What is the state of the New York Giants heading into their final preseason game? Well, it's time to answer that by channeling my inner Peter King with the latest installment of 'Five things I think I think' about the Giants. Here we go.
I think what we heard from Eli Manning Monday is disconcerting. Asked if he and his teammates were 'comfortable' yet with the team's new offense he said "it's not something you're going to master in four weeks."
"I think everybody knows what to do, but it's just the pace it needs to be done and everything done precisely. Every day we're trying to get better at that. We still need to be corrected on some things and do things more efficently. We're getting there. We're making small steps, but we're probably not all the way where we need to be," Manning said.
That doesn't sound like a quarterback who has complete confidence in what he is doing or in the players around him yet. The Giants first-team offense put together a nice drive at the end of the first half Friday vs. the New York Jets, but you have to believe the Giants had hoped to feel a little better about the offense with the regular season closing in.
I think I may need to re-consider my projection that the Giants will keep three tight ends. Throughout the preseason each roster projection I have done has had the Giants keeping three tight ends. It is pretty much impossible, however, to separate Adrien Robinson, Larry Donnell, Kellen Davis and Daniel Fells. No one has stood out. No one has played himself off the roster. None of the four has a complete skill set.
"I think it's very close. I think, some days, it's very difficult to see who has done what better than someone else," head coach Tom Coughlin said Monday. "I really think that there'll be a group of guys that'll play that'll help us in different situations and will be matched up according to the circumstance. I think that's where it's going to go."
Translation: Translation: A tight end by committee with the Giants trying somehow to match players' skills to whatever they are running in a given situation.
I think I'm OK with starters playing 15-18 snaps Thursday, especially on offense. Many teams either don't play their starters in the final preseason game or limit them to only a half-dozen snaps or so. Coughlin is planning to extend his starters more than that Thursday against the New England Patriots, and that is OK. As indicated above, the offensive still is not entirely comfortable with the new system installed by offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, and Manning and co. can use all the snaps they can get. That is particularly true with yet another offensive line combination likely starting for the Giants, this one with Weston Richburg at left guard and John Jerry at right guard.
I think 'Invictus' offensive line film study should give you hope. In case you haven't read the post, and if you haven't read the work I have to ask why, the basic point is this -- many of the issues we have seen are related to trust and communication, not talent. It is a premise I agree with after watching all four games. There have been a few occasions where individuals have been beaten cleanly, but those are NFL players on the other side and that will happen at times. Many of the issues have come in handling blitz pickups and stunts. That should improve with time. Richburg is a rookie. Brandon Mosley is inexperienced. J.D. Walton is in his first year at center for the Giants. John Jerry is experienced, but new to this group. My instinct is that this line should be much better at the end of the season that it is at the beginning -- provided, of course, that the Giants stop losing offensive linemen to injuries.
I think Jerrel Jernigan is on the hot seat. Jernigan has not really made a smooth transition to playing outside in the Giants new offense. He can make the simple catch, but he keeps missing contested balls. Reporters at Monday's practice tweeted that Jernigan got ripped by offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo in a profanity-laced tirade after dropping a contested pass. Would the Giants actually cut Jernigan? Some think it's possible, although I don't see it happening. Jernigan, though, has to make plays for Eli Manning. Thus far, he has not.