The New York Giants are heading for a collision with the unbeaten Carolina Panthers on Sunday. They are also heading for a three-game stretch that could have a lot to do with the future direction of the franchise. With that back drop, let's look at this week's "Five things I think I think" about the Giants.
I think we should listen to these guys
Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter wasn't any kinder Tuesday on "Mike & Mike:"
"This is one of the weakest Giants rosters that we have seen. The middle of that roster, there's not a whole bunch of talent," Carter said. "Not speed at the linebacker position, not defensive linemen, not type of rotation as far as defensive linemen. Cover guys? They give up many big plays. And tackling? The inability to tackle?
"This roster is nowhere near those teams that won the Super Bowl. ... Right now all they've got is Odell."
Last week it was Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian who said the Giants don't have enough talent.
Forget, for a second, all the last-minute defeats. If you are buying what these NFL Hall of Famers are telling you, then I think it might be pretty amazing that this collection of Giants has actually managed to win six games.
I think we need to talk about Andre Williams
Tom Coughlin Tuesday referred to struggling running back Andre Williams as "a good young ball carrier that is really learning his trade as he goes."
I know what Coughlin was trying to do there. He was trying to give a public boost to Williams, who had a critical fumbled and just three yards in three carries on Monday night. I'm not sure I'm buying what Coughlin is selling there, though.
Williams is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry this season and 3.2 per carry in his nearly two full seasons. The sample size isn't small, with 291 carries. There are certain things about the NFL trade that every young player needs to learn, of course, but running back is an instinctive position. You either have the vision, cut-back ability, quickness and patience to find the holes or you don't.
When the Giants drafted Williams in the fourth round a year ago he looked like the perfect Coughlin player. A combination of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. Right now, it's just not working. As I said Tuesday, I don't know who is ultimately making the decision to keep playing Williams over Orleans Darkwa, but that choice is hurting the Giants. It's been hurting them for weeks.
Williams might be successful as the workhorse back. We have seen enough to know, though, that he really isn't going to help the Giants being used as a bit player.
I think JPP is a tough call for Giants
I did a couple of radio spots on Tuesday night to talk about the Giants, and questions about Jason Pierre-Paul and his long-term future with the Giants kept coming up. So, let's talk about that.
Pierre-Paul provides the Giants with a conundrum. In the five games he has played since returning from his July 4 fireworks accident, it's obvious that Pierre-Paul can still be a force. He can use his quickness and strength to get around the edge. He can still get in position to defend the run. He hustles like crazy. Problem is, with that massive club on his damaged right hand we've seen over and over that Pierre-Paul has a hard time finishing plays. The latest example was the 38-yard touchdown run by Lamar Miller Monday night. JPP had Miller in the backfield, he just didn't have two hands to bring him down with.
Pierre-Paul, of course, is on an incentive-laden one-year deal and can be a free agent this offseason. What do the Giants do? It's apparent that they don't have nearly enough -- or maybe any -- defensive play-makers. Pierre-Paul, even one-handed, might be the closest thing they have to one. Do they give him a long-term deal and hope he is able to shed the club and return to Pro Bowl level? Do they let him go? Do they use the franchise tag on him again and give themselves one more year to see exactly what JPP can be?
It will be one of the most interesting decisions of the offseason.
I think we need to slow down on Cooper Taylor
Cooper Taylor played 18 snaps on Monday, the most he has ever played in his three seasons with the Giants. Let's acknowledge that Taylor played well. Coughlin did, even saying that Taylor was doing enough Monday against the Dolphins to warrant staying on the field instead of second-round pick Landon Collins.
Taylor's good play has set off a torrent of "it's about time he got a chance" and "stupid coaching staff should have been playing him a long time ago" type comments. No to rain on your Taylor parade, but let's slow down a bit.
It was great to see him play well. But, it was 18 snaps. It's the first time in three years Taylor has had any sort of real impact with the Giants. That's not the fault of the coaching staff. The Giants showed you on Monday that if the guy takes advantage of an opportunity and deserves to stay on the field, he will stay on the field.
Why has it taken Taylor so long to show the Giants anything? And, can he actually do it again? It would be nice if he could, but one decent performance in three seasons isn't enough to start thinking he's the answer at safety. If the Giants thought he was they wouldn't have gone through Nat Berhe, Mykkele Thompson, Bennett Jackson, Stevie Brown, Brandon Meriweather and Craig Dahl before giving him a chance.
[UPDATE: The Giants have released Meriweather, so Taylor is now in line for signficant playing time.]
I think Josh Norman vs. Odell Beckham could be awesome
The Panthers' cornerback is thought of as the best in the game right now, and perhaps the Defensive Player of the Year. No wide receiver has had a better start to a career than Beckham over his first 25 games. The Giants have to get some plays from Beckham to win games, and Norman will make that much more complicated. The giants would be well-advised to make Rueben Randle, Shane Vereen, Will Tye, Dwayne Harris and maybe even Hakeem Nicks significant parts of their game plan against Carolina. Still, it will be fun to watch Beckham and Norman work.