The New York Giants have one final preseason game on Thursday before the 2016 NFL season begins for real. With that in mind, let’s do a “Five things I think I think” with the season approaching.
I think Chris is right — get off the ledge!
I know that I have been highly critical of the blocking in the last two preseason games, and I’m not backing off that criticism. It has been awful. But, Chris is right that it is the preseason and fans ready to abandon ship need to chill out and get off the ledge. When has Eli Manning ever been good in the preseason? I can’t remember. When have the Giants been dominant offensively in preseason? Justin Pugh hasn’t been playing. Neither has the guy they signed to be the extra blocker they need on the edge, will Johnson. They aren’t doing any game planning. You aren’t going to see Ryan Malleck trying to block Muhammad Wilkerson 1-on-1 in the regular season. You aren’t going to see them run behind Larry Donnell over and over. You aren’t going to see Odell Beckham alligator-arm a pass that turns into an interception.
This was a good offense a year ago, albeit one that had difficulty running the ball when it needed to. It should be a good offense again this year, even if the Giants are unable to upgrade the offensive line.
I think I hate the cut down to 75 players
This first cut seems counter-productive. NFL teams have one more preseason game to play and want to use their starters sparingly, if at all. The problem is that many of the guys being let go in this wave of cuts are the ones who would — and should — be playing in this final round of preseason games. They would get one more opportunity to put something on tape that might attract another team. Instead, they are out of work and watching on television.
I think Will Johnson could be important
The aforementioned Johnson told Art Stapleton of The Record on Monday that "I know I can be the player we need. I'm doing whatever I can to get healthy and get back and show what I can do.”
Johnson suffered a burner in the first preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. He was signed because of his versatility as a fullback, H-Back and tight end, and because of the blocking ability he displayed in four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Coach Ben McAdoo said Monday that Johnson would “be a good piece of the puzzle to have in the mix.”
Johnson, of course, won’t solve all of the blocking issues. He will, however, help.
I think Olivier Vernon is going to have a great year
All I really knew about Olivier Vernon when the Giants signed him was whatever you could glean from the stats he compiled with the Miami Dolphins. What I know now is the guy works incredibly hard, that he is becoming a leader on the Giants defense, and that he is a fantastic player. Vernon plays hard, plays the run and the pass, and it seems like he is always in the backfield. When he isn’t making a tackle or getting a sack, he seems to be forcing a running back to change direction or a quarterback to hurry up and get rid of the ball.
I think the Giants need to win Week 1
The Giants haven’t won a season-opening game since 2010. That’s five straight Week 1 losses. Four of those have come in NFC East games, three to this year’s Week 1 opponent, the Dallas Cowboys. If the Giants want to get back to the playoffs, they need to stop putting themselves in a hole. That means they need to win a season opener, and the fact that they will play the Cowboys Sept. 11 without quarterback Tony Romo ratchets up the importance for the Giants. Despite the Dak Prescott mania, he will still be a rookie quarterback playing his first real NFL game.