LAMBEAU FIELD, WI – So, when do pitchers and catchers report? Woof, rough one. The Mighty G-men are licking their wounds after being outgunned in Cheeseland by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. But with a day to reflect, I’m here to tell you that the future is bright for this NY Giants team.
But before I get to that, I have some grumbling to do. Man, I wonder if that game would have been different if the Giants held onto a few key early passes. I consider the well-publicized Wide Receiver excursion to Miami a non-issue and I won’t even bring it up. Well, after this… Boy, that 3rd and 6 pass right in Odell’s hands on the opening drive hurt. Adding to the pain were those should-have-been-TDs to Odell and Shepard. A stellar first quarter, but it felt early on like we were heading toward a story-line of missed Giant opportunities, even before that punch-in-the-balls Hail Mary. I won’t tell you how mad I was, but the orange-faced angry emoji was being fired around, I can tell you that.
Sorry… I’m here to cheer you up. The Giants went from six wins in 2015 to eleven. The defense went from last in the league in points allowed at 27.6 to second at 17.8 (behind only the Pats, why isn’t anyone talking about their defense?). If those trends continue, the Giants will be 16-0 next season, giving up only 7 points a game! Plan the parade now. Landon Collins and Odell Beckham Jr. are the kinds of stars you build around. I know the offense regressed, but it was a big move in the right direction.
Free Agents and Cap Casualties
- D-Line: The Giants are not in terrible cap shape, even after the spending binge last year, and they don’t have too many key guys set to be free agents. Two interesting ones are on the D-line, JPP and Jonathan Hankins. Hankins had a solid year, but is coming off his rookie contract and will be looking to get paid y’all. I don’t know if the Giants will want to lock up too much cap space on another DT after giving so many dollars to Snacks. I wouldn’t be surprised if another team lured him away, like the Vikings did with Linval Joseph in the same spot. It seemed like the Giants fared pretty well without JPP in the last few games, but you have to think they want him back. Like Hankins, they gave big money to another guy that plays the same position last offseason in Olivier Vernon. JPP is still disruptive, and pass rushers are a rare commodity, so who knows how this will play out. Kids, be careful with fireworks.
- O-Line: The right side on the Giants’ O-line (to start the season) are also set to become free agents, but I don’t think teams are lining up to sign Marshall Newhouse and John Jerry. This unit held the Giants back all year and must be addressed this off-season. Watching Rodgers sit back and scan the entire field three or four times while Giant rushers just could not get there was in stark contrast to the Giant “protection.” Other than Pugh and Westburg, the Giant line is a mess. It seems unlikely that they’ll be able to draft a difference maker, so they might need to look to free agency.
- Victor Cruz: while he proved he can still be a useful player, the Giants can save $7.5 million by cutting him. Sorry Vic. It was a great run for the undrafted free agent out of Mass, who emerged out of nowhere in preseason games and became a star. A class guy who will be missed but it looks like Tavarres King, the one offensive bright spot for the Giants on Sunday, is ready to step in. King playing over Cruz late in the game was telling, as the Giants seemed to want to get the youngster a good dose of playoff reps. Maybe Cruz will end up on the Jets catching passes from Tony Romo?
- Others: Keenan Robinson, Robbie Gould, Kelvin Sheppard, Trevin Wade – there are some other useful guys who could leave, but most are expendable.
McAdooooooo: all things considered, it was a solid debut season for Ben. He turned late-game clock management from a weakness into a strength, winning several nail-biters. His offense floundered, though, and he may want to consider handing off the play-calling duties. I also question the overuse of the same “21” personnel grouping on offense. With Victor Cruz not playing late it begs the question – why don’t the Giants run any 4 WR sets? Why have Will Tye out there over Cruz? It made sense what they wanted to do in GB, but the complete inability to run the ball gave Rodgers too many chances and the secondary couldn’t hold up. But McAdoo had to win the ball control game to have a chance. It was a good plan. Bottom Line: McAdoo is confident and capable and letting Tom go was the right call.
The Giants have a lot of talented, young players, and hopefully getting their playoff beaks wet will help them in the years to come. Eli just turned 36 and should have a few more years left in him playing at a high level, but the clock is ticking. Maybe he should look into Tom Brady’s TB12 “muscle pliability” techniques to extend his career. Or at least grab some of those $100 Tom Brady pajama tops. Sorry, recovery sleepware.
We’ll see you tomorrow for Angry Ward, the least expendable man on the MTM roster. Follow us on Twitter at @benwhit & @MeetTheMatts, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.