By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com
Approach to the Game – New York Giants at New York Jets, August 23, 2008: In past years, the Jets have taken this game far more seriously than the Giants because their status as the area’s second-class professional football franchise. Those feelings of inadequacy reached new heights with the Giants’ seventh NFL Championship and third Super Bowl championship. So despite the relative meaninglessness of this third preseason game, look for the Jets and their idiot fans to treat this as some statement game.
That all said, the Giants players themselves – for the first time in recent memory – probably are taking this game a little more seriously than usual because of all the recent attention the Jets have received due to the Brett Favre trade. I think the Giants want to remind everyone who has The Ring.
Beyond all that, the third preseason game is always considered the primary dress rehearsal for the regular season. The starters will play the most in this game and this is the game where you want your team to really look its best.
So considering all of these factors, I look forward to one pretty intense preseason football game.
Giants on Offense: The primary objective is to get Eli Manning in sync with Amani Toomer (leg) and Steve Smith (hamstring) as much as possible before the start of the season. Smith, in particular, has missed too much practice time again. Manning and Toomer are pretty familiar with each other. Also, although we will not likely see him with the first-unit (and maybe not even the second-unit), this will be Mario Manningham’s (quad) Giant debut. Hopefully, no one will aggravate an injury.
Most of the roster spots on offense seem to be determined. Probably the two biggest question marks remaining are (1) who will be the #2 quarterback, and (2) how many wide receivers to keep and who? It would seem that David Carr pulled ahead of Anthony Wright based on the Browns’ game. This is Carr’s chance to really pull ahead of the race. Barring any injury setbacks to Manningham, one has to figure that Burress, Toomer, Smith, Hixon, and Manningham are locks to make the team. Do the Giants carry six or seven receivers? Seven is a lot. The front runners for the remaining 1-2 spots are Sinorice Moss (no special teams value), Brandon London (intriguing upside, but doesn’t stand out on specials), and David Tyree (good special teams player, but who is still recovering from knee surgery and could start the season on the PUP). London (shoulder) is hurt, but he really needs to play and play well. If he doesn’t make the active roster, some other team will prevent the Giants from stashing him on the Practice Squad. Personally, I’m still waiting for Moss to make a play that makes me go, “Wow!”
One of my disappointments thus far of the preseason has been the play of Darcy Johnson. I want to see more from him as both a receiver and blocker.
At running back, the backs should be Jacobs, Bradshaw, Ward, and Ware. Reuben Droughns is versatile, but he is a journeyman. Ware really made a statement against the Browns. He’s big and powerful, with good vision on the cutback and has a bit more speed that I thought he did.
As for the offensive line, both the starting five and the back-up five played well last week. The Giants have some tough decisions here. Do they keep 8, 9, or 10 offensive linemen?
Giants on Defense: The roster situation is a bit more unsettled here in terms of how many to keep at each position and who. Despite the retirement of Michael Strahan, the Giants’ defensive line looks set for a special year. I wouldn’t trade Umenyiora/Tuck for any other DE bookend duo in the NFL. What is really exciting, however, is that Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield may be set for their best year together yet. Renaldo Wynn and Jay Alford are quality reserves. I’d like to see more out of Dave Tollefson. Personally, with the possible exception of Wallace Gilberry, I don’t see another DL on this roster that is worthy of a roster spot. Since Tuck and Wynn play some DT, I don’t think the Giants carry four true defensive tackles.
The Giants have some tough decisions at linebacker. We know that Pierce, Kiwanuka, Clark, and Kehl are safe. The Giants really like Jonathan Goff. His back injury will cause him to miss at least half the preseason, but he has started to run again. The Giants could IR him, but if they don’t (and I hope they don’t), then the numbers game becomes even tougher. Zak DeOssie hasn’t done much, but he long snaps and is good on special teams coverage. Gerris Wilkinson has proved somewhat fragile, but he still flashes as a player and did so again on Monday in his preseason debut. Chase Blackburn is a good special teams player and versatile. Tank Daniels is a big, aggressive player and a good special teams player. That’s nine. A 4-3 team can rarely justify carrying nine linebackers. Heck, eight is a lot. Obviously, this game is important to the non-locks.
In the secondary, personally, I’d like the Giants to stop screwing around and get Kenny Phillips in there with the starters. I think the James Butler-Kenny Phillips starting duo makes the most sense. The competition at safety is pretty fierce. Michael Johnson will obviously make it. But what about Sammy Knight, Craig Dahl, and Stuart Schweigert? I don’t think any of these three have been all that impressive. I’d consider carrying three safeties plus McQuarters, who has some experience at safety.
The Giants are in really good shape at cornerback. This game will be important for Sam Madison (sports hernia) to get his first action and get back into the flow of things. But Webster and Ross are the starters. I want to see Terrell Thomas (hamstring) rebound with a strong game after a poor showing on Monday.
Giants on Special Teams: A year ago, we were debating whether the Giants should keep Lawrence Tynes or Josh Huston. Huston looked to be the sharper of the two. Funny what a difference a year makes. Huston looked like crap last Monday.
The big area to focus on this week is kickoff coverage. The Giants were dreadful in that department last week. Though that is typical of the preseason, the Giants need to figure out which 10 guys will be performing this task during the regular season and get them playing well together fast.