Just last week, fans of the New York Football Giants were contemplating an 8-2 record, the return of number of previously injured players, the possible acquisition of Odell Beckham, and dare we say it, a possible run at the NFC East title. A few days later, many of these same fans are questioning if the team will win another game this year and see beating the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving as an equivalent challenge as beating the 18-0 New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
Dear Giants fans,
Get a grip.
Signed, BBI Management
Professional football is a multi-billion dollar entertainment industry in which each year 32 franchises compete for a shiny trophy. Aside from geographical location, these 32 franchises differentiate themselves from each other by the color of the clothes they wear. Distinct from MLB and the NBA, these teams operate on a relative even playing field with a hard salary cap. Every team has good players and coaches. Because of this, it’s virtually impossible for any one team to dominate the league.
The Giants entered 2022 with their third general manager and fourth head coach in six years after enduring a decade-long’s worth of mismanagement. Botched drafts and free agent signing periods left the franchise with a roster devoid of talent, players accustomed to losing, and a very poor salary-cap position. Most fans were thrilled that ownership reached outside of the organization and hired a new GM and HC who be on the same page and work together to eradicate the rot and build a new foundation. Most of these fans knew this would take time, especially since many believed the quarterback on the team was not part of the answer moving forward.
The offseason was a dizzying affair. Players such as Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, Will Hernandez, Lorenzo Carter, Jabrill Peppers, James Bradberry, Logan Ryan, and Riley Dixon, among many others, were let go. Almost 40 free agents and 11 draft picks were added to the training camp roster. Changes were made in the front office both before and after the draft. Many fans and pundits assumed the Giants, blessed with an easier schedule, would win somewhere around 4-6 games. How gloomy were the prognostications? There was a lot of talk of Daniel Jones probably being benched at some point for Tyrod Taylor.
Then something weird happened. The Giants beat AFC’s #1 seed on their turf on opening day. And they did so in dramatic style, coming back from a 13-0 halftime deficit and winning with a daring 2-point conversion. Over the course of the next eight games, the Giants would surprisingly win six of them, often coming from behind in the 4th quarter to pull off the upset. Even with one of the best records in football, the Giants were considered the underdogs in almost every game. The pinnacle of the first half of the season was the back-to-back dramatic victories over the Packers in London and the Ravens.
The weird part was all of this was happening with a completely revamped roster of unfamiliar names, many of whom were let go by other teams and would have trouble finding work on any other roster. Players who were counted on to make a big difference did not, such as Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Aaron Robinson, and Azeez Ojulari. Injuries also affected the play and availability of Leonard Williams, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Evan Neal, Shane Lemieux, Daniel Bellinger, among others. The team was left scrambling in-season for waiver-wire pick-ups, guys signed off of the street and practice squads. Although it wasn’t pretty, the team was still winning despite being hampered with the worst set of receivers and tight ends in the league and a number of castoffs on the defensive side of the ball.
The Giants were winning because they were well coached, and the new coaching staff was getting the best out of players who many had discounted, such as Dexter Lawrence, Adoree’ Jackson, Julian Love, Daniel Jones, and Oshane Ximines as just a few examples. Others came out of nowhere to play significant roles such as Jihad Ward and Fabian Moreau. It wasn’t easy. Players kept getting hurt and the front office and coaching staff had to keep juggling the roster, limited by little cap room. At times, the Giants didn’t even keep 53 players on the roster.
Tactically, the staff recognized the limitations of the roster. Passing-attack gurus Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka transitioned to a run-first ground game, designed to minimize mistakes and keep the team alive in games against opponents with equal or better talent. The defense gave up yardage, but stood tall on third down and inside the red zone. And for whatever reason, this team started to believe it could and would win in the 4th quarter. Opponents simply could not kill the Giants. They hung around, they hung around, they hung around… and finally somehow pulled off the win.
Something else different began to happen. Giants’ fans began complaining that the wins were too ugly. After each win, there were more discussion threads on what went wrong rather than what went right. It quickly began to dawn on me that Giants fans who were worn down by a decade worth of losing were developing unrealistic expectations about what this team was and could be as it is currently formulated. The other red flag was the insistence by the bulk of the fan base that the addition of just one wide receiver would change everything for plodding offensive football team and somehow turn them into a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Whoa! What?
Karma began to change over the bye week. Xavier McKinney got stupid, crushed his hand on vacation, and sabotaged the entire defense. He was one of the few players on this team the Giants could ill-afford to lose. His absence had a domino effect. The Giants also started to do something they had not done, and that was kill themselves with turnovers. Richie James fumbled twice on punt returns against the Seahawks. The team turned the ball over three more times against the Lions. Brian Daboll got stupid and put Adoree’ Jackson on punt returns and paid the price. Now the other player in the secondary the Giants simply could not afford to lose may be gone for the bulk of the rest of the season. Worse, the Giants came out of last week’s game needing a MASH unit. Wan’Dale Robinson had his career game to date and then tore his ACL, leaving a bad unit even worse. The other starting cornerback, Moreau, who was filling in for Aaron Robinson, got hurt. Five offensive line showed up on the injury list and two safeties. A really thin team to start with just got dangerously thin.
This where Giants fans have gotten stupid. Not all of you. The smart ones are nodding your head at what I wrote and are off the hook. I’m scolding those of you who say such things as (and yes, these have been posted this week):
- Brian Daboll lost this team when he yelled at them.
- We will learn this Thursday if this coaching staff is any good.
- The team needs to make a number of changes in Week 12 to take the offense and defense in new directions.
But what mostly bothers me are posts that scream (paraphrasing), “If this team doesn’t win and perform to my expectations, then the individuals responsible are horrible human beings and must be vilified until they make me feel better.” Or the “please tell me it’s going to be OK” posts. What are we? Eight year olds? I don’t know what is going on, but some of you guys need a good slap in the face and dose of reality.
This is flawed, rebuilding football team. It underwent major changes this past offseason. It will undergo major changes this upcoming offseason. The 7-3 start has been great, and hopefully they still have a few wins in them to keep things entertaining. But the unexpected winning has now created unrealistic expectations. A thin team that wins with the slightest margins of error is not likely to experience sustained success. And this is especially true when that thin team loses its most important players. “But…but…but..” No buts, that’s just the way it is. Teams with stronger rosters will prevail in the end. Survival of the fittest.
So this is a word of advice to those of you who are getting really upset: It’s a game. It’s supposed to be something fun for you to enjoy. It would be nice to win, but it’s not the end of the world if your team loses. The Giants appear to be heading in the right direction with a GM and coach on the same page. Regardless of how it ends, this year turned out better than expected. You’d probably feel better if the team’s W-L record was better after the bye than before it, but it’s not likely to work out that way.
THE INJURY REPORT:
- WR Richie James (knee – questionable)
- TE Daniel Bellinger (eye – out)
- OC Jon Feliciano (neck – out)
- OG Josh Ezeudu (neck – out)
- OG Shane Lemieux (toe – out)
- OT Andrew Thomas (illness – questionable)
- OT Evan Neal (knee/illness – out)
- OT Tyre Phillips (neck – questionable)
- CB Adoree’ Jackson (knee – out)
- CB Fabian Moreau (oblique – out)
- S Dane Belton (clavicle – questionable)
- S Jason Pinnock (jaw – questionable)
THE FINAL WORD:
The Giants are huge underdogs against Dallas and for good reason. The Cowboys are coming off of their most impressive win of the season. The Giants are coming off their most disappointing loss of the season. Worse, the Giants somehow managed to end up a more physically-damaged team after the bye week. The secondary, offensive line, and wide receiving corps are a mess with injuries. Barring a big upset, the results are not going to aid your post-Turkey digestive process. If you can’t handle that, pretend the team isn’t playing and enjoy the time with your family.
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