Aug 272009
 
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8/27/2009

By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com

Approach to the Game – New York Jets at New York Giants, August 29, 2009: The purpose of preseason is to mentally and physically prepare players for the rigors of the regular season. The outcome of these games is not a good indicator regarding how a team will actually perform when it counts.  The reasons for that vary and can include how the various head coaches treat the games and the amount of time reserves are played.

That all said, the third game of the preseason is the one that most coaches use as their primary “dress rehearsal” for the regular season.  The first-team usually plays into the second half and when the reserves do actually come into the game, it usually is only the second-teamers or those vying to become second-teamers.  Quite a few players often don’t play and it usually isn’t a good sign for those who don’t.

Personally, I hate the Giants-Jets preseason games.  The insecure Jets and their insecure fans always take this game far too seriously.  It often seems that a serious injury comes out of this game.  But I expect a pretty intense performance for a preseason game.  Tom Coughlin wasn’t happy with his team last Saturday and I expect them to play with much more passion and gusto this week.

But I don’t care if the Giants lose 45-0 if they come out of the game healthy.

Quarterbacks: Eli Manning has looked sharp this preseason.  He seems to really be coming into his own.  That said, all quarterbacks, even the great ones, make mistakes and I get the sense that the Eli haters are just waiting for that first interception so they can jump on him.  I suppose it will be like Phil Simms and Manning will only be truly appreciated when he is retired.

With talent/experience question marks at wide receiver, I am starting to get the sense that Eli is much more comfortable throwing to his underneath targets who are more experienced and thus he can trust more.  I love the fact that he is throwing to the running backs more.  This will open up the entire field for the Giants and help out the receivers down the field.  The missing element in all of this has been Kevin Boss.  I expect him to put up some good numbers this year if he stays healthy.

David Carr is firmly entrenched as the #2 quarterback, but a tougher-than-usual verbal warning was issued this week by QB Coach Chris Palmer who said he wasn’t happy with Carr’s play.  Carr needs to do a better job of reading the defense, finding the open receiver, and getting rid of the ball quickly.

I doubt we see Andre’ Woodson or Rhett Bomar this week.  Both will likely play next week.  Woodson and former Giants’ quarterbacks have talked about how difficult the quarterback’s role is in Coughlin’s offense.  The quarterback needs to not only know his assignments, but the assignments of all the other players on the field, including making offensive line calls on both passing and running plays.  Bomar has just been introduced to these concepts; and Woodson is only just starting to grasp some of them.  Are the Giants not playing Bomar because he has so much to learn?  Or is it they want to redshirt Bomar on the Practice Squad and therefore are “hiding” him from the rest of the League?  Does Woodson have a future with this team?  Will the Giants carry two or three quarterbacks this year?

Wide Receivers: I would like to see some solid pitch-and-catch plays between Eli and his two starting widouts – Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith.  I think this game is huge for both Mario Manningham and Sinorice Moss.  It may determine who is the #3 heading into the season.  I think this is the week we may finally see Ramses Barden and Hakeem Nicks with the #2’s.

It’s been talked about all offseason, but the decision is fast approaching – will David Tyree make it?

Running Backs: I’ve seen posts along the lines of “Why are the Giants running Jacobs in the preseason?  They know what he can do!”  People who think that way don’t entirely understand the need for players to get their reps in the preseason in order to be at their peak once the season starts.  In other words, practice matters.  And practice in games is much different than practice on the practice field.

Ahmad Bradshaw pretty much has locked up the #2 job, but as last week showed, he still needs improvement on his blitz pick-ups.  I hope Danny Ware gets some better run blocking this week.

Tight Ends: The real question here remains how many tight ends/H-Backs do the Giants keep?  I’m in the minority but I think the Giants may keep four.  If they don’t, the real battle here is between Darcy Johnson and Michael Matthews.

Offensive Line: The starting two tackles didn’t play very well last week.  And both starting offensive guards have not played a snap yet this preseason.  The Giants need their starting five to work together some before the season starts.  Hopefully, Chris Snee (knee) and Rich Seubert (shoulder) will be back this week.

The second-team offensive line has been hampered by the fact that two of its players have had to play on the first unit.  Still, this unit hasn’t played all that well.  And the third teamers?  So bad they won’t be around much longer.  William Beatty is everything I said he would be a few weeks ago – a big, talented offensive lineman who is at least a year away from contributing.  This will be a redshirt year for him.  The real questions here is how many back-ups do the Giants keep and who?  Beatty sticks because of the investment in him plus potential.  Do the Giants see enough from Adam Koets to keep him around?  Do the Giants keep two guard types in Kevin Boothe and Tuten Reyes?  One would think Guy Whimper makes it because he can play both tackle spots.

Defensive Line: The tackle situation is a bit of a mess.  I can’t see how Jay Alford (torn MCL/partially torn ACL) returns.  Hopefully the Giants get Chris Canty (hamstring) back during the first part of the regular season, but how rusty will he be?  How much will the hamstring still affect him?  Will he re-injure it?  How out of sync will he be with the 4-3?  Fred Robbins is still nowhere near 100 percent.  Barry Cofield remains the consistent soldier that he is.  We will finally get a look at Rocky Bernard as a Giant this week.  He may be a much more important figure this year than at first envisioned.

I’m starting to get concerned that Mathias Kiwanuka is not going to become the player hoped for.  In two games, he hasn’t done all that much against second teamers.  He should be killing these guys if he were a “top player.”  He needs to turn it up.

Dave Tollefson versus Maurice Evans continues.

Linebackers: There are some real tough decisions here to be made.  Antonio Pierce, who was obviously missed last week, is obviously safe.  So are Michael Boley, Bryan Kehl, and Clint Sintim.  With the injury to Alford, Zak DeOssie is not going anywhere.  If the Giants only keep seven linebackers, there are only two spots for Danny Clark, Chase Blackburn, Jonathan Goff, and Gerris Wilkinson.  Hmmm.  It’s one of the reasons why I can see the Giants going with two quarterbacks again, so they can keep an extra linebacker.

Defensive Backs: The injury to Aaron Ross is problematic, not because the guys behind him can’t do the job.  They can.  The problem is if someone else gets hurt, an area of strength becomes a weakness very quickly.  Teams need three healthy, quality corners.  The third corner plays more than the third linebacker.  Giants can ill afford an injury to Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas, and Kevin Dockery at this point.

I am assuming the Giants will keep five corners.  If so, the decision will be between Stoney Woodson, DeAndre Wright, and Bruce Johnson.  All have flashed.

I’ve been disappointed with the play of Michael Johnson this preseason.  He’s better than that, or we had better hope he is.  Kenny Phillips didn’t play last week and hopefully returns this week and flashes as much in actual games as he has on the practice field.  C.C. Brown will be the veteran reserve on this team, but who will be the young gun to make it?  Travonti Johnson, Sha’reff Rashad, or Vince Anderson?

Everyone in the secondary has to do a much better job in run support and tackling.

Special Teams: I’m still not sure who the punt returner is on this team.  Mario Manningham looked good in the first game, but muffed a punt last week.  Sinorice Moss catches the ball, but has made some questionable decisions and doesn’t seem to have a knack for running in the open field.

Danny Ware looked pretty good on one kickoff return last week.

There were breakdowns on the coverage units last week.  That needs to get fixed.

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Eric Kennedy

Founder and owner of BigBlueInteractive.com, which is now entering its 20th season. Follow Eric on Twitter @BigBlueInteract.

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