Why New York Giants Fans Should Be Scratching Their Heads
Eli's face says it all. The free agent signing frenzy has officially begun, and the New York Giants aren't instilling a lot of faith in their fan base.
I am left scratching my head as to why, seemingly, the Giants are letting opportunities slip through their fingers. Major needs at the linebacker, offensive line and wide receiver spots have become even more glaring with the release of Shaun O'Hara and Rich Seubert. Coupled with the signing of talented linebackers (Barrett Ruud, Paul Poluszny) to other teams teams, the G-Men are quickly letting opportunities slip by.
It might be time to panic if you're a Giants fan... or maybe there's hope around the corner and we just don't see it. Either way, lets take a look at what has transpired since the lockout ended, and see where Big Blue stands at the moment.
The Weakening of the Offensive Line
It was only a few seasons ago that the Giants' offensive line was considered the league standard. Now, Shaun O'Hara and Rich Seubert, two stalwarts on that vaunted line are gone, and it doesn't seem like the Giants have any idea how to replace them.
What's worse is that with all the training time lost due to the lockout, the fact is that whoever they bring in will have to make an immediate impact for this line to succeed.
OK, so they picked up David Baas, but that move doesn't do enough to improve an already dire situation.
David Diehl needs to make a move because he gets beat too often by strong pass rushers. O'Hara was seen as the leader on this unit and now hes gone. Will Baas be able to fill that void? I'm not convinced.
More than any other unit, the O-line needs time to work together and build chemistry.
William Beatty and James Brewer are waiting in the wings for significant playing time, but they are unproven commodities at this point. Its up to the front office to decide if these guys can handle substantial playing time, or if they need to shore up this unit even further through trades or free agency.
The Steve Smith Quandary
What was once considered a strength on this unit is now being scrutinized with the uncertainty of Steve Smith.
The unrestricted and unsigned free agent may begin the season on the PUP list, meaning he cant play for the team for the first six weeks of the season. The Giants simply cant thrive consistently in their passing game without Smith.
The flip side to this is that it makes him that much less attractive to potential suitors. Still, Big Blue is left in a tough situation. They can retain him and hope he can play the full season, or let some other team pick him up and hope he doesn't play the full season.
Whether they keep him or let him go, the Giants are handcuffed because they have no one of Smith's caliber in the wide receiver slot, and Eli Manning loses his security blanket (if Smith does indeed begin the season on the PUP list).
After letting Plaxico Burress sign with the New York Jets, the Steve Smith quandary only deepens that much more. It will be up to Ramses Barden, Victor Cruz and even Derek Hagan to step up should Smith leave or start the season injured.
That prospect does not bode well for most Giants fans. Big Blue will need to have a diverse, multifaceted receiving crew to outdo the like of the Eagles secondary if they want to make the playoffs.
Anyone Know a Good Linebacker?
Barrett Ruud to the Titans. Paul Poluszny to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Two studs the Giants should have went for. The linebacker corps has become the G-Men's most glaring need, and they don't seem to be doing much to fix it.
They don't need to have an all-star cast here—that label belongs to their defensive line, but they need a consistent, Pro Bowl caliber linebacker who can makes plays at the line and in shallow coverage.
Clint Sintim was a player I had high hopes for when he was drafted. Many said he was a first-round talent, but now I don't see what they were talking about.
Jonathan Goff actually had a strong season, and there are hopes in the organization that he will only get better. Despite this, its obvious the Giants needs someone between their secondary and the front four who will stop plays before they happen. That someone has yet to emerge.
Osi... Osi... Osi!
Osi Umenyiora is one of the premiere ends in the game. Now hes complaining about the contract he signed, and is seeking to take his skills elsewhere if the Giants don't pay up.
This was not an issue I expected to blow up the way it has. Plenty of teams would love to have an elite pass-rusher like Osi on their team, but what can the Giants get in return? Or if they keep him, how much will it cost to keep him happy?
Jerry Reese has a lot of wheeling and dealing to do here, and while I believe the Giants defensive line can stand losing someone of Osi's caliber, the player who steps in to take his place has to produce sooner, rather than later.
Will it be Mathias Kiwanuka, who thrives in pass-rushing sets, or Jason Pierre Paul, who showed flashes of brilliance at the position at season end? Either way, Justin Tuck will see more double teams than he has in a long time should Osi be sent elsewhere.
Off the field, this poses an even bigger problem. While players publicly show their support or indifference to the situation, behind closed doors I cant imagine they'd be too happy.
The Giants have had enough to deal with. From their O-line troubles, to being over the cap, to watching their rivals the Philadelphia Eagles snatch up just about every talented player available, to be distracted further.
Whatever the result is, it needs to happen, and it needs to happen fast.
So there you have it. Major needs for upgrades, and in some cases, complete turnovers are in order at key spots on this Giants team.
As currently constructed, I still think they will make the playoffs because of their talented receivers and secondary, and their second-to-none defensive line.
Making a deep run without a legitimate linebacking star and a cohesive O-line is another story. What do you think? Are the Giants doomed to a season of mediocrity, or should the fans just trust Jerry Reese and the front office to get the job done. We'll find out this season.
Comments, questions, concerns? FIRE AWAY... PEACE OUT !
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