It’s Tuesday, which means time to get my Peter King on and offer up a new version of “Five things I think I think” about the New York Giants. So, with the preseason half over, here are my thoughts.
I think we need to talk about the blocking
The Giants’ offense has, obviously, not been good in the first two preseason games. A total of 10 points in eight quarters of play is, well, 1930s football at its finest. It’s all about the blocking, and even after I looked at this issue following Saturday’s game, I think we can discuss it further.
In terms of the first-team offensive line, the biggest issue a year ago was tackle play. It still is. Marshall Newhouse is what he is at this point in his career. Unless the Giants are able to upgrade that spot via the waiver wire over the next couple of weeks, they just have to do their best to work around his shortcomings. Ereck Flowers struggled as a rookie and while there is optimism about his sophomore year we have yet to see the hoped-for improvements manifest themselves.
I lambasted tight end Larry Donnell for his inadequate blocking work Saturday. Realistically, though, we probably shouldn’t obsess about Donnell’s blocking. Will Johnson (burner) didn’t play and Matt LaCosse (knee) played sparingly. Those two, and perhaps rookie Jerell Adams, figure to do the blocking. Donnell figures to be a pass receiver.
The other issue is the reserves. We shouldn’t expect cohesive play from second and third-team offensive lines. Those guys are getting shuffled from spot-to-spot and constantly being used in different combinations. What you hope for is to see individual players assert themselves as trustworthy backups. After Bobby Hart and probably Byron Stingily, I don’t think anyone else has done that.
Looking ahead, the Giants had a top 10 offense with this starting line a year ago. They can do that again. Still, though, I think it’s reasonable to expect some roster shuffling before the season begins.
I think Ryan Nassib’s play is worrisome
Let’s be fair. The Giants have done the backup quarterback no favors in the first two preseason games. Missed blitz pickups and some awful work by reserve offensive linemen and tight ends have left Nassib running for cover far too often. Nassib, though, hasn’t been good. For a player in his fourth season, even one with virtually no regular-season experience, the off-target and ill-advised throws, as well as the inability to protect the ball when running around, are alarming.
I think the d-line is impressive
The best thing about the first two preseason games has been the play of the first-team defensive line. If you want a reason to hang your hat on for why the Giants will be better in 2016 than they have been in recent years, what we have seen so far from Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison and Johnathan Hankins is that reason.
I think these UDFAs will force tough decisions
Romeo Okwara. Greg Milhouse. Ishaq Williams. Donte Deayon. Roger Lewis. Darius Powe. Ryan Malleck. There are probably a couple of other names I’m leaving off the list. These guys have all been impressive, and that’s been one of the things to feel good about thus far. They can’t all make the 53-man roster, though. With so many talented drafted and undrafted rookies the Giants face some difficult decisions at the end of the roster. They’re bound to end up losing a young player or two they would rather keep, at least as part of the practice squad.
I think Victor Cruz’s time has to be now
This is a critical week for Victor Cruz, who hasn’t played since the middle of the 2014 season. He has to make it through the week of practice healthy. He has to play in the preseason game Saturday against the Jets, and play well enough to make the Giants believe he can still be a capable NFL receiver. He has to make it through the game and be able to practice next week. In my view, if he can’t do those things he can’t be part of the season-opening 53-man roster.