New York Giants: Progress Report Headed into Week 8

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistOctober 24, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 14: Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants on the sidelines during the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on October 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The New York Giants defeated the San Francisco 49ers 26-3. Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

The dynasty talk will surely begin to pick up again in the world of Big Blue as the New York Giants begin to pull away in the NFC East.

Don't get too far ahead of yourselves, though, because it's important to remember that the Giants followed up their last Super Bowl victory with 11 wins in their first 12 games before suddenly losing four of five and going one-and-done in the playoffs.

What the Giants are doing is exciting and possibly historic, but let's consider how easy it is for everything to fall apart. The Giants appear to have the talent, coaching, perseverance and mental toughness to win yet another Lombardi Trophy. But do they have the luck? 

So far, so good. But a lot of time remains on the clock.

Here's a breakdown of where the G-men stand seven weeks into the season.


What They Should Be Thinking

Glass Half-Empty

OK, we're 5-2, but we were outplayed by Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington and had to resort to second-half comebacks against Tampa Bay and Cleveland. In other words, we've only really played two complete games in which we were clearly the better team. Out of seven. 

Is that sustainable? We think it is, because we've never been a team that wins in convincing fashion on a consistent basis, but in our two recent championship seasons we peaked a lot later. So the actual answer is that nobody really knows if it's sustainable. 

I mean, if Josh Wilson and Madieu Williams don't choke hard, we probably don't beat the Redskins in Week 7 and are thus not leading the NFC East right now. We're happy we executed the right play at the right time again, but we're a little concerned that the magic could run out. 

Besides, it shouldn't have come down to that against the Redskins. It's hard to believe we trailed that game in the final two minutes. We were at home and they committed four turnovers in the second half alone. On top of all that, they were without key players such as Fred Davis, London Fletcher, Pierre Garcon, Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker. 

The big problem—aside from having to try to stop Robert Griffin III—was that our veteran quarterback wasn't on the same page as our veteran receivers for much of the day. Eli Manning still completed 65 percent of his passes, but some of his 14 incompletions were rookie-esque. And we mean Gabbert rookie-eque, not Griffin rookie-esque. He also threw two second-half interceptions.

Will we be able to get away with that down the stretch against teams like Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Atlanta and Baltimore?


Glass Half-Full

We found a way to win those games in which we weren't on top of our game, which is more than we can say about how we started last season. If this is a team that peaks late and we're already 5-2 out of the gate, that's an indication that we could be on the verge of becoming dominant down the stretch. 

And it's not as though we haven't had our fair share of injuries, either. We're just getting Chris Canty back now and are still without Kenny Phillips. A big reason why Manning struggled Sunday might have been his lack of chemistry with the rusty Hakeem Nicks, who is also still being eased back from injury. Watch for the passing game to become more consistent as Nicks becomes sharper.

In spite of the hiccups and the injuries, we have the second-highest-rated offense in the league, a much-improved running game and offensive line and a top-10 defense that is giving up only 19.5 points per game. In our Super Bowl 2011 season, we surrendered 25.0 points per.

Plus, the rest of the division is a mess anyway. The Eagles just fired their defensive coordinator, the Cowboys just lost their best defensive player for the remainder of the season and the Redskins are being ravaged by injuries on both sides of the ball. The schedule's tough, but we should be able to stroll to another NFC East title. 


What I'm Thinking

Stock Rising (Offense): Martellus Bennett

Dallas fans are looking at what Bennett's been doing this year in New York and wondering what the hell kept him from doing the same thing in his Cowboy days. After another stellar performance with five catches for 79 yards on seven targets against the Redskins, the five-year veteran has finally emerged as a top-10 tight end.


Stock Rising (Defense): Prince Amukamara

His fantastic first full season continues. Amukamara was beaten just three times for 41 yards against Washington's high-powered offense, grading out as the Giants' best defensive player, according to Pro Football Focus.

Overall, PFF ranks him 12th in coverage among 98 qualifying cornerbacks, which is saving New York's defense—especially when you consider that top Giants corner Corey Webster is ranked 98th out of 98.


Stock Dropping (Offense): Will Beatty

This isn't totally fair to Beatty, who gave up his first sack of the entire season Sunday against the Redskins. He still didn't play poorly and has had an excellent year, but no one else's stock is really dropping on this offense right now. I can't put Eli Manning in this spot because of what he did with a minute to play, and Ramses Barden and Andre Brown might only be non-factors due to injury.


Stock Dropping (Defense): Corey Webster

I know I've already included him in this spot, but this is just getting out of hand. Webster hasn't had a single positive performance this season. If his name wasn't Corey Webster and the Giants weren't so thin in the secondary, he'd have been benched a long time ago. 



They're one of the best all-around teams in the league, which is something I doubted in the offseason. Thus far, they've proven me wrong. But they do have to start winning at least some games in more convincing fashion (a la what happened in San Francisco). 

Regardless, I can't see anyone else in this division putting up much of a fight at this point. However, like I said at the top, there are a lot of games ahead. They need to stay relatively healthy.

View last week's report here


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