via graphics8.nytimes.com The Giants 2009 season resembles a sinking ship. Question is, can this vessel still be saved?
OK, gang. We have spent the past few days commiserating about the problems our 6-5 New York Giants are having. The hated Dallas Cowboys come to East Rutherford this week, so it is time to turn the page and look forward.
The Giants MUST (is there anything bigger than capital letters for emphasis?) win this game if they hope to salvage the season. So, the question is, what -- if anything -- can be done over the next five games to get this team going again?
First and foremost, say your prayers for Eli's foot. If he goes down to a stress fracture, find something else to do with your Sunday afternoons. I doubt the Giants will be watchable.
Anyway, here are my thoughts on what the Giants can do in an effort to salvage the season.
- Run Brandon, run! -- As we discussed Sunday, this is an obvious one. He probably isn't running as well as he did the past couple of years. And we know the line isn't blocking as well. But, the Giants have to have balance. And they have to let Jacobs try to wear defenses down. He is the guy opposing defensive players fear, and when the Giants don't make full use of him they do the defense a favor.
Turn the kids loose, Tom -- Rookies make mistakes, and coaches of contending teams don't like to play them if they have a choice. Giants coach Tom Coughlin is hardly alone there. But the season has reached a point where it has become pretty obvious that the Giants aren't really contenders. And that there are certain veterans whose warranty has expired. So, let the kids play.
-- Activate Ramses Barden -- Sure, wide receiver isn't really an issue. But, the Green Zone still is. And, yes, that probably means de-activating Derek Hagan, an idea which I hate. But, you know what? The coverage teams stink with Hagan, who might be the team's best cover guy. For now, they can stink without him. It's time to start finding out about Barden.
-- Same for Travis Beckum -- Every snap that Darcy Johnson is on the field is really a wasted play as far as the future of the Giants. He really is not a good blocker, so if it's a blocking situation use an extra offensive lineman. If it's a passing situation, get Beckum on the field. He will never turn into a weapon standing on the sidelines, and you know by now that Johnson is pretty much just taking up roster space.
-- Start William Beatty at right tackle. Maybe he is the future left tackle, we don't know that yet. But, continuing to play Kareem McKenzie at right tackle is going to get Eli Manning killed, Or David Carr, if Eli's 'stress reaction' turns into a fracture. It's pretty obvious that McKenzie is a pass-blocking liability, so get Beatty on the field full-time and let him begin to learn. At least you know that if he gets beat he will learn and get better.
-- More Clint Sintim. I have to qualify this one. I know that the Giants started getting Sintim more action several weeks ago. I also know that Antonio Pierce's injury has made playing Sintim difficult. Sintim admitted recently that he was relying on AP to get him lined up and to make sure he understood what his responsibilities were, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me that Sintim still needed help figuring out how to line up. But, it's really obvious that Danny Clark won't be a Giant next year, and that Clark's lack of athleticism hurts this defense. Let Sintiim make his mistakes now, in a season thatr appears to be quickly going down the drain, so that he can become the play maker we all want in 2010.
-- Give Jonathan Goff a chance -- We have seen one good game and one bad one from Chase Blackburn filling in at middle linebacker for Antonio Pierce. Blackburn is smart, and I love the guy. I'm not sure he is athletic enough, or physical enough, to be the long-term answer in the middle, though. We know Pierce needs to be replaced, quite possibly next season. Get Goff on the field enough to find out if the kid can play.
More Kiwi, less Osi. A lot less Osi -- If any Giants fan out there still thinks Osi Umenyiora is a great defensive end, all I can say is this. You are thinking with your heart, not your eyes or your brain. Osi is an atrocious run defender, and at this point in his career only a so-so pass rusher. He makes one great play every couple of games, that's about it. Mathias Kiwanuka played right defensive end all of 2008, and did a better job than Osi is doing this season. Especially against the run. Every offensive coordinator in the league knows at this point that if you need a couple of yards against the Giants, running right at Osi is the way to get it.
One more thing. How about no more Chris Canty at defensive end? The Giants are paying him $42 million to clog the middle, which he can't do playing right defensive end when Osi isn't there. What the heck is he doing out there? Get him in the middle where he is supposed to be, and let Kiwanuka play defensive end.
- Boot Bill Sheridan upstairs. I know many of you would have been happy if I stopped at 'Boot Bill Sheridan.' That is not going to happen during the season, though, so I'm not even going to go there. Sheridan, though, obviously is not effective from the sideline. He is undoubtedly not a motivator. And, he can't seem to get a feel for calling the game, since so many of his calls seem to wind up leaving the Giants vulnerable. So, kick him upstairs where we know he originally wanted to be and see if he can do a better job from up there. If that doesn't work, well, then I think we know what needs to be done.
That's about all I have for now. I am curious to hear your ideas for the rest of the season. And, please, keep it to how to salvage the next five games. We have months to discuss the draft and what to do next season. It's not time to tackle that yet.