– Jim Bearor
The New York Giants seem to be approaching football games like I approached academia: the “I’ll get to it when I get to it” model. It’s good enough to skate by, but that’s about it. To the surprise of no one, Big Blue needed a second-half comeback to beat the Bears at home this Sunday. Josh McCown and the Browns are up next, just waiting for Eli and the offense to come play down to their level.
New York has reeled off five straight victories, and they now sit at 7-3 with possession of a Wild Card spot. They have three divisional games left, one against each rival. They already have a better record than last year, and every week the offense looks like it’s a week away. They’re probably about to have a winning season, but they haven’t blown anybody out and every time I watch them, I find myself shaking my head at some point during the last five minutes. I don’t think this season has been as satisfying for Giants fans as it must be for Cowboys fans, and it’s not all about those extra two wins. We’re cool with the win over them to kick off the season and a chance to snag the divisional tiebreaker in a couple weeks. But right now Dallas is on top, and they’re most definitely in control. The way they’ve been winning games sends a message. They hold onto the football as long as they want, and they march. The Giants are playing a disjointed game of catch, and they’ve done just enough to get by.
I hate to complain about an above average football team, but I’m not totally confident about Big Blue’s chances once the playoffs roll around. The running game has finally gotten going over these last couple games, the passing game is sporadically very good, and I’m not sure if I’m just seeing these things because I want to see them, but the frequency and fluidity of the no-huddle offense against Chicago was awesome. The results, not so much. There’s still doesn’t seem to be that rhythm. The offensive line is banged up with Pugh out and a dizzying rotation of names like Brett Jones and Bobby Hart elsewhere. However, Eli’s sack numbers are among the best in the league, and as I stated above, they’ve recently been getting some push in the ground game. I could go on all day, Jekyll and Hyde-ing about this offense, but just take my word for it (or PFF’s or FBO’s). They are who they are at this point, which is a consistently inconsistent team. A Wild Card spot seems fitting.
I feel like I’ve been disrespecting the Giants defense. I hardly ever mention them in these columns or on the podcast, because they’re more stable and less frustrating than the offense, and I don’t need to vent about them.
Giants defense in the 4thQ during five game win streak:
Comp: 44% (1st)
YDs/Att: 4.9 (2nd)
PassTD: 0 (T-1st)
INT: 5 (T-1st)
Sacks: 7 (T-2nd)
— Giants Daily (@NYGDaily) November 22, 2016
Actually, the fact that they’re playing so well and looking like a force to be reckoned with down the stretches of games makes me even more upset with the other side of the ball. McAdoo’s unit is leaving Spagnuolo’s unit with all the dirty dishes every time. That not only has to wear thin on Spags, but McAdoo as well. Not carrying your weight is a terrible, unmistakeable feeling that has to be present with Eli and friends right now. Landon Collins, JPP, and Olivier Vernon don’t know that feeling, though. They’ve been answering the bell, making plays and saving games on a week-to-week basis, and it’s been amazing to watch. From my perspective as a fan, it does make up for the disappointing offense (of course it does, they’re winning), but I still have a hint of that feeling like I’m the one not doing the dishes. The shame of a freeloading offense has rubbed off on me.
Ok, they’re not complete freeloaders, and maybe I’m overreacting, but I’m trying to do the “tough love” thing. With their seventh win already in the bag, the bar has been raised from “be better than last year” to “become a formidable playoff team,” and that means setting the tone when they’re in possession of the football. Would a blowout victory or two (the Browns don’t count) be too much to ask? It wouldn’t help playoff seeding, and Barnwell proved momentum doesn’t really exist, but the G-Men are going to need to reach a higher level of offense at some point in these last six games if they want a confident fanbase.
I know, they shouldn’t (and won’t) be concerning themselves with the mental health of their followers, since they’ve got games to win and the playoffs are by no means a certainty. This is stuff for you and I to concern ourselves with though. We don’t need to plan ahead for Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Dallas. We can make sweeping judgements and condemnation whenever we want, and right now, we have plenty of ammo. I’ve been bitching about this offense all year and they haven’t shut me up with a 60-minute game yet. To be honest, all it would take is dominance in one aspect of their attack, and the troops would be rallied.
In 2007, it was Earth, Wind, and Fire (Jacobs, Ward, and Bradshaw) that drove them there. In 2011 it was an aerial assault featuring Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham. This time around, it seems like the necessary pieces are there, but they haven’t taken form yet. If it had taken form by now, New York would be giving a lot more than 6.5 to a Browns team that lost by 15, 19, and 25 over the last three weeks. Believe me, I’ll be the first one to let you know when things come together. But for now, fans of the 7-3 New York Football Giants shall know no peace.
– Jim Bearor (@JimBearor)