The Giants are now finished with training camp in Albany and are back in New Jersey. With just two pre-season games to go, the team has shown flashes of being a Super Bowl contender interspersed with warning signs of a disappointing season ahead.
The Giants look like they will have the best running game in the NFL this year. Brandon Jacobs continues to show why he is the most feared RB in the NFL. Brian Urlacher will remember how hard it is to tackle Jacobs. Don't think that the rest of the league did not see that and think twice about how to tackle him.
The good news for Giants fans is that Ahmad Bradshaw has looked great as well. He appears faster than last year when he was bothered by a leg injury. Now, he appears to be the great change of pace back to complement Jacobs as in the Super Bowl run in 2007. Even Danny Ware has looked really good.
Every team in the NFL would trade their running backs with the Giants. And I did not even mention the great blocking that fullback Madison Hedgecock provides. This is the one area of the team that is working the way is should.
The pass rush is also top notch. Clint Sintim has shown real potential and Osi Umenyiora looks to be as good as new. Mathias Kiwanuka and Justin Tuck have both looked strong. Right now, if the interior of the line gets healthy, the defense looks good.
The passing game has been nonexistent. While Eli Manning has looked solid, the rest of the passing game has been poor. There have been very few deep patterns because the line has not blocked well. The best play has been screen passes.
It is almost impossible to evaluate the wide receivers because there has not been enough time to let them run their patterns properly. Getting Chris Snee and Rich Seubert back is a necessity. David Tyree has been dropping passes and making uncharacteristic mental mistakes. The Super Bowl hero is in real danger of getting cut. Hakeem Nicks hurt his hamstring early and is now just catching up.
The only wide receiver to get universal praise has been rookie Ramses Barden. This is not a good situation.
Injuries are threatening to kill a potentially promising season. Every defensive tackle projected to make the team has been on the injured list at camp. Jay Alford, who looked like a great tackle this camp is now likely lost for the year. Chris Canty has a torn hamstring and they have resorted to new therapies. Rocky Bernard just got back from his hamstring injury. Randy Cofield and Fred Robbins are back, but both are coming back after off-season surgery.
The interior of the line is a problem because the only "healthy" player is Cofield. The team needs these guys to get healthy or there will be big problems once the games count.
Unfortunately, the injuries have not been limited to the defensive line. Michael Boley has yet to play because of a hip injury. Kenny Phillips has an injured knee. Aaron Ross appears to have suffered a severe hamstring pull on the last practice of training camp. While Terrel Thomas has had a good camp and will be able to adequately fill in for Ross, the problem becomes the nickel and dime packages until Ross is healthy.
The offense has not avoided these problems either. Both Chris Snee and Rich Seubert have been hurt and missed the Bears game. Without a superior line, the Giants will have trouble scoring. The Giants depend on a dominant running game and Snee and Seubert are a huge part of that. The Giants also lost promising RB Andre Brown is a season ending injury.
What to Watch For
With two games left, the Giants need to get healthy. Then they need to find out about their passing game. They have shown that they can run on anybody. Now they need to know if they can pass the ball successfully when needed. A healthy Giants team is a title contender. An injured one will have trouble making the playoffs in the competitive NFC East.