Senior year of college has kept me busier than imaginable, but as I digress, I’d like to shift attention back to the gridiron. The Giants are 3-6, in one of the ugliest, most unusual seasons in their history. The 0-6 start was brutal. You’d have to go back to 1976 to find a start that bad, for a usually proud organization. However, they remain a game and half out of the division lead. Well what’s all this mean? Do they actually have a chance? Here’s the deal:
Despite being 3-6, yes, the G-men are very much alive. Just one game back in the loss column, anything is possible with 7 games left to play. However, let’s not get overconfident here–the Giants have serious holes and the three game winning streak hasn’t been stylish at all. Beating a backup QB at home, a backup QB on a dysfunctional team, and an inexperienced Terell Pryor at home is nothing to boast about. The Giants haven’t defeated anyone with a winning record. Eli Manning leads the league in interceptions. The offensive line is a mess. David Wilson’s career is in jeopardy. It’s not a trip to Disney Land. But, oh, there is hope.
The rest of this division is so inconsistent, anything is possible (cue the Kevin Garnett voice). The Cowboys are still my pick to win the NFC East, but with little confidence. Dez Bryant is cancerous to his team, star linebacker Sean Lee could miss the next month, and this team looks to be fairly incompetent away from home. This is a story all too familiar to Dallas fans.
The Eagles don’t know who they want as the signal caller, but Nick Foles looks to be the guy after two straight stellar performances. Still, their defense scares no one, and Nick Foles needs to perform against legitimate defenses before he’s taken seriously.
Down in Washington, the Skins have all kinds of issues. RGIII is playing well, but doesn’t seem like he can run like he used to after offseason ACL surgery. Their defense is overrated and gives up too many yards. They also seem to struggle on the road.
If the Giants want to keep winning, changes have to be made, because the competition will not be as easy as the past three weeks. The offensive line needs to protect Eli Manning. When Eli has time, he is a pro bowl caliber player. He has been getting sacked and knocked down far too much to be comfortable. Many of his interceptions are because he forces them, which can be attributed to a lack of confidence in his offensive line. No one on the team, especially Eli himself, will throw that unit under the bus, but it’s easy to tell the o-line is vastly under performing.
Fortunately for the Giants, their run game just got a huge boost with Andre Brown returning. If he is getting 20+ carries/game, this will make play action passing a much more effective weapon. It will also set up a more balanced offense.
When the Giants do not turn the ball over, they are far more competitive. It’s a simple formula for every team, one of Tom Coughlin’s most emphasized points. Don’t turn the ball over, and the Giants will be in games, I’ll guarantee you that.
Lost in all this Eli/Coughlin commotion, is a defense that has played very well. Even when the team was losing, the defense was victim to starting in poor field position, being played too much and tiring out due to turnovers, and being bashed for the offense’s and special team’s miscues. This unit hasn’t been the ’85 Bears, but they have played well enough to be competitive, especially when the offense doesn’t commit turnovers.
Although they still have a long road ahead, there is reason to believe again in New York. Little by little, this team is improving. With 4 division games left, there is no reason to think it’s an impossible task anymore. Surely there is more adversity on the horizon, but no team has ever won without perseverance.
Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but that’s what sports is all about–a never say die attitude, even when going gets tough. Because when that happens… ah I’m sure you know the rest of it.