Just a few years ago, the Giants had several players that created mismatches that kept opposing coaches and players up nights.
TE Jeremy Shockey, in his early years, was a two man job for defenses. DE Michael Strahan had to be doubled, too. RB Tiki Barber was spied by the league's best defenders, much of the time to no avail. RB Brandon Jacobs just plain scared people.
WR Plaxico Burress was the Giants' ultimate mismatch. He not only towered over defensive backs, he eluded them as well. He displayed both in the Giants' 2007 Super Bowl run.
This year's edition of the Giants still has Jacobs, but the mystique surrounding him has dissipated over the years. He can still reach down on occasion and draw some of what made him special from the well, but not enough to make anyone backpedal.
Barber and Strahan left the Giants and the game. GM Jerry Reese dealt Shockey after a heated blowup. Burress' transgressions led to a prison term.
The Giants have been searching for unique players to bewilder opponents ever since.
After Barber left, the Giants drafted Marshall RB Ahmad Bradshaw. Shockey has still not been replaced. The Giants had Kevin Boss for awhile and now have Jake Ballard, who will not play Saturday vs the Jets.
Burress is a Jet now, and not quite the player he was before his incarceration. As a reaction to losing his services, the Giants drafted a 6'6" WR from Cal-Poly and a "tweener" TE from Wisconsin: Ramses Barden and Travis Beckum.
Strahan is a hall-of-famer-in-waiting. His legacy was thought to be irreplaceable. That train of thought has begun to change. Jason Pierre-Paul - the Haitian Hellraiser, who was as raw they come a year ago - has turned into a superstar. His recent performance has drawn comparisons to the greatest Giant defender of them all - Lawrence Taylor.
The Giants are running out of time. They need their "unique" players to begin to do what they brought them here to do. Jacobs must recapture his aura and start kicking some butts on that offense.
Bradshaw needs to reignite his inner Tiki. When he gets the carries, he can get into the groove and break off some big runs. If he is hurting, the Giants must turn to rookie Da'rel Scott, whose speed can neutralize a defense.
JPP just needs to keep doing what's he doing: blowing up offenses and excelling on special teams. Good luck to the Jets trying to figure him out.
Barden and Beckum need to begin to utilize their physical ability to their advantage. Both are consistently injured and can't get on the field a good deal of the time (see: Rolle, Antrel). Will Barden be used in TE capacity in Ballard's absence?
OC Kevin Gilbride has hinted he is leaning towards that. He is always inferring that Beckum is part of the offense, but unforeseen circumstances have kept him out of action or left out.
So there you have it. Your former stars are gone. Your new stars have yet to arrive. With the clock ticking they may have no choice but to hasten their arrival.