We interrupt the Fake local Pennant Races for an important announcement. The Yankees are going nowhere in spite of the fact that the AL East is among baseball’s worst divisions. And the Mets are just plain among baseball’s worst period. But in the New York sports fan Circle of Life, the season is about to change. Friday evening brings us the annual Jet fan’s greatest opportunity for reaching its green climax. The opportunity to whip the Giants in the annual Gang Green-Jints preseason (the NFL’s euphemism for “exhibition” games) match-up. This is the Jet fan’s chance to walk with Giants-Dinosaurs, if you will-and more on that coming in a moment. A Jets victory in these annual games gives hope to their long suffering fans. If we get to the first weekend in February, and the Jets are not participating, then it will be 47 years since the boys in green played on the big stage.
I am not here though to bury the Jets, the best NFL team that plays its home games in that Federal Correctional Center wrapped in steel along Route 3 where Short Matt played as a boy in the Prestone colored rivers near his Bergen County compound. No, I am here to bury the 4 time Super Bowl Champion New York Football Giants. Coming off last season’s debacle that started with 6 straight losses, Jerry Reese was very aggressive in free agency this past Spring. Key players like Rashard Jennings, Walter Thurmond III and my old Hebrew School teammate Geoff Schwartz are good players and should contribute. Unfortunately, much of that frenzy was also spent on backup offensive linemen who will not even make the final squad. This leaves the Offensive line looking much like last season’s offensive line. Awful. Though to be fair, I’m not ready to put it all at the feet of the beleaguered Giants O-line. No, I’m more than prepared to put last year’s blame squarely where it belongs. Right where I fear the upcoming disaster will be blamed. Eli Manning is now the worst starting Quarterback in the NFL, and I’m not sure it’s even close. Remember the discussion around whether Eli was “Eli-te?” Seems like ages ago now.
As last year’s 0-6 start revealed, the O-line couldn’t block anyone. There were no holes for the worst collection of RBs in the league. The tread-less Brandon Jacobs, the retread Peyton Hillis, the fumbling David Wilson and a cast of thousands who would dance behind the porous line horizontally all game. That Line also failed to protect Eli Manning in the pocket. But upon further review, I’m not convinced the Line was totally at fault in not keeping Eli upright. I closed my eyes while watching much of the G-Men season last year and realized that this was not 2 time Super Bowl MVP Eli I was watching. But rather, we were witnessing Manning’s 2004 rookie season when I’d never seen a more flustered, overwhelmed, unprepared QB.
Eli’s rookie season began in Week 9 that year. He quickly became the worst I’d ever seen. If I’d been told that he would find himself out of the NFL two years later, I wouldn’t have flinched. This was NOT an NFL quarterback-and least of all-not a Manning! Eli improved some over the next couple of years. Not so much that it precluded GM Reese from describing Eli as “skittish” early in the 2007 season. Later that season you’ll recall, he led the Giants to victory in SB 42. In fact-he was brilliant in doing so. A couple years later he was as clutch as any QB ever in grabbing another Lombardi Trophy in Supe 47. But all that time-in spite of that success-there were whispers. OK-screams. How the hell did THIS guy win 2 championships? He’s really not very good. The 2013 season proved this, and everything we’ve seen so far this preseason suggests that Eli is awful. Happy feet, immobile, prone to absurd throws right into defender’s waiting hands. Just Terrible. He has looked utterly clueless and not at all like an NFL QB-let alone a 2 time champ. From the moment his first pass of 2013 went right to DeMarcus Ware, Eli morphed back to Rookie Eli. 2004 Eli. I’m scared now. This may not end well. I can actually foresee Eli getting benched mid-season this Fall. He has looked that bad. I hope I’m wrong. But I don’t think I am. My guess is the Green guys and their long suffering fans will be celebrating their exhibition victory last Friday night, and reports of Eli’s premature demise will be well founded.