Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Giants: An important preseason game?

Maybe I am overstating things a bit, but I really think the upcoming preseason game against the Jets is an important one. I don't care if the Giants win or lose against the Jets. Bragging rights, especially in a preseason game, is for Vinny from Staten Island or Maury from Queens who like to call up sports talk radio to predict Superbowl for their own team and dump on the other team on the basis of beating their hated cross town rivals. That's not why this is an important game for the Giants. The reason this is important is because, IMHO, the Giants did not really establish some of the important objectives that they set out to do this training camp. Or if they did, they didn't show it to us on the playing field.

The Giants had a few major objectives this training camp:
  1. Develop the WR corps. By that I mean - let a WR emerge from the group as a true star player and a legitimate deep threat. Determine if Moss is worth keeping and see if Manningham can harness the quickness and talent that he has. Develop the rookies, Nicks and Barden and give them some valuable playing time so they can contribute in the regular season. Most of all, work on the new passing game, which promises to feature more deep balls as well as more quick slants and crossing routes to take advantage of the quickness of these WRs.
  2. On defense, clarify the rotation in the DL and determine the new styles that the defense will use because of the different players that have been brought in. Determine the health of Robbins and Cofield after their off-season surgeries. Most important, acclimate new comer Chris Canty to the 4-3 defense because he has played his entire college and pro career in a 3-4. Determine how Rocky Bernard and Micahel Boley fit into the new defense.

Those were the main camp objectives, and the way I see it, the Giants accomplished almost none of these objectives. In the first preseason game against the Panthers, the starters generally play only 1 qtr, which translated to 2 series. That's not enough time to work the new WRs into the mix and give them some playing time with Manning and the starters. The starting WRs stayed in for both possessions. In the 2nd preseason game, the 1's stay out a bit longer, into the 2nd qtr and perhaps almost to the half. You start to work on things offensively and can work some different WR combinations onto the field. Unfortunately, you saw what happened to the Giants in that 2nd preseason game: it was a total washout. Giants did not come to play, they were outplayed physically at the line of scrimmage and there was no opportunity for any of the QB's to throw the ball down the field, to get into any rhythm offensively and to work on the passing game. All we learned from that Bears game is that if you can't block for the qb, Eli Manning is about as effective as Andre' Woodson.

The 3rd preseason game is the one where the 1's get the most playing time. It's a progression from game 1, to game 2 and then 3; and the starters will stay on the field for a half, perhaps into the 3rd qtr. This gives the offense a chance to work on some things and try out some new players by blending them in with the 1's rather than just throwing them on the field with other substitutes in mop up duty. In the fourth preseason game, the 1's often don't even get on the field, because the coach wants to make sure nobody gets injured. My point is, that because the 2nd preseason game against the Bears was such a miserable game, really the only game the Giants get to really develop their passing offense and test out the new WR's is game 3. This is the most important preseason game I can remember the Giants having, from a developmental point of view, of course.

The defensive objectives are a little more troubling, because of all the injuries that the Giants have suffered, particularly in the DL. Canty has a bad hamstring and has not seen the field for several weeks. Bernard and Robbins are still hurting. Boley will not practice and will not suit up until week 2 because of injury and league suspension. Those are key players that the Giants wanted to work into the mix. In addition to that, Tuck and Pierce are nicked up, Alford suffered a bad knee injury and Aaron Ross has a bad hammy. By my count, Giants have 4 DT's that are hurt which can put a dent in any team's lineup, no matter how deep you are. Fortunately the substitute DL-men have shown a lot of talent in the practice and preseason games. Because of that and because of the injuries, some players may make the team that we did not expect to. It's still 2 1/2 weeks until opening day, so maybe some of the injured players will get healthy and be ready. But missing practice time and valuable game playing time for guys trying to get used to a new defense could be a problem.

No comments: