In preparation for, not only tomorrow night's preseason game, but also the soon-approaching start of the season we will take a look at the team that shares a stadium with the Jets that also happens to play the Jets again in the regular season.
I asked Josh Fyffe of TheGiantsBeat.com five questions about the Giants and what to expect this season and he was kind enough to provide answers for any of you Jets fans who want to learn more about the Giants so you can know what to use and what not to use when you try to mock your Giants fan friends. He also asked me five questions about the Jets for me to answer and I will post the link to that article shortly. Below is your 'Behind Enemy Lines: Giants Season Preview'
1) Odell Beckham Jr. took the league by storm last year but he and Eli Manning have struggled to get into any type of rhythm this preseason. With defenses sure to pay extra attention to Beckham this season will he struggle to have the same level of impact on the offense as last year? Or is simply too good to be held down too long regardless of the extra attention?
While the miscommunications between OBJ and Manning are troubling to witness, the duo went without a catch in the preseason a year ago, and obviously it didn’t affect their performance in the regular season. The reigning offensive rookie of the year definitely has a large target on his back for opposing cornerbacks, and will be facing a host of talented CBs this season including Darrelle Revis, Desmond Trufant, Brent Grimes, and Byron Maxwell. I don’t believe his level of play will drop off, but his targets may dip this season as Victor Cruz will be returning from injury and will be guarded by every team’s number two corner. Also the arrival of Shane Vereen will hawk some passing attempts away from OBJ and the rest of the receiving corps. All that being said, Beckham Jr proved to be a dominant receiver as a rookie and he continues to grow his chemistry will Manning each day in practice.
2) Sticking with the receiver position, Victor Cruz suffered a season-ending injury last year and now has injured his calf. How did Cruz look before suffering the calf injury and just how serious is the injury? Is it something that could linger all year or lead to other injuries. Can Giants fans expect him to get back to 100 percent this season and help take some of the pressure off of Beckham?
Cruz’s current calf injury is minor, but will hold him out of the Saturday night matchup against the Jets; it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Giants be cautious and hold him out for the remainder of the preseason. Cruz was close to feeling 100% recovered from his right torn patella tendon before the strained calf injury and had been practicing fully with Manning and the first team offense. In an interview he did with us earlier in the preseason he commented on his recovery from his patella tendon injury, “there’s no pain, nothing hurts, it’s just a matter of continuing to run routes, continue to get the familiarity back from what I remember, and things like that and keeping it going.” Assuming he heals before week one, the only thing holding him back is getting repetitions in the offense; no physical limitations. So Cruz can definitely take some of the pressure of OBJ this year.
3) The Giants offensive line was a huge problem for them last season but with Geoff Schwartz healthy again and the addition of Ereck Flowers will the offensive line be able to protect Manning and open up holes in the running game?
The Giants offensive line has been bitten by the injury bug throughout a majority of the preseason, with Flowers, Schwartz, Justin Pugh, and Weston Richburg all having mild injury concerns. Aside from Schwartz’s lingering foot/ankle injury, the line is finally on the field as a starting unit together. The talent on the offensive line is drastically better than their depleted front five from a season ago, and with Cruz returning from injury and adding a second vertical threat to the offense the running game should have more of a spark than a season ago. Flowers has received an ample amount of praise from the coaching staff and his teammates thus far into the preseason, but it will be more revealing to see him lining up against opposing defensive ends throughout the regular season. The line appears to be a stronger and more developed unit than a season ago, especially in their second year in offensive coordinators Ben McAdo’s system.
4) The defense: how is the unit as a whole shaping up? Mainly the linebackers and the secondary. Jon Beason got injured again and as we know the Giants aren’t big believers in stock piling above average talent at the position, will this be an area opposing offenses look to take advantage and expose. Same question for the secondary, especially at safety. The Giants drafted Landon Collins who is a good in-the-box safety but lacks any type of range in coverage, how worried should Giants fans be about the secondary?
The defense is coming together piece by piece and has endured a lot of obstacles to start the year throughout OTAs, training camp, and preseason. Beason’s injury has been graded as a mild knee sprain, and he will likely be back and healthy for the regular season opener against Dallas. Jameel McClain would be his replacement and he had a 100 tackle season in his place last season, however McClain suffered a back stinger this preseason and has dealt with injuries in his past as well. The safety position is the biggest red flag on the Giants’ defense because of the lack of talent as well as the injuries the unit has endured before the start of the regular season. Backup rookie free safety Mykkele Thompson, who was speculated to be in contention for the starting free safety job, suffered a serious Achilles injury that should hold him out of the first portion of the regular season. Collins may not be a typical cover safety, but has the 4.5 speed, learning intangible, and football IQ to pick up coverage schemes and take care of the back end of the defense. The Giants also signed Brandon Meriweather about a week ago, and he provides a hard-hitting veteran presence to their secondary. Also with Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, they boast two corner backs who are known for the quickness. While the secondary isn’t in ideal shape, the unit certainly has the potential to progress with the speed and intangibles they possess.
5) And of course, Jason Pierre-Paul. Everyone knows, kind of sort of, what happened to his hand/fingers with the fireworks accident but there’s been a cloud of mystery surrounding the extent of the injury. Will he even get cleared to play this year? If so will he be able to be even close to the JPP of year’s past (even accounting for his other injuries and inconsistent play)?
It has been about a month and a half since JPP has his right index finger amputated following a July 4th fireworks explosion at his summer residence in Florida. The team has been in lapse communication with the star defensive end throughout the OTAs, training camp and the preseason, but there is still no timetable for his return to the organization and his $14.8 million franchise tag tender remains unsigned. There has been speculation on NFL.com, PFF, and NBC Sports that he plans to return to the team before week one. However once he signs the franchise tag, he will be required to report to practice and could be placed on the non-football injury least, which would keep him inactive and unpaid for the first six weeks of the regular season. If JPP comes back to the team fully rehabbed, he also could potentially start for the team on week one, as it is no question that the defense is a more talented unit with him than without him. As for familiarizing himself with the playbook, defense end coach Robert Nunn said he would an ample amount of all-nighters to catch the defensive end up to speed. If JPP is one the field for week one, his instincts and talent alone will at least make comparable to his former self, however it is a tad unrealistic to expect no drop off in his play due to all of the controversy and injury concerns surrounding him this offseason.