Almost every preseason, a really important player goes down for the season. In 2008, it was Osi Umenyiora. In 2011, it was Terrell Thomas. In 2013, it is Stevie Brown. To those fans who weren't paying attention last year, Stevie Brown was a revelation who solidified the defense with 8 INTs and a number of key plays that changed games. In this, his second year with the team, it was going to be even better for the maturing player, who admitted he was thinking less and playing more. We just got through giving him his props leading into this season: with an oft-injured Tuck, an aging set of players like Webster and Rolle, and JPP on the PUP, Brown was fast becoming the leading impact player of this defense. So what does he do vs Jets? He picks off yet another pass.
And promptly tears his ACL.
This is what it means to be any part of the game of football. Injuries are such a huge part of the game. The Giants needed about ~11 miracles in 2011, but they got past TT's loss. In 2008, they steamrolled to an 11-1 regular season start but ran out of gas when Plax went down. Would Osi have made a difference that year? Maybe. Can the Giants win without Brown? Of course they can, but it will be a lot harder. Here's why...
Preseason: Jets 24 Giants 21 OT
The score in this one was mostly irrelevant. What was relevant was how sloppy the Giants (and Jets) were yesterday.
David Wilson's opening play explosion for a TD reminds us why we need this player in open space.
Tuck looked good- please stay healthy and he will deliver impact plays every game.
TT made his first appearance in 2 yrs, and he looked spry. Good, because with Brown out, all hands needed on (the Secondary) deck.
Cox looked good on specials, fast to hit the hole.
The Giants OL was shoddy. Leaky protection. Zero push off the line on run plays.
3rd down conversions were poor.
Short yardage conversions embarrassing.
Red zone = "dead zone" (Not my words, SNY's)
It's a good thing the Jets were awful because it would have been far worse without it.
Hakeem Nicks cost the Giants 2 TDs.
Bob Papa: "The (Giants) timing on screens hasn't been good since Tiki Barber."
Giants Linebackers defense on dumpoff/screens underneath.
Stevie Brown out for the year.
Let's talk about a seemingly innocuous play that went incomplete for the Jets. Rookie Geno Smith rolls out of the pocket in his own end zone, and Dan Connor stays with him on an incomplete pass. The same play vs Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, RGIII et al will be death. Whether it is through the air or with their feet, so many QBs are going to play the LBer coverage underneath like a fiddle. Carl Banks politely hinted at this and all we are doing here is stating it more bluntly.
We have tweeted this past week about the Giants Offensive Line, pointing out the difference between production and talent. We believe that the success of the Giants OL has a great deal to do with OL coach Jim Flaherty, not ostensibly the talent level. Jerry Reese has been GM for 7 years. He has drafted a total of 2 players in Rounds 1-3 at Offensive Line. Considering that rookie Justin Pugh is one of them, that means that the only true "investment" up until now has been Will Beatty. It has been argued that perhaps Reese has been able to get away with less because of Flaherty backstopping him. That may be true, in much the same way that we have argued that since the Giants draft RB in later rounds so well, why bother using more resources there in Rounds 1-3?! The difference with OL is that the Giants are getting what they pay for. By neglecting OL as the veterans from last decade aged, there are NO ROAD GRADERS to push the pile. This has made short yardage and red zone a problem in recent years. The preseason is showing zero change. There has been zero TDs for the offense in the red zone here in August. Obviously some of that is poor execution (and, as an example, one pass that Nicks must go up and get), but quite simply- Where is the surge? Banks noted that on one short yardage play, there were 4 Jet defenders in the backfield. That is not surge, that is retreat. That is the Giants man getting beaten by the Defensive man. And even if Cordle is replaced by Baas, Baas is not much better in run. This is a passing league, so we are not going to freak out about the run. But you do need to pick up 1 yard when it's 3rd down, or get 6 points when it is 1st and Goal at the 5 on a defensive turnover.
Tom Coughlin after the game, when asked about the myriad problems: "We're not doing what we need to do... Whatever is going on, we got to solve it fast." It is still preseason, but the Giants have plenty of work to do before opening day. And they will have to get it done without the impact plays of Stevie Brown.