I’d been meaning to write this blog post forever. Before the Giants pre-season game against the Carolina Panthers. Before the Giants pre-season game against the Chicago Bears. Before Terrell Thomas’ injury. Before Hurricane (make that Tropical Storm) Irene flooded the Jersey Shore. But one needs to understand that I have a thriving business, an active social calendar, a pregnant wife and…who am I kidding, you don’t care. My throngs of loyal readers need my blog posts the way a gambler needs a blackjack table, the way an addict needs Oxycontin, the way Jennifer Love Hewitt needs men to dump her. They can’t get enough. For example, take this email I received last week from email@example.com: “Shit for Brains. All Praise Jehovah, you’re blasphemous posts have stopped. I need to read another example of your juvenile rambling like I need an anvil up my ass. Fuck you cocksucker. Cordially yours, Susie.” I emailed Susie back, thanked her for the correspondence, reassured her this long-awaited blog post was coming and then told her she used the wrong “you’re” (it should be “your”).
The Giants off-season got off on the wrong foot from the get go. I distinctly remember sitting in front of my Panasonic 40-incher watching ESPN when John Clayton came onto the screen. As usual, my heart went aflutter. We were about 2 days from the end of the lockout and he spoke about which team would be most behind the 8-ball under the new CBA and wouldn’t you know who he mentioned first – The New York Super Bowl Bound Football Giants. 11+ over the cap. I felt like Paul Newman when he gets hustled by Forest Whitaker in The Color of Money. It’s in the way that you use it, baby, and I felt like a now deceased purveyor of quality low-fat salad dressings and canned dog food. How did the Giants management get caught so flat-footed? Why did we sign Chris Canty to all that money? How did it take that long for Newman to get an Oscar?
So the Giants cut three offensive linemen – Shaun O’Hara, Rich Seubert and Shawn Michaels, who for some reason didn’t want to re-structure his contract. Like there’s a huge market for manic-depressive offensive linemen who haven’t started in 3 years. This was the biggest mistake in judgement since BK passed up on going to Subway off a highway exit near Fresno becuase he thought he could find something better. Six exits later, he had to settle for a Sardine and Potato Bug Panini from the Jack in the Box. It was either that or the Teriyaki Bowl and you’ve all read the Snoops on the Jack in the Box Teriyaki Bowl.
The issue wasn’t so much that the 3 players cut were going to be reserving their 2012 tickets to Miami for the Pro Bowl (although Seubert played well last year) but this shuffle would result in a new ass for QB Eli Manning to stick his hands under and only slightly less disturbing would require the introduction of William Beatty, the talented but hardly confidence-inducing 3rd year pro from UConn, to protect Manning’s blind side. You may not have realized this, but Eli’s not the best at anticpating weakside pressure.
Of course those depatures pailed in comparison with the Osi Unemyiora drama. Osi claims that GM Jerry Reese promised he’d re-nag his contract if Osi played at a certain level. What this level was or how it would be measured by was apparently never discussed nor was this agreement ever codified on paper. It’s like the pre-nup with my ex-wife. She said she’d be able to sleep around if I didn’t perform at a certain level. I assume she meant we were going to go by the “Play-60” standard famously established during the 2006 Arianne Jollee Gang Bang Video “All I need is 60 from 60”. But apparently “Play-60” refers to minutes not seconds and apparently also refers to getting kids to go outside and play for at least 60 minutes and was unrelated to the Jollee opus. Or so said the mediator.
Osi demanded a trade but the Giants demanded on a 1st or 2nd round draft pick in return. That’s like Julie Benz turning down a supporting role on the new ABC series “Pan Am” because she’s holding out to get the Catwoman role. I know Benz is the centerpiece around the mind-numblingly satisfying season finale of Dexter, Season 4 but she’s no Hathaway. And Hathaway’s no Pfeifer. And Pfeifer’s no Kitt. And Kitt was no Julie Newmar. But it seems to me as if the suave Umenyiori is doing just fine for himself Thank You Very Much.
So first Osi holds out. Then he shows up to camp but doesn’t play. Then right before he says he will play it turns out he can’t because he needs surgery and will be out the rest of the pre-season. It was like the time BK got pinned in less than a minute in the first round of the NJSSFW Playoffs. That was a Play-15. He claimed illness, but I wanted to know where was the heart. Osi’s a good player. He’s a very good pass rusher. But I sort of felt despite the big sack and fumble numbers last year he wasn’t irreplaceable, especially with the maturity of Jason Pierre-Paul and the return of Mathias Kiwanuka. It’s just that it was more turmoil for a team that didn’t need it.
The rest of the off-season was also a hodgepodge of disappointment with little to cheer us up, other than the Ahmad Bradshaw re-sign. We lose Kevin Boss – again in and of itself not an unrecoverable loss – but the guy we end up trying to replace him with retires after one day because he decides he has familly issues and would rather work as a stocker at Petco than go through Giants camp. And it wasn’t like Ben Patrick was a particularly inspired choice to replace The Big Concussion anyway. We brought in Daniel Coates to take his place and he’s a lot like former Patriots star tight end Ben Coates – in the sense that they have the same last name. In every other way, Daniel Coates is much much worse.
The draft class performance hasn’t been particularly noteworthy either, with the exception of Greg Jones and some spark if nothing else from Marvin Austin. The Prince held out, practiced a day and then broke his foot. And BK’s favorite Jernell Jernigan through two pre-season games has been…oh what’s the word…let me see, oh that’s right – TERRIBLE. BK doesn’t want to hear it but it seems like we may have replaced Sinorice Moss with Sinorice Moss.
The Giants were atrocious during the first pre-season game in Carolina, a team that looks to be every bit as inept this year as last. Take away Pierre-Paul and there was nothing to be excited about in the game and let me tell you the Panthers local broadcast of that game – which is was NFL Network showed – was terrible too. Graphics straight out of 1997, questionable direction and camera work on punts and an announcing team that can be described as…oh what’s the word…let me see, oh that’s right – Jernell Jernigan like.
And then we had the Bears game and that seemed like just what the doctor ordered. The Bears helped the Giants get well during the regular season last year and they were primed to do the same in the 2nd pre-season game. Nothing like the site of Lovie Smith on the sideline and Jay Cutler, who despite that ESPN The Magazine Puff Piece is still as big a prick as ever, to give an opposing team confidence. I mean look at the Bears this year…really look at them and then the rest of the division. They have 6-10 written all over them.
And if it wasn’t for one play in the final minute of the first half that’s exactly what Chicago’s softest sports franchise would have provided the G-Men. Solid Offense, Solid Defense, Spectacular Specials and a door slammed shut to end the misery section of this pre-season. But the injury of Terrell Thomas was devastating. I don’t want to overstate injuries. I think we can recover from injuries to Osi or Ramses Barden and we’re likely better without Lawrence Tynes. I think the O-Line will be serviceable, but Thomas’ injury now leaves us with inconsistent Corey Webster and Aaron Ross and his paper maiche hammy’s. With the exception of Justin Tuck, there is not one player on the defensive side of the ball the Giants could have afforded to lose less.
But let’s face it, the real reason the Giants off-season has been so sad is not merely their internal travails, but what the hard to stomach Eagles have done. After signing Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins (not to mention more sizzle than steak signees Vince Young and Ronnie Brown), the cheap hit artists from Cheese Steak USA took Steve Smith away from the Giants. Maybe the Giants dragged their feet…maybe the Eagles made him an offer he couldn’t refuse…or maybe Smith just wanted to leave Coach C, Eli and the rest. But for whatever reason, it seemed as if re-signing Smith was a fait accompli and then he goes not to the Texans or Titans or even the Jets…but to the Eagles. It’s as if the Eagles did this just to spite the Giants and the G-Men management seemed more bewildered than this cat.
Luckily for the Giants, the Eagles can’t get out of their own way. Vince Young called the Eagles the “Dream Team” which is pretty ballsy from a guy who won’t play, quit on his former team twice and was once put on a suicide watch. And while it’s hard to believe Nnamdi won’t be great, the rest of the signings won’t make the Eagles that much better. Babin is a journeyman coming off a couple flash in the pan years, Jenkins is good not great and that offensive line is terrible. I mean the Eagles first-round draft pick is 3 years away from applying for Medicare. Finally, we all know Andy Reid can’t win the big one.
It doesn’t seem it can get any worse for the G-Men, who have had glimpses of hope – Devin Thomas looks like a special teams maven, Dominick Hixon may solidify the 3rd receiver position and the Giants rookie linebackers Jones, Herzlich, Williams and Payslinger all look good putting the likes of Clint Sintim and Phillip Dillard from being sure-fire roster spots to fighting for their roster lives. And there’s J-P-P.
So now the Giants play the Jets on Monday, which has become a depressing game since this is the first time I can remember where the Jets had really proven themselves undebatably as the better New York area team heading into the season. But at this point, there’s no place for the Giants to go but up this pre-sesaon. Let’s just hope win-or-lose Monday night, the Giants stay healthy and just for our sense of self it would be nice if Plax didn’t have a big a game either.