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Midseason ‘things I think’ about the New York Giants

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A mix of serious, not so serious items at the halfway point

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at New York Giants Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Call these honors, dishonors, awards, things I think, whatever you like. It is probably a combination of all of those things. I started out with the premise of writing a midseason New York Giants “Kudos & Wet Willies,” then realized quickly that my trusty old K&WW standby wasn’t going to cut it for the things I wanted to say or the players and things I wanted to talk about.

In the end, I guess this amounts to a midseason brain dump, a “things I think,” some serious and some not so serious, about the Giants at the midpoint of the season.

The best ex-Arizona Cardinal on the roster — Like some people collect baseball cards or stamps, the Giants seem to collect former Arizona Cardinals. They have Markus Golden, Elijhaa Penny, Deone Bucannon, Kareem Martin and Antoine Bethea. Some have worked, some have not.

Without any question, the former Cardinal working out best for the Giants is Golden. Now more than two full years removed from a devastating knee injury, Golden is showing that he still can be the impact pass rusher he was when he had 12.5 sacks for the Cardinals in 2016. He leads the Giants with 5.5 sacks and 23 pressures. Golden is earning himself some serious coin this offseason.

The ex-Arizona Cardinal who should have retired — Safety Antoine Bethea has had a terrific NFL career, longer and more successful than most. Why the Giants signed the 35-year-old 14-year veteran, to bring wisdom and leadership to a young secondary, is understandable. Bethea is second on the team in tackles with 42. Still, watch him play and it’s painful.

The NFL is a young man’s game and Bethea no longer has the speed or athleticism to play it effectively — at least not in the single-high safety role the Giants are generally asking him to fill. His passer rating against (158.3) translates to a perfect quarterback passer rating, and there are quite simply open field plays he can’t make because he can no longer get into position.

The most disappointing end to a fantastic career — You know where this one has to go. We’re talking about Eli Manning here. The Giants tried for years to stick with Manning and give the best quarterback in franchise history a proper sendoff as the leader of a winning team. They tried one final time this year. It didn’t work and Pat Shurmur (mercifully?) pulled the plug after two games. It can’t be easy for Manning to show up day after day with nothing to do but run the scout team and to know that his career is likely over, and, sadly, it has to end this way for him, but perfect fairy tale endings are few and far between.

He’s sexy ... and he can play, too — This, of course, is referring to Dexter Lawrence. The monstrous 6-foot-4, 340-or-so-pound Lawrence has shown us both that he has dance moves and game. He can move better than any man his size should be able to and provided he stays healthy he is going to be an impact player for a loooong time. As an aside, he is a huuuuuuuge man. I’ve been around Giants players for more than a decade now and I’m used to large people. Lawrence, though, is different. I watched him walk down the Quest Diagnostics Training Center hallway not long ago next to 6-3, 311-pound B.J. Hill and Lawrence made Hill look, well, like a speed bump rather than the mountainous man he actually is.

He’s lost in Love — I know rookie defensive back Julian Love is still on the roster. Giants.com says so, and so do the press releases we get each week in advance of that week’s game. I’ve even seen a young man wearing glasses and sitting at a locker with the nameplate “Love” on it after some Giants practices this season.

Where, though, is the fourth-round pick the Giants were so excited about that GM Dave Gettleman said he was pacing the floor because he couldn’t stand the wait for his turn to pick?

I’m so sad, and so befuddled, I just have to do this:

So, who does he have dirt on? — I’m kidding. At least I think I’m kidding. The NFL career of Alex Tanney and the fact that he continues to have one is an amazing thing.

Tanney has been in the NFL since 2012. He has been through nine organizations. He has played one half of one game and thrown 14 passes. He didn’t play a snap last year. He won’t play one this year unless there is a quarterback catastrophe that knocks out both Daniel Jones and Eli Manning.

Yet, he is still in the NFL. More specifically, still a Giant. I’ve talked to Tanney and he’s a great guy. I actually think he’d be a decent backup quarterback if he ever really had to play, but we may never know. Coach Pat Shurmur says he likes what Tanney brings to the quarterback room. If there was an NFL award for Most Valuable Meeting Room Guy (MVMRG?) he’d have to be a candidate. I mean he’s gotta be other-worldly in those meetings, right? Or, he’s got pictures of somebody.

How not to debut with a new team — By getting yourself suspended four games for taking a banned fertility drug, especially when you have been in the league for a decade and should have known better. Good job, Golden Tate!

Now that is the perfect costume — This has pretty much nothing to do with anything about the first half of the season, other than the fact that it just happened. But, geez, I mean is there a more perfect Halloween costume than Daniel Jones as Woody from Toy Story? Unless maybe he wanted to dress as Eli Manning.

The injury of the year — That has to be the concussion. Every year it seems like there is one injury that just seems to crop up again and again. This year, it’s the concussion. Sterling Shepard has had two, and every week it seems like there are multiple Giants listed with concussions. There is nothing funny about this at all, and I’m anxious to see the data on concussions at the end of the season. If what has happened with the Giants is any indication, the league’s new helmets are not helping.

Can we throw Pat Shurmur a lifeline? — I’m no game show enthusiast and I’m at a loss to remember which one it is/was, but I know there was a game show where the uncertain contestant could request a lifeline before offering up a final answer. I’m thinking maybe the Giants coach needs one for those in-game decisions at the end of the first half and in the closing minutes of games. Challenges, too. Maybe MetLife Stadium seats can be equipped with instant polling technology so Shurmur can ask the fans what he should do. Or, better yet, Shurmur can buzz the press box and Pat Traina, Chris Bisignano of The Giant Insider and yours truly can send down the decision.

Best comeback from a disastrous first day — Wide receiver Darius Slayton was so awful on the first day of rookie mini-camp that reporters on hand were snickering about how bad he looked. I will willingly raise my hand and admit I was one of the people on the sidelines thinking “so those stone hands are why lasted until the fifth round.”

Well, that awful day is far, far in Slayton’s rearview mirror. Slayton is averaging a team-high 16.7 yards on 16 catches. He leads the Giants with three touchdowns. You could see last week that he has a connection with and the obvious trust of Jones. That combo could be fun to watch for years to come.

A too little, too late roster move — Days after Saquon Barkley was injured in Week 3, the Giants worked out a group of veteran running backs. With only Wayne Gallman and undrafted rookie free agent Jon Hilliman, who began the year on the practice squad, healthy they needed to sign one. They chose not to. We know what happened. Two weeks later, Gallman suffered a concussion and the Giants were forced for two games to use Hilliman as their primary back. That didn’t go well. The Giants finally signed veteran Javorius ‘Buck’ Allen after Week 6 — three weeks after it actually would have helped them.