“New Look Giants”
By Billy Fellin
The 2007 Super Bowl Champions came into the 2008 season being underrated, disrespected and basically ignored. And why not? It’s not like they beat the previously undefeated New England Patriots. But that’s just the way that the Giants like it.
The Giants have looked dominant thus far this year, their most recent victory coming against a normally formidable Seattle team. So what is the cause of this success? This success is coming from confidence, depth and experience. Confidence is huge among the Giants right now. Eli Manning is stepping up into the pocket, throwing lasers down the field. Those comparisons to Peyton don’t seem that farfetched right now. Granted, Eli only has 1 more yard and 1 more touchdown that Peyton right now, but he has only thrown 1 interception to Peyton’s 5 and has a QB rating of 99.7 to Peyton’s 79.2. Who would have thought that? Eli has only been sacked 5 times thus far this year, which is a huge change from previous years. He has confidence in the pocket and is leading this team the way that Ernie Acorsi and the Giants management thought he would when they got him in the trade from the Chargers in 2004.
Eli not getting sacked can be directly related to the play of the offensive line. Chris Snee, Kareem Mackenzie, David Diehl, Rich Seubert, and Shaun O’Hara have managed to stay healthy and working as one unit since last season. This unit has been working great together and not committing costly holding or false start penalties. They are probably the best offensive line in the league, but again not a whole lot of respect.
Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw have also benefited greatly from the play of the offensive line. Jacobs bulldozed over defenders left and right during the Seattle game. They call themselves “Earth, Wind and Fire”. These three have certainly been tearing up defenses, leading the Giants to the best rushing yards per game in the NFL.
Plaxico Burress was suspended for the Week 5 game against Seattle. Problem? Not for this team. Domenik Hixon and Sinorice Moss stepped up big in this game to fill the spot left by number 17. Certainly no one can replace what Burress provides this team in terms of a big play receiver. He is taller than most of the corners and safeties in the league and that is a huge advantage when it comes to those jump balls in the end zone. But I think the Giants can feel good that players like Hixon and Moss as well as Steve Smith and Amani Toomer can step up and be just as big of playmakers if the situation were to arise as Burress is. The Giants sent a huge message on Sunday to Burress and the rest of the league; that they can win with whoever is on the field.
The defense is also playing great. Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyoria can’t be replaced, but Justin Tuck is sure making it a bit easier without them there. Antonio Pierce is a great leader of the defense and the secondary has a great mix of seasoned veterans in Sam Madison, R. W. McQuarters as well as young guns like 2007’s first round pick Aaron Ross and 2008 first round pick Kenny Phillips. Everyone is touting Tennessee’s defense. Don’t forget about the unit prowling the Swamps of Jersey.
The Giants have a favorable schedule and arguably could be 7-0 going into the big showdown with Dallas on November 2nd. They have San Francisco, Cleveland and Pittsburgh between now and then. The NFC East is a brutal division this year with Dallas and Washington being tough and Philly always being a threat, despite their current 2-3 record.
The Giants “no respect” card seemed to work as they somewhat quietly made their way into the playoffs last year, then the road warriors took it to the favorites on the way to the Super Bowl. With the attention focused on Dallas, Brett Favre’s absence in Green Bay and the lack-luster play of the Pats and Colts, it seems like the Giants are flying under the radar.
And that’s just how they want it.