With Ballard officially ruled out for this afternoon’s tilt against the Jets the Giants might be caught with their red velvet pants down around their black leather boots. Even if they do suit up, both Bear Pascoe and Travis Beckum are battling injuries that have been hampering them throughout the month. They were limited in practice today.
The Jets struggle against TE’s which makes the razor thin depth chart particularly frustrating. Ordinarily, the situation would not be ideal. Compound it with the fact Mario Manningham is likely a no-go today and the Giants officially can’t get out of their own way.
It has become painfully apparent that the defense cannot be called upon to save or lead this team. By crippling the club’s strongest asset, its pass attack, Eli Manning may just be hamstrung. After a week of trash talking, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks will have the burden of providing both their usual spark and the production of both Ballard and Manningham.
It’s worth noting that should Ramses Barden have to move into the 3rd WR spot today, there is not much behind him in the way of depth. Devin Thomas was carted off the field last week and his status for tomorrow is up in the air. Looks like the fourth receiving option for Air Eli will be the untested Jernigan.
You can boo, hiss, piss, and moan but I am not picking the Giants to walk out of the swamp today with their stocking stuffed. This time last year, in a similar situation, Big Blue went overboard on the bravado. Promises were made, guarantees were issued, and The New York Football Giants went out and fell flat on their face against the Green Bay Packers.
Before you sweethearts start going off about how the Pack became Super Bowl Champs, let me remind you that at this time last year, the green and gold was yet to be anything special. Most were surprised to see them even make the post-season. Even if they had been world beaters last December, this is far from the first time that New York has found itself in this position.
Am I the only one still unnerved by the 2009 choke job that saw Matt Moore lead his hapless Panthers past the GMEN in a must win Week 16 game? “Back to the wall,” “back to the wall,” “We play better with our backs to the wall.” I don’t care. I’m sick of hearing that. Good teams, teams worth respecting, play well. The sentence ends after well.
Mark Sanchez is nothing special. He’s an underwear model with a helmet. The Jets defense is far from elite. They too are coming off an embarrassing and devastating loss against an underdog opponent. But I still don’t put my metaphorical money down on the Coughlin crew. 1 out of 6 seasons thus far with a playoff victory is not satisfactory. 3 out of 6 seasons thus far with a second half collapse is NOT satisfactory.
So when the Jets beat the team who’s mottos is “We’ll settle for a wildcard because we suck at home.” It will be time to clean house.
If you dare, and I know some of you have the pair of sugar plumbs to continue, check out my picks for who’s head rolls and who’s head stays in place for the 2012 season should Tommy’s Titans continue to plummet.
Eli Manning: Let’s start with a practice pick. This one is obvious. Manning is having a banner year and he has managed to quiet even the most skeptical of doubters. If the rest of the team was playing at his level, this column would piss you all off a lot less. It might even be named “Say Hello to the Slightly Aggravated but Overall Impressed Guy.”
Hakeem and Victor: The Giants have gone from the Jet Blue trio to the undersized but dangerous tag team of Nicks and Cruz. Fans were forced to wait an extra year following Cruz’s preseason coming out party in 2010. His rookie year was ended by injury before he could even contribute on offense. Big surprise: I wasn’t keeping my hopes up. He wouldn’t be the first player to play well against scrubs in preseason and then completely flop when the games count. But he has risen from training camp roster filler to starting WR and he just may be the most exciting offensive player to ever wear blue. Never before has a NYG receiving duo both racked up more than 1,000 receiving each in a season before this pair.
Kenny Phillips and Antrel “At the end of the day” Rolle: The secondary has been horrendous this season. It may be a result of a weakened pass rush (see Justin Tuck’s injuries) but it without a doubt is related to the injury plagued CB spot. We’ve been over it a thousand times but the Giants have lost their first 5 options Nickel corner, if you count the fact that Ross was thrust into a starting roll because of T2’s injury. The safety play has been less than satisfactory but with Will Blackmon and an inexperienced Prince Amukamara out there, the job can’t be easy.
Both Phillips and Rolle are decent players. The Giants probably expected more dynamic play from Rolle, such as a higher rate of interceptions, when they signed him. Phillips has come back from a serious knee injury and played well, although he is a bit fragile. Bottom line, the Giants wouldn’t likely be able to upgrade this spot on the open market. New schemes and ideally healthy corners should remedy the secondary’s problems next year.
The Rookie LB’s: For mid-draft rookies and undrafted free agents, this group has played exceptionally well. It is disappointing to see Herzlich’s opportunity to start curtailed by injury but he seems to be on track to become a solid player. Jacquian Williams was thrown into the fire immediately, as was Greg Jones. However, Williams remains in the starting lineup , while Jones will have to battle a recovering
Jonathan Goff for the 2012 starting MLB spot.
Tom Coughlin/Gilbride: Should the Giants fail to make the playoffs, Coughlin will have only produced a playoff victory in 1 of his 8 seasons. Yes he brought a Super Bowl title to the organization. We are 4 seasons removed from that. Each season since has included a second half collapse, each more devastating than the last. His team continues to be penalized in crucial situations, his challenge numbers have plummeted, and his staff (especially Kevin Gilbride) is not equipped for professional football. Just like for Brett Favre, it may be time for a once great contributor to the game to walk away.
Osi Umenyiora: I didn’t expect Osi to play a down for the Giants this year. Despite ending his holdout, I was still almost right. His best days are behind him and when his contract expires after this year, the Giants will have no interest in retaining him. I understand his grievances, but unfortunately he suffered what I call a “Steve Smith.” Getting injured in 2008, right at the peak of his leverage and skill, decimated his chances of ever earning the type of contract he at one point deserved. I’m still surprised that the Giants are keeping a roster spot open for him at this point. He has IR written all over him.
Brandon Jacobs: He’s come alive in the past two weeks, but he hasn’t done enough to warrant the money it would cost to keep him. He’s done little to nothing all season and the ferocity with which he used to power forward is missing. I’ll note that he is also playing behind a struggling offensive line, but regardless of that fact his services won’t be needed next year.
Domenik Hixon: I was very excited about Hixon’s return this year. I was of course disappointed when the Giants opted to limit his return duties to protect his health and keep him fresh for the WR spot. Ironically, he tore the same ACL he had injured again during his only TD catch of the 2011 campaign. It is hard to imagine a player whose main asset is speed, being able to bounce back from two ACL tears in the same knee. I think his days in a blue jersey, and perhaps any jersey, are over.
So to recap, I see the GMEN struggling this Christmas Eve. I’m hoping that Baas’s return helps to spark the offense but my hopes aren’t high. They will sorely miss Jake Ballard. If Prince Amukamara can get his act together, that could go a long way in helping to secure the secondary.
Regardless of the outcome, enjoy the game and the holiday weekend. From all of us at GFB (even The Bad Guy), Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanza, Happy Pagan Winter Solstice, etc.