Current Condition:Injuries nearly cleaned out the cupboard. As much as the injuries caused problems, they also gave Amani Toomer the chance to excel and he did. He is now, without question, among the league's elite receivers. What is most impressive is that he did it without the support of another wide receiver to help spread the coverage.
Ike Hilliard was a perfect complement to Toomer. He is fearless and did a lot of the inside dirty work. He was the possession complement to Toomer's big-play threat.
Ron Dixon succeeded Hilliard, but injuries and a lack of maturity curtailed his development.
Tim Carter showed a few brief flashes, but injuries wiped out most of his season.
Daryl Jones was disappointingly slow to develop. He had a hard time getting open and his hands were somewhat suspect. When healthy, this could be a very good group.
NYG UFAs: Ike Hilliard, Tony Simmons
NYG RFAs: Ron Dixon
First Day Draft: Charles Rogers, Michigan State; Taylor Jacobs, Florida; Talman Gardner, Florida State; Sam Aiken, North Carolina; Billy McMullen, Virginia; Kareem Kelly, USC; Justin Gage, Missouri; Shaun McDonald, Arizona State
Possible Departures: Ike Hilliard, Tony Simmons
The Plan: Ron Dixon is the key to this group. If or when he grows up, he could become a tremendous receiving threat to go with Toomer. He has great physical talent, but the question of his maturity still lingers. If they let Hilliard go, and that could happen due to the salary he will command and his injury background, they will need a possession type receiver to replace him. Toomer, Dixon and Carter are all deep threat types. There is no need to go after a high priced A-List wide receiver. They need someone who can get open and work across the middle. In other words, they need another Ike Hilliard. He has stated that he would like to return to the Giants and that would be a good move on their part. His return would mean one less hole to fill in the off-season.
Current Condition: The offensive line finished much stronger than it started. What began as a rag-tag bunch of street free agents and players switching positions has shown tremendous progress. Their pass blocking was very good most of the season and they have improved their run blocking substantially.
Luke Petitgout went from being an average right tackle to a very good left tackle.
After waiting for several years, Mike Rosenthal finally paid dividends at right tackle.
Rich Seubert and Jason Whittle brought stability to the guard spots and they should continue to improve. Backup help is a different story. It is inexcusable that they did not have a few veteran minimum-salary linemen on the squad in case of emergencies, like the one they faced when Bober missed time with an injury.
We've seen enough of Tam Hopkins to know he is not the answer. He was awful in the Houston loss and of course, there was Hopkins prancing merrily downfield on the botched field-goal attempt against the Niners. What does it tell you when he was the best of the reserves?
NYG UFAs: Luke Petitgout, Mike Rosenthal, Jason Whittle, Barrett Brooks
NYG RFAs: Chris Bober
A-List Free Agents: T Orlando Pace, St Louis; T Walter Jones, Seattle; G Randy Thomas, N.Y. Jets, C Andy McCollum, St. Louis; G Edwin Mulitalo, Baltimore; G Tom Nutten, St. Louis; G/T Mo Collins, Oakland; T Flozell Adams, Dallas
B-List Free Agents: G/T Floyd Wedderburn, Seattle; T Sammy Williams, San Diego; G/T Brad Badger, Oakland; G Raleigh Roundtree, Arizona; G Corbin Lacina, Minnesota; G Cameron Spikes, Houston; C/G Kevin Dogins, Chicago; T/G Zach Wiegert, Jacksonville; G/C Grey Ruegamer, New England; Tom Ackerman, Tennessee
First Day Draft: T Jordan Gross, Utah; T George Foster, Georgia; G/T Torrin Tucker, Southern Mississippi; C Al Johnson, Wisconsin; G Vince Manuwai, Hawaii; T Garry Johnson, Arkansas State; G Eric Steinbach, Iowa; C Brett Romberg, Miami; C Jeff Faine, Notre Dame
Possible Departures: Dusty Zeigler, Tam Hopkins
The Plan:ortunately there are free agency concerns on the line. Fortunately however, there is an abundance of quality linemen who will be UFAs. An attempt should be made to re-sign all three, with the priority sequence being Petitgout, Rosenthal and then Whittle. If they are successful in signing all three, then a couple of B-List linemen should be added. If they lose Petitgout, then consideration should be given to an A-List free agent. If it is Rosenthal and/or Whittle, they could get by with B-List replacements. We wouldn't draft a lineman in the early rounds because they need experienced linemen who won't have to go through a learning curve. They don't need to be embarrassed again in case there is an injury on the line.