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For the New York Giants, optimism has to be the order of the day

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As a New York Giants fan, it has been difficult to feel good the past several weeks. We have seen lots of bad football, especially on defense, some inexplicable coaching decisions and, ultimately, four bad losses in a row.

All of which has turned what looked like it would be a great season into what, right now, is a head scratcher.

Yet, I have always tried to be a voice of reason around here. When things have gone bad and others headed for the ledge, I have always been the one of the voices trying to talk panicked fans back from the brink.

My wife would never believe it considering my day-to-day grumpiness, but I am always optimistic about this Giants team. I have been thinking a lot lately about whether or not that optimism is misplaced. Even before settling in and watching a Sunday full of NFL games not involving our Giants, I had concluded that my optimism is, indeed, well-founded.

Oh, and what happened Sunday?

  • Carolina 28, Atlanta 19
  • Green Bay 17, Dallas 7
  • San Diego 31, Philadelphia 23

Yep, all the teams the Giants are chasing for a playoff berth lost. The Giants are now tied with the Packers, Eagles and Falcons for a wild-card berth, and are just a game behind the Cowboys in the NFC East.

As 'Step Up and Make Big Plays' said in Sunday's Open Thread "This has been absolutely the best week for the NY Football Giants in the past month."

The season is far from lost. In fact, it is just beginning. You can moan about the Giants' remaining schedule if you like. It will be difficult, without question. Or, you can look at it this way. The Giants have in front of them home games against Atlanta, Dallas, Philly and Carolina -- all teams with designs on the playoff spot the Giants seek. What better way to control your destiny than head-up against your primary competition. They have road games against Denver, Minnesota and Washington.

So, this won't be easy. But then again, is it supposed to be?

General Manager Jerry Reese was adamant during a recent conversation with Ralph Vacchiano that he has lost no faith in a team he sees as a Super Bowl contender.

"We have a great opportunity to right the ship and I fully expect us to do that. I really do," he told The News. "Our coach has been in hard spots before. He always comes out with a good plan and great leadership. I'm not betting against him, I can tell you that."

In fact, Reese said, he's already seen signs that Tom Coughlin has begun to pull the Giants out of their slumber. He pointed to the fact that the Giants "played much better" last Sunday in their 21-20 loss to the San Diego Chargers. He also pointed out that with the return of linebacker Michael Boley and defensive tackle Chris Canty, and with the expected return of cornerback Aaron Ross next Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, the beleaguered defense is starting to get most of its missing pieces back.

That could be enough to jump-start the Giants. And as they learned in 2007, all it takes is one win to get a team on a roll.

"We still have a great opportunity to qualify for the tournament," Reese said. "That's what's important to us. If you qualify and you get some momentum going through the playoffs, things can happen.

"But our No. 1 goal is to just win one game. That's what's most important for us right now. The players have a few days off to clear our heads, come back with a good attitude and some great fortitude to be determined to go out and get things thing turned around. I believe we'll do that."

Am I buying what Reese is selling? Yes and no. Yes, in that the Giants have a chance. It is right there for them to take. No, in that I am not sure right now that this team is good enough. They still have to show me, and they need to start Sunday against Atlanta. Lose on Sunday it will pretty much be time to start thinking about 2010.

The flip side of that is that I am not buying the doom and gloom of the vary passionate, very vociferous, very small minority of Giants fans who want everyone fired and the team completely rebuilt after four bad games.

Fans are emotional. We all react, and often over-react, based on the last thing we see. And we all know that what we have seen from the Giants lately has not been pretty.

That does not, however, mean this is a football team that needs to be gutted and rebuilt. Accuse me of living in the past if you must, but you don't make it to the playoffs four straight years and win a Super Bowl without a coach who knows what he is doing. Without a general manager and a personnel department that knows how to stock a roster with quality players, especially young ones who will be around for a while. Without quality ownership that won't panic at the first sign of trouble. Without a quality core of players and leaders around whom to build.

I don't believe recognizing that the Giants have those things in place is living in the past. I believe that is feeling good about what the team I root for has, and believing that it has much of what it needs already in place to bring continued success for several seasons to come.

Will this season work out the way we all thought, or at least hoped, it would? I don't know. Coughlin doesn't know. Reese doesn't know. You don't know.

If it does, marvelous. If it doesn't, then it doesn't. Stuff happens and good teams miss the playoffs every season. Good teams, and good organizations, have down seasons sometimes.

Whether the next seven games turn out beautifully, or beastly, for our Giants I still feel good about the future of this team.