Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, the Giants lose Terrell Thomas, their best CB, the guy poised to make the next leap into a pro bowl player and one of the most important players on the defense. This seems to happen to the Giants every few years - it's not that they have so many injuries in total, but they all concentrate in one position stripping the team of its depth at, in this case, one of the most important positions on the field. In the current day pass oriented NFL, there are two ways to stop a passing game - use a pass rushing DE to sack the QB before he throws or get great CBs to stop the WRs. I think CBs are more important, because even the best pass rush can't get to the QB every play and there are therefore many times when the CB will be out there by himself. Giants this preseason have lost their starting CB, their first round draft choice, Bruce Johnson, who played very well as a 4th CB last year and now have also lost Witherspoon to a torn ACL, who had showed some speed and some promise this year. No matter how well stocked you are at a position coming into training camp, when you lose 4 CBs, you're going to be hurt. Frankly, I don't even know how they will run a practice.
Each individual move that the Giants made this off season and each individual injury by itself could probably be handled and managed, but the cumulative affect of all of the losses could make this a tough season for the Giants. What I mean by that is: Giants were up against the salary cap so they decided not to mortgage it further by restructuring contracts and therefore didn't retain a lot of players. They lost Cofield to the Redskins, but seem to be able to recover from that because Linval Joseph has looked so good. They lost Amukamara to an injury - no problem we've got a lot of CBs. Bruce Johnson goes down - also not a catastrophe, he was only a backup. Now Thomas and Witherspoon go down with ACL in the same evening and suddenly you've got some problems on your hands. Actually, the same can be said of the offense. Individually, Boss and Smith were not the greatest players in the league and their contributions could probably be replaced. But both did make contributions and the Giants do not seem to have a strong TE on the roster or a sure handed 3rd down target.
Each loss or injury may by itself may not be a killer, but when you stand back and look at the big picture, you see the following. From the 2010 defense, the Giants are missing 3 starters and key contributors: Osi, Thomas and Cofield. On the offensive side, forgetting about the two OL-men that they cut, they are missing Boss and Smith. That's 5 players from the base offense and defense, or 22% of the starters. That's not good. Giants may have some substitutes for some of these players, but the cumulative affect of the drain of talent is a big hit.
The good news last night was, in my eyes, the continued improvement in the OL. I was at the game and it seemed that the OL was giving up some pressures from Eli's blind side. But when I watched the DVR of the game today, there may have been a breakdown here or there, but the OL overall did reasonably well and Beatty in particular did very well against all-world Julius Peppers. I even saw one play where he knocked him completely on his back (pancake is what they used to call it). Baas looked very good at C. Of course, the fact that 80% of the passes that Gilbride called were within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage may have limited the offense somewhat (he said dripping with sarcasm).
Jacobs looks very lean and strong. I think the offense runs better when they play through Jacobs and use Bradshaw 30-40% of the time as the true change of pace. The other RBs on the roster: Andre Brown, DJ Ware and even Da'rel Scott (who is averaging 97 yards per carry this preseason) looks like he has some talent. In the big picture, the Giants would have been better off letting Bradshaw walk, taking the money they gave and investing it somewhere else and finding that second RB from the group they now have on the roster. Too late now. Despite the loss of Boss and Smith, if the OL comes around, there are enough skill position players on this offense for it to be fairly productive.
Herzlich, in his short stint against the second unit looked great. I'll say it again, for the 100th time - give him the starting job, move Kiwanuka to DE and ship Osi out of town. Sintim still looks a little lost playing in space.
Linval Joseph looks like a stud at DT. One stupid question - did he suddenly get smart in the off season when there was a lockout and therefore no organized off season conditioning program, no organized team activities and no coaching? Don't answer.... that's a rhetorical question. Obviously, he was just as quick and just as big last year as he is now. Why then did he not get off the bench to play a little last year? Why did he only dress for 6 freakin' games. Coughlin not playing rookies really ticks me off sometimes.
More detail and analysis of the Bears preseason game in the next few days.