Eli has looked great:

Fair is fair. Eli was one of the worst quarterbacks I’ve seen this side of Dan Reeves-era Tommy Maddox over the second half of both last year and 2005, but you can’t deny that he’s shown flashes throughout his tenure in blue.

Including this preseason. Over the past couple of games, he’s gone 10-13 and then 17-26. Please don’t quibble with the stats here: he’s been really fucking good. Even if you’ve been completely disappointed in him so far, you have to admit that he’s not a lost cause.

He’s 26 now, and we’ve all agreed that he’s never gonna be Peyton. Would you sign for “Above Average” this year? I would, if he stepped it up to “Good” and then “Very Good” by the time he was 28. Let’s not forget that Phil Simms was God-Awful until he was 29 (1984), after which he was Very Good until he retired after his age-38 year season.

So I guess the question now is: would you sign for Eli to turn into Phil Simms but not Peyton Manning? Ummmm… yes. Definitely. Please.

(I really don’t think Eli’s beef with Tiki beef is especially important, but yes, I have some thoughts on the matter. I’ll get to those thoughts in a subsequent post.)

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The deal with Jacobs:

If Coughlin, Gilbride and co. ever get a better sense of Brandon Jacobs’ strengths and weaknesses, he can become one of the best backs in the league. If they don’t, he’ll be anywhere from average to slightly above average.

Here’s what I’m talking about: Despite the fact that he weighs 265 pounds, Jacobs really isn’t such a good inside runner.

On inside runs against the Jets, he kind of self-consciously scrunched himself down, trying to “run-low” as he came through the hole. That’s a fine idea because you don’t want to be too hittable a target, but Jacobs seems to lose a lot of his power when he assumes this position (pardon the expression).

All in all, he actually looked a little tentative on inside runs: he wasn’t “getting low and bringing it,” but was rather getting low in a defensive way to avoid blows.

Which brings me to the conclusion that at this point, Brandon Jacobs is a much better runner in space than in tight quarters. I know, he’s 265 pounds, and you should be able to ram him into the line and expect results. And to a certain extent, you can: he finishes runs off well, and can be counted on to combine this ability with his sheer length to generate at least two or three more yards after initial contact.

But explode through holes he does not. Right now, it’s far to say that between-the-tackles running is actually the weakest aspect of his game.

But when he gets in space, watch the fuck out. His pure speed takes over, his feet become smarter, his excellent spatial instincts emerge, and he brings the explosive power. The Giants should realize that he’s better in space than between the tackles: without telegraphing plays, they should get him on pitches, stretch-plays, and screens – he dropped a pass Saturday, but he’s a smooth pass-catcher.

But stop using him as a Mike Alstot, low-gear, between the tackles guy. He’s just not that.

Maybe, however, as he gets more experience running between the tackles, he’ll know when to run higher and when to run lower. He’ll be able to see if it’s gonna be a short-yardage play that requires getting low and grinding – which is not his best quality – or if it has the potential to be a home run, which would lend itself to the patented Jacobs Gallop.

Ironically, the 265-pound running back is more of a big play guy than a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust guy.

 

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Reuben Droughns is totally uninspiring:

At his best, the guy is competent. At his worst, he’s thoroughly depressing. The aptly-named Droughns is nothing but a worker bee: Let’s hope that the coaching staff realizes that this guy’s a stiff, cuts bait immediately, and goes with someone with a glimmer of talent as our #2 back.

Derrick Ward has really shown something, as has Ahmad Bradshaw. Both of these guys are younger, better options than the over-the-hill Droughns, whose rep is staked on two 1,000-yard seasons in 2004 and 2005.

If you’re reading this blog, you probably realize that the 1,000-yard season is one of the most meaningless stats out there. Rushing for 1,000 yards as a team’s starting running back takes about as much skill as driving in 100 runs as the cleanup hitter for the Yankees: in other words, it doesn’t mean shit, and is completely a function of right place, right time.

**

 

‘Nuke has come a long way in a little time at OLB:

What a learning curve! In the first game, the over-pursuit was glaringly obvious. Now he’s playing smart, which, in addition to his ill athleticism, is his best athletic quality.

There was a play in the first quarter yesterday where he got tied up in a block and looked to be out of a play coming in his direction, but he disentangled himself and smartly jumped to the outside-contain spot, causing Leon Washington to cut back into oncoming pursuit (2nd and 10 from the Jets 30, at 4:24 of the 1st Quarter).

On the other hand, on the previous play, he was slow to the react to the fullback leaking out on a pass play, who wound up wide open. The FB wound up dropping the ball (while looking extremely uncoordinated), but if he were a better athlete, it could have turned into a big gain at ‘Nuke’s expense.

Also, I’m a little concerned that his combination of lankiness/inexperience will make him an easy target for low blocks. He has long legs, and if he hesitates for just a second, it’s enough time for a lineman of fullback to get into his shins and slow him up. Just something to watch.

 

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Tynes and Huston: will one of these guys be minimally competent?:

Like Petitgout, nobody really liked Feely. He was the type of guy that an organization looking to change its vibe just has to get rid of, kind of like Pat Burrell is in Philadelphia.

Feely may not have been great, but at least he was assuredly competent. But can we guarantee that either Tynes or Huston is gonna be competent this year?

(The funny thing is that both Petitgout and Feely permanently fell out of favor during that Seattle game. Mental meltdowns will have that effect on a fanbase.)

**

Robbins and Cofield are good:

In the first preseason game last year, Jamal Lewis ran roughshod over the Giants defense for a couple of series, prompting a spastic spate of articles about the defensive tackle position being in need of an upgrade.

This year, our shitty performance against the Panthers inspired the same unfounded panic, and even the signing of The Guy Nick Saban Reduced to Tears.

The fact is, however, that our defensive tackles are solid. Robbins is a playmaker, and has emerged as one of the better guys in the league. Cofield was solid as a rookie and will be better in his second year.

If you want to talk stats, the Giants ranked eleventh in the league in DVOA last year in run defense, meaning that, basically, they were better than two out of every three teams.

If only every unit on our team were this good!

**

Injuries:

Mitchell: I’ve really liked what I’ve seen so far. He’s smart, solid, and athletic – not an impact player but a perfectly fine complementary part. After the frustrating Emmons and LaVar experiments, another absentee starter at OLB is the last thing we need. At least Torbor won’t kill us if he has to fill in.

Madison: Despite the athletic pick in the Ravens game, he’s thoroughly over-the-hill and injury prone. Webster, entering his third year, is healthy now. I’d just as soon see what we’ve got with him.

Shockey: He’ll aways be nicked up, if not worse. It’s his body-type (similar to that of Jacobs) and the way he plays (also similar to Jacobs). Unfortunately, Shiancoe’s gone and the promising Darcy Johnson, who was slated to be the backup, got hurt in the Panthers game.

Rookie sixth-round pick Kevin Boss hasn’t impressed, but this other rookie, Michael Matthews, has looked pretty good.

Jennings: Colorful guy, great story, but with all due respect to the guy’s Achilles tendon and dreams, does this injury really matter? As was proven against the Jets, Anthony Mix has more talent. Should there be a roster battle between Mix and Tyree, we’d be crazy to part ways with one of the best special teamers in the NFL.

Demps: After a good second half to last year, he was having a great camp. He lost his starting job to James Butler (actually, Butler will supplant Gibril at Free Safety, who will replace Demps at Strong Safety), but he was a solid vet, a competent NFL player who provided depth.

Which we need, because I’m not entirely sold on Butler – he seemed either late or out of position on that early touchdown to pass Washington.

I’ll tell you who I like, though: J.R. Reed (not to be confused with Herman Reid, Jr., aka J.R. Reid, of 80s UNC Tar Heels fame.) That was a pretty sick pick he made – now that’s range from the safety position!

Plax: He sat out last night with the flu. His ankle – which is a different ankle from the one he had offeseason surgery on – is fine. He’s just playing it cautious. Don’t be worried.