It's time for this week's 'Five Things I Think I Think' about the New York Giants, a post that has become a Tuesday staple in recent weeks. There are plenty of observations to be made following the Giants' fifth victory in six games, so let's get started.
1. I think I was right all along. Going waaaaay back to training camp I have felt like this version of the Giants would be better at the end of the season than it was at the beginning. Watching all of the injuries pile up and all of the awful football the Giants played in the preseason it was pretty apparent this team would have a rough start. It was also apparent that if it could ever get healthy and get on the same page that it could be a good team. Having won five of six after an 0-6 start it is pretty easy to surmise that the Giants are, indeed, better now than they were at the start of the year. I would not want to meet the Giants in the playoffs because I believe they are just now finding themselves. Unfortunately, it remains extremely unlikely that the Giants will reach the post-season.
2. I think Justin Tuck should be brought back next season. This is an easy position to take based on Tuck's career-high four-sack effort Sunday night vs. the Washington Redskins. I think it goes beyond that, though, and I don't think I am calling for his return based on an emotional reaction to Sunday night. Fact is, Tuck has been the Giants' best defensive end this season. His +13.6 Pro Football Focus grade is the defense's best. He has the best run grade (+11.6), leads the Giants in sacks (6.5), has 45 of the Giants' 188 quarterback pressures (23.9 percent) and has more stops (25) than any other Giants' lineman. Also, consider these factors: In 2014 it will be Jason Pierre-Paul coming off two straight bad seasons; Mathias Kiwanuka is proving each week he's no longer an impact player; Damontre Moore needs playing time, but hasn't proven he can do anything with it yet. With all of those factors in mind can the Giants afford NOT to bring Tuck back? I don't think so.
3. I think it's time to pump the brakes on James Brewer to the Hall of Fame. After Brewer played well while starting at left guard against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 12 there were many who anointed him as a fixture in the Giants' lineup not only for the rest of this season but heading into next year as well. Brewer reminded everyone Sunday that he is a third-year player who has played little and has all of one good game on his resume in three seasons. He earned a -3.4 grade from Pro Football Focus, worst of any Giants' offensive player Sunday. He surrendered four pressures on Eli Manning, and whatever success the Giants had running came going right behind David Diehl and Justin Pugh.
4. I think I'm stumped by Will Beatty. A year ago Beatty looked like a quality NFL left tackle. Maybe not an All-Pro one, but definitely a good one. He allowed only three sacks all season and graded out at +22.9 overall according to Pro Football Focus, which included a road-grading +10.9 in run-blocking. The Giants rewarded Beatty, 28, with a five-year, $37.5-million contract. This year, Beatty has been a clueless, clumsy sieve trying vainly to protect Eli Manning's blind side. He was responsible for all three sacks of Manning Sunday night, and has now given up 10 of the 31 sacks the Giants have allowed. I'm no expert on blocking technique, but his footwork looks off, he seems to be lunging at pass rushers and he's allowing defensive ends to dictate to him. He is -15.1 in pass-blocking this season and only four of 79 offensive tackles graded by PFF have been worse.
5. I think depending on Will Hill still makes me nervous. Let me say this about the Giants' talented 23-year-old safety -- I think he might well be as good as any safety in the league right now. He has speed, athleticism, tackling ability and good instincts. I occasionally see Hill referred to as a future Pro Bowler, and PFF does currently rank him fifth in the league among safeties (+9.8) in virtually half the snaps played. The question is whether or not Hill can be counted on as a long-term puzzle piece. In his two seasons with the Giants Hill has been hit with a pair of four-game suspensions by the NFL. There is also Hill's wild, troubled background to be concerned about. If he can stay out of trouble Hill can be a star for years to come. That, however, is a big if.