Osi Umenyiora is not done. Neither are the Giants. In fact, they are doing exceptionally well.
This wasn’t the case earlier this season. Umenyiora and the Giants were seemingly on a downward spiral after the team started 1-2. After opening their schedule with a 31-18 win against the putrid Carolina Panthers, the Giants were outscored 67-24 over their next two games in losses to the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans respectively.
They were a team ostensibly in turmoil. Some players, most notably Antrel Rolle and Brandon Jacobs, openly expressed their discontent over the lack of latitude afforded the players by head coach Tom Coughlin (Rolle) and a dramatically reduced workload (Jacobs).
The Giants’ embarrassingly undisciplined performance versus the Titans, in which they committed six personal fouls, affirmed things weren’t quite right with the players and coaches.
But in the NFL, two weeks is an eternity. And for the moment, Umenyiora and the now 3-2 Giants have been transformed. Umenyiora is carrying on like it is 2007, the Giants Super Bowl season, when he was one of the best defensive ends in football. The eight- year pro had 13 sacks and was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week twice back then.
But after tearing the lateral meniscus cartilage in his left knee in a preseason game against the Jets, Umenyiora sat out all of 2008 and had been a shell of himself until suddenly being reborn, or so it appears, in the Giants’ 17-3 win over the Chicago Bears in Week 4.
Umenyiora had three sacks and his motor never shut off. On Sunday, in the Giants masterful 34-10 whipping of the Houston Texans on the road, Umenyiora was uncontainable. He had two sacks and two forced fumbles, and quieted his doubters for a little while longer.
In doing so, he has not only helped elevate the Giants to a three-way first place tie in the NFC East with the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles. He has, in the fluid NFL, been a key figure in lifting the Giants to a level surpassed by no other team in the conference.
And as they prepapre to host the Detroit Lions at the Meadowlands this Sunday, the improving Lions but at 1-4 a last place team in the NFC North, the demise of Umenyiora and the Giants has been greatly exagerated.