Hey there! It's been awhile. I've been gone for some time, but that doesn't mean I've been any less invested in our New York Giants. Thought I'd drop in and run through a few things that I've noticed throughout the preseason in a guest article.
With the regular season closing in on a hurry, we remain a work in progress. Like every team, there's some good and there's some bad. Let's take a look at both:
1) The most impressive player on the team is, of course, Odell Beckham Jr. Don't believe that nonsense about him not being able to play through opponents gunning for him. He saw that every week after week 10 last year. Remember that St. Louis "hitman" game? What'd he do there?
2) The least impressive player on the team is, of course, Markus Kuhn. I say that relative to where he's playing, which is the first team. While it's true that when single teamed he can sometimes hold his own while anchoring, he's perhaps one of the worst defenders I've seen disengaging from linemen. That's why he's consistently late to the ball.
3) I wouldn't be too worried about Eli Manning looking as poorly as he has been. He hasn't been going through progressions at all and what that tells me is that he's aiming to get a singular player the ball every time, just testing plays out. Come game day, there's going to be a lot more thought to who's going to receive the ball. Right now, it's just working out timing issues.
4) It's somewhat surprising to me that the best edge defender against the run has been Damontre Moore (Owamagbe Odighizuwa a close second). Moore has consistently set the edge and something seems to be clicking for him. It'd be a mild surprise if he didn't start this year for me.
5) Kerry Wynn has been a big disappointment after having a solid rookie year in 2014. He doesn't set the edge well because his best move is an inside rip and he keeps going to it. One thought (that will never happen) is moving him to 3 technique. He plays with enough violence and doesn't have to put on as much bulk (he's already 270) to help him succeed there.
6) The most explosive edge player has been Owamagbe Odighizuwa, bar none. On passing downs, he explodes off his stance and his speed to power conversion is truly impressive. He's going to be a really good one. He looks slimmer than I remember as well, but he can hold his own on the edge. If he learns to get a smidge lower on some of his rushes, he'll become a monstrosity.
7) Despite how good he's looked, Diggy isn't the most impressive rookie in my eyes. That would be, of course, Ereck Flowers.
8) The reason Flowers has looked so impressive is multi-fold. For one, he's somehow looked stronger than he did while at Miami. The other reason is his footwork. In my pre-draft eval for him, he's had some really ugly feet, but I did mention that he flashed great footspeed. He's seemed to harness it and cleaned it up, and that's helped his pass protection loads. That wide base is the reason why he is now holding his own at left tackle and why Brandon Scherff is getting trucked backwards at right guard. The wide hands and the inaccurate punch still need work though.
9) I'm still really surprised that the Giants are playing Landon Collins as far back as they have been. Small sample size, but I'm still waiting to see him play close to the LOS where he can truly be the hammer.
10) If I had my druthers, Bobby Hart would be starting at right tackle. Brandon Mosley can't stay healthy, and I've seen enough of Marshall Newhouse. I know PFF likes him right now, but I've seen too many defenders get into his body and just flat out beat him on the edge, especially against Jacksonville. Hart has struggled too, but at least there's upside.
11) Is there anybody out there that wouldn't be excited to see Uani Unga get some real playing time this year? Dude is a tornado in the middle of the field. The Giants have been terrible defending the middle of the field as well as defending RBs in space, but this kid might be the answer to that.
12) Speaking of Unga, with Kennard and JT Thomas, could the Giants actually have a linebacking corps that looks somewhat athletic? That's unheard of.
13) Will we ever get to see a healthy trio of Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, and Odell Beckham Jr out on the field together in 2015?
14) The Giants' offense might hinge on the ever fragile Geoff Schwartz. Did you see him against the Jets? A night and day difference when he took over for John Jerry. If the Giants can't run to the right, teams will key against the left in run defense and blitz to the right. That could demolish everything.
15) Shane Vereen in a Ben McAdoo offense = love at first sight.
16) Oh, and count me in as one of the people clamoring for Orleans Darkwa to not only get a roster spot, but serious playing time as well. He hits the hole faster than anybody else we have on this roster.
17) A healthy Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are going to frustrate a ton of opponents. That's an elite pairing, and DRC is looking as good as ever. His added muscle mass has made him a legitimate run stopper and he doesn't look like he's lost any of his speed.
18) Stevie Brown will, and should be, the starting free safety. I'm not saying he's a good player, but he's the closest thing the Giants have to an experienced free safety there is. If he weren't injured, I'd be shooting for Bennett Jackson to take this spot.
19) Justin Pugh at left guard? Some expected mistakes with flashes of pure dominance. He had a poor game against the Jets, but you're asking a guy who's barely played at the position to fight against Muhammad Wilkerson, one of the best in the league. He's also still building chemistry with Ereck Flowers. That's going to lead to penalties. He was incredible against the Jags, however, and his athleticism should only help him get better.
20) Jay Bromley frustrates me. Yes, he looks damn good for spurts. He has active hands and he's got fantastic hip flexibility. His burst off the snap is disappointing, and that is what is holding him back from being a consistently very good player right now. He doesn't give himself an advantage, so he has to be extra-violent to make his way into the backfield. Still, I think he's starting quality when compared to whoever else we have.
21) One of the best players this preseason is Trevin Wade. I know Alex Sinclair is a pretty big fan of him, and I can see why. He's a smooth mover who's best trait is being at the right place and knowing his coverage responsibilities. After the breakdowns that this team has had over the years, that's an underappreciated art.
22) Don't ask me about who's going to make it at tight end because honestly I have zero clue. Donnell still looks inconsistent, Robinson still gets minimal playing time, Cunningham looks good (but I haven't seen him block) and Fells is...well, Fells.
23) I know most of it is vanilla, but I'm already liking the frequency with which Steve Spagnuolo is sending the Giants on blitzes. They don't have the raw talent to win with their four horsemen like in years past, so sending the heat has to be the way.
24) Two players on defense that I know will show up game in and game out without having to talk about them at all are DT Johnathan Hankins and SAM Devon Kennard. Both aim to be stalwarts this year and who have simply done their job and done it effectively this preseason.
25) I understand that Tom Coughlin wants to see more of the deep ball, but honestly, is it really that necessary? Why not just go for ball control, tempo-based drives with high efficiency passes. The first team went 3-and-out so much a lot of the time because the degree of difficulty for a lot of those passes was too high.
26) Keep throwing the ball to Geremy Davis. He's going to continue to catch it every time. Don't think I've seen him drop a pass yet.
27) I have yet to see a significant contribution from Dwayne Harris. That's not to say he hasn't done anything, but tangibly from my eyes, I don't see much yet. Hopefully that comes with the regular season.
28) Henry Hynoski should get a lot more snaps this year. He was at his mauling best this preseason, clearing the way several times for the runner. Let's get him some more catches too.
29) I feel kind of bad for Ryan Nassib because he's stuck behind Eli. With this offense, he's shown off some starting caliber traits. His best attribute is clearly sensing pressure and his ability to maneuver in the pocket. He's been able to avoid pressure and get accurate throws off outside the pocket in almost every game now. Very impressive.
30) If it were up to me, the youth movement starts now. Get Unga in there. Get Collins in there. Get Odighizuwa in there. Get Hart in there. Get Bromley in there. There will be a lot of mistakes, but as the 2014 class showed, there will be a lot of promise as well for the future.