NFL season kicked off last night with the Steelers beating the Titans by a FG and in less than 48 hours from now the Giants season starts against the Redskins. I am really looking forward to this season with great anticipation and eagerness. I think the Giants will have a good season and depending how things break, they could have a very good season. Realistically, it is possible that some things will not break right and the Giants season could be worse than I anticipate and we have to consider those eventualities. So this is a good news/bad news situation; a glass half full/half empty; an uptown/downtown scenario. Have I run enough trite cliches past you yet? Well, that's the way the cookie crumbles!
In this post, let's start with the pessimistic news. I've listed below a few things that could go very wrong for the Giants this year, and if they do go wrong it could negatively affect the season.
(1) None of the WRs emerge as true go-to deep threats. Giants end up with a bunch of #2 WRs instead of anyone who is a true # 1. I don't think a team needs one particular player to be the deep threat. In fact, it is more effective if a team has several guys that can burn the defense. But if absolutely nobody is a deep threat, Giants could be in trouble. Because opposing defenses won't fear the pass, they stack the line of scrimmage, take away Giants running game and the offense sputters all year.
(2) The OL starts to show its age. Even though the Giants have a very young team overall, as measured by average age, they are NOT young in the OL. Snee is fairly young, having played only 5 years. But O'Hara has been around the block and McKenzie has been around a bit longer and may be starting to show his age with various back problems the last year or two. Diehl is very reliable, but is not a great pass blocker and if he slows a little, it could also be trouble. Sometimes an OL goes really quickly from being experienced and aware to being old and slow. The worry here also is that the backups are all development projects at T and an injury could really hurt.
(3) Canty injury and Bernard injury do not heal and neither FA fulfills the promise of a run stuffer and pass rusher from the DT position.
(4) Giants end up missing Derrick Ward more than we think. Everyone has high hopes for Bradshaw, but he does not take on blitzers as effectively as Ward used to. He is also not as big as Ward was and maybe if Jacobs gets hurt, he has trouble carrying the burden and the bulk of the load.
(5) Boley takes a long time to get adjusted to the new defense. Giants defense lacks cohesiveness all year because of all the early injuries
(7) Running game suffers more than we think because of trade of TE Matthews to Patriots. Matthews is not a star, but he is a solid blocker. It is better to get something for a TE instead of cutting one and getting nothing back, but not if they lose the wrong guy.
(8) I can't list injuries as a specific worry for the Giants more than for any other team because the wrong kind of injuries can take any team down, and the Giants seem to have good depth. But here's my concern: the Giants have a somewhat unbalanced roster. They have lots of DL-men (9) and OL-men (10) but are thin at some other positions. Specifically, they have only 3 tail backs and while at S they have 4 players and that is the right number, I don't think the 3rd and 4th are very strong players. I am still surprised that the Giants did not make a play for a S after other teams made cuts. Russell got cut by the Seahawks and I did not hear that anyone else signed him.
Next post is going to be more optimistic - what could break right for the Giants that will give them a very strong season. Stay tuned.
Other notes and thoughts
I found it really interesting that the Giants are starting Chase Blackburn at LB over Wilkinson or Kehl. I thought these latter two played well in preseason, but I guess the Giants disagree. Redskins throw to Cooley, their TE, a lot, and pass coverage is not Blackburn's strong suit. With Kehl and Wilkinson not cracking the starting lineup, it seems likely that one of them (probably Wilkinson) will be cut when Boley comes back.
Ross is out for the Redskins game and Dockery is hurting. This means that Terrell Thomas gets a start and new rookie FA Bruce Johnson sees the field as nickel back. Should be interesting.