This season was fun to watch. For a little while. It seemed like the Giants were once again ready to take the field in Superbowl form. Rex Ryan and the Jets created a media circus, but the Giants were all business as usual. Just a few weeks ago they were poised to win the NFC East. They showed glimmers of hope, despite a slump, with an offensive display against the Packers, and then the Saints after a pathetic loss to Washington. Was it too good to be true from the beginning? Yes.
As a fan sometimes, you have to look in from the outside. I played organized football for about 10 years, so I generally like to think I know what I’m looking at. It started with the week 1 loss against Dallas. Losing by a touchdown to Tony Romo and the boys wasn’t enough for me to pack it in, yet the flaws in the game were obvious. Last time the Giants lost in week 1 against a division rival,they won the Superbowl. I could take it. So what if in week 2 the now 6-9 Bucs, who the rams beat by 15 points, put up 34 points on the Giants? Eli threw for 510 yards, and hey now, a win is a win.
Plus I had Hakeem Nicks on my fantasy team, what did I have to be mad about? An easy week 3 in Carolina and then in week 4…What??? Philadelphia beats the Giants? Now this isn’t Vince Young and the Dream Team, but they aren’t exactly slated to take the division, sitting at the bottom with a hard fought 4-11. Still, you can recover from 2-2. There was plenty of hope. Every team has a hiccup here or there.
Week 5: Bradshaw and Cruz put the team on their back and carried the G-men to a win against Cleveland. The obvious downside is Brandon Weeden almost eclipsed 300 yards and the browns put up 27 points. A great win in San Francisco, allowing only 3 points followed. There was honestly nothing to complain about watching this game. This was a blow out, and nothing could help the 49ers get the ball into the endzone that week, but this is where the trouble starts. The Giants have only played one good game since, versus the Green Bay Packers.
They were lucky against the Redskins, with a last ditch effort pass to Victor Cruz in Week 7. They were lucky against the Cowboys in week 8. Lucky – that Dez Bryant has such big ass hands. Coming into work I had to listen about how great the Giants were, from idiot fans who had no idea what they were talking about.
There was nothing to be happy about watching those games. Before I could even explain why I wasn’t happy, week 8 came along, and the Jints struggled for 182 total yards against the Steelers, explaining for me why the Giants suck. At least we didn’t help the Steelers out too much, because the next week, Jake Dalton and the Bengals did whatever they wanted and beat New York 31-13. It was the first game all season Jake Dalton didn’t throw an interception. In fact, had four touchdowns! The giants had four second-half turnovers, and allowed a punt return touchdown, in addition to a 56 yard Jake Dalton bomb to AJ Green.
Nothing makes me more anxious then seeing a big play coming, and then watching it happen. The Giants have been sleeping on teams who seem to break off big plays at will against them. The Bengals were the last straw for me. I have been watching these games with a negative mindset since. Even with a glimmer of hope, beating the Packers 38-10, I still said to myself, “I need more proof.” I got none from a 1 point loss to the redskins, in a division game that is now going to be crucial to any playoff hopes. I got none from the then 5-8 Saints putting up 27 points. The Saints have the 31st ranked pass defense in the NFL – the Giants have Nicks, Cruz, and Eli Manning. The Saints have the 29th ranked rush defense – So what if David Wilson had 100 yards. Sure its fun to watch a rookie break out, but does it give the team more credibility to run up the points on a terrible defense? Even if you aren’t as pessimistic as I am, does it instill fear into opponents to get shut out by the Falcons? I get it – the Falcons are playing awesome and have only lost twice this season, but not because of their defense. Lets not forget, their 21st ranked rush defense, and their 23rd ranked pass defense got trashed by the Carolina Panthers the week before, in a game where I bet on Atlanta. So even if you didn’t expect a win, they weren’t playing against the Steel Curtain 1970’s Pittsburgh Steelers.
Which brings me to my case and point – the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are a great football team. Without Ray Lewis, without Bernard Pollard, without Jameel McClain, they are still a good football team. Ray Rice is a monster. Joe Flacco has shown signs of development, and is capable of winning. He has some great weapons around him, for sure. And yeah, the Giants pass defense has been lackluster all season, struggling with injuries, but what excuse do you have for the defensive line? Pierre-Paul, Tuck, Umenyiora, Canty? The linebacker core of Kiwanuka, Boley, and Blackburn? How, and since when, did these guys suck? Everyone but Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown are playing below their pay grade.
A lot of blame goes to Perry Fewell. A team with this much defensive talent can’t seriously play this bad, can they? Well, maybe opposing quarterbacks will look like studs if you have a defensive coordinator who keeps calling three man rush zone defenses on third and long. I mean, the talent the Giants have should in no way shape or form resemble a third tier defense. Quarterbacks are relaxed in the pocket, and back up running backs are torching the defense for six yards per carry.
Another thing – the Giants offensive line is not what it used to be. The core that made them so successful in the Superbowl season of 2007-2008 has deteriorated. They were awesome, and crafted over years and years of drafting and free agency. This offensive line now is surely a couple steps backwards from the brick wall of guys we used to love. Bradshaw can’t seem to get anything started behind them, David Wilson looks like he would get dropped in a pillow fight, and Eli has been pressured, or taking too many hits all year long. The defending Superbowl champion New York Giants, who stand at a very lucky 8-7, have a lot of work to do if they are looking forward to next season, like I already am. This year has been uninspiring, with players who look uninspired, to say the least.
Next week the Giants play the Eagles, who generally fare pretty well against the Giants. I would pick a winner, talk about the strengths and weaknesses of each team, why I think one team is going to win, but that doesn’t seem appropriate for the way the Giants have played lately. Here’s what I’ll do instead: Sunday, there is going to be a game. Both teams are going to play. It’ll be four quarters long. Sometimes there will be a touchdown, other times it’ll be a field goal, or a punt. The quarterbacks are going to throw some passes, complete a few, miss a few. One team is going to win. It’s going to be on TV. Watch it, or don’t. Nobody cares either way. I guess this is what its like to be a Jets fan.