Then again, Tuck might wish it was. Tuck finished the season with just 4.0 sacks, his lowest total in a full year since his 2005 rookie season. More significantly, he was part of a defense that allowed a team-record 6,134 yards and a squad that finished 9-7 and out of the playoffs.
“I pressed,” Tuck said in a visit today to the Super Bowl XLVII Media Center. “I could tell I was not allowing the game to come to me. I was trying to make plays when really there weren’t plays to be made. I know that sounds funny, but sometimes in certain calls and certain plays, your job is to make sure that nothing bad happens. It isn’t for you to have a sack, cause a fumble or whatever it may be. I think it frustrated me that I wasn’t making plays. It frustrated us a D-line that we weren’t making plays. I don’t think I was the only one that was frustrated with my play this year.”
But he was certainly at the front of the line. In addition to being a two-time Pro Bowler, Tuck is the Giants’ defensive captain and a team leader. He sets an example for others through his words and deeds.
But neither the defense nor Tuck could recapture the momentum it enjoyed the previous season, when they Giants won their final six games, including a 21-17 victory over New England in Super Bowl XLVI.
The Giants controlled their postseason destiny late in the season, but lost it with December losses in Atlanta and Baltimore.
“There just weren’t any good things to build on,” Tuck said. “It seemed like we couldn’t get in a rhythm. We’d do some great things in the run game and not get any sacks. Or we’d get a couple of sacks and they’d rush for a 150. It never allowed us to get in a good rhythm. A lot of credit goes to the offensive coordinators we played against this year. My thing is working with our staff now, trying to get ahead of the curve. Because a lot of the things the offensive linemen did to us (in 2012), a lot of the teams we play (in 2013) are going to study that and reciprocate that. I’m trying to get ahead of the curve and see where teams are going be attacking us and how they’re going to be attacking us.”
Tuck is confident both the team and he will rebound in 2013. Fellow defensive end
“He told me that a few times, that this year will be a special year for me,” said Tuck, who is entering his ninth Giants season. “I’m not going to get caught up in what this year’s going to be for me. I’m going to get caught up in making sure I do my due diligence to make sure I’ve put in the effort, put in the sacrifice, put in the hard work to make sure I can be the best I can be.
“Sometimes, things don’t work out the way you want them to work out. Did I train my butt off last season? Sure I did. Did I have a great year? No. There have been times where I’ve kind of slacked off and had Pro Bowl years. It happens sometimes. Sometimes it’s for you, sometimes it’s not. The only thing I can control is my effort. The only thing I can control is making sure I do the right things and make sure I’m healthy on that football field and I’m giving my football team the best opportunity to win. Obviously, you wish you could go out there and get 20 sacks and be Defensive Player of the Year and so forth. For me, at this stage of my career, everything I do is predicted toward making my football team a better team.”
That team will face several challenges. The Giants know they must find a way to shut down Robert Griffin III and his wide-open offense in Washington. Now they must also deal with new Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who is expected to bring to Philadelphia the high-octane attack that brought him so much success at the University of Oregon.
“I think we’re going to do some things differently,” Tuck said. “I’m not going to say what I think we’re going to do differently, but I think we’re going to have a different attack, a different way of attacking those offenses. And I think we’re going to be little bit more successful with it.
“The game is constantly changed. You have to be able to be versatile and multi-versed in the fact you can do different things. I think we do have a D-line and a defense that is that way. We definitely didn’t showcase it the way we wanted to last year. There were new schemes and guys did different things against us, and we didn’t adjust as well as I would have liked us to. That’s something we’re definitely going to look at, we’re definitely going to come back this season with a better feel for what teams are doing against us.”
Before you think dark thoughts, Tuck emphasized that he is not trying to pass blame for what happened.
“In no way am I saying the coaching staff didn’t do their job – don’t try to make that a headline,” he said. “We didn’t click the way we did last season. And for whatever that may be, we have to figure out ways to click again.”
Tuck is confident that will happen, and soon.
“Anytime you don’t make it to the Super Bowl it’s a disappointing year,” he said. “I think we still have a few more pieces to the puzzle can make a few more runs at this thing. But we need to refocus our mind, refocus what we need to do and use this year as motivation. Having two teams in the Super Bowl (San Francisco and Baltimore) we played against, and knowing the quality of teams they are, definitely feels like if we got to playing like I feel we could have been playing all year, that we could be here, too. That’s kind of frustrating, but you use it as motivation going into next year.”