Usually by this time, the roster is taking shape and the Giants are readying themselves for the beginning of the season. The final preseason game is an afterthought.
But this summer has been a very strange one for Tom Coughlin and his Giants. There is a new OC (Ben McAdoo), a new offensive system and an army of new faces, which has led to an overall feeling of unpreparedness. Even though they are undefeated this preseason, they are a long way from where they want to be.
Tonight, against a New England team that will be playing primarily reserves and lame ducks, the Giants will send out their starters for at least three series, possibly more (Coughlin said, "15, 18 snaps. Something like that...")
The Giants will be looking for one more opportunity to get their first team offense clicking tonight. They will be without LG Geoff Schwartz, rookie WR Odell Beckham, Jr. and RG Brandon Mosley (back). Rookie Weston Richburg will play LG and veteran John Jerry will start for Mosley at RG. JD Walton will start at center.
This game is all about the flow of the offense. QB Eli Manning has looked confused and out of synch. His accuracy, which is not his strong suit, appears to be getting worse. He's having difficulty completing passes in general. Much of the blame can be put on others, however.
The receivers are not completing their routes on some plays. Not selling it, so to speak. Then you have the offensive line not holding their blocks and my biggest pet peeve of the summer: making Eli throw on the run, by design.
Eli Manning is a pocket passer. He does have a little "escapability" in the pocket, but in no way should McAdoo roll him out and have him throw while moving. That is not the best use of this player. Eli is also a bit slower after tearing ligaments in his ankle last December, so this whole idea is mystifying to me. They've got to put an end to this.
Tonight, 22 players will be playing their last game in Blue, for awhile at least. The competition for roster spots is greater than ever. The Giants' reserves are perhaps the best in the league. They are 4-0 this summer. The Giants will be parting with some talented people this weekend.
"Any of the guys that are left know that it goes from 75 to 53," said Coughlin this week. "You are ending up in a numbers game and it is competitive."
With the starters struggling and the task of reducing the roster more difficult than ever, I don't envy him at all these days.