CALL me cynical, but Sunday’s lop-sided win over an anaemic Seattle side has done little to ease a sense of apprehension ahead for the 2010 New York Giants season.
Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty to enjoy in the 41-7 road win at Qwest Field, but a sense of perspective is needed to put the G-Men’s 5-0 winning streak into context.
Coach Coughlin has always been an advocate of the never-get-too-high, never-get-too-low philosophy and just as it was advisable to jettison the unwise calls for his sacking after a 1-2 start, now is the time for caution when scribes and pundits (see MNF) are hypothesizing over a possible Jets-Giants Super Bowl and anointing Big Blue as the cream of the crop in the NFC.
The first reason for exercising restraint is the paucity of talent faced thus far – the Giants’ opponents are a combined 27-37 and if we’re being honest with ourselves, only the Colts and Titans have been dangerous, both of which beat the G-Men.
What will give more of an indication as to where the Giants truly stand in the big scheme of things are two season-defining match-ups on the horizon with the Eagles and their (much as it pains me to say it) MVP-candidate quarterback Michael Vick
Lambeau Field the day after Christmas and two potentially tricky games against a resurgent Washington will also give more of an accurate picture.
If the Giants can perform well here, then maybe we can start talking about the 2007 vintage.
So although the Giants’ defence has been exemplary and blowing up quarterbacks like Kareem McKenzie’s right shoe, the sense of optimism needs to be tempered.
I am not a doom-sayer fan who loves to be critical and seems to take masochistic joy in nit-picking over faults but I also think it’s foolish to be blindly optimistic in the face of legitimate concerns.
There’s a nagging feeling in my bones that at 2009-esque capitulation could be looming around the corner
Here are some other reasons for worry – and what true fan isn’t beset by myriad anxieties unless its 41-zip going into the 4th?
The Giants turned the ball over five times against the Cowboys and was third-worst in the league entering yesterday’s game.
If Seattle had any offensive punch, they could have punished Kevin Boss’s early turnover and put the G-Men in a tricky whole right from the get-go. Against the aforementioned better teams, these could be severely punished.
Fumbles from the running backs and tipped-balls from the receivers have still yet to be stamped out.
It would be a huge understatement to say the defensive backs have been an improvement on last year’s woeful showing – Deon Grant gets my Unsung Hero of the Season Award so far – but they haven’t been truly tested yet against quality opposition.
There has been no Brees, Brady, Rivers or Rodgers on the docket so far and when the Giants faced the Colts it was the run which did the damage.
How will they fare against a top-quality passing attack?
I’m also concerned by the lack of recent production from Kenny Phillips who hasn’t had the breakout year many predicted.
Although rookie punter Matt Dodge seems to have settled down into more consistent play of late since getting some sage advice from fellow kicker Lawrence Tynes – wear a glove – it’s impossible to ignore his glaring errors.
Again, will these mistakes and poor field position surrendered be exposed by playoff-bound teams?
The Giants’ return game has been as vile as trash-talking from Kevin Garnett. The loss of Domenik Hixon has affected special teams much more than anyone anticipated and this deficiency in the return game takes away the quick-fire potent weapons enjoyed by teams such as Chicago, Dallas, heck, even Kansas City.
Alas, reader, to finish on a positive note. One facet of the Giants’ game which has been superlative is the unexpected production from linebackers Jonathan Goff (37 tackles, 0.5 sack) and Michael Boley (team-leading 46 tackles, 1 sack).
There’s still a search party being sent out in most games for Keith Bulluck (13 tackles) but no-one would have predicted such solid play from the linebacking corps which has steadied the ship against the run.