During 'New York Giants Talk' Thursday night, Pat Traina (Inside Football), Paul Dottino (WFAN) and I kept coming back to the same basic question.
Thing is, none of us had a good answer. The 2010 Giants are an impossible team to figure out as we head toward Sunday's season opener against the Carolina Panthers.
- Are they an upper-echelon, Super Bowl contending team?
- Are they a 10, maybe 11-win team that is a is virutally assured of making the playoffs?
- Are they an average team which will go anywhere from 7-9 to 9-7 based on a bounce or two of the ball?
- Are they an injured, aging team that is teetering on the verge of falling apart and needing to be rebuilt?
Thing is, you could probably make an argument for each of those. In reality, the Giants have so many questions that they could wind up being any of the above.
Think about the list of questions about this team as the season dawns. Try writing them down, and you will need a big piece of paper.
- Are Keith Bulluck and Kenny Phillips healthy enough to handle full time duty?
- Can they stop the run? With improved health and the addition of second-round pick Linval Joseph it looks that way. But, we can't be sure until the Giants are tested. And they will face a stern test Sunday.
- Do they have any linebackers, Bulluck included, who can make plays?
- Can Aaron Ross every get on the field? If he can't, do the Giants have enough quality cornerbacks to handle most NFL offenses?
- Can Shaun O'Hara and his damaged ankle hold up for a full season? Can he perform at a Pro Bowl level on a damaged leg? If he can't go, or isn't effective, how much does that hurt the Giants?
- Can the aging offensive line as a whole hold up for another season, or will injuries or ineffectiveness cause changes to that proud group?
- Can the Giants rebuild the running game they used to rely on so heavily? Can Brandon Jacobs turn his anger at the organization into punishment for opposing defenses?
- Will rookie punter Matt Dodge kick the Giants out of trouble with booming punts more often than he kicks them into trouble with line drive punts that go nowhere near intended?
- Can they return a kick and actually create a hole for the ball carrier?
- Can they make a tackle, or should they just kick the ball out of bounds every time and forget it?
- Basically, can they get through a season without the special teams units costing them a couple of games?
Is Perry Fewell the real deal as defensive coordinator? Or, is he just loud and noticeable? Can Kevin Gilbride ... ahh, let's not even talk about Gilbride. We will fight about him plenty as the season goes along, so let's not do it now. Does Tom Coughlin still have the winning touch? I think he does, but we just have to wait and see how this all plays out.
My guess? There is a lot of talent on this football team. The defense is healthier, more talented and better organized than it was in 2009. The offense will be fine, even if it struggles early and the offensive line gets revamped as the season goes along.
I think the Giants win 9 or 10 games and go back to the playoffs. But, if they win six and we are all miserable by the end of the season that would not shock me, either.