The ugliness of this past Saturday’s first preseason game is a reminder of what we said in July when the strike was settled:
We get football in 2011 without the loss of the season. The first few games of the season will be ugly (think- injuries, blown plays, etc..) in spots, but it is football.
This year, we’ll have to go easy on every NFL team for the first 3 weeks of the regular season too. This offseason was chaotic. PFT likened training camp and preseason games to fixing a tire on a moving car.
Please remember that if all football players were geniuses, the IVY league would be a powerhouse conference in college football. Stanford, Northwestern and Duke would be in the BCS standings every year. Since we know they are not, they are first learning playbooks now while they are practicing. Mistakes are rampant. Coaches have to teach more basic elementary concepts now instead of back in minicamp OTAs this past spring.
We try to give the players and the coaches the first three games to get the kinks out in any season. This season will require even more patience.
We will be talking about the regular season in coming weeks in more depth, but a quick preview of the preview is that the first 7 games of the Giants’ 2011 schedule are much softer than the last 9. This means the Giants have an opportunity to get out of the gate quickly and capitalize off of the sloppy play. If they are “less sloppy” than their opponent, they can win some games that they may have lost later in the season. If they get some momentum and confidence, they can build on that. I am not predicting that outcome, just pointing out that that is what the road is for the Giants. There is a door for the team to either walk through or not walk through. The last 9 games, on the other hand, will be far less forgiving. If the Giants do not have their act together by Week 10 (Game 9), that reality will be much less forgiving than the sloppiness and opportunities of earlier in the season.
Does all of this sound familiar? It should. In 2009, we alerted this NY Giants blog community to the challenge of Week 6 vs the Saints, well before anyone (including us) projected them as Super Bowl contenders. We just knew before the season started that the Saints record of 8-8 was a mirage, hiding a very good team on the rise that was just a few bad breaks away from being a very good team. And sure enough, the breaks went their way that year. But importantly for the Giants, that was the first true test of the season. It was a benchmark. Specifically, the next 5 games were all highlighted because the Giants were facing some very good teams/QBs. We know the rest. So similarly, the first 7 games this season will not be what gets us to the promised land of another championship. It will be how well the Giants play in the final 9. Considering the lack of time for player preparation in the 2011 offseason (read: almost nil), that goes double for the Giants.