We always try to do “takeaways” from events going on around the New York Giants. There is really only one major “takeaway” from Thursday’s first day of training camp, when players reported and went through a conditioning test. That is that the optimism and the fresh feeling that permeated the organization during spring workouts is still going strong. Optimism was the theme of the day at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
- Safety Landon Collins is optimistic that both he and the defense as a whole will be better than in 2015.
- Jason Pierre-Paul is optimistic that offseason surgery on his damaged hand that will allow him to wear a glove rather than a club will help him return to dominance.
- Rashad Jennings is optimistic that this team can reach the playoffs, which would be a first for him in his eight NFL seasons.
- Justin Pugh is optimistic because he believes “the talent on this team is up there with any of the teams I've been on since I've been here."
- Coach Ben McAdoo is optimistic because when he looks at his 90 players "I like the look in their eye. They were hungry to get going ... champing at the bit just like I am. It's a good place to start."
And so it goes. It is Day 1 of a brand new season. The Giants should be optimistic after an offseason that saw them hire a new head coach, spend massively to upgrade their defense, have what is perceived to be an excellent draft and add a couple of useful players on offense.
If you can’t be optimistic now, when can you be?
"You don't come into a season saying we're going to go 8-8, we're not going to make the playoffs. I'm very confident in this team,” Pugh said on Thursday.
"We shoulda been in last year. I think we missed a big opportunity to go the playoffs. I'm very confident with the guys in this room."
Jennings put it this way:
“This team can be really good, by paper and by talent we have on this team.
“There’s 32 teams in the NFL. If all 32 teams are not out here fighting for a Super Bowl or thinking that they can be the best offense then they are probably in the wrong business. Just with us I think we have a little bit more validity behind it this year.”
Of course, we hear this kind of happy talk at the beginning of every season. The Giants haven’t made the playoffs in four years and have strung together three straight losing campaigns. Is there really “more validity behind it this year?”
The roster looks better, there haven’t been any major injuries or distractions yet and when you get around the facility there is a palpable feeling that better days are not far away.
The only way to get a real answer, however, is to see what happens when the games that count begin in September. The answer will be determined by the simple measure of wins and losses.