Aug 192013
 

So what’s going on with the Giants offense?

Seriously, in two games now, the starters, led by quarterback Eli Manning, have recorded 30 points (15 points per game), which is hardly a championship caliber statistic. But even more alarmingly is the fact that in six trips to the red zone in their first two games, the Giants starting offense has come up with ZERO touchdowns .

Time to panic?

Eh, not quite.

The first thing we need to remember, besides the fact that it’s preseason and players really don’t get many snaps to get into a rhythm.

The second thing we need to remember is that because of those pesky injuries, the starting offense really hasn’t had much time to practice or play together in live action this summer, so there is bound to be a little rust and a few rough patches.

With so many guys not able to practice, with guys coming in and out of the lineup, how is an offense, which is supposed to be a well-oiled machine, to gain any sense of continuity?

It can’t, and I think that is a big part of the problem (yes, I know some of you are going to blame David Diehl for the problems, but his performance is just a small part of the problem).

During his conference call today, head coach Tom Coughlin was asked if there was a common denominator behind the offenses’ woes, specifically in the red zone.

“Execution.  its execution is what it is,” he said. “That’s the common denominator.  Execute.”

Later on in his call, Coughlin was asked about his level of concern when a player has to miss practice due to injuries. His answer, in my opinion, was spot on.

“Any player that misses practice is missing the opportunity to experience things and instinctively react to things,” he said. “That’s what you worry about with any player who misses time and misses practices because you don’t get the opportunity through repetitions to learn in a multiplicity of things that can happen on any given play.  It’s important for everyone to understand that.”

This is why when veteran players who miss time because they’re nursing injuries make me cringe when they say that they’re well enough to play in a game, but not well enough to practice, with practice being at a slower tempo than the game speed, I might add.

I understand being cautious with your players, but in a practice environment, you can control far more than you can in a game. But I think there’s a fine line between being too careful and just looking for an out and I think those players who feel they’re well enough to play but not well enough to practice need to reassess their logic because one missing part can and does throw off an entire game plan.

hits

Michael Cox: If there was any question about Cox’ chances at earning a roster spot, those were answered by the rookie’s performance against the Colts. Although Cox was ranked last in rushing yardage out of the running backs, posting two carries for four yards, this kid has a nice little burst and plays it though in traffic, never stopping his feet (and thus gaining yards after contact), and never stopping his fight.

Dare I say there is just a bit of another Giants seventh round draft pick in this rookie – anyone remember a guy by the name of Ahmad Bradshaw, who as a rookie kept his feet moving and whose speed was at times breathtaking? Whether Cox can pass block still remains to be seen, but as a running back, he’s certainly been head and shoulders above his competition vying for what’s likely the final spot in a projected three-man unit.

Jacquian Williams: Playing the best of all the linebackers, Williams is starting to look like his old pre-injury self again, especially in coverage, where he always seems to find a way around the ball to either disrupt plays or minimize the damage. Williams also looked solid against the run this week, playing more aggressively and confidently throughout his snaps. If he can stay on the field, the Giants will have at least one starting linebacker that is capable of being a play maker.

Justin Pugh: Although he looked to be the responsible party for giving up a late snap, Pugh battled hard, showed fight, and looked pretty solid working with the second-team at left tackle.  I’m not sure why he hasn’t been given more of a chance to work with the starters in games at right tackle, but given the injury to center David Baas, it’s possible that left guard Kevin Boothe moves to center and Pugh might just have an opportunity to compete to replace Boothe.

Misses

David Diehl:  Perhaps I’m over reacting, but after watching Diehl’s performance last night, it’s becoming clear that he’s always going to need help with pass blocking as for whatever the reason, he just can’t seem to hold up against any kind of pass rush, not that his run blocking was any better this week. And if he remains in the starting lineup to where they need to put a pass blocker over there each time, guess what? Opponents are going to take note of the trend and it could potentially make deciphering the giants’ offense a little easier.

Brandon Myers: Maybe Myers is going to be a late bloomer in this offense, but so far, he hasn’t been as impressive in the games as he has in practices. This week on his lone target, he seemed to have a miscommunication with Manning, the ball falling incomplete. But more of a concern was that on a David Wilson first quarter run that yielded three yards, Myers ended up blocking air as his man went low and underneath him. I understand that Myers isn’t brought here to block, and in time the receptions will start to come, but if he can’t at least show that he can survive out there, opponents might soon quickly key in on that which in turn would make the offense just a little easier to guess.

Ramses Barden:  When your team needs five yards for a first down, you run to the first down marker in your pattern, no questions asked. What did Barden do? On a third-and-five, he ran four yards instead of five, setting up a fourth-and-one for his team (which thankfully they made). Coughlin was none too happy with Barden’s mental mistake; the problem is that this isn’t the first time Barden has made this kind of mistake in his time with the Giants–and he’s a veteran who should know better.

hisses

Jayron Hosley:  Although he came up with a big second quarter interception and is not afraid to make contact, he takes far too many gambles that blow up in his face, such as the second-quarter 18-yard reception he allowed to T.Y. Hilton on which Hosley just took one of the poorest angles you’ll ever see a defensive back take. Earlier on that drive, he also missed a tackle against Hilton after again taking a bad angle.

musingsOne of the things I like to watch during a preseason game is the activity on the sidelines because I think it can tell you a lot about the inner dynamics of a team.

After every series, you have the various position groups sitting together either or without their position coach, talking things over. There’s also a cluster that usually includes quarterback Eli Manning with offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, a group that sometimes includes the backup quarterbacks.

Then you have the injured players. There are some guys who are there on the sideline who remain actively involved I the game, coaching their teammates up, joining the little huddles between plays, and pretty much being leaders.

Then you have guys who just hang around, show little involvement with what’s going on, and pretty much look like they’re spectators who just happened to have the best seat in the house.

I think those players who choose to be merely spectators, who remove themselves from the game because they’re not playing, are making a huge mistake. Last I checked, football is still a team sport and everyone still has something to contribute., even if they’re not playing in the game.

injuriesThe most serious of the injured was center David Baas, who suffered a MCL strain. Coughlin said on Monday that Baas is “weekly,”  his injury potentially jeopardizing the center’s availability for opening day.

Receiver Victor Cruz suffered a heel contusion when his foot was stepped on. While Cruz’s injury doesn’t sound serious, he’ll probably miss the rest of the preseason so that he’s fresh and ready to go for opening day.

Finally, defensive end Justin Tuck suffered what’s been described as a “slight” hamstring strain. Tuck’s availability for the upcoming week will be tricky as with any kind of hamstring strain, if one rushes back too soon, they can make the injury worse. So my guess is that Tuck will be held out of practice this week and will miss the game against the Jets on Saturday night.

final-word

I’m probably going to be in the minority with this opinion and I might even draw a few comments for stating this, but I never did understand why so many people don’t appreciate preseason games more.

Ok, I understand the concept of paying the same price for a preseason game vs. a regular season game, and I don’t totally disagree with it. But what I don’t get is why when people have a chance to watch these games for free on television, they don’t bother to do so?

Yes, the quality is a notch or two below what you normally see (though if you sat through last year’s stink bombs against Baltimore and Atlanta, I assure you that you can sit through anything). Preseason is where the stars of tomorrow are born.

So maybe it’s just me and the nature of the business I’m in, but I enjoy watching these young players come in and develop from those “wet behind the ear” rookies with the wide eyes  into mature veteran players who ultimately develop into leaders.

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