Approach to the Game – Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants, December 15, 2013: When I was on my weekly Thursday bit for Giants.com’s Big Blue Kickoff Live show, co-host Paul Dottino asked me what Giants fans were talking about in terms of this week’s match-up with the Seattle Seahawks. My answer was that Giants fans were not talking about the game, they are already assuming defeat and are more focused already on what this team needs to do in order to rebound in 2014. I don’t think I’ve seen one discussion this week in The Corner Forum on the game, which is very telling and kind of sad. But that’s what happens when your team is 5-8 and already out of the playoff picture with three games (almost 1/5 of the season) left to play.
The reasons for the Giants’ demise have largely been discussed and speculated upon by fans: the “elite” players on the team not playing well, the poor performance of the offensive line, the lack of a pass rush, injuries, instability at running back, horrific special teams, turnovers, etc. Many have argued that the current coaching staff is the issue and that Coach Coughlin’s message has grown stale. There is definitely truth in some, and perhaps all, of these points.
But the heart of the problem may simply be this: the run is over. The core group who won two NFL titles is largely gone or fading fast. That talent and leadership has eroded. Up front, Seubert, O’Hara, and McKenize are gone. Snee and Diehl are next. Bradshaw, Burress, Toomer, Smith, Boss, Ballard, Manningham, Strahan, Umenyiora, Robbins, Cofield, Canty, Pierce, Boley, Blackburn, Madison, McQuarters, Phillips, Grant and other were all key contributors to one or both of those championship teams. Others such as Jacobs, Tuck, Webster, and Ross are nearing the end. In a league set up to ensure parity through the salary cap and free agency, the Giants have suffered with a quarterback that is taking up 1/6 of their cap space, poor drafting, and questionable free agent/salary cap decisions.
Two NFL titles in five years is quite a feat. Most teams can only dream of accomplishing something like that. But it’s time to re-load and attempt to build up another championship core. That can’t be done in one offseason. The gigantic question facing this franchise is should the attempt be made with Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin? Both are two-time NFL champions and possibly future Hall of Famers. But will they be too old by the time the Giants hopefully turn this around again in two or three years?
27 Giants on the current 53-man roster and injured reserve will see their contracts expire shortly. Others may be making too much money to bring back. This roster is about to undergo a massive overhaul, even by today’s standards.
As for the Giants-Seahawks game itself, this contest is a mere road bump for Seattle. That’s not me taking a mean-spirited knock at the Giants, but the the 11-2 Seahawks have bigger fish to fry. They are a legitimate Super Bowl contender, coming off of loss to a hated divisional rival, looking to lock up the NFC West, and preparing for a championship run. And in their heads, because this game will be played at the site of Super Bowl XLVIII, this contest will take on special meaning as a dress rehearsal. The Giants coaches and players can talk about pride and respect, but focus and emotion will all be with Seattle. And more importantly, so will the talent. Seattle is arguably the best and most complete team in football. Across the board, the Seahawks simply have better players than the Giants. The Giants’ offense has struggled all season against some of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. Now they will be facing the league’s #1 pass defense. At best, the game will be close for a while, but talent and motivation will win out.
I suggest Giants’ fans look at this game as they would a preseason game. Who on this field do you want to be a part of the answer in 2014? Who will be playing with intelligence and passion? Who executes the best? Who is a good football player? Who deserves the honor of wearing a New York Giants uniform?