Do you want to know the nice thing about all of the grumbling and despair that has surrounded the Giants since the lockout ended?
Not one bit of it matters once Sunday afternoon rolls around. The slate is totally clean and anything is possible in the 2011 season.
That's not to say that there won't be need to deal with fallout from the loss of so many defensive starters (although it seems like we can breathe a sigh of relief about Justin Tuck) or that there won't be constant reminders of the players the Giants let get away (Steve Smith is probable for the first Eagles game). Those things happened and we'll have plenty of time to debate the job Jerry Reese did this offseason, but there's no reason to accept that it means the season is lost before a single play has been run either.
The Packers lost almost a third of their team to injuries last season and went on to win the Super Bowl and there's a flickering memory of a Giants team that once lost their star quarterback before also taking home the big prize. That doesn't mean you take little Johnny's college fund to Vegas and put it on Big Blue -- that Packers team did slaughter an almost full strength Giants team last year -- but we should all wait until there's actually evidence that this is a lost season.
Even with all the injuries, there are still reasons to believe this Giants team can find its way back to the playoffs this season. Here are three of them, along with the same number of reasons to think that the they will run their playoff-less streak to three years.
Darkest Before the Dawn
1. It seems to have been forgotten through all of the injuries and departures, but there's still a lot of talent on this team. Tuck, Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks, Jason Pierre-Paul and the safety tandem of Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips are all very good players who can help cover for the absences on both sides of the ball.
2. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs could both go in the above paragraph, but the two-headed tailback spot is a big reason for optimism this season. If the Giants control the ball with their two backs, their defensive weaknesses won't be quite so glaring and they can grind out victories against any level of opponent.
3. Tom Coughlin has steered this Giants ship through some dangerous waters in the past and he always seems to come up with a way for his team to compete. They don't always like to follow him, but if they do there's a good chance that things won't be as bad as they seem right now.
Wait 'Til Next Year
1. That suggestion about keeping the ball on the ground and avoiding risks offensively would probably make Kevin Gilbride throw up all over the screen. The Giants have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory too many times thanks to Gilbride to feel secure about his ability to help them do the right thing this season.
2. There's no argument to be made that this Giants team is better than the one that failed to make the playoffs last season. They might not be any worse, but it wasn't like they were the victims of bad luck last season and we've already seen that luck isn't on their side this time around.
3. The special teams were a huge problem last season and the preseason gave little indication that things are going to be significantly better this time around. Maybe they don't give away games now that they've ended the Matt Dodge experiment, but they could use a unit capable of winning one and that's nowhere in sight either.