Last Tuesday night, I bet you thought you had a pretty good handle on what type of team the Giants were going to be in 2012. You followed them throughout training camp, watched all the preseason games and because of this dedicated research, you knew what to expect against the Cowboys.
Well, this preseason once again proves that you don’t truly know a team until the real games begin.
Let’s take a look at four things that Week 1 taught us that we simply didn’t realize or pay attention to in the preseason.
David Wilson Will Not Significantly Cut Into Ahmad Bradshaw’s Workload
Giants fans and media alike could not get enough of Wilson during training camp. His explosive running ability and strong performances in the preseason games set expectations sky-high.
Wilson was expected to push the incumbent Bradshaw from Week 1 and potentially become the main running back in the Giants offense by November.
Well, the Cowboys game taught us that Tom Coughlin does not view rookies and veterans in the same light. Wilson’s lost fumble on his second carry of the game deep in Dallas territory cost the Giants a chance to strike first. Wilson didn’t see another offensive snap the rest of the night.
Is there any doubt that if Bradshaw had fumbled in that exact same spot, he would have seen the field again, probably on the Giants next offensive series?
Coughlin has never shown a propensity to trust rookies in his tenure as Giants coach. The ultra-talented Hakeem Nicks didn’t start until late in his rookie season back in 2009 and even Eli Manning, franchise quarterback in waiting and No. 1 overall pick in 2004, didn’t overtake Kurt Warner until Week 11 of his rookie season.
Wilson should slowly get into Coughlin’s good graces as the season moves along. Nevertheless, as long as Bradshaw stays healthy and plays like the solid back that he is, the rookie’s ceiling is 10-12 offensive touches per game.
The Giants' Run Defense Will Struggle Against a Strong Rushing Attack
When the Giants defense came up in preseason, it was almost always about their dominant pass rush or the deficiencies and injuries in their secondary.
How they would perform against the run was rarely a topic of conversation.
Well, DeMarco Murray taught us that the Giants don’t have a dominant run-stopper in their front seven and lack the speed with their linebackers to slow down a strong running game. This is the same problem the Giants had last season, but the Super Bowl run somehow made people forget about it.
The Giants won’t get exploited by the run every week, but you better believe teams like the Eagles, Panthers, 49ers and Ravens will rack up a lot of yards on the ground against Big Blue. Oh and Murray has a chance to haunt them again in Week 8.
Domenik Hixon is Clearly the Giants' 3rd Wideout
If you asked anyone in the preseason who would fill the departed Mario Manningham’s spot, Hixon’s name was usually mentioned after Ramses Barden and Reuben Randle.
The Dallas game reminded us that, when healthy, Hixon is a solid wide receiver. In retrospect, the belief that a bust like Barden or a raw rookie like Randle would overtake Hixon is pretty absurd.
Unfortunately for Hixon and Giants fans, remaining healthy for 16 games will be a minor miracle. He missed all of 2010 after tearing the ACL in his right knee prior to training camp and then tore the same ACL in Week 2 against the Rams last season.
Another ACL injury may be right around the corner, but if it holds up, expect the seven-year veteran to easily hold off Barden and Randle for the entire season.
The Giants Were 9-7 Last Year For a Reason
A Super Bowl run doesn’t make a team dominant or better in the regular season. In the preseason, though, many people thought it did.
The consensus prior to Wednesday night was that the Giants would win at least 11 games this season. Don’t believe me? Check out this poll in my first B/R article from August 26th.
The more likely scenario is that the Giants win nine or 10 games. Their schedule is too tough and they have too many flaws to be considered a dominant regular-season team. But as we have learned over the last five years, this group knows how to take it to another level when the playoffs start.
If the Giants get into the playoffs, they can definitely make another run. Nothing we saw in Week 1 changed this fact.