By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com
Approach to the Game – New York Jets at New York Giants, August 29, 2011: The third preseason game is the most important test run for the regular season. It is the game where the starters play the longest (at least the entire first half) and the one where the coaches want to see their team perform at its best.
The Giants have a number of concerns that could cause the team to miss the playoffs for the third season in a row: (1) extremely shallow depth at cornerback, (2) lack of talent at tight end that could negatively impact the running and passing game, and (3) no clear-cut “safety blanket” for Eli Manning on third down.
As for playing the Jets, I don’t get caught up in the “who owns New York?” crap. The Jets can have their inferiority complex and the game if it makes them feel better. I just want the Giants to get ready for the regular season and please, dear God, no more injuries. This is a good opponent for the Giants because the Jets always take this game so seriously and that raised intensity will help the Giants prepare for the season. The physical play of the Jets on both offense and defense will also help. Keep in mind the intent of this game is to get ready for the season. Who wins a Giants-Jets preseason game in August means jack squat.
Giants on Offense: Eli Manning seems out of sync with Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. The effects of all of those missed snaps from the mini-camp, OTA’s, and passing workouts may be showing up. The Giants need to get that cleaned up and quickly. I still wonder who the go-to guy or guys will be on 3rd down for Eli. That used to be Steve Smith. Who is that guy now?
The Giants may have the worst group of tight ends in the NFL. Bear Pascoe (either at TE or FB) just isn’t doing it for me. He’s just far too inconsistent. Too often the man he is supposed to block makes the play. I’m hoping Travis Beckum, Jake Ballard, and Henry Hynoski develop and develop quickly. But I’m not overly optimistic. The Giants have to continue to scan the waiver wire.
The good news is the Giants offensive line looked pretty good against a very good Bears’ defense last week. There will continue to be up-and-down growing pains as the unit continues to build chemistry, but it’s starting to come. I have also been pretty impressed with the back-up offensive linemen. In years past, the second- and third-team offensive lines for the Giants were a joke in the preseason. They’ve been pretty darn good. Keep an eye on Jamon Meredith who has been playing well. The Giants are going to have some tough decisions here as there seems to be good depth with Mitch Petrus, Kevin Boothe, Stacy Andews, and James Brewer. Even guys like Chris White, Ike Ndukwe, and Jarriel King have not looked out of place.
At running back, my guess is that D.J. Ware has the lead on the third job since he’s been getting so much playing time. I’d like to see a bit more of Andre Brown and Da’Rel Scott. Scott’s 97-yard run was impressive, but the knock on him at Maryland was never his speed. How tough, instinctive, and elusive is he in traffic?
Victor Cruz elevated his play against the Bears. His 4th down reception was a big-time play. This game is extremely important to Darius Reynaud who has flashed in camp but missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury. I hope Devin Thomas can make some more plays in the passing game since he seems able to help on specials.
Giants on Defense: The loss of Terrell Thomas is devastating. The Giants are obviously still a good team, but they just lost a player who I believed was one of their five most irreplaceable players. Now, not only do the Giants need to pray Aaron Ross plays well, but they simply cannot afford ANY injury to Corey Webster or Ross. Right now, the third corner is either Michael Coe or newly signed Brian Williams. That’s not good. Opposing teams are going to play a lot of multiple WR sets and force that third and fourth corner to make plays. If Prince Amukamara was available and had a full offseason to work with the team, the Giants would be in better shape, but once again, injuries have come in clusters for the G-Men.
The defensive line for the Giants looks sharp and I’ve been impressed with Linval Joseph and Chris Canty inside. Rocky Bernard had a very strong game against the Bears so the battle for the fourth DT job comes down to Jimmy Kennedy versus Gabe Watson. Watson has been pretty quiet. It’s a damn shame Marvin Austin is done.
At end, Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul are clearly the main men. The coaching staff seems to really like Dave Tollefson but guys like Ayanga Okpokowuruk and Justin Trattou made some noise against the Bears. And it is interesting to note that Adrian Tracy and Clint Sintim are still being used somewhat at defensive end on passing downs.
The Giants have some tough decisions to make at linebacker. It’s pretty clear that Spencer Paysinger has impressed the coaches. And Greg Jones and Mark Herzlich are making plays. Jacquian Williams has a lot of athletic ability and Phillip Dilliard is still seeing a lot of time with the #2’s despite not getting a lot of love on BBI. I’d like to see Clint Sintim have that breakout game.
At safety, I’m still waiting for some big time plays from Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips. Deon Grant is back. I was impressed with Derrick Martin against the Bears. The clock is ticking for Jerrard Tarrant, Tyler Sash, and David Sims. It’s interesting to note that CB/S Brian Jackson, who has missed virtually all of camp and the preseason with injuries, has not been waived/injured. The Giants must still like his talent.
Giants on Special Teams: Wow! The Giants actually dramatically out-played another team on specials last week. The punting competition is red hot as both Matt Dodge and Steve Weatherford have been excellent. The coverage teams were vastly improved both on kickoffs and punt returns.
And – finally – the Giants had some excellent blocking on returns. Devin Thomas took advantage of it, but Jerrel Jernigan still danced around too much. I still wonder if Hixon will be the guy on opening day.