Tough win (?) for the Giants last night, absolutely wiping the field with the defending NFC Champions (what a joke) but lost arguably their best cornerback in the process. The one position the Giants couldn't afford to suffer any more injuries at was in their secondary, and on a freak play with only 22 seconds left in the half and likely on his last play of the game, Terrell Thomas collided with Jason Pierre-Paul's third leg and consequently tore his ACL. Out for the year.
All of a sudden the Giants are paper thin at a position they entered camp at pretty deep. Their first round pick Prince Amukamara was lost the second he put his cleats on for his first practice and will be out until at least October. Bruce Johnson had his Achilles explode a couple days prior to that. On top of all this, the one thing that really pissed me off about last night, after Thomas goes down - the next punt return the Giants decide to put CB Brian Witherspoon back to return. Anyone reminded immediately of Jason Sehorn? Well, Witherspoon obviously got hurt, with an injury to his MCL. MRI will be done later today, I'm sure he'll be out for the season as well.
Not all negative reaction though, just wanted to get that out of the way.. Not sure I've been more excited about a punting battle in camp, but it's been interesting to watch. Steve Weatherford was brought in, to everyone’s not surprise, and was thought to be replacing the most atrocious draft pick of all time - Matt Dodge. Dodge, no matter what he does the rest of the season and his career, will always be remembered for his embarrassing division losing punt to Desean Jackson. Anyway, they both looked phenomenal last night. I still have no confidence Dodge will do this in a real game, but he looked much better. When he does connect he hits monster bombs. Weatherford, just overall a better punter with 10x the experience, connected on a couple as well. Biggest difference is the fact Weatherford can control it, and he can put it where ever he wants. That to me will seal Dodge's fate, but for now they're both pushing each other and Dodge is responding very well to the pressure of the Giants bringing in a very good punter - this is definitely more competitive than anyone thought it'd be.
Staying on special teams, negative first, the punt returning looked weak again. I love Jerrel Jernigan, so I'm still holding out hope he gets comfortable back there, but he did a lot of nothing again. I'd love to see him get some reps at WR because I think he'd be great in the slot but that didn't happen last night. I also think the blocking on the PR's has been extremely bad. I watched Tyler Sash let a guy fly right past him before the punt even took off, and that gave Jernigan no time at all to make a move after he received the punt. I do like the fact he refuses to fair catch a ball knowing he has limited time to make an impression, and he's being aggressive. Also a great play from rookie linebackers Greg Jones and Jacquian Williams. Both were taken in the 6th round of this years draft and both were involved with a blocked punt - Jones broke up the middle to block the kick, also ran down to recover it. Although it didn't count, Jones was stripped of the ball, Williams hustled to follow the play and recovered the ball and ran it into the end zone even though Mark Herzlich tried to tackle and strip him of the ball as well? Noticed that on the replay which was kind of hilarious. Speaking of Herzlich, he made his presence felt on special teams as well with some nice tackles, then a 4th and goal interception on the 2 yard line showed off the athleticism and skill that made him the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Devin Thomas looked ridiculous returning kicks. I credit both teams for refusing to take a touchback last night since the NFL decided to put kick off's from the 50, no matter where they caught the ball they were coming out. Thomas looks extremely aggressive and assertive in attacking the seam and it paid off when he broke one for 73 yards early on. Best part of the run was his refusal to go out of bounds as he lowered his shoulder and ran over Bears CB Tim Jennings. Love seeing that on kick returns. He also broke a couple more that got him out past the 30 yard line, and to be honest I haven't seen 3 straight KR's from a NY Giants player to go over 30 yards in at least ten years. Very positive to see that.
Without getting too involved with the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, both looked very solid. It wasn't the 10 sack performance the Giants used against the Bears last season, but as a whole they looked much better. Kenny Phillips was caught out of position on a couple plays, but besides that it's hard to see anything they did wrong. Offensively, after two stalled drives to open up - the offensive line started to move people. They were very physical, including a monster pancake block from the new center David Baas, which opened up a nice run for Ahmad Bradshaw. Brandon Jacobs looked good in the open field, but still looks tentative through the line if the hole isn't there. If it is, someone is either getting run over, or their knee blown out which is what it looked like when he cut back on S Major Wright for an 18 yard TD run.
Had Thomas not gone down with a season ending injury, this would be a very important feel good game for the Giants after a lackluster showing in week one. At the end of the day (Steven A. Smith for you), it is a preseason game, but there were a ton of positives in areas that were major concerns coming in. Especially if you notice the Bears #1's staying in against the Giants backups and still not able to get much going. Overall a very positive performance and something to build on going forward. Time to shop for some DB's though.
UPDATE: WEIRD. COULDN'T SEE THIS ONE COMING....
UPDATE: WEIRD. COULDN'T SEE THIS ONE COMING....