By Lawrence Edwards
OK, we are coming up on pre-season week 2 and I have just 4 things I hope to see this Saturday afternoon when the Giants take on the Bills.
1. Eli and Odell on the field
2. A better look at the new defensive line
3. Improvement with the second team defense
4. Bobby Hart with starters at right tackle
Before we get started I’ll give just a brief once over of some of last week’s highlights. Last week Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. did not play. The first team defense looked good, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo revealed his revamped NASCAR package, the second team defense didn’t look so good and Ryan Nassib straight stunk up the field. Did I miss anything?
Nassib’s performance last week should showed everyone why Eli Manning’s iron man streak is a blessing for Big Blue. Hopefully we get to see Eli and OBJ playing this weekend against the Buffalo Bills. Eli clearly didn’t agree with the decision to sit out last week’s pre-season opener. He stated “I need the preseason” during an interview with Good Morning Football. Plain and simple, Eli Manning is one of those QB’s who likes to play in the preseason. You can’t blame the guy for wanting to get in as many rehearsal reps as possible before the games begin to mean something in September. If Eli and Odell do indeed play this Saturday, then we will get to see a little glimpse at what Shepard and Odell can be like together with Eli throwing them the ball. Shepard was able to create separation on almost every play last week but Nassib couldn’t seem to put the ball in the right place for his receiver to make a play. Shepard’s only catch came on his sheer will to get the ball on a badly underthrown 24 yard pass. He showed what he was capable of last week, so there is no reason to think we can’t be in for a little surprise when he has Eli under center and not Nassib. Look forward to seeing Eli test out his new weapon early Saturday afternoon.
The Giants new defensive line gave us a small taste of what could be this season, last week when they faced Miami. The line got constant pressure, never giving Tannehill anytime to set his feet and deliver the ball. Rookie CB, Eli Apple, played very well and Owa Odigizuwah looked like a man with something to prove. We should see Vernon and JPP on the field for possibly a few more snaps than they played last Friday. This matchup will be a really good gauge at what these two can do in the pass and run game due to the fact they face a dual threat QB this week in Tyrod Taylor. Both JPP and Vernon are defensive ends who play the run just as good as the pass. It will be interesting to see how these two handle a team who can run the ball at QB and RB. Of course this all depends on how much Rex Ryan will open up his playbook this week. He might look to keep his newly signed QB out of harm’s way as much as possible. We may also get another look at the new NASCAR package which features Devon Kennard, JPP, Owa, and Vernon on the defensive line. I don’t know about you, but I am excited to see the new defensive line get after it, especially after the promising signs they portrayed last week.
After the initial optimism the first team defense gave, the second team came in and caused concern. Take note, however, that Owa is not included in my criticism of the second team defense. This unit couldn’t really carry over the ability to pressure the QB outside of Owa. The good news here is the Giants don’t necessarily “lack” depth on the DL. After the first teamers the second unit is really just young and inexperienced. They have some potential talent there with DE Romeo Okwara and DT’s Greg Millhouse, and Davon Coleman. We need to see progression in this unit on Saturday. Yes the preseason is about assessing your starters but I believe of the major reasons for it is to get a good look at what kind of depth your team will have throughout the season. Everyone says the Giants biggest issue over the last few years was staying healthy. However, injuries happen and there is nothing you can do. Depth has been the biggest issue to the Giants, not necessarily all the injuries. The second team defense or at least a handful of them, needs to show they can be called upon to contribute in the case a starter goes down. They need to get pressure on the QB to disrupt passes and get those hands up to bat balls down when they can’t get to the QB. The Giants season all depends on if their starter’s ability to stay healthy and if not, it comes down to if the depth on the roster be counted on.
I don’t believe there is one Giants fan on this earth that agrees with Marshall Newhouse starting at RT. At this point fans are willing to replace Newhouse with anyone capable of playing RT. He just solidified the fans concerns last week. It’s time to give the fans what they have been asking for and let Bobby Hart get some game time action with the starters so he can eventually replace Newhouse. Bobby Hart is only in second year but some have seen enough to think he can and should immediately take Newhouse spot on the line. Hart played very well last week during run and pass situations, but it was with the second team offensive line. After last week’s outing, Bobby Hart deserves a shot at playing with the starters this week. We already know what Newhouse can’t do with the starters so it can’t hurt to put Hart in rotations and see if he can hold his own. Next week would be a great test for Hart because the Giants take on the Bills dominant defensive front. If hart does get the start, plays well Saturday and throughout the remainder of preseason, we may very well get the scenario we all are hoping for.