Thursday, August 11, 2011

Feeling (Big) Blue

In a wild off-season filled with lockouts, holdouts, and flat out madness, the Giants once again come up short.

Things haven't exactly gone according to plan for the New York football Giants this summer. A few questionable cuts, neglected re-signings, and untimely injuries have Big Blue staring face to face with all the makings of an 8-8 season.

At a time when many of their biggest rivals have put themselves in position to improve drastically, Wellington Mara's neglecting to "make it rain" on the free agent crop now puts the G-Men back into the middle of the pack in the NFC Conference. The first of the questionable moves came when the Giants opted not to re-sign center Shaun O'Hara. Yes, the veteran was coming off of ankle surgery, but stability at the offensive line position is something that cannot be overstated enough as a crucial element to a successful team. Center is one of the most underrated positions, due to the crucial rhythm that must exist between them and the quarterback on a play-by-play basis.

The next domino to fall was tight end Kevin Boss. My Jets fan friends like to give me a hard time about this loss, but in reality I actually think Boss is very replaceable (For instance, he is the #29 ranked fantasy TE on Yahoo! Sports). That is, if we could find someone to replace him. The man we signed to fill in for Boss, Ben Patrick, retired due to "personal reasons" within a week of joining the team. Now they're looking at a combination of Travis Beckum and Bear Pascoe. A duo that combined for a mere 21 catches last year.

In the midst of all of this chaos the Giants were able to bring back their leading rusher Ahmad Bradshaw. Re-signing him was imperative because it will allow the Giants to continue to be a run first team, and lets not kid ourselves, Brandon "Butterfingers" (because he fumbles the ball a lot, and presumably consumes a lot of them) Jacobs isn't the 20+ carry a game guy that he once was. But for all the positive vibes that were brought upon by the Bradshaw signing, those feelings were quickly nullified when Pro-Bowl Defensive End Osi Umenyiora announced that he would be holding out for a new contract. Granted he is only slated to make 8 million combined for the next two seasons (Comparatively, Charles Johnson just signed a 6 year, 72 million dollar deal with the Panthers, leaving Osi green with envy), which is less money than his double digit sack/forced fumble numbers merit, but Osi is on the tail end of his career and much like Jacobs, is not an every down player anymore. The fact is Osi signed that contract (6 years, 41 million) after his most productive season stat-wise (2005) so this shouldn't come as a surprise to him. Players these days have become just as greedy as the owners, and we are living in a time where contracts only seem to be honored when they feel like it and that isn't right. The Giants are trying to meet their star DE half way, offering incentive based bonus's so there is still hope that both sides can reach an agreement before the season kicks off September 11th.

Despite the ups and downs of these past couple of weeks, nothing hit quite as hard as yesterdays loss of Pro Bowl WR, and Giants single season catch record holder, Steve Smith. He signed a one year deal with the Giants arch nemesis, the Philadelphia Eagles, for 4 million dollars. Double what the Giants had offered him. Smith had been nothing but productive since joining the Giants in 2007 (Well ok, except for last season when he totally shit the bed and single handedly destroyed my fantasy team, but I'll chalk that up to his knee injury). He was supposed to be the next franchise wideout, after all he once led the league in third down receptions, and was counted on to be the next Amani Toomer. A reliable wide out with great hands who had morphed into somewhat of a safety blanket for Eli Manning. And although it's not entirely the Giants fault they lost Steve Smith, after all they did offer him a 5 year, 35 million dollar deal last winter before his injury (which Smith inexplicably turned down), their offer this season of just one million guaranteed was somewhat insulting for such an integral member of their team.

Smith signing with the Eagles continues to further escalated their trend this summer of making a big splash with their high caliber acquisitions. They already added Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Jason Babin, Vince Young, Ronnie Brown and this summers "Golden Egg" of free agency, lock down corner Nnamdi Asomugha. Getting Steve Smith almost feels like icing on the cake, and definitely adds insult to injury for the already crippled 2011 Giants team (both literally and figuratively- first round pick Prince Amukamara broke his foot and will miss at least the first two months of the season). The silver lining throughout all of this is that as of now, of course, both teams have the same record, 0-0. Games aren't won in the off-season, they're won on the field. One of the oldest cliches is that the football field is really a battle field, and if that's the case it looks like the Giants will be heading out to war without some of their most reliable solders.

-fresh (@danye33)

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