As fans, we often tend to look at our favorite team(s) through particularly thick rose-colored glasses. Whether just or not, we’re always quick to believe in any and all hype thrown our way; we believe that they stand as good a chance as anyone else, if not more.
The problem with this theory is that not all teams are on the same plain.
Sure, mathematically the St. Louis Rams are on par with the New Orleans Saints right now, but we all know once the season begins that coin-flip isn’t going to land heads-up for the Gateway City. Reality is that some teams are just better structured than others. Each team has their respective positives and negatives, but fans frequently ignore the latter until faced with them once the season begins.
In no means do I intend to sound overly pessimistic, but you undoubtedly know where I’m headed with this. As talented as the New York Giants appear to be on paper, there are a plethora of concerns and potential problems that have ultimately led to me removing my rose-colored glasses…at least for now.
Health at Running Back
Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown and D.J. Ware are all coming off of injury-riddled seasons and potential health issues shouldn’t be overlooked. A Giants’ assistant has already been quoted as saying Jacobs hasn’t shown his initial burst yet this offseason, and what the team can expect from Bradshaw –especially if he gets thrown in the mix as a kick returner- remains to be seen. The bottom line is that there’s no sure thing at running back going into this season. The entire group could come out firing on all cylinders, proving that no concern was necessary, of they could come out as slow as molasses.
Age/Change on the Offensive Line
Will Rich Seubert keep his job? If not, does David Diehl get moved back into the inside? And what should the team and its fans expect from second-year player William Beatty?
Again, there are a lot of question marks…and that’s not even including the gradually slowing Kareem McKenzie.
The line was nothing to write home about last year, with several of the players showing their age and/or having their weaknesses exposed (see: Diehl against speed rushers). Why are we so quick to assume they’ll bounce back and perform at a Super Bowl-like level when we really have nothing, at the moment, to base it on?
Development of Ramses Barden
The Giants’ struggles in the green zone have been well documented since the departure of Plaxico Burress, and without Ramses Barden stepping up and doing what everyone hopes he’ll do, that likely won’t change.
The kid didn’t see much of the field last year and there was a reason why: it took him a long time to get acclimated to the NFL.
With heaping praise coming out of the OTA’s and mini-camp, fans have quickly forgotten just how much he struggled to even find playing time last year. And if history has taught us anything, it’s that a superstar cannot be made in the offeseason; look no further than William Joseph and Jonas Seawright.
Inexperience at Linebacker
With all the hype surrounding the defense and its potential, I can’t help but think back to only one year ago. All the talk around the NFL was about the New York Giants and a defense that was undoubtedly going to dominate. There were comparisons to the 1985 Chicago Bears, the 1976 Pittsburgh Steeelers and even the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.
In the end, they ended up performing about as well as the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
OK…maybe not that bad, but you get the picture.
Fact is, the Giants now have very little experience at linebacker, are unsure of who’s going to end up where and just how good they’re going to be.
Yes, there is potential, but Ryan Leaf had potential and we all saw how far that took him.
With such a young group, it would be foolish to expect perfection…or anything near it. These guys are going to hit some bumps in the road; probably quite a few of them.
Transitioning with Perry Fewell
Going into the 2009 season, many fans were ecstatic with the promotion of Bill Sheridan to defensive coordinator. They believed anyone who understood the philosophy of Steve Spagnuolo was good enough to adapt it and make it work again.
Sheridan was clearly out of his league and his mixed reviews at the linebackers coach should have been a telling sign of that. Unfortunately, it was just another example of expectations being entirely too high and clouding the judgment of the onlookers.
Does this mean Fewell will follow the same path? Absolutely not. He’s got a good track record and much more experience than Sheridan had, but transition in the NFL is part of the game. And for a defense now working on its third defensive coordinator in three years, a rocky road should be expected.
Seamless transitions are rare and it would be foolish to think this is going to be one of them.
Just as I can’t say the Giants will be dominant in 2010, I can’t say they’ll be horrible either. What I see is a bit of a mixed bag with a lot of potential for both excitement and heartache.
For all I know, the Giants could go 12-4 and win another Super Bowl. At the same time, they could follow up an 8-8 season with an even worse campaign. We just won’t know until the season rolls around. But I am not at all ready to join the assembling crowd that is putting this team up on a pedestal.
This will be very good, I have no doubts about that…but will it be this season or next?
If you were to pin me down and force me to make a prediction, I would honestly tell you I see a 7-9 or 8-8 season upcoming. However, I would also tell you they are only a year or two (maximum) removed from making another run at the Super Bowl.
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