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Big Blue View Staff Round Table: Are Giants contenders or pretenders?

The 3-4 Giants hope to make a run toward the playoffs during their final nine games. Is that realistic?

Tom Coughlin
Tom Coughlin
Wesley Hitt

Are the New York Giants contenders or pretenders for the remainder of the 2014 season? At 3-4 and with a tough stretch of games coming up, the road to the playoffs is difficult but not impossible. Your Big Blue View staff writers offer their opinions on the "contenders or pretenders" question in the latest version of the Big Blue View Round Table.

Jesse Bartolis

The New York Giants are pretenders. But that is ok. We as fans want to see our favorite team succeed year in and year out and that might be our expectations, but it's generally not realistic. It hasn't been uttered by the owners or the front office, but the Giants have been going through a rebuilding phase last year and this year. After going for broke with many aging veterans that won them a Super Bowl in 2011, the Giants have to reload on the fly while staying competitive in the always-in-the-moment New York fan base (as opposed to a fan base like the Jaguars which has just come to accept mediocrity). But now the old guard is gone and there are stop gaps all over the field. There are some very nice foundation pieces, and the Giants have what looked to be a very promising draft last year, but they are going through what every team in the league (that doesn't have Tom Brady or Peyton Manning) goes through. It's inevitable.

The Giants have for the most part since 2007 been picking in the back end of the draft and while they have had enough cap maneuverability to do some things they have had more money tied into aging veterans and high-priced free agents then any team would prefer. But that should be coming to an end soon. After this season and especially the next they can be in a position where their big contracts will be in players who should be with Eli and players in the prime of their careers. I believe there is a lot to be positive about moving forward even though I think when all is said and done this year, the Giants are probably a 7 or 8-win team.


Coming into this season, the Giants were contenders. They brought in quality free agents, drafted quality players, and hired (at least, in my point of view) a quality coach. They weren't built just to rebuild, they were built to compete.

That luster has faded now. Cooper Taylor, one could argue, would be starting right now opposite Antrel Rolle. Walter Thurmond was supposed to be an elite nickel corner/borderline starter for the team. Geoff Schwartz was our prized free agent and was down before the season even started. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was an elite boundary player who hasn't been healthy for the last three weeks. Jon Beason is likely not playing for this team this year. Victor Cruz has gone down for the year. Rashad Jennings missed two and a half games and might miss more.

You get the idea. The hits have kept on coming and the result is a team devoid of talent. The ceiling in the offseason team was a superbowl caliber product. Now? A shell of itself. Can they still contend? Maybe, but it's hard to see it. The Giants are what they are right now, losers against good teams, winners against bad teams. I could be spectacularly wrong, but they look mightily like pretenders. I don't even want to get on to discussing coaching, but just from a talent standpoint, injuries have taken away more or less 6 starters from this team. Who rebounds from that? We'll see what this team is made of in the coming weeks, and while I have hopes and dreams for this team, I need to see it before I call them "contenders."

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Are the New York Football Giants contenders or pretenders? Honestly, I think they could easily be either one.

They have a quarterback playing as well as nearly any in the league. He has a few reliable targets and an absolutely dynamic young receiver with game-changing potential. They have two defensive lineman who are legitimately elite among the best at their positions, and a cornerback duo that is the next best thing to shut down. They have a core of young players -- even rookies -- who are contributing immensely, and well.

Unfortunately, they once again have one of the most talented injured reserves and trainer's tables in the whole league. They have mental errors at the worst possible times -- not that there ever is a GOOD time for those. And they show a disturbing lack of discipline on defense (it might be a tendency to press, but regardless, they are going outside of the framework of the defense).

I think it all comes down to what kind of team they want to be. We've seen them gravely injured and left for dead before, only to come back and shock the world. They still have the talent to go out there and compete with any team in the league.

This by week didn't come a moment too soon, because they need the time to heal and get talent back. The coaches need the time for self-examination and adaptation, and the players need the time to gather themselves and decide who they are and what kind of team they want to be.

But right now this is Schrodinger's Team, and we won't get to see whether or not these cats are alive until they open the box against the Colts.

Dennis Esser

While I wish I could get behind this team and believe they are contenders for the NFC East title or more, I have to be realistic about their outlook for the rest of the year.

On offense the Giants are making a very smooth transition to the West Coast offense brought in by Ben McAdoo but still need some pieces before it is a fully fleshed out realization. The absence of a dual threat running back the last few weeks has shown just how much the Giants weren't prepared for an injury to Rashad Jennings. Jennings had been very good to start the year and you could see how his availability in the passing game kept a defense honest. His injury and he Giants lack of a dual threat RB as a back up has made their offense very predictable the last two weeks. The injury to Victor Cruz also hurts this offense as his back up in the slot, Jernel Jernigan was already lost for the season earlier in the year. I know many Giant fans were frustrated with Larry Donnell's fumbles on Sunday, but we must remember this is a young, developing player. There will be growing pains as he gets used to being such a big part of an NFL offense. The excitement of Odell Beckham Jr.'s development is tempered by the fact that Rueben Randle is yet to really break out. The best part is that Eli is buying into the offense and not forcing things even when he's pressured. That bodes well for next year when the Giants can add more pieces and get some healthy bodies back.

The Giants have been hit hard by the injury bug on defense. They gambled on an injury prone middle linebacker when they resigned Jon Beason and so far he has once again, not been able to stay on the field. The Giants thought they finally solved their lack of depth in the secondary by spending big in free agency, but continue to lose bodies left and right. The injury to Walter Thurmond III is really hurting the Giants, as is the unbelievable selfishness of Will Hill. Hill would have allowed the Giants to use a three safety defense to protect the Giants lack of coverage skills at linebacker. The Giants have spend big on defense in the draft next year and need to figure out a way to get a more consistent pass rush. They have really shied away from bring pressure from the slot or using double A gap pressure looks to make an offensive line really think. Perry Fewell has been a little too conservative in scheming pressure and it has hurt the Giants a bit. The development of Hankins has been nice, but the jury is still out on if the Giants should spend big to keep JPP.

The Giants are in a season of transition and that makes them pretenders when you look at the competition they face in the NFC.

Final Thoughts

My thoughts on this topic were expressed Tuesday in 'Valentine's Views.' Whatever the record turns out to be this season it is my belief that the franchise has begun to build a quality young core, has identified the type of players it wants, has found out that it still has a franchise quarterback who can play at a high level when protected, and that the franchise itself appears pointed in the proper direction.

How about you, Giants fans? For this season only, are the Giants contenders or pretenders?