It has been anything but an ideal preseason for the New York Giants, in particular an offense that has sputtered its way through the four-game schedule. Then again, the same thing was said of this very same team and this very same offense in 2011.
And that season ended with a Super Bowl.
To say that the Giants are Super Bowl contenders is certainly a stretch. This team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2011, hasn’t had a winning season since 2012, has finished third in the NFC East each of the past four seasons and now has posted consecutive 6-10 campaigns over the past two seasons. Now this team is improved to say the least — $200 million spent revamping the league’s worst defense will likely make them adequate — but there are question marks up and down this roster.
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In particular the biggest area of need is an offensive line that has looked terrible in preseason. The first-team unit in particular is the weakest part of this entire 53-man roster. Manning got battered and beaten in preseason, something the Giants can’t afford Week 1 when they open at the Dallas Cowboys.
But offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan isn’t concerned, not in the least, about Manning heading into the season.
“No, not at all. The reason I would say this, and I can remember from when I was here before as the quarterback coach, there were some horrific preseasons,” Sullivan said this week.
“In fact, I am also thinking, ‘Well gosh, his last really bad [pre]season was 2011.’ Not that I am superstitious, but all joking aside, he has been around a long time. And I can’t emphasize enough, to you or anybody, what a great pro he is, how hard he prepares, how much he is not just a student of the game, but takes an approach that unlike someone who has been in it as long as he has been in it and who has two Super Bowl rings. That he still has that beginner’s mind, if you will, that he is trying to take it all in. He knows how to take care of his body, prepares himself physically, mentally. He is going to be at the top of his game. Eli Manning is the least of our worries at this point. “
He's not superstitious, but maybe just a bit 'stitious.
But Sullivan is right in that Manning isn’t a concern but his blockers sure are. The Giants must hope and pray that the protection they showed in preseason somehow got corrected over the past week before facing the Cowboys or the rest of the NFL for that matter.
And this year’s offensive line is a far cry from the era that Sullivan references in his comments.
In 2011 when the Giants won the Super Bowl, they had the ninth best offense in the league in points and eighth best in yardage. But that offense included linemen such as perennial Pro Bowl selection Chris Snee, David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie.