The New York Giants’ season-opening loss to the Dallas Cowboys at home in MetLife Stadium was nothing to be proud of. On paper, the score doesn’t look terrible, but the substantial difference inside the numbers and the play that transpired on the field indicate a dominant, one-sided victory for the Cowboys.
Still, there are 15 games remaining on the docket for the Giants. A long NFL season will always see its ups and downs. Though the Giants look sad now and the Cowboys appear to be the cream of the crop, things will undoubtedly change ten times over before the regular season is through.
Giants fans should know that well, having opened last season with a pathetic 28-14 loss to Rex Grossman and the Washington Redskins, in which they surrendered 305 passing yards and two touchdowns while the Giants offense struggled to net as many yards themselves. Surely we all remember the end result of that season—the Giants are the defending Super Bowl champions after all.
Of the last 12 championship teams prior to the Giants, all had won their season opener. Do you know how many of those teams repeated as champions that year? Just one—the New England Patriots in 2004. Winning the season opener is not the focus season, but being successful going forward is important to ensure the opportunity to reign victorious once again come February in New Orleans.
There are concerns, of course. The run game was nonexistent, more so because of a poor offensive line featuring the likes of veteran David Diehl, who has become more like subway turnstile than an elite run blocker in his old age.
Meanwhile, the salsa-dancing Victor Cruz had little to celebrate, causing concern over three drops on very easy grabs. After the breakout year Cruz had in 2011, fans have been hopeful for more this season, but most are now praying Week 1 was not a sign of what’s to come. Fortunately, Cruz was able to get open with some ease, and it’s likely he’ll correct his mistakes by Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The secondary was atrocious. There is no nice way to put it. But it was to be expected, once Terrell Thomas went down, the Giants and its fans had to know it would be a long season with many adjustments to be made. It took just about the entire regular season to account for the mess they were stuck with in the secondary, and it’s fair to assume defensive coordinator Perry Fewell will be able to sort this bunch out and have them playing full throttle by season’s end.
Luckily, there’s a gunslinger by the name of Eli Manning who can—and will, if he must—carry this team. Manning voices his wish that this season come a little easier than last, but that’s not guaranteed and—as of now—difficult to guarantee. It all rests on Manning and Giants fans should feel comfortable with that. Last season was not the first time he displayed prowess as a clutch quarterback; when he was terrible he still thrived in the final crucial minutes of the game.
Now, he has a ton of offensive weapons from Hakeem Nicks to Cruz, Ahmad Bradshaw and Martellus Bennett—the game changer whose presence will make its biggest impact if the running game is flat once again this season.
The defensive pass rush was unable to account for much in Wednesday’s game against an embarrassing Cowboys offensive line, but that had more to do with Romo’s surprising elusiveness in the pocket than an inability to get after the quarterback. The three-headed monster of Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck will have their way with opposing teams this season; for most they are simply too much to handle.
The Giants look bad right now, there’s no question about that. But if there’s a group of coaches who can figure it out and get their team to bounce back and play at a competitive level, it’s Tom Coughlin and company. They have done it before and they will do it again.
For now, the best option to stay positive, look forward and prepare for the next game. The NFL season is a long one, and there will be many twists and turns before all’s said and done. The Giants can win the next 15 just as easily as they lost that first one.
Keep your heads up Giants fans, there’s still a long way to go.