The New York Giants have once again experienced a spate of injuries leading up to the 2015 season, losing some of their best players before the season even came close to beginning
What else is new, right?
Well, unlike some previous years, the cavalry might be coming.
Whenever the Giants had an injury in the previous three years, it seems it always resulted in that player being lost for the season. Of course, there has been some of that already this season. The Giants lost perspective starting safeties Bennett Jackson and Nat Berhe to the injured reserve, as well as perspective backups Mykkele Thompson and Justin Currie.
However the majority of the names on the Giants' injury reports in camp and preseason have been temporary. Players who were held out of practice, but have since returned. The best players to be among the injured, Victor Cruz, Will Beatty, and Jason Pierre-Paul. However, each of them is slated to return at some point this year.
It's said that in order to achieve a big goal, it's best to set a series of smaller goals that you can achieve along the way. It helps to motivate you and makes the larger goal seem less daunting.
The Giants' main goal is to put themselves in position to make a strong push through the end of the season and into the playoffs. However, getting three of their best players back over the course of the season provides some clear milestones for the Giants to set some short term goals for.
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13 -- at Dallas Cowboys, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20 -- vs. Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m., FOX
Week 3: Thursday, Sept. 24 -- vs. Washington Redskins, 8:25 p.m., CBS, NFL Network
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4 -- at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m., FOX
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11 -- vs. San Francisco 49ers, 8:30 p.m., NBC
Week 6: Monday, Oct. 19 -- at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25 -- vs. Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m., FOX
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1 -- at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m., FOX
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8 -- at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4:05 p.m., FOX
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15 -- vs. New England Patriots, 4:25 p.m., CBS
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22 -- Bye
With Victor Cruz declared out for Sunday's game against the division rival Cowboys, it seems like a safe bet that he won't see the field until week 3 or 4. Depending on his recovery, the Giants could decide to get his feet wet against Washington on Thursday night and use the "mini-bye week" to give him more rest following his first action since November 2014, or they could hold him out until their week 4 game.
Let's just assume that the Giants' take the more cautious route with Cruz and hold him out until Week 4 against the Buffalo Bills.
In the first three weeks the Giants play Dallas, Atlanta, and Washington. While the Giants obviously want to win every game, but if we're setting goals for the Giants to reach as they welcome players back to their game-day rosters, a 2-1 record going into their fourth game is both reasonable, and desirable. If the Giants can have a winning record when Cruz makes his long-awaited return to the field, it would give them momentum to build upon as they get one of their most energizing players back from a devastating injury.
When Jason Pierre-Paul finally returned to New Jersey and let the Giants' medical staff look at his injured hand. While the Giants were encouraged by what they saw, both in Pierre-Paul's recovery and his conditioning, they still believe that he was a month, or more, away from being ready to contribute at 100%.
Once again, let's assume a slightly more conservative timeline and have JPP come back week 6 against the Philadelphia Eagles. That would give JPP roughly 7 weeks from when the Giants examined him, accounting for both his recovery and time to work back into game shape and get an understanding of the defense.
After getting Cruz back, the Giants would have games against the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco. The 49ers have been devastated by coaching changes, retirements, and injuries over the 2015 offseason. The Giants should be able to win that game if they don't have a repeat of their 2014 meeting. The Bills have a dangerous defense, and talented players on offense. However Tyrod Taylor is a career backup and a first time starter.
The Giants would have to win at least one of those games and have a record of 3-2 -- though they'd obviously prefer to win both and have a record of 4-1 -- to keep the momentum gained before Cruz's return going through JPP's return.
Pierre-Paul returning to a team with a 3-2 or 4-1 record could give them a great boost as they go up against the Eagles and Cowboys.
The only Giant to begin the season on the PUP list, Will Beatty can't rejoin the team until week 6. At that point he can practice with the team, but the Giants have 3 weeks to make a decision to activate him, put him on the injured reserve, or cut him.
Jerry Reese -- briefly -- mentioned on a radio spot that the Giants were hoping to get Beatty back before mid-season. That could perhaps mean that he is on track to return to practice at the first opportunity after week 6. Supposing the Giants decide to leave rookie Ereck Flowers at left tackle, Will Beatty would then replace Marshall Newhouse at right tackle. In that case, Beatty might need the full three weeks to adjust to his new position. In that case, he could return week 9 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Giants should hope that they managed to take the games against both the Bills and 49ers before JPP comes back, because between weeks 6 and 9, the Giants face the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and the New Orleans Saints.
The Giants are going to need to, at least, split the games against Philadelphia and Dallas. With the questions surrounding both of their division rivals, these games could be winnable for the Giants. A split would have the Giants at 5-2 or 4-3 going into the game against the Saints. New Orleans appears to be beginning their post-Drew Brees rebuild while he is still under center, but the Saints should never be overlooked, particularly at home. However, as it stands now, this is a game that should be called "winnable". A win against the Saints could have the Giants with a 5-3 or even a 6-2 record by the time they get their franchise offensive tackle back.
By the mid-point in the season we will have a much clearer picture of how the 2015 Giants are. Will Eli's armory be as well stocked with weapons as we think? Will the young defense come together and master Spags' scheme? And what will the Giants' opponents turn out to be? Will all of Chip Kelly's gambles cash in, will they bust, or some combination thereof? Will the Cowboys' offensive line be able to make up for the lack of DeMarco Murray, or will their secondary be their undoing?
If the Giants can hit some short-term goals and build momentum as they get three of their best players back from injury, it could set them up for a strong second-half of the season.