Are the Giants “Contenders or “Pretenders”?

A Giants defense celebrating its return to dominance in Houston.

I think this is the essential question to ask for a team that is coming off two impressive victories against teams that had three wins heading into the games.

This NY Giants team has been a frustrating lot since week 6 of last season. After they trounced five teams to start off 5-0, they looked uninspired and did everything imaginable to give away a chance to make the playoffs with the worst defensive performances the franchise had ever seen.

This year started out well as the Giants struggled at times to beat what looks to be one of the first worst teams in the National Football League in the Carolina Panthers. They were then embarassed the next week vs the Colts (who have not looked great this year) and followed that up with a vintage 2009 season performance where they gave away a game they could have easily have won vs the Titans.

Week four might be this year’s 2007 Washington game where the Giants turned their season around.

And then yesterday happened, which gives hope to Giants fans everywhere and begs the question? Is this team, (a team that has yet to play a division game) contenders or pretenders?

That’s a tough call, but at least the question has moved from: will this team have a top 5 pick to can this team make the playoffs?

The Giants are sitting at 3-2 currently with 11 more games to play. Generally speaking, a 10 win team will make the playoffs. The Giants have six division games left: 2 each vs Washington, Dallas, and Philly. They also play (in order excluding the division games), the Lions, at Seattle, vs Jacksonville, at Minnesota, and at Green Bay. The Giants should be favored in three of those games (the Detroit, Seattle, and Jacksonville games). If they can go 3-3 in the divison and win the three games vs Det, Seattle, and Jacksonville they could be in position to make the playoffs. But that is getting way ahead of ourselves. Let’s first look back at the Giants and Texans game.

Praise

Hakeem Nicks-I posted a link to an article last week where K.C. Joyner said that Hakeem Nicks is on his way to being THE best WR in the league at some point in his career, and he took a step in the right direction this weekend. Now, Nicks is great after the catch, but he still sometimes tries to make a move before he catches the ball like he did yesterday on the bomb pass down the sideline from Manning. Once he cleans  up the lapses in concentration there’s no telling what he could become. A very good game for Nicks who is showing more and more each week.

Osi Umeinyora-What a change a year makes. It’s common wisdom that it takes players two years to return to form after a major injury and that really looks true in Osi’s case. Even though he has been bothered by a knee and  hip injury, Osi has been very good this season.  Two sacks yesterday for forced fumbles which brings up his total to six sacks and five forced fumbles. Freeny and Mathis have led the league in strip sacks over the past few years, but a part of that is because Osi hasn’t been healthy. He had 4 FF on 7 sacks last year and 5 FF sacks in 2007. Had he played 2008 (and not suffered that knee injury) he might be the statistically best strip sacker in the game. He is clearly one of the top five in that essence.

Justin Tuck

Another sack, but more importantly Justin Tuck is one of the five best Run Stopping defensive ends in the league. That man takes pride in playing the run and it shows.  Keep up the  play he looks much better the past two weeks. He looks like it’s 2008 again.

Jason Pierre Paul


His numbers aren’t showing up yet, but he has been a force on special teams coverage (another 2 tackles yesterday) and in collapsing the pocker. JPP is so strong he shoves the olineman and collapses the pocket. He’s showing versatility and if for some reason he can’t cut it as a pass rushing defensive end, he looks promising at least as a defensive tackle. In other words I don’t think he’ll bust at all.

Chris Canty

I didn’t love the Canty signing, but I thought he’d provide at least two things to the defense. Run stuffing and pass deflections. I watched Canty bat ball after ball down in Dallas and was waiting for that in NY. He doesn’t have to sack the passer, deflecting balls at the line of scrimmage stops drives and can create big turnover opportunities. As long as he maintains gap integrity and keeps knocking those balls down the dline will be well on its way to a good season.

Steve Smith

He didn’t have huge, but 89 yards and a touchdown is a solid Steve Smith day. Quitely,without the Nicks fanfare Smith has amassed 28 receptions and 300 yards, and I have a feeling that has teams devote more attention to Nicks things could open up for Smith again. He could easily end up with 90 catches this season, maybe a 100 if he has two or three big weeks.

Secondary

No communication problems this year. More Interceptions, and much better run support. I’m still waiting for Rolle to get a pick six, or even an INT. But his run support and ability to keep everything in front of him this year has been huge. He’s played well, despite his lack of interceptions. Terrell Thomas is solid. And teams aren’t throwing at Corey Webster this year. Webster was probably the best CB in the league in 2008 as he shut down every big receiver he faced for almost the whole season. (Profootballfocus.com has his coverage rating just about equal to what Revis did last year), and last year he was closer to average. He’s playing better this year and that makes a big difference.

Deon Grant was a GREAT underrated signing. It sucks that Chad Jones had that catastrophic injury because I think he could have been a force on special teams.

Brandon Jacobs and Bradshaw

Nothing flashy from either, but Jacobs is FINALLY running like a 250 pound monster. He doens’t need 8 yards a carry. He needs four yards a carry and to demoralize the opposition, which he’s starting to do. Hopefully we’ll see him get some meaningful first half carries.

Ramses Barden

Did something to get back into the good graces of the coaches and he had a nice catch. He still has plenty of time to become a good N.F.L. player. Hopefully he continues to improve.

Jonathan Goff

I’ve been saying over and over he’s becoming a GOOD two down linebacker in the N.F.L. He’s very instinctual in the run game and has been making huge stops in the run game, but Sunday he even made a play against a good TE in Owen Daniels in the pass game. If he continues to improve the Giants will only be looking for one linebacker (where Clint Sintim isn’t making a contribution yet.

Good game for Goff.

First Half Eli Manning

Eli Manning had a really good first half. completing passes in the row making smart decisions looking like Eli Manning 2009.

Needs Improvement

Third Quarter Eli Manning

I’m a self-admitted Eli Manning apologist, but I can NOT defend Eli Manning’s third quarter play. He was trying to ensure the Texans a fair shot of winning the game or something. I like Eli Manning becuase I think he understands the game, usually makes great decisions, and is a winner. Sometimes his touch his a little bit off on passes and that’s ok, it happens. Usually his mistakes aren’t huge mental mistakes, but the past few weeks he’s made some doozie of decisions, that I can’t defend. I’d much rather see a ball sail high than a stupid pass like forcing it into coverage when a punt would do wonders.

Mario Manningham

I’m  not sure Manningham played poorly this past weekend. I don’t think the Giants ran a ton of three wide receiver sets, but after the first couple of weeks where Manningham looked like the best Giants WR, he’s gone into the witness protection program. Manningham is a good #3 Wide Receiver and hopefully he gets back on track on Sunday.

Adam Koets

He’s played center against two pretty good defensive lines (not great lines, but good) and has more than held is ground as a blocker. But leg whips and low line driving shotgun snaps (along with that hold in the endzone that led to the Bradshaw penalty) can derail drives and games in a hurry. I appreciate how well he has done replacing O’hara, he just needs to clean it up a little bit.

Darius Reynaud

I can live with no return yards (although it doesn’t help the offense out any), but muffed punts, and not fair catching the ball when there is no room to run is no good.  The Giants would prefer not to use Manningham or Ross as a punt returner becuase their value to the offense and defense as the first “subs” are very valuable. But something needs a little work there. I don’t think the blocking has been great for the return game, but muffed punts have to stop and no Kick return yards is awful as well. With the 32nd overall pick in next year’s draft (I kid, I kid)… the Giants will have to look for a running back or CB with dynamic return ability in the offseason.

Honorable Mentions

The Dallas Cowboys- Thanks for losing. Keep it up.

Sage Rosenfels-Great holds. Tynes is a bit crazy, but the holds seem to help him out. At least one of the trade pieces is doing something to help this team.

David Diehl/Shawn Andrews.

Andrews is going to be the starting LT/LG of the future for the Gmen. It looks like he has regained his passion for playing football and his athletic ability is undeniable. Andrews has as much athletic ability as William Beatty, but is much stronger. If Andrews can remain dedicated that’ll be a great pickup.

Diehl handled a gimpy hobbled Mario Williams yesterday, but I’m not buying that he’s in probowl form.

Have a nice day everyone.

Thoughts and comments? Are the Giants contenders or pretenders?


Enjoyed this post?
Subscribe to NFL Gridiron Gab via RSS Feed or E-mail and receive daily news updates from us!

Submit to Digg  Stumble This Story  Share on Twitter  Post on Facebook  Post on MySpace  Add to del.icio.us  Bark It Up  Submit to Reddit  Fave on Technorati

One Response to “Are the Giants “Contenders or “Pretenders”?”

  1. Soozie Q says:

    What about Offenders? You left out penalties, they were what killed the GMEN against Ten. Any stupid penalties like McKenzies should be at least a one-quarter benching, I don’t care who it is.
    .
    That said, penalties were much better against Chi and Hou, and look at the results…