The New York Giants will battle the Buffalo Bills at Fawcett Stadium in 12 days… until then, however, training camp is the main course.
Let’s flashback this morning to the early 1980’s, when #12 Scott Brunner was called on to replace an oft-injured and error-prone Phil Simms. Brunner started 30 games for the Giants between 1980 and 1983, compiling a win/loss record of 12-18 during that span. Immobile and indecisive, Brunner threw 48 interceptions (28 TD’s) and completed 49% of his passes.
Brunner was named the starter by Bill Parcells in 1983 even with a healthy Simms on the sidelines (Simms requested a trade out of New York, but he was denied). Parcells turned to Simms in week 6 against Philadelphia — on his second offensive series, Simms broke his thumb following through into the helmet of an Eagles player. While the above sequence summed up the Giants existence at that time, it also signaled the end of Brunner.
The only fourth-year quarterback making at least 12 starts who had a worse season than Sanchez was Scott Brunner of the 1983 Giants, according to Pro-Football-Reference. Coach Bill Parcells benched Phil Simms for Brunner that season. The next year, Simms was reinstalled and Brunner never started another game in the league.
How about we turn to a more fondly remembered Giant to change the mood: Mr. Steve Smith. A rookie in 2007, Smith caught only eight passes during the Giants historic Super Bowl season. He went on to catch 57 balls in 2008, but didn’t truly erupt as a premium contributor until the 2009 season. Smith finished 2nd in the NFL in receptions in ’09 (107) and cracked the end zone seven times en route to his lone Pro Bowl appearance.
He never looked quick enough or fast enough to get open, but for a two-year period he always did. Smith was the option route master… he read the body language of defensive backs like a book. The David Tyree play in Super Bowl XLII will forever live an infamy, but Steve Smith’s 12-yard catch on 3rd and 11 preserved that touchdown drive.
Earlier this month, Smith spoke up about leaving the Giants after 2010 on CBS Sports Radio’s “The DA Show”:
“I was thinking, you know, ‘Man, you can only you have to max out right now with this injury.’ You never know what could happen.”
“I wanted to make sure I got as many guaranteed dollars as I could.”
These days it’s Jerrel Jernigan donning the number 12. Disguised as a ghost for the better part of three seasons, Jernigan emerged on the scene late in 2013, grabbing 19 passes in the final three weeks of a lost campaign. Much like Steve Smith, JJ’s strength is winning on the inside — but he gets it done with quickness and a 38-inch vertical leap. The slot position for the Giants is occupied by Victor Cruz, but with Ben McAdoo an advocate for moving receivers around the formation, it’s a good bet Jernigan will stay involved.
Football season is here.