Many fans get excited about the preseason exploits of the third running back or that one free-agent defensive back that makes the team against great odds.
The plan that many Giants fans are hopeful for is the one where the team remains injury free, gains continuity through training camp reps, and gets ready to play big-boy physical football on September 13, 2009, when the Redskins come to Giants Stadium for the season opener.
The G-Men should be ready, with Eli Manning firmly entrenched as the starter on a team returning 19 of its 22 playoff starters on both sides of the ball.
The receiver position is in flux; many young players are competing for the spot opposite third-year mainstay Steve Smith. The competition should bring out the best of all of them. If not, you can expect the brass to move quickly by the second or third preseason game to acquire a veteran receiver.
Team unity, timing, reps, and the development of game rhythm are the major goals of the Coughlin coaching staff entering its sixth year, but they better be ready for September 13—the Redskins are a big, physical group looking for revenge.
All you have to do is flash back to last year's bruising season opener to know that the 'Skins want to bring their wrecking ball offense to the Meadowlands for some good old NFC smash mouth. Who can forget the tractor-trailer-drive-by that Brandon Jacobs put on Redskins safety LaRon Landry during last year's 16-7 season opening win in New York?
The 'Skins, under second-year coach Jim Zorn, are looking to Jason Campbell to develop into a reliable passer that has the ability to sustain drives when Washington's solid running attack needs to pass for a third-down conversion.
Campbell has talent and a strong arm but when under third-down pressure, he has trouble with his feet-arm coordination when rushed and often misses his target.
In many ways, however, he reminds me of a younger version of Eli Manning which is scary for NFC opponents. Manning had accuracy troubles early in his career and was extremely turnover prone. Campbell, over the last two years, has fumbled the ball 19 times in 29 games.
Campbell's first two years stat-wise are a little better than Manning's first two, with Campbell's completion percentage and quarterback rating roughly 10.5 and 6 points higher, respectively.
If Campbell puts it all together and the 'Skins play like the 6-win 2-loss unit that started 2008, then the Giants are going to have their hands full against a team with an improved offensive unit and a top-five defensive unit.
Some encouraging signs for the 'Skins are Campbell’s touchdown-to-interception ratio which was sixth in the NFL, and his league-leading interception rate, (6 interceptions in 506 attempts), according to WalterFootball.com, which was the best in the NFL last year.
So as the 'Skins point towards their confrontation with the Giants, look for Washington to feature a physical offensive line with a rough-and-tumble Pro Bowl combination at tight end and fullback that match the intensity of the Giant's physical defense.
Chris Cooley and the Redskins' mack truck of a fullback, 6'3" 273 lb. Mike Sellers, both appeared in the Pro Bowl last year. They bring skill and toughness with every touch of the ball.
Both players soften up defenses for the super-quick and elusive Clinton Portis who played well early in the year for the Redskins but ran out of gas towards the end of 2008. A better passing game means a fresher, less-tired Portis, who carried over 300 times last year.
Look for Washington to come to Giants Stadium with a whole lot of swagger and physical play.
The Giants will be waiting.
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