It’s OK, Nick. I do believe you are telling it like it is. Having been a Giants fan since 1970, I can remember many more bad years than good. The past four seasons, as you have stated, have been garbage.
It’s not for lack of trying. More likely, bad hiring decisions by the Mara/Tisch ownership group. Starting with the decision to keep coach Coughlin on for too long as well as an aging Eli Manning, management thinking should have turned proactive. The decisions to hire Ben Macadoo and then Pat Shurmer as head coach were both bad moves. Neither one of these hires was ready to be a true head coach. Unquestionably competent as position coaches, they did not operate with the vision needed by a head coach. Quite frankly, they lacked the overall management skills required to keep their teams together.
Now let’s fast forward to present day. I actually like what I’ve heard coming out of the mouth of Joe Judge. Coming from perhaps the most respected coaching tree in the league, namely the New England Patriots, as well as the Nick Saban college ranks, Judge will eventually see success in the NFL. Giants fans of course hope this will be sooner as opposed to later.
Believe it or not, the defense is improving
On Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, the Giants became closer to becoming a winning team. Their defense is improving. Notable stars are emerging on the D-line, in the linebacking corps and in the secondary. Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams are providing some push up the middle. Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell are making names for themselves from the linebacker group. (Who doesn’t like the addition of Martinez, who always seems to be around the ball?). Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham appears to be doing a good job with his personnel. Although they are likely to be a few players away from being consistently competitive, I do feel the defense is headed in the right direction.
No real threats on offense
With Saquon Barkley in the game (and as was the case when we had O’Dell Beckum Jr. on the team), there was the belief that the GMEN could score on any play in which they touched the ball. The closest thing the current team can claim to having a home run threat is wide receiver Darius Slayton (3-48 against the Rams). Slayton is off to a quiet start of the season thus far. The talented yet extremely unreliable Evan Engram is not doing the job at Tight End and the often- injured Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard are, often injured. Without the game-breaking talent of a Barkley or a Beckum, the current squad is having difficulty scoring touchdowns at the moment. Kicking field goals, as we know, is a recipe for losing games. Thus, the 0-4 start with 2 defeats (Bears and Rams) which were winnable games.
The GMEN are still feeling around for their best five offensive lineman. This is something that teams often do during the preseason (oh that’s right, there wasn’t a preseason this year!). Well, the shuffling around of linemen on the roster is likely to continue until there seems to be consistency on the offensive line with some inkling of ability to run and/or pass block, hopefully both.
I do believe there is talent on the offensive line. If Marc Columbo can unlock the motivational key on Will Hernandez (am I the only Giants fan who thinks that he should be playing better than he is… ?), along with rookies Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart and Shane Lemieux, the core of the offensive line might be set for a few years. Imagine if the Giants don’t have to focus on drafting offensive lineman in the next NFL draft ?
I know that Pro Football Focus has Cameron Fleming rated as the top offensive lineman for the Giants thus far this season. If that’s the case, yikes! I have found his contributions to be serviceable at best. I liken him to a Kevin Booth. (Booth could take up a lot more space though). It will be interesting to see if coaches try to work in Shane Lemieux in to one of the guard positions or swing new Center, Nick Gates out to the Right Tackle position which I believe he played in college. Inserting Lemieux would bring a bit of nastiness to the offensive line (something we thought would be provided by Will Hernandez) which this team could undoubtedly use.
Back to the offense, the backfield consisting of the newly acquired Devonta Freeman, Wayne Gallman and Dion Lewis is not likely to inspire too much fear in the minds of opposing defenses. Coaching has to be more creative in using their running back’s best attributes (screen passes?). Handoffs from the line of scrimmage aren’t going to do the job until the offensive line demonstrates the ability to open running lanes. Devonta Freeman’s workload should increase each week as he is learning more of the playbook. The good news is that it appears that he has something left in the tank.
Last but not least
Now let’s talk about Daniel Jones. Is the glass half-full or half-empty? Both, I guess. He certainly does appear to be a work-in-progress. Having grown up during the Phil Simms years, I have seen the evolution of a Giants quarterback. It took Simms 4 or 5 seasons trading starts with his backup Scott Brunner before he took command of the position and went on to greater things, including a victory and mvp in Superbowl XXI.
So does Daniel Jones have a Superbowl victory in him? Impossible to tell at this point. You have to believe he is doing his best to control his turnovers at this point. Improvement on the offensive line will be essential to his development. We must also see better decision making from Jones, especially in the Red Zone. Personally, I want to see more of the fire that we saw in Phil Simms turnaround as the QB for the GMEN. Jones needs to take control of this offense and show his linemen that he has the ability to lead this team to winning games this season and beyond.
If the Giants don’t win any games this season, fans will be calling for Jones head on a plate as well as those of head coach Joe Judge and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. They are facing an underachieving yet offensively talented 1-3 Dallas Cowboys team this week. Always a favorite rival, this game will be a good barometer of how much the Giants defense has improved thus far in the 2020. season. Stay tuned and get your popcorn ready…
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