To read the various blogs, newspaper articles and opinion pieces, you would think that the Giants will not complete a pass greater than 12 yards this year and they have no player at the WR position that has the talent to play in the NFL. We were all disappointed with the performance in Chicago in the second preseason game: the Giants just did not come to play and the WRs did not get a chance to make any plays because of lack of time to throw the ball. You saw no separation between the WR and the defenders and you began to wonder if the talent was there in the WR corps to stretch the field and balance the offense and its powerful running game. I consider myself fairly realistic when it comes to judging the Giants - I am neither a wide-eyed optimist, nor am I a depressing woe-is-me pessimist. Everyone is crying about the fact that there were so many dropped balls in the game. The most blatant of these was the drop by Steve Smith in the 1st qtr on the Giants second possession, a play that would have gone for a 90 yard TD on a ball thrown by Eli that travelled 60 yards in the air. Manningham dropped another ball that would have gone for about 30 yards. Hixon dropped a ball that ended up as an interception, but that was as much a good play by Scott who hit Hixon right after the ball arrived. Nicks dropped a ball also in the middle of the field. I know the WR corps is being rebuilt and is being carefully scrutinized to see if the Giants can come up with the replacements to the starters for the last several years, Toomer and Burress. Those drops were ugly and WRs are supposed to catch the ball. I don't want to make it seem like I am looking at the Giants through rose colored glasses, but I was actually moderately encouraged by what I saw from the WRs. I did not care for the drops, of course, but I saw something that I hadn't seen from these WRs - speed, quickness and big play ability. In the first preseason games, I didn't see WRs getting any separation from their defenders. In this game, I saw WRs getting open all game long. Manningham, to me, looked particularly quick and impressive. You have to catch the ball - I am not minimizing that obvious fact. But I think you can work on catching and concentrating on the ball; that can be coached. But you can't coach speed and quickness. If you had a choice between two minor league 20 year old pitchers: one who throws 95 mph and has a sharp breaking curve ball, but hasn't mastered the art of pitching to both sides of the plate or how to set up a hitter; and the other who was polished, smart, had impeccable control, but had an average curve ball whose fast ball tops out at 89 mph, which are you taking? I'm taking the guy with the great stuff and coaching him how to pitch. Same with Mannigham and Nicks - I know they know how to catch - maybe they have to be coached to concentrate better, but you can't coach a guy to run faster. Some of Manningham's drops may have come on routes that were not quite precise enough, leading to bad-looking throws from Eli or lack of separation from the DB. But he can run and he can cut. He also looks to have very quick feet, and seems to be strong in his upper body, which means that he should be able to get off the line of scrimmage and handle press coverage and chucking by the DBs. I was moderately encouraged by what I saw.
Hakeem Nicks looks like a very smooth player. Despite his one drop, he made a great catch on his first TD and a good read, route adjustment and move on his second TD. You can't get too excited about those plays, since they were against players that may not be in the NFL this year, but he may be ready to contribute earlier than we thought.
I am more worried about the defense. There has been little continuity in training camp and in the games because of the numerous injuries. Giants have not had the starting defense playing together at all this summer. Alford, Boley, Canty, Ross and Pierce, are all still out. Webster, Robbins, Bernard and a few others have all missed significant time. Giants got a real boost when Robbins started to play and practice and Bernard even got into the game on Saturday night. The reports are also that Boley is recovering well and is off the PUP list and ready to start practicing, which is more good news. However, in the games, there have been lots of missed tackles and the team appears very lethargic. If Spagnolo was still DC, I would be less worried, but with a new DC, Sheridan, who is an unknown quantity, I just can't be sure they will play at the high energy and quality level that they have the past two years.
C.C. Brown, a FA addition this off-season looks awful at S. He is only a back up, so I am not saying this is a catastrophe. He looks big to me, but slow. On top of that he is a tackle-missing machine.
Terrell Thomas looks very good to me in coverage, but has also missed tackles in the last few games.
I don't know what is going to happen at the LB position. The Giants have a lot of players at the position that have started to play well. Wilkinson looks very good and he has finally been healthy though the preseason. He is physical and fast. Goff and Kehl, last year's rookies, have played well, particularly Kehl, who has great speed. Sintim has showed natural ability but is a little bit of a development project. Chase Blackburn is a lock to make the team, as he is the most experienced backup to Pierce at MLB. If the Giants were making these moves strictly on ability, they might let Danny Clark go and roll the dice with one of the young LBs in his starting slot. Clark has experience and the Giants might not want to let him go, but there's a good player that will get cut from this group who will end up playing in the NFL this year.
The other position group at which there appears to be very intense competition for only a few spots is the OL. The 5 starters are set, of course and Beatty will make the team, as will Koets, who has emerged as the only backup C behind O'Hara. Reyes has played well at the backup G position which leaves Boothe and Whimper off the team, unless the Giants decide to carry 9 OL-men, which is unlikely. Whimper has played better this preseason and you hate to let go of a potential starting T, so the numbers game in the OL is very interesting.
I can not figure out why Sinorice Moss did not get into the game at WR. He is probably the fastest WR on the team and doesn't drop the ball. I don't get it. Giants need WR speed and play making ability and they are not even trying to get the most out of a 2nd round draft choice. It sure looks like they are getting ready to cut him. Someone will pick him up also, and in the right offense, with an OC who has a half a brain, Moss will catch a lot of TD passes for some team in the NFL this year. If Moss gets cut from the Giants, I see him ending up on the Jets or the Bears.
Eli and the TE's look out of sync in this new passing offense. Manning overthrew Boss twice badly, on one of which he looked like he had a step on the S for a TD.
Giants need one more preseason game to get sharp with the offense and the defense. Maybe they should play the starters, at least on offense, in that 4th preseason game for the 1st quarter. The fact that it is Thursday night, after a Saturday night game, makes it very unlikely, but it is a thought.