Put aside all your worries about Eli Manning and his plantar fasciitis for just a few minutes. Or, your severe case of Lawrence Tynes Anxiety Disorder. Let's just stop and think about where our New York Giants are a quarter of the way through the 2009 NFL season.
The Giants have suffered more than their fair share of injuries in the still-young season. They have gotten little real return from the $83 million free-agent triumvirate of Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard and Michael Boley, and Boley may now be back on the shelf with a knee injury. Aaron Ross hasn't played. Budding star Kenny Phillips is gone for the year. No. 1 pick Hakeem Nicks has made just two catches. The defensive line has been good, but you get the feeling not nearly as good as it could be. On offense, you can say the same about the running game. The Giants still haven't figured out how to consistently score touchdowns in the Green Zone. Then, of course, there is Tynes.
Yet, here are the Giants at 4-0 and being considered in many quarters as the best team in football at the season's quarter-pole. Ah, yes, it is a wonderful time to be a Giants fan.
Here is a quick synopsis of the Giants from The Sporting News.
It still looks like the team Sporting News picked to win the Super Bowl, and until displaced the Giants are better than all the rest. New York's offensive and defensive lines, as expected, remain the league's premier fronts, and Steve Smith and Mario Manningham have answered their wide receiver questions.
You have to be impressed by what the Giants have accomplished thus far in 2009 despite having a somewhat depleted roster and in many ways not yet playing as well as they potentially could.
Sure, you can say the last two victories, against the Bucs and Chiefs, were against teams that are barely NFL caliber. Throw in the impressive victory in Dallas on opening night of JerryWorld, and that is three straight road victories. I don't care who they are against, that is an impressive feat in the NFL. In fact, since 1990 107 NFL teams have played three straight road games, and only eight have swept all three.
Since the beginning of the 2007 season, the Giants are 15-4 on the road. Incredible. The Giants are not they flashiest team in the league, but they are a mature team with a strong belief in themselves.
"It all starts at the top," defensive tackle Barry Cofield said. "Coach Coughlin prides himself on winning on the road. He’s so diligent, he’s so precise, he has us prepare on the road as if we were at home. It starts with him and it trickles down to the coaches and we have leadership that won’t allow us to fall asleep on the road. Honestly, we were in a similar situation last year against Cleveland. We started fast and went out there and got beat badly, so we reflected back on that and used that to guide us today."
Here is SI.com's Peter King discussing the Giants.
1. The Giants might or might not be the best team in football, but I can tell you this: They're the deepest.
"Jerry Reese is a psychic, I think,'' Justin Tuck said from Kansas City, where the Giants had ho-hummed a 27-16 win over the Chiefs. It's the second straight week New York toyed with a bad team, and the Giants have won their four games by an average of 11 points.
Reese, the Giants' GM, made two good decisions in the off season. He fortified the defensive line beyond what seemed to be smart, going seven strong players deep. "So early in camp, when we lost [defensive tackle] Jay Alford, who was going to have a breakout year, we didn't panic,'' Tuck said. "And we've been without some of our best players -- [safety] Kenny Phillips, [cornerback] Aaron Ross, [defensive lineman] Chris Canty -- and today was [corner] Kevin Dockery's first game. When we get most of our guys back, we're going to be really good.''
But that's the thing -- in the NFL, you never have a full complement of players. Or very rarely. That's why Reese built, in my opinion, the best 53-man roster in the league, and Tom Coughlin has no fear in playing young players to develop them.
On offense, Reese eschewed dealing for a veteran receiver like Anquan Boldin or Braylon Edwards, knowing that dealing for either would not only have cost a high draft choice, but also about $10 million a year. The Giants instead have a productive quarterback, Eli Manning, playing smart football and have three budding receivers -- Steve Smith (24), Mario Manningham (23) and Hakeem Nicks (20) -- who have combined for an average of 197 yards and two touchdown catches a game ... with none of the Plaxico Burress headaches that came with that star. We'll start to find out how good the Giants are Oct. 18, when they visit the Saints, with New Orleans coming off its bye. Tough place to play, at a tough time.