EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - I get the sense that Giants fans don't know what to feel right now. They were despondent over the team's 0-5 start and angry over the chaos around the locker room. Then they were euphoric over the stunning win in Denver before lamenting all that might have been.
Now? Is it all positive and defiant, as you dream of a miracle run for the playoffs? Is it all negative and hopeless as you dream of a top pick in next year's draft?
All I know for sure is you've got plenty of questions to fill up my latest Twitter mailbag. So now I will try to answer a few in Part I of this week's edition:
Loved that plan last Sun., run more than pass. Will they continue that? -- @robcube
It was an impressive plan the Giants had in Denver. They hid their weakness at receiver and controlled the game with a pounding, relentless rushing attack. That, for some reason, has many fans harkening back to days of yesteryear when that type of run-first attack was always how teams one in the rough-and-tumble NFC East.
Never mind that those days are over and that the NFL is a pass-happy league now. Let's be realistic about what the Giants did on Sunday night. They ran because they had to, because four of their top five receivers were missing and only one of the ones that played Sunday night (Roger Lewis) had been on the roster the week before. And they ran because it worked. They averaged 5.9 yards per carry in the first half and had a 17-3 halftime lead (thanks in part to a defensive touchdown). Compare that to the first four games of the season when their first-half rushing average was 2.5 yards per carry and they always played from behind.
Ideally, yes, the Giants will continue this plan. Their passing attack is an injury-depleted mess, so they know they have to run the ball. The problem is that everyone else knows it too, so it's not likely to always be as successful as it was in Denver. If they can run that well and build a big early lead, sure, they'll stick to it. But if the running game stalls and they fall behind -- which happened in every other game this season? I'd bet on them trying to air it out in the second half to try and stay in some of these games.
What took so long for them to shake up the offensive line?? It looked like a different team out there against the Broncos! -- @MillManner
That's a reasonable question, but in fairness to the Giants their hand was kind of forced recently by injuries. They had to juggle their offensive line when right tackle Bobby Hart first sprained his ankle, and again when center Weston Richburg suffered a concussion. They've really been tinkering with their offensive line for several weeks now.
The lineup they used Sunday night -- Ereck Flowers at left tackle, John Jerry at left guard, Brett Jones at center, D.J. Fluker at right guard and Justin Pugh at right tackles - was forged because they had very few other options. Clearly, though, it worked.
And I think the Giants were headed in this direction. They've seen over the last couple of weeks that moving Pugh to right tackle was a better option than playing Hart there (Hart struggled even before his ankle injury, and really struggled after). And they've definitely seen that plugging Fluker in has given a big boost to the running game, especially on the right side.
Why didn't they do that from the beginning? For one, Fluker didn't have a great camp and between practices and the preseason he did not appear to be a better option at guard than Pugh or Jerry. And the Giants really were excited about the potential of Hart at right tackle, so they were determined to keep him there.
Yeah, they were wrong and it cost them. Was it stubborn faith for too long in their players, or were they right to give them 3-4 games to figure it out? That's up to you to decide.
Can the Giants really keep winning games without wide receiver production? -- @Grossed_Out
It is really hard to see how they can manage to do that, especially considering how unproductive their receivers were in Denver. None of them had more than one catch? That just doesn't work in today's NFL.
OK, sure, if they can run the ball like they did in Denver and win the turnover battle 3-0 each week, then sure. But that's not the way the NFL works. Also, the Giants have been a terrible rushing team pretty much for the entire McAdoo era (his years as offensive coordinator included). What makes anyone think that after one game they're suddenly going to be a powerful rushing team now?
At some point, for the Giants to move the ball efficiently and to score enough points to win in the NFL, they're going to have re-develop their passing game. One-dimensional teams just do not win regularly in the NFL.
So it's a real good thing that it's starting to look like injured receiver Sterling Shepard (ankle) will return this week. Having at least one proven commodity in Eli Manning's arsenal can only help.