There are two things that seem to be abnormal about the pace of this post. One, this is the second "Let's Be Brutally Honest" of the month... but this can easily be dismissed as I have had more than one of a specific segment before. I write what's currently on my mind. Two, this is only the first game of the season, so I shouldn't be making projections about the New York Giants just yet. However, not only did the Giants lose the opener for the first time since 2007, but they lost to the Washington Redskins. The Skins are a team that the Giants swept in the last six matches. Not only did they beat them, but they pulverized them in those last six match-ups. The Giants need to get a grasp of that tragic loss and move on.
To me, the Giants have not been the same team ever since Plaxico Burress shot himself in the foot when going clubbing one night with Antonio Pierce. Burress deserved to serve time in prison and his release from the team was well deserved. The issue is that the Giants have been unable to recover from that incident. In 2008, the Giants were 10-1 leading up to this event and on a run to repeat as Super Bowl champions. After the event, they went 2-3, barely grasping the #1 playoff seed in the NFC, and then losing their first match-up horrendously to the Philadelphia Eagles. Their offense simply became a mess. I felt they needed to rid themselves of Burress and draft a good wide receiver. They kicked Burress to the curb and drafted Hakeem Nicks, who has become their #1 wide receiver. In 2009, they started off 5-0, only to slip to 8-8. While their offense was somewhat improving, but still shaky, their defense struggled due to injuries and play that just didn't reach the mark. Steve Spagnoulo, the defensive coordinator who left the team after being hired by the St. Louis Rams to coach in 2009, was replaced by Bill Sheridan. Sheridan was fired after the 2009 season and replaced by Perry Fewell. In 2010, the Giants initially started shaky, then became a powerhouse team, but ultimately faltered again. A key loss included the repulsive giveaway against the Eagles in the Meadowlands after holding a major lead. The Giants went 10-6 in 2010, but missed the playoffs due to that loss, as well as a major loss to the Green Bay Packers the week after.
Problems between last season and this included minor fixing up. This included bringing Steve Weatherford in as the punter, which was important, because Matt Dodge was a train wreck and many blame to have caused the Giants to lose to the Eagles in the Meadowlands meltdown. While I think Dodge did poorly and we couldn't keep him around as a punter, I think that loss was everybody's fault. Not just Matt Dodge. Not much else changed... until free agency and preseason. Eli Manning, who threw the most interceptions last season, lost two of his most valuable receivers in Wide Receiver Steve Smith (to the Eagles) and Tight End Kevin Boss (to the Oakland Raiders). Injuries included Terrell Thomas (for the season), Justin Tuck, Travis Beckum, Jonathan Goff, among many others.
While the Giants could have easily overcome these issues in their match against the Redskins, they played like they were unable to do so, mainly on the offense, and mainly on the receiving end. I felt Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, who were both on and off since Derrick Ward left the team through free agency, did a good job in this game. It seemed like Eli Manning was just on one of his off days, his completed just eighteen of his thirty-two passes, and it seems like Victor Cruz is not the #3 receiver. The slot should go to someone else. I also feel that Lawrence Tynes is not a comfortable fit as kicker. He always seems to be the kind of player that keeps me on the edge of my seat, because he could very well miss a kick. I liked the job John Carney, who was the oldest player in the league, did in 2008. Him and Feagles were the best kicker-punter pairing in the league. I think Weatherford is a fine fit, though Tynes isn't my favorite kicker. Then again, the kickers are doing far more disappointing than they should be doing. All they have to do is accurately kick the football... that's it!
If the Giants keep performing as they did against the Skins, changes need to be made. First off, head coach Tom Coughlin and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride will need to be replaced. Tom Coughlin saved his position in 2007 by leading the Giants to the Super Bowl and winning that big game. However, the Giants went right out of the playoffs in 2008 and missed the playoffs altogether in 2009 and 2010. I think that if a coach misses the playoffs three seasons in a row, unless they have an ultra strong record and career with the specific team that will give them a few more chances, then you should really be feeling the hot seat. I think Coughlin has done a lot to bring discipline to the team, but it's not resulting in the players having motivation and it's not resulting in players continuing to play, even if they think they have it in the bag. As for Kevin Gilbride, he should really be feeling the hot seat if Eli Manning throws as many interceptions as he did last season or the offense lags the team down.
That's what could happen. However, the Giants have a lot to look forward to. First off, the biggest competitor to the Giants are the Giants. If they can overcome those struggles and not take things for granted, they can win several games. Despite losing to the Skins, they have a lot to look forward to. Next week, they play against the St. Louis Rams at home on Monday night, then they have a favorable schedule following the bye, with the exception of their match against the Eagles. While the Eagles have an all-star team, they are far from having a perfect chemistry. While we could be worrying if the Rams defeat the Giants (the Rams possibly being minus Steven Jackson), the Giants had to frustrate us in 2007 before they could please us. Life's about how you finish, not how you start. The difference is that the Giants have a brutal schedule toward the end of the season, but they just need to concentrate on putting in the right receivers, making sure Eli Manning has a chemistry with these receivers, and that the defense remains as dangerous as they generally are, even through hard times. The Giants can still be a dangerous team, they just need to play like one, especially in what could be a dangerous division.