After a subpar performance in 2011, Justin Tuck is focused and ready to return to form for the New York Giants as they fight to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
“I definitely didn’t work as hard as I should’ve last year,” Tuck said in an interview with ESPN for a fall episode of “E:60.” “The lockout was going on. I took a trip to Africa. There were some things I did in the past that I didn’t do last summer.”
Tuck allowed the lockout and a shortened offseason to get the better of him. As a result, his unpreparedness got the best of him. Injuries riddled him throughout the season and his sack total dipped from 11.5 in 2010 to five.
Despite his struggles, the Giants managed a historical season full of ups and downs, never failing to entertain en route to their second Super Bowl victory in five seasons.
If the Giants wish to repeat in 2012, however, they will need their defensive captain focused and dedicated to another dominant year as a member of New York’s feisty NASCAR package.
If there were ever a season to motivate Tuck it will be this one. The Giants would love to become the first repeat NFL champions since the New England Patriots of 2003 and 2004. Knowing the type of player Tuck is, he will not want to go another season as a mildly insignificant factor in the Giants’ success.
“I wanted to be out there,” Tuck told ESPN. “But I’d go two or three games and just get a half sack. I started to wonder why I was playing when there were other people who could do a better job. There’s a difference between playing hurt and playing injured.”
And then there’s the fact that Tuck is enter the final year of his contract. Another down year would prove him to be a questionable contributor for the Giants going forward and of course, that is not something the eight-year Big Blue member wants to happen.
Tuck has spent his offseason away from the drama-filled New York, enjoying a rigorous, unconventional workout regimen with Egoscue behind Torrey Pines High School in California.
He appears committed to a bounce-back year for the Giants, playing a much more vital part in their title defense—and that is not a good thing for the Giants’ opponents.
While the Giants defense struggled throughout the 2011 regular season, their pass rush was dominant from start to finish and finished tied for third in the NFL with 48 sacks. Second-year stud Jason Pierre-Paul developed into an unstoppable force and led the way for the Giants with 16.5 outstanding sacks.
With JPP only to go up, Umenyiora healthy and on top of his game with all the contract hysteria behind him, a refocused, healthy and prepared Tuck spells trouble for opposing quarterbacks.
Repeating as champions will not be easy for the Giants, but with Tuck stepping up as a piece of a vicious pass-rushing trio combined with the high-powered Big Blue offense led by quarterback Eli Manning should make things run a little smoother in New York.