Welcome back for the 2013 season. Follow us on Twitter during the game.
Are the NY Giants making the playoffs or not this season? Great question. We don't have the answer, but we have 3 keys that we need to watch closely. If these 3 items break positively, the team will be in very good shape to not only get a playoff spot but compete for another Super Bowl title.
1) WHAT DO WE GET TO FROM JPP THIS YEAR?
2) CAN FLAHERTY WORK MORE MAGIC WITH THE OFFENSIVE LINE?
3) CAN GILBRIDE CONSISTENTLY FEATURE WILSON A LOT MORE IN THE PASSING GAME?
Those are the three keys. If you can tell us the answers to these variables, then this NY Giants blog will have a much better understanding of how many wins the Giants can accumulate and whether that will be enough for the playoffs. 8 no. 9 maybe. 10 yes. To show the confusion, Francesa this morning predicted the Giants would get between 8 to 10 wins. And that sums up the variability in what the season will look like.
Now, many of you are going to ask other questions, like what kind of Eli Manning are we going to see? Eli Manning is NOT the issue with the Giants. For the most part, Eli will put the Giants in more than enough position to win games and get to the playoffs. The same goes for Cruz and to a lesser extent (because he is so brittle) Nicks. For sure, if you tell me guys like Tuck and Nicks can stay healthy, that will be a huge positive change that will swing the pendulum to 10, if not 11 or 12 wins. But if recent history is any indication, you cannot assume that. In fact, we have to operate under the opposite assumption- that both players will be hurt inside of the first 4 regular season games.
What is not known is how serious JPP's surgery was. I asked a chiropractor friend who is a big Giants fan about JPP. He said that we have not been told enough about the procedure to understand the severity of what was done. If the surgery was a minor tweak, he can make an impact this season. If it was invasive, he could be a complete non-threat. He made the flight to Dallas, yet the decision to dress him will be made right before the game. That is more clouds and more confusion. JPP is a gamechanger. One of the highlights of the entire 2011 season which we have all been treated to a few times this past week is the FG block that won us the Dallas game. The impact he had on that game was enormous, so that is why full game outcomes will swing with him or without him.
What is in store for the Offensive Line? Does Snee give us some of the play from years gone by, or is he in the kind of decline where he no longer can win his battle at the line consistently? Can Beatty get to the next level? Can Baas come back from injury to provide adequate pass protection (his run blocking is always going to be weak and ineffective)? Can Pugh, as a rookie, do his job and get better as the season progresses, or will he cost the Giants games? Can Flaherty patch them up with more of his magic? Lots of variability is here. Preseason indicated a bad season but you know that I do not extrapolate from the preseason to the regular season for items like this because in many instances it just requires time to work it out. Still, there were enough problems that we have to watch this for the improvement needed, else the Giants will be in for a long season. I believe in the track record of Flaherty to fix it, but there is a lot which needs to go well.
What does Gilbride do with Wilson? Let's expect Cruz to get a lot of attention from the defense. Let's expect Gilbride to not use his TE as per his track record. Let's expect Nicks to be in and out of the lineup, healthy and not healthy, fits and starts. This leaves a lot of touches for Wilson. Yes, get him the rock in the run game. But this guy needs the ball in space in the short passing game. He can be a defensive coordinator's worst nightmare. But Gilbride has to make that happen. Look, we bitch about the weak LBers and lack of resources allocated to OL. So the team suffers there and needs help. Well, it frankly doesn't matter as much if the LBers s*ck when the DL is playing like a bunch of crazed dogs. And it doesn't matter if the OL isn't playing so well if those scripted dumpoffs to Wilson are used, which negate the effectiveness of the opposing DL.
The Giants have their strengths and weaknesses. If JPP is healthy and able to make an impact, if Flaherty ties up the loose ends on the OL, and if Gilbride uses Wilson in space, the Giants can have a very good year. I am quietly hoping that we get another player (DaMonster?) to make an insane impact so that the team surprises us.