Who Will Lead The G-Men Now That Tuck Is Gone?
Solid leadership, both on the field and in the locker room, is one of the most important characteristics of a successful football team. When the going gets tough, there must be a strong leader who steps up and takes charge of righting the ship. When the team is making that late-season push and needs support to lean on and someone to turn to for that extra spark, a leader has to be that player who steps up and becomes the team's backbone. For many teams, that leader is the quarterback; for others, it's the defensive captain. But whoever it is, this player takes on the role of being the main voice of the team, the emotional and mental center point.
Right now, the Giants have a leadership vacuum of sorts, at least on the field. For as long as he is on the sidelines, Tom Coughlin will always be this team's true leader. But on the field, the Giants lost Justin Tuck, a player that many people believed served as the team's mouthpiece and emotional leader. With Tuck, gone, the Giants must now find themselves a new leader, and he's hidden somewhere among the team's 53-man roster.
Sometime over the course of the next few months, as the Giants begin training camp and then the preseason and, eventually, the regular season, a leader will emerge from this group of players and begin to take on that role. You'll see it take shape in the media, you'll see it take shape on the field of play, and you'll see it take shape in the stat column as well.
So who will be the leader that the Giants need? Will it be Eli Manning? Manning's cool, calm and collected style of game management is certainly a tremendous leadership attribute that has held the team together during several crucial moments already, but is he vocal enough to carry that role in the locker room and off the field?
For some, it's already apparent who will fill that role for the Giants this season. Antrel Rolle has already been one of the team's most vocal leaders since his arrival in New York a few seasons ago, and he has said that he feels a "huge sense of responsibility" to step up and be that player this season. Rolle's on-the-field play has been consistently superb in his time with the Giants, and although he can sometimes be a little too outspoken when it comes to the media, he has a knack for saying the right thing when it needs to be said. He has developed into somewhat of a fan favorite, and his straight-shooting ways have appealed to a lot of the team's fans.
However, there are other defensive players that can be potential candidates to fill that leadership role in addition to Rolle. Mathias Kiwanuka is also a likely candidate, and has also been a solid support system for the defense and the team as a whole. Although more soft-spoken than his counterpart Rolle, Kiwanuka also has a knack for being quote-worthy when it comes to the media. And then you have the young, rising star in Jason Pierre-Paul, a player that has the potential to be the Giants' next Michael Strahan — a dynamic presence on and off the field and a likeable player with immense talent.
Whoever it ends up being, the leadership role is a crucial one in the NFL, and the Giants will need a player that can step up and carry this team when it hits a rough patch, like last year's 0-6 start. Hopefully, they find their man soon. Only time will tell, though.