Eli Manning‘s slump. Two game losing streak. Division lead down to one game. Porous defense. Reasons to panic for the New York Giants?
While Giants fans came off the depression of not having a game the week following two subpar performances, I want you take a moment to consider this very simple statement:
No matter what happens, at least the Giants are still better than (Insert NFC East team here).
It doesn’t matter which team you put in those parentheses, because the statement is still true.
The Washington Redskins? They do have a phenom rookie quarterback in Robert Griffin III, but not much else. The defense is weak, they miss Pierre Garcon‘s explosiveness, and the reliability of TE Fred Davis. Washington is building, but they are clearly not ready yet to contend as head coach Mike Shanahan has already said.
The Philadelphia Eagles? They are in a freefall., having lost 6 in a row. The defense is worse since head coach Andy Reid (in a sheer panic move) fired Offensive Line coach turned Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo, Mike Vick is dealing with concussion problems and Nick Foles is far from ready for prime time. The only drama left in Philly is who will be the next coach.
The Dallas Cowboys? Is there a bigger collection of underperforming talent than in Big D? The defense is still horribly inconsistent, the offensive line is too often offensive, Tony Romo is, well, Tony Romo. They are still the Cowboys, but that has become more of a negative than a positive at this point. George Steinbrenner wannabe Jerry Jones has given a public vote of confidence to head coach Jason Garrett but that may as well be a kiss of death. This team has 8-8 all over it.
As surreal as it is to say this, 9-7 probably wins this division, and for the 7th time in 8 years, the Giants have gotten off to a 6-2 start or better.
Don’t panic over the mid-season swoon. If you are a Giants fan, you should be accustomed to this by now. Since 2005, every season except 2008, Big Blue has had some kind of mid-season swoon. In 5 of the past 7 seasons, they went .500 or worse in the second half. Twice they won the Super Bowl in those same seasons.
The offensive line has been shuffled around several times due to injuries, and that shuffling has shown in decreased performance. Offense, particularly an offensive line, is about rhythm and continuity. Those two things have not been possible with the Giants over the last few weeks, and the results have shown up in Eli Manning’s statistics.
During last season’s 4 game skid, the Giants offense also sputtered due to a case of the dropsies that ran rampant through the receiving corps. This has surfaced again. Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Martellus Bennett, among others, have all been afflicted by this ‘dropsies’ virus. The receiving corps rebounded last year and played tremendously well the rest of the year. Again, there is no reason to think they will not overcome again.
The Giants schedule in the second half, as has been the case the past several years, is very strong. They have remaining games with the New Orleans Saints, and Philadelphia at home, and road tilts with Washington, the Atlanta Falcons, and Baltimore Ravens.
There isn’t much left to the Eagles, who will be packing it in come the end of the year with a probably lame-duck coach. Baltimore and Atlanta are tough road games, but both are teams that do not pose difficult match-ups for the Giants, and they should at least get a split there. Washington plays the Giants tough, and RG III is a dynamic talent who is hard to defend, but that is a game the Giants should win.
The Saints, however, are always the biggest thorn in the Giants side. Drew Breesis highly accurate, the Saints utilize short drops and quick passes to negate the Giants’ pass rush, and their outside speed is tremendous. They have been a terrible matchup for the Giants for years, and this year will be no different.
That being said, the Giants are talented enough to beat every team on the schedule the rest of the way. They have already played their worst football, and can only get better from here.
This team has shown an uncanny ability to thrive under duress, a trait that emanates from its quarterback.
Do the Giants have work to do? Of course, but despite their struggles they are still in first place and still control their own destiny. Its far from time to panic.