Tag Archives: Olivier Vernon

My thoughts about the GMEN after the first two preseason games

The 2018 New York Giants are likely to improve upon their 3-13 record from 2017. I might not be sticking my neck out very far in making this not-so- bold prediction, but there is much to support this thinking.  Although it is too early to tell whether this is a 6-win team or a team capable of winning 9 or more games and potentially making the playoffs, roster changes and the return of star power from injury alone will make this team better. Let’s begin with the offense.

This offense has star power. Saquon Barkely, the first round pick of the Giants and the second overall player taken in the 2018 NFL draft, should be a stud.  He’s a 1000-yard rusher behind a bad offensive line and possibly a 1500-yard rusher if this revamped offensive line gels as quickly as hoped. Did I mention he is a talented receiver and blocker as well?  He is one of several players on this offense who can excel at YAC-ing. (That is, getting yards after the catch). Remember, YAC-ing is a welcomed occurrence in the NFL;  and a bad thing to happen at a New Year’s Eve party.

Few players in the league are as dynamic and dangerous with their hands on the ball as wideout  O’Dell Beckum Jr. The good news for Giants fans is that he appears to be back in form.  Sterling Shepard , another Wide Receiver is a rising talent who can also turn a difficult catch into a big-play. The slot receiver, or third receiver depending upon where they move players around to appears to be Cody Lattimer who was acquired from Denver in the offseason.  Although he flashes on occasion, the jury is still out on him.

Then there is Evan Engram, the Giants 2017 number one draft pick. He’s a wide receiver at the Tight End position.  Think Jimmy Graham or Jordan Reed.  This guy is a playmaker. Let see how good he can be after having an outstanding rookie season.

Now let’s address the revamped offensive line.  Yes, the GMEN spent a lot of money on Nate Solder, the former left tackle for the New England Patriots. I suppose they were tired of hearing the boos for former left tackle Ereck Flowers and chose the best left tackle available in free agency. Who can blame them?

Solder is not an elite player. He gets beaten and looks very ordinary at times. But he is a leader in the lockeroom and should make a big difference protecting Eli’s blind side. Insert rookie Will Hernandez at left guard. Think Chris Snee with slightly worse feet.  Big, nasty mauler who should be able to create running  lanes for Saquon.  At center, John Halapio appears to be the choice over the Canadian, Brent Jones. Time will tell who wins the center position but it looks like it’s Halapio’s job to lose. Patrick Omaneh is the right guard who has played for Giants GM Dave Gettleman in Carolina.  He is somewhat of a journeyman but should still be able to open holes for the rushing attack.   Last but not least, is right tackle Ereck Flowers. It might be a reach for the Giants to think he can perform on the right side better than he did on the left. I don’t blame the Giants for giving him a shot at another position.

And then there is Eli, who looks like he can still hit the open man when protection is present.  Granted, he is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, but he should benefit greatly from the addition of Barkley as a safety valve who can run, catch and perhaps most importantly, block.  Keeping Eli vertical will be essential for having a bounceback season.

On defense, the GMEN unloaded salary in the form of Jason Pierre Paul and let some of their linebackers and defensive backs with big salaries find other teams in free agency.  So why do I believe their defense stands a chance to be better than they have in the past few seasons?

James Bettcher, new defensive coordinator for the New York Giants excels with the ensemble cast theory. He has crafted three top- 6 defenses in the past 3 seasons.  This year could follow suit. He has acquired a group of players in addition to starter Olivier Vernon, who can rush the quarterback including Kareem Martin and Josh Mauro (players he had in Arizona) as well as Connor Barwin and rookie Lorenzo Carter.  Bettcher brings the pass rush early and often.  In the second preseason game, you saw sacks coming from various players including rookie Lorenzo Carter.  Very encouraging.

In the secondary, Cornerback Janoris Jenkins (aka Jackrabbit) and safety Landon Collins are pro bowl players.  Let’s hope that the players the Giants put next to them can rise to the occasion as well.

It might take the Rod Marinelli-like ensemble themed defense a few weeks to bear fruit, but I think they have the potential to be good.  If the offense lives up to it’s potential and the line can open up some running lanes for Saquon as well as protect Eli, the GMEN could be back in contention for the NFC East lead.  Stay tuned.

Larry Finklestein is a self proclaimed ignorantly optimistic New York Giants fan.


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Much room for improvement

It’s easy to be excited if you’re a fan of the New York Giants.  The team is 2-0! Having experienced what can only be described as a dismal preseason, Giant fans didn’t know what to expect. I would have to say that the 2-0 start was as much as we could ask for.  Still, there appear to be a number of things necessary to remain victorious that this team needs to be doing.

Running the football effectively

The left side of the offensive line with Erik Flowers, Justin Pugh and center Westin Richburg appears to have quality written all over it.  It’s the right side that is seriously in doubt. Not having made any major changes to the offensive line might come back and bite the GMEN later this season. Right guard John Jerry and Right tackle Marshall Newhouse are serviceable backups at best.  Sure, Newhouse received acclaim for his week 1 performance against the Dallas Cowboys.  I think that was more of a tribute to how bad the Cowboys defense is than anything else. And one week later, Newhouse is injured. Who knows for how long? It looks like Bobby Hart will be stepping up to the plate.

Giant fans have been clamoring for a long term solution at right tackle and right guard for some time now.  The Giants have certainly had the opportunity to draft or obtain O-line help via free agency. Yet, they don’t see the gravity that fans are feeling.  How nice would it be to see running lanes open up for Giants running backs?

Creating turnovers

On the defensive side of the ball, the Giants look much improved.  Statistics indicate they are stopping the run and preventing the long pass from being completed.  After two weeks, they are the only team in the NFL not to have a completion of 30 yards or more made on them.

That is a tribute to the new talent they have on defense. A combination of high priced free agents as well as drafting secondary help appears to have helped this team dramatically.  Still, we know winning teams create turnovers. And the GMEN have yet to do so.

Janoris Jenkins has already made his imprint on this defense.  A big time talent that has always made big plays, he has been known for making interceptions.  Third round draft pick Darien Thompson out of Boise State was a ball hawk in college. Currently, he has no interceptions and is having difficulty staying on the field as a result of injuries.  The talent appears to be there on the D-line and in the secondary. The Giants just have to make it happen.

The Sack Department

Against what is widely considered the best offensive line in the NFL, it is no surprise that the Giants didn’t generate much pressure on Dak Prescott, the rookie QB who is looking very poised and talented. However, against a highly accurate Drew Brees, it feels like the GMEN could have applied more pressure.

I know it’s early in the season but against the Washington Redskins, it is time to release the hounds! Since the GMEN have always had difficulty covering the fast and elusive Desean Jackson, they better plan on getting to the QB sooner and preventing Kirk Cousins from playing catch with Jackson or Tight End Jordan Reed, one of his favorite weapons.  Let’s hope to see a more active Olivier Vernon/Jason Pierre Paul duo and perhaps see more out of Owa Odigizouwa and Romeo Okwara.  Utilizing the occasional safety or corner blitz wouldn’t be the worst idea as well.

Dwelling on the positive

I am ecstatic to see Victor Cruz contributing to the outcome of the games this early in the season. He made arguably (perhaps with the exception of the Jenkins special team TD) the biggest play of the game in last week’s victory over the Saints. Admittedly, I had my doubts that he would be able to return to the roster this season and certainly have an impact this early in the season. His Week 1 touchdown reception wasn’t too bad, either as fans react to it in this YouTube video.


Don’t get me wrong

I am happy with this 2-0 start to the season. But it is much too early to know if this team is a contender or pretender. Giant fans needed a change from the mishaps of the past few seasons. I think Ben McAdoo brings a fresh approach to the job.  The Giants have won two close games this season.  They were losing close games last season. The money spent on free agents appears to be well spent thus far. The Janoris Jenkins acquisition has already paid off big and I am expecting the same of Olivier Vernon as well as the man they call Snacks.  Now let’s see this team improve and fill in some of their missing pieces.


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Check out the PROMOTE circle on www.huddleball.com as well!