Giants opener a flop
BY CHAYIM TAUBER
The Giants opened their 2013-2014 campaign in the most careless and disheartening of ways. Much like the football, this game slipped through the Giants fingers as they turned the ball over at an alarming rate, nullifying any momentum they managed to garner and stopping their offensive progression on several occasions in a game that was imminently winnable.
There were several alarming storylines coming out of the ugly loss. As always, injuries are a major concern and for a Giants team that was as awful as they have been recently in defending the pass, the loss of Prince Amukamara to a concussion (for how long is still unclear) and MLB Dan Connor, one of the better cover-linebackers on the team, certainly is cause for concern. Most concerning though is the play of David Wilson.
The second-year Giants running back was handed the keys to the offense this year as the team’s featured tailback and managed to turn the ball over twice in his first seven touches and was atrocious in pass-blocking leading to an Eli Manning goal-line sack. He will still get his touches, the Giants don’t really have much choice but to feed the ball to their most dynamic playmaker but these problems need to be corrected and quickly. Wilson found himself in Coach Coughlin’s doghouse for much of last season after an opening night fumble a year ago against the Cowboys. Worse yet, his awful pass blocking skills are a liability that could get Eli Manning hurt.
The Giants augmented their suddenly shallow backfield by re-signing former Giants running back Brandon Jacobs. Whether or not Jacobs is ready to make an impact in short yardage situations ) a role given to Andre Brown prior to his getting hurt) is still unclear but Jacobs instantly brings better pass-protection than either Scott or Wilson can provide.
Keeping Eli Manning upright is of course, the single most important thing the offense can do. Let Eli throw and he can make miracles happen as we’ve seen on several occasions. Despite three interceptions (of which one may have really been his fault), Eli Manning threw for over 450 yards, three touchdowns, had all three of his primary receivers go for over a hundred yards (the first time for the franchise since the 50’s) and was poised to lead the Giants down the field for a miraculous win.
The “Eli Magic” is a curse. It’s a mythical being that Giants fans, players, and Eli himself believe in because he truly is the most clutch quarterback in the NFL and one of the most clutch of all time. Still, what the Giants have demonstrated the past several seasons is a tendency to play lackadaisically early on with the confidence that they have the talent and Quarterback to overcome. Oftentimes, they really do manage to overcome the hole they dig themselves in. Oftentimes, they don’t. The consistent competitiveness has been missing from these New York Giants for years and it’s already costing them in this 2013-‘14 season.
If the Giants can do what a Tom Coughlin team is expected to do – compete throughout, be disciplined, fight for extra yards, protect the ball…. then they’ll be in great shape. Carelessness and their reliance on the “Eli Magic” or the recent success of the franchise will leave them at home watching the postseason again with a front-row seat to a Super Bowl in their stadium.
No, Giants fans don’t need to hit the panic button but the Giants can’t keep hitting the snooze button and hoping to win.