Throughout the whole entire off season, there has been nothing but bad news for the New York Football Giants.
Between the turmoil of the lockout that affected everybody, to the problems within the Giants’ organization that has led to constant scrutiny against this club, its hard to imagine anything good coming from this upcoming season.
It’s not just the shortened off season, meaning that the players (theoretically) won’t be as well prepared for this season because they weren’t adequately prepared thanks to the lockout. If it were just that, then the Giants and their fan base would have nothing to worry about because every single NFL franchise will have that problem this year. The main two things that the G-Men will have to overcome are the people who left for more money elsewhere, and the massive amount of critical injuries, particularly to this team’s defense.
In addition to losing rising TE Kevin Boss, longtime FB Madison Hedgecock, and go-to WR Steve Smith, the Giants also decided to cut consistent pro-bowler C Shaun O’Hara and aging veteran G Rich Seubert. They had a bear of a time just keeping guys like RB Ahmad Bradshaw, S Deon Grant, and DE Mathias Kiwanuka. We missed out on some of the big free agent signings (including the infamous Plaxico Burress case), and a good portion of those who didn’t sign with the Giants decided to form their own “dream team” by all flocking down to the division rival Philadelphia Eagles.
However, even after all of those bad things happening to this team, they were still projected to be a good enough team without all those pieces to contend for the Super Bowl. But it has been the rash of injuries during the preseason that have even further decimated this team. Starting CB and last season’s defensive tackles leader Terrel Thomas is out for the season. Starting MLB Jonathan Goff is out for the season. Starting DT Clint Sintim is out for the season. 1st round draft pick CB Prince Amukamara is out indefinitely. Starting DE Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora are listed as questionable for the time being. Starting to get the idea? About a dozen injuries, with many of them being of the season ending variety, have absolutely obliterated any depth that we may have had at any position. They are short on cornerbacks, banged up at the defensive line, inexperienced at linebacker. Heck, even safety Kenny Phillips supposedly didn’t have the type of preseason that defensive coordinator Perry Fewell would have hoped for, making even that position questionable now.
Big Blue still has some talented returning pieces to work with. They still have QB Eli Manning who has put the pressure on himself to really have an outstanding season after comparing himself to Tom Brady a few weeks ago. They still have last year’s top two wide receivers in former 1st round pick Hakeem Nicks and former 2nd rounder Mario Manningham. They still have the same running back tandem of Brandon Jacobs and Bradshaw. They still have the majority of their experienced offensive line back with Kareem McKenzie, Chris Snee, and David Diehl. They seemed to have plugged up the rest of their holes by adding David Baas, Will Beatty, and Kevin Boothe on the O-line, and they have moved last year’s backup TE Bear Pascoe to the FB position. They also return WR/KR specialist Domenik Hixon who missed all of last year with an injury, as well as developing youngsters Ramses Barden, Jerrel Jernigan, and Victor Cruz nicely.
On the defensive side of the ball, they were able to convince Umenyiora to stay in town, they kept Tuck, they return Kiwanuka, they get Phillips back, they pray that injury-prone CB Aaron Ross will stay healthy all season for once, and they are contemplating the possibility of bring back former Giant Kawika Mitchell to fill in for the injured Goff. They also still have those glue guys such as Zak DeOssie, Dave Tollefson, and Chase Blackburn that could be ready to step up their games to more vital roles on this team.
As a whole, this is a team that has just about everything going against them, and very little going for them. Therefore, expectations will be low for this team. However, if you are a Giants fan, you have to realize that it seems as though this team usually does its best work when they are the most underrated and overlooked (see 2007). This team has an opening week matchup at the Washington Redskins. This game should be rather intriguing because both of these teams seem to be in the same situation; they both consist of talented pieces but as a whole are not expected to do much by way of contending for the SB this year. It’s obviously a big game for both teams, as neither of them want to start out 0-1 and immediately hear the groans of their respective fan bases.
While saying this may be something of a long shot, but whoever wins this week one match up in Washington on Sunday may very well end up being the team to challenge the Eagles, who on paper, are seemingly the clear cut favorites to win the NFC East (the Dallas Cowboys have their own issues to fix as well). Should be interesting to see how well this Giants D holds up this weekend versus a Rex Grossman led Redskins offense (who may be missing starting TE Chris Cooley for the game). It seems as though whoever wins that match up out to win the game. Either way, should be a good one.