New York Giants fans are ready to breathe a collective sigh of relief when the last few seconds tick away in their final preseason game tonight against the New England Patriots. It’s always an anxiously-awaited moment in anticipation of what’s to come, like students waiting for the final bell on the last of school.
This year, the Giants will simply be relieved when this cruel charade called the NFL preseason is over.
It has been ugly to say the least. Aside from a 57-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz and an 84-yard scamper from David Wilson, the Giants’ offense has not been able to find a rhythm. Eli Manning and his banged-up group of receivers haven’t been on the same page. They haven’t even been on the same chapter for that matter.
Hakeem Nicks has been nursing a lingering groin injury and doesn’t seem to be 100 percent. In two games, closer to about four total quarters, Nicks has just three receptions. The one play where Nicks looked like his old self came on a 34-yard reception against the New York Jets when he was able to haul in a long pass with one hand amid a defensive pass interference penalty.
Cruz, after signing a six-year, $46 million deal this offseason, gave the Giants a little salsa sample in the first game but followed that up with an early exit against the Indianapolis Colts due to a foot injury. Cruz was diagnosed with a bruised heel and forced into a temporary walking boot and crutches. However, he shed the accessories on Monday and is expected to be back for the Giants’ opener at Dallas.
Maybe the most frustrating failure for the Giants is the offense’s inability to finish drives. The red-zone, or “green zone” as Coughlin calls it, has become a graveyard of failed drives. These struggles have been evident in past seasons and seem like something that will continue to haunt the G-Men.
The offensive line also seems to be close to the danger zone. The Giants knew the o-line was going to be constantly susceptible to change after center David Baas sprained his knee and David Diehl underwent thumb surgery. Baas is going to be out three to six weeks and Diehl is going to miss about six weeks as well. Look for both Kevin Boothe and Jim Cordle to see time at center against the Patriots.
The secondary remains in flux with Stevie Brown’s season-ending ACL tear and Antrel Rolle‘s tweaked ankle. Rolle, however, has since returned to practice.
On the positive side, the Giants’ rushing game has looked solid as both Wilson and Andre Brown have put up good numbers. Against the Colts, the two combined for 70 yards on 16 carries. Wilson followed that up with 92 yards and a touchdown against the Jets. Pending any unforeseen injuries, the Giants will utilize both backs in their rushing attack.
The defensive line has also been impressive this preseason. After a shaky debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the big guys up front have fared well against the run. Of course, the Colts were missing Ahmad Bradshaw and the Jets’ running game is nothing to write home about. Either way, the addition of Cullen Jenkins should help the defensive line improve from a year ago.
It’s hard to tell how much stock can actually be placed on preseason games. Most players seem to have “stay healthy” as their number one goal. It’s the rare time in sports when the term “moral victory” can be used appropriately. The final score means far less than getting everybody off the field with all of their limbs intact.
Daniel Brennan covers the New York Giants for Rant Sports. He lives in Westchester, New York and is a graduate of Quinnipiac University.