Game Preview: New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers, November 12, 2018
Is there anybody out there still reading these game previews?
During the bye week, I took my family on vacation to Florida. To protect my ever more exposed scalp from the Florida sun, I donned my New York Giants cap. Each day I was stopped by folks in the service industry, other tourists, and folks living in Florida. “Hey, another Giants fan! Go Giants!” Some were men, some were women. The ages varied. There was no embarrassment over, or hiding from, the current 1-7 season. Just a recognition that the team we love is going through some hard times and will hopefully be back someday soon. It got to the point where even my kids said to me with a bit of a look of astonishment, “There are a lot of Giants fans!” I responded with a smile and said, “Yes there are.”
For the second season in a row, the Giants are 1-7 at the midway point of the season. Despite changing general managers and coaching staffs, there does not appear to be any marked improvement in the team’s performance from last year. The quarterback also appears to be done with no obvious replacement.
I highlighted my concerns with how the team is being run in my last game preview. In my mind, it is not the players so much on trial during the last eight games but the coaching staff, and by extension Dave Gettleman. For if Pat Shurmur and his assistants are not the ones to lead the team out of the darkness, then Gettleman, who completely botched the free agency period, must also share a lion’s share of the blame for hiring the wrong coaches. Many fans will rightly point to ownership, but they aren’t going anywhere.
Giants fans are a loyal bunch. But we’d prefer to see things moving in the right direction.
THE INJURY REPORT:
- WR Jawill Davis (concussion – probable)
- OT Chad Wheeler (ankle – probable)
- LB Alec Ogletree (hamstring – probable)
NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Eli Manning is due for one of those games where his most loyal supporters can claim he still has “it.” But as discussed ad nauseam, those good games have become too infrequent. Most of us know that Manning is done. The question is does John Mara know it, and is he too afraid to pull the plug based on last year’s fan reaction. (Again, I would contend that fans were more upset with how Eli was benched last year rather than the actual benching).
The focal point of the New York Giants offseason must be on (1) finding a viable replacement for Eli, and (2) yet another attempt to put together a competent offensive line. Neither will be easy. Very few teams are fortunate enough to make a transition from a Joe Montana to Steve Young, or Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers. After Phil Simms was cut, the Giants went from Dave Brown to Danny Kanell to Kent Graham to Kerry Collins. The Giants will likely have a very high draft pick in April, but will there be a true franchise quarterback available?
On the offensive line, we have to pray the Will Hernandez is the real deal. Now the Giants also have eight games to get good read on waiver-wire pick-up Jamon Brown. But the “help wanted” sign is clearly out on the offensive line. The Giants need to replace both tackles and the center. That’s a tall task for one offseason.
NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
After trading away Damon Harrison and Eli Apple, expectations were high that the team was also likely to deal Janoris Jenkins, Olivier Vernon, and maybe even Landon Collins. They did not. Let’s hope the team does not rue the day that it did not receive at least something in return for players who may or may not be here when the team does become a contender again.
The last eight games must be spent on evaluating who will be the team’s primary pass rushers in 2019. Do the Giants rely on Olivier Vernon again? Does Lorenzo Carter have a future as an NFL starter? Based on who may be available, would the Giants be better off spending their top 2019 NFL draft pick on an elite pass rusher?
The Giants will also need to address the secondary. Screwing up top-10 picks in back-to-back drafts, including the selection of Eli Apple, was a disaster for the team. Jenkins turns 31 next year and the Giants have no one else at cornerback. The team also seems prepared to make Landon Collins – who is limited to the strong safety position – one of the highest paid defensive backs in football. But there is nothing else at safety.
NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
The Giants finally appear to have found a returner in Quadree Henderson. He was just re-signed to the 53-man roster after he was surprisingly cut on Tuesday.
THE FINAL WORD:
These previews have ceased to be previews. I apologize for that fact, but I don’t really see the point of getting into X’s and O’s and match-ups. The Giants can’t score. They don’t have a QB and they don’t have an offensive line. Pat Shurmur also appears to be yet another “up and coming” offensive coordinator who can’t handle being a head coach.
So on Monday night, we’ll be treated to the 1-7 Giants battling the 2-7 49ers. And everyone knows the outcome only matters to both teams in terms of draft-pick positioning.
Is there anybody out there?