Fans of the New York Football Giants must feel like a cheated-on spouse being told what they want to believe is true. The fan base has suffered through three campaigns without the playoffs, and to say that the goodwill created from the Super Bowl XLVI victory is running dry becomes an understatement at this point. For the record, the Giants dropped their preseason opener 23-10 to the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. While the score makes the contest seem competitive, it was anything but, as the Bengals first offensive unit shredded the G-men. To add insult to injury, Big Blue lost four defensive backs in the outing, including fifth round draft pick Mykkele Thompson to an apparent torn Achilles tendon.
George Willis of the New York Post summed up the game this way today, “It was hard to decide which unit was more disappointing in its first preseason game, the Giants’ first-team offense or the first-team defense. Both were equally woeful during the first quarter of the Bengals 23-10 victory Friday night, when the regulars were in for their first action of the season.”
As Dr. Phil says, the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior”, so why is it any surprise that cornerback Jayron Hosley continues to be ineffective? Given the starting nod because of injuries to Prince Amukamara and Chykie Brown, Hosley struggled mightily. Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton picked on the overwhelmed Hosley for a 16-yard completion to A.J. Green, and then a three-yard touchdown catch by Rutgers graduate Mohammed Sanu in Dalton’s only drive of the game. While the Giants have two Stony Brook alums on their roster, the team has zero players from Rutgers. According to ESPN.com, there are 26 former Scarlet Knights in the NFL currently, and the school’s campus is roughly thirty minutes from MetLife Stadium.
With Amukamara and Brown sidelined, Hosley got the first audition despite a less than stellar track record with the team and then left in the second quarter with a possible concussion. Slot cornerback Trumaine McBride also left with a pulled groin muscle, as the defensive backfield depth was tested in this contest. Perhaps with Hosley out of action, New York will take a longer look at Mike Harris and Tevin Wade to see if their play is NFL-caliber. Due to the injuries, Wade got a team-high 43 snaps on defense for Big Blue. In 153 plays for Big Blue last season, Hosley was graded a (-6.7) by Pro Football Focus (subscription required), so maybe defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo had to see for himself.
The conundrum at safety did not get any closer to resolution as second round draft pick Landon Collin departed the game with a knee injury that Collins said “felt pretty good”, after the game. Veteran Jeromy Miles started with the first unit to a (-0.5) PFF grade.
Offensively the injury bug bit the G-men as wide receiver Rueben Randle left the game with knee tendinitis, a malady that has plagued Randle throughout camp. Fortunately the team signed veteran James Jones to a contract as cam began, so there is some depth at that position. But the offensive line struggles continue for Big Blue. “Rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers was flagged for a facemask penalty and the Bengals had a field day against the right-side combo of guard John Jerry and tackle Marshall Newhouse,” Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reported.
Certainly the offensive line, particularly the right side did not pass the eye test, but head coach Tom Coughlin was not ready to concede it was time to hit the panic button. “I don’t know more than I was when I came in. I mean this is the third day of working so I haven’t had a chance to look at that and I’ll look at the tape and make some decisions and focus a little bit more on that. But no more than it was coming in,” Coughlin said after the game.
Granted the head coach does not want to say anything detrimental right after the contest, but even he could see that the offensive line was ineffective, a point that former Giants’ center Shaun O’Hara made this week. New York rolled the dice that the fort could be held last season with patches, until Geoff Schwartz returned from a dislocated toe, and that did not work as the team suffered through a seven-game losing streak. Waiting for Schwartz to return healthy and relying upon journeymen John Jerry and Marshall Newhouse may be their undoing again this year, especially with veteran linemen Evan Mathis and Jake Long looking for work.
In the short term, the Giants can stand pat and hope that these issues work themselves out before the games count. But as far as the fan base is concerned, sometimes the cheated-on spouse figures out they are being lied to.