Halfway through the first half of the New York Giants preseason schedule and I, like most rational people, worry not about how the G-Men are looking. Playing scrubs and third-stringers in two preseason games is nothing to worry about or get in a tizzy about any time soon.
Of course, who said that Giants fans were rational?
With the departure of Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator to head up the St. Louis Rams (may God have mercy on him) and a lack of Plaxico Burress to throw to, many assumptions have been made of the boys in blue early in the preseason for no apparent reason.
Maybe it's because I live in Albany, NY, home to the (former?) training camp of the New York Giants. Maybe it's because preseason games are hyped up more than usual this year across the board, and even maybe—just maybe—it's because Giants fans don't want to jinx themselves because the Monster from the Meadowlands is shaping up to be a Grade-A team this time around.
With a newly franchised Eli Manning making more money than his older and wiser brother, a first-round draft-pick that could re-ignite the receivers this season, and a mediocre regular season schedule it could be very easy to expect the Giants to run right through the competition like a toddler on a sugar high.
To even state that the Giants could make the playoffs by the end of October causes fans to shake and convulse like voodoo witch doctors to get rid of any bad ju-jube that might have been created.
Nevertheless, the New York Giants are shaping up in the preseason and look to have their hardest game against the New England Patriots. Even with a loss to the Chicago Bears, the Giants will get the rust out before a regular season run that would even make an aged Brett Favre salivate at the possibilities.
Key games in the season include a September start against the Washington Redskins with the Dallas Cowboys following a week later. After trips to the West for games against Kansas City, a bye week at Oakland, New Orleans and Arizona; the Giants play the Eagles at Philly, fight San Diego at home, with a dogfight against the Atlanta Falcons right after the bye week in mid November.
If the G-Men can keep their cool, most of these games should go like clockwork. While Arizona is hot off a run to the Superbowl, and Philadelphia is looking to mess up any postseason appearances, most of these games should barely test Eli and the offense. Most of the judgments will come from Bill Sheridan's boys on the other side of the ball.
With the departure of the aforementioned Spagnuolo, the defensive prowess of the 2008 Giants could be in jeopardy. The Giants may not be the steel curtain of Pittsburgh, but much like other Eastern Division teams (in both conferences), Giants football is won on defense just as often as offense. If teams are looking for any cracks in the Giants plans, it begins with a D.
But not all is lost. If the defense can stand up for themselves this year, Eli will be able to quickly and efficiently pay off any debts they create. $97.3 million is not so much a payment plan as an insurance premium this time around for New York, as Eli is now a veteran of the NFL in all its facets.
No one can blame him for being a green-jean rookie anymore, and Manning is now the franchise of the Giants. With Kevin Boss at tight end, Domenik Hixon, David Tyree returning at wide receiver, and first-round draft-pick Hakeem Knicks, the Giants' offense is stacked this year and Eli will be sitting pretty behind the O-Line, unleashing shots to his receivers all season long.
As the Giants leave their dorms at the University at Albany, and their third preseason game against the Jets looms on Aug. 29, Giants fans need not worry. The preseason means nothing, and the rust will be out soon enough. Just rest easy knowing that Fred Robbins might get the chance to hit Micheal Vick twice this year.