For Giants, Sum of Parts Greater Than Whole

Last year's Giants won it all due to their work ethic and mental and physical toughness. This year's more-experienced, more-talented version did just the opposite, falling way short of an attainable goal, another Super Bowl victory.

As a result, it makes giving out TGI's final grades tougher than usual. Are we grading on the superb team that jumped out to an 11-1 start, or are we judging the troops on the stumble to the finish line that ended with that embarrassing playoff loss to Philadelphia? Well, as always here at TGI, we're just going to do our best. With Super Sunday upon us, here follows TGI's final grades for each position for the 2008 season. In order to save time, space and my sanity, we're only going to comment on the players that either played significant minutes this season or figure to next year.

Quarterback – B+

Eli Manning – He made the Pro Bowl, so obviously the season has to be considered a success, but all anyone is going to remember is the awful playoff game

Running back – A-

Brandon Jacobs – A beast in every sense of the word, it'd be shocking after the superb season he had if Jacobs is not back next season

Derrick Ward – For the same reasons, it's unlikely that Ward returns; he can and will start somewhere else and be the full-time guy

Ahmad Bradshaw – Here's hoping he can fill the backup role as well as Ward did; he was basically a non-factor this season, through no fault of his own

Danny Ware – He may not have done a whole lot this season, but he's sure going to get an opportunity in ‘09

Madison Hedgecock – He quickly has turned into one of the game's best blocking fullbacks, and was a huge contributor in the run game

Wide receiver – B-

Plaxico Burress – Not only shot himself in the leg, but he handicapped the entire offense in the process

Amani Toomer – Solid numbers again, but not the impact they needed once Plax went down

Steve Smith – As advertised, he's the guy you want going into tight places to make the tough catches; they really nailed it with this draft pick

Domenik Hixon – The media and fans put all the pressure on Hixon to step up, but he's just not there yet

Sinorice Moss – He produced mightily in the rare minutes he received; I still wouldn't totally give up on him just yet

Mario Manningham – A waste of a rookie year, although he had to have learned even just a little of the playbook

Tight end – B+

Kevin Boss – Hats off to anyone who had Boss in the office pool; he was fantastic this season, both blocking and receiving.

Michael Matthews – Provided the expected one-dimensional blocking aspect

Darcy Johnson – Made a few unexpected big plays this season

Offensive line – A-

David Diehl – He'd probably be the first to admit he could have played a little better at times, but they could do a lot worse at this key OL spot

Rich Seubert – The ultimate lunch-pail guy, Seubert had another very solid season in the trenches

Shaun O'Hara – Congrats to O'Hara, who was finally recognized as one of the game's top centers

Chris Snee – Same goes to fellow Pro Bowler Snee, who just might be the game's best all-around guard

Kareem McKenzie – Like Diehl, he's not a superstar, but he always gives you an honest effort

Grey Ruegamer – Veteran funny man probably won't be back next season

Kevin Boothe – Looked grossly overmatched when forced into game action at tackle, but he should have a future here at guard

Defensive line – B-

Justin Tuck – Symbolic of the entire D-line, Tuck spoiled us early with ridiculous numbers, then saw his play suffer as he was worn down by injuries and the line's lack of depth

Fred Robbins – Like Tuck, started the season on fire, posting 5.5 sacks in the season's first month; but from then on Robbins has seen better days

Barry Cofield – Perhaps the most consistent of the four starting D-linemen, Cofield continued giving his superb effort on every snap

Mathias Kiwanuka – Not to beat a dead horse here, but he would have been better served if he had a few snaps off here and there; likely going to stay at DE

Osi Umenyiora – Despite missing all season, the starting RDE job is waiting for him

Jay Alford – Very solid play from either DT spot, although they would probably like to relieve him of his snapping duties

Renaldo Wynn – Like some of the older DBs, Wynn probably helped out more on the sidelines than he did on the field

Linebacker – C-

Antonio Pierce – Perhaps it was the distractions from his involvement in the Plaxico Burress situation, but Pierce's play got progressively worse as the season unfolded

Danny Clark – He was dependable, but wasn't exactly put in position to run around and make many plays

Chase Blackburn – Filled in admirably but his best position is clearly middle linebacker

Gerris Wilkinson – Sooner or later, they're going to have to totally give up on the oft-injured Wilkinson

Bryan Kehl – He played a lot early on and made a bunch of mistakes, but it sure looks like he's going to be a good one that plays a lot next season

Jonathan Goff – Heir apparent at MLB couldn't stay on the field

Zak DeOssie – Kept his roster spot due to his snapping prowess and special teams play

Defensive back – B

Corey Webster – Elevated himself from a backup to a handsomely paid starter in less than a year

Aaron Ross – Capable of so many big plays, but still makes too many mistakes; in the long run, he'll be just fine

James Butler – The unrestricted free agent surprised everyone with how well he played this season

Michael Johnson – Similarly surprisingly held off the charge of rookie top pick Kenny Phillips

Sammy Knight – Has to be considered a huge disappointment since he was never able to earn any consistent playing time

Kenny Philips – His playing time actually decreased as the season wore on, but he'll certainly have a chance to compete for a starting spot in training camp

Terrell Thomas – Showed he could certainly play on this level

Kevin Dockery – It's likely the Giants will tender the confident, playmaking Dockery and keep him around next season

R.W. McQuarters – Despite all the veteran leadership he provides, the hourglass sands might have run out for McQuarters, both as a corner and punt returner

Sam Madison – See McQuarters

Special Teams – B

Kicker John Carney – Was perfect until it mattered most

Punter Jeff Feagles – Was perfect practically all season long

Kicker Lawrence Tynes – It's his job next season, no doubt

Kickoff returner Ahmad Bradshaw – Did a solid enough job, but you have to wonder if they'll look to replace him as his offensive role increases next year

Punt returner Domenik Hixon – Same as Bradshaw

Coaching – B

Head coach Tom Coughlin – Only Giants coach ever able to defend a Super Bowl trip with any success at all; can't get too upset with 12-5

Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride – It's a shame, but the lasting memory of Gilbride will be the horribly-called playoff loss to the Eagles

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo – He obviously did enough to land the Rams' head-coaching job

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