back on this season, there's one moment that I can't get out of my mind: The day Kenny arrived at Giants Stadium wearing a shirt that actually looked clean and ironed. OK, maybe there's another moment I'll never forget. Is there a more appropriate memory of this season than Mathias Kiwanuka's incredible non-sack of Vince Young? The Giants seemingly insurmountable 21-0 lead on the lowly Titans had been cut to 21-14 with 2:44 remaining, with the Titans facing a desperation fourth-and-10 on their own 24-yard line. Kiwanuka stormed in for a sack of Young, had the rookie quarterback in his grasp and at that moment the game was over. Yet, incredibly, Kiwanuka simply let Young go, believing he had thrown the ball and fearing a penalty for roughing the passer. Young, shocked by the sudden good fortune, scrambled 19 yards and soon enough, the Titans stunned the Giants 24-21. It's the single most astonishing loss of the season for the Giants and Kiwanuka's gaffe was a play no one had quite ever seen before. Unforgettable.

KP: While you at least have chosen the most memorable game – the loss that crushed New York's hopes of repeating as NFC East champs – you certainly don't have the right play. Actually there were several lousy recollections from that disastrous loss. Frank Walker showing his usual lack of discipline and hitting Young out of bounds; several Giants waiting for someone else to make the play as Young took off after Kiwi's rookie mistake; but best of all was Eli Manning forcing a pass with next to no time left on the clock and having it picked off, handing the Titans the game in regulation instead of giving New York a chance to win in OT. Honorable mention goes to Devin Hester and his return of a missed field goal that did New York in against the Bears. That was just a classic example of the Giants being out-coached, outplayed, out-disciplined and out-hearted, which were all things we saw way too often during a disappointing 8-8 campaign.

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