Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The decline of the roster

We can all rail about the coaching with some justification. We can complain about sloppy play by the QB. We can talk about bad turnovers and idiotic penalties. But that doesn't get to the heart of the matter, which is the steady decline in the talent on this roster. I was watching the Jets the other night against Atlanta and saw more good athletes on their roster than on the Giants. Just as one example, look at the backup TE Cumberland.... Winslow is their starter and when he went out, Cumberland came in - he is huge, fit, strong and fast. Giants don't seem to have players like that on the roster, much less as substitutes behind the starters. Let's not confuse cause and effect. The turnovers, penalties, sloppy play are not the cause of Giants losing. Rather, they are the effect of not having enough good players and having those players a step slow, less powerful and athletic makes it impossible for them to succeed in the sport where athleticism determines outcome more than in any other sport. 
Some example of the declining roster:
1. At RB, Jacobs is the starting RB right now, and if he wasn't playing for the Giants, he would not be in football. Pascoe is the FB and he is just awful. He's in there because of the Hynoski injury, but how do you go into the season with 1 FB on your roster, and that one being someone who is coming off a major knee injury and surgery and you just expect him to be OK. BTW, everyone loves Hynoski because he's tough and has a great name, but he doesn't have a great track record yet and is also a big step down from previous FB, Madison Hedgecock who was an excellent player until he got injured. Giants are so desperate that they signed Conner, ex-Jet FB, who also was out of football until Giants signed him.
2. At TE, the last several Giants have had - Kevin Boss, Jake Ballard, Martellus Bennett and even Beckum are way better than Myers. First time I saw Myers on the practice field this summer, I said he's not very good. A "tweener" - not a big guy /  good blocker, but also not very fast and.... drops some balls he should catch.
3. At OL, Baas is a clear step down from his predecessor O'Hara and Cordle his backup is probably not an NFL player. Boothe, the starting LG was not a starter two years ago; he's a good backup but a below average starter who is probably on the team because of his versatility. Being versatile is coach-speak for saying he can be a below average player at all 3 of the interior OL positions he can play. Diehl was a decent player at his peak and now after injuries and age have slowed him down, he is also worse than he ever was; playing RG in place of Snee is another major downgrade (at least compared to when Snee was healthy). Beatty and Pugh are OK at the T positions, though neither is sparkling right now.
4. LB position: Herzlich is a great story but he does not look like he is more than a ST player in the NFL. He made an occasional play last week against the Eagles, but consider the following: he couldn't beat out Blackburn last year who got cut; he couldn't beat out Connor this year who had been cut previous year from the Cowboys. And the Giants have now traded for Beason, who became available because he was beaten out of his job by Blackburn and Beason is slated to take Herzlich MLB job as soon as he gets healthy and learns Fewell's complex defense. He may start Thursday night against Chicago. I have to admit that Paysinger is coming around and I like J Williams athleticism. But the MLB position when compared to Antonio Pierce is a huge step down in talent also.
5. DL: DT is the one position Giants have upgraded. They are playing well and stuffing the run well. But the DEs and DL get no pass rush. Tuck is a shell of his former self. JPP and Kiwanuka look lost and are not playing as well as Osi did last year.
6. CBs are better than last year. S position is hurt - Mundy was brought in to be backup S and that's what he is.... a backup. Both Mundy and his intended replacement Stevie Brown are worse football players than their predecessor, Kenny Phillips. I am not saying that Giants should have kept KP, because he has been slowed by age/injury also. My point is that here too, the roster has declined.
7. Training staff: Why do Giants get so many injuries every year? Injuries are supposed to be randomly distributed so that at least sometimes your team gets a relatively injury-free year. Never seems to happen with the Giants. I read a few articles recently that reported that the 49ers and Saints in particular have adopted new, advanced training techniques to get their players stronger and faster and less prone to injuries. Seems to be working for them.
In summary, the whole organization has to take the blame for this team. GM-coaches-players-even owners.   Giants need a makeover, and the window for Eli remaining a Super Bowl caliber QB is closing, so this has to be done fast. Alas, there are lots of holes to fill. My opinion is that there will be a radical change this offseason, helped by the many players that are in the last year of their deal.
You all know I'm a big Eli fan and I will agree he's not playing well this year. But he still has the arm, the brains, the heart and the genes to be a champion.

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