So, what are we to make of these New York Giants?
Are they the team that showed so much heart and toughness and poise in
the fourth-quarter comebacks in Philadelphia and Arizona? Or are they
the team that turned the ball over five times and fell asleep on
Sunday's game-deciding touchdown pass by the Seahawks' backup
quarterback? What's the reality here?
Well, how about all of it?
is what this year's Giants are -- for better or for worse. They're an
inconsistent team and will remain so, because the construction of their
roster mandates it. They're either too thin or too injured or too green
at too many key spots to just hum along week t0 week like the Packers
and the Patriots and the league's elite teams do. It doesn't mean
they're bad, but it will keep them from being consistent. And being
inconsistent will keep them from being great.
Sunday's game was an amalgamation of worst-case scenarios. When
you're thin at wide receiver, you end up relying on someone like Victor Cruz,
who has the raw athletic talent to make brilliant touchdown catches in
the NFL but isn't yet a complete enough NFL receiver to avoid costly
drops. When you're thin at tight end, you have to deal with the growing
pains of a Jake Ballard,
who's emerged as a capable end-zone target but also misses blocks that
lead to safeties. When you're down a starting cornerback and a starting
middle linebacker, you end up having communication issues at the back
end of the defense, and out of nowhere Doug Baldwin is running uncovered for the game-winning score.
The offensive line has issues, as we knew it would. There's talent
there, and it's capable of a great game. But games like Sunday's remind
us that Will Beatty's still a young player, and that David Diehl, for all his past contributions, is now a flawed one. With center David Baas out and mainstay right guard Chris Snee suffering a concussion, uncertainty was the order of the day on the line, and the Giants can't afford that.
You know what he is. He's tough and good enough to lead the
fourth-quarter comebacks in Weeks 3 and 4, but he's not immune to
mistakes, and the team he has around him simply isn't good enough to
absorb them when they happen. They will win when they play error-free.
They will struggle to win when they don't.
I'd rather have the Giants' problems than the Eagles' problems right
now, and not just because of the difference in the records. The Giants
have shown they have the requisite pride and toughness to overcome their
issues, even if it's for just a week or two, and win games when things
aren't going well. Their coaching staff makes it clear that it doesn't
tolerate mistakes, and has shown the ability to correct and fix them
from one week to the next. The Eagles have not shown pride or toughness,
and have instead shown the ability to lose games when things are going well. The Eagles' coaching staff doesn't appear to have any idea how to correct mistakes from one week to the next.
That said, these Giants retain some fundamental flaws. They have
not, to this point, shown an ability to run the ball or to stop the
other team from doing so. Those aspects of the roster appeared to be
strengths on paper before the season started, but they haven't shown up
as such. If you can't run the ball or stop the run, you're inviting
inconsistency. The Giants need to figure out a way to grind out yards
and stop second-tier backs like Marshawn Lynch from doing it with such ease against them.
These Giants are not a bad team by any stretch, but they're not a
great one. They should remain in contention all year in what's shaping
up as a messy division race that lacks a dominant team, and they have as
good a chance as anyone has to win it. But if you're not going to be
surprised when their veteran's toughness delivers wins like the ones in
Philly and Arizona, you shouldn't be surprised when their flaws rise up
and cost them a game against the Seahawks. Those flaws are real, and
they're there, and they're going to be there all year. The Giants'
season will rise and fall on how many times they're able to conceal and
overcome them. So far, it's three out of five, which is not bad at all.