The storm clouds have finally passed.
No, we're not talking about the clouds that opened up our area over the last few days, although they have thankfully moved on in time for us to enjoy the rest of our summer. We're talking about the ones that have hovered over the Giants since the end of the lockout.
Last week was as bad a week as you could expect to have in the offseason. The team was under fire from all corners because of their inability to sign Kevin Boss or Steve Smith, their unwillingness to sign players from other teams, and their inept handling of the Osi Umenyiora situation -- a confluence of events that led to the only memorable press conference of Jerry Reese's career.
Things look a bit different this week. Reese's presser might not have soothed all roiled souls, but it did restore some control to the situation in advance of Osi's return to practice on Monday. And the Giants actually deigned to bring back one of their own guys when safety Deon Grant agreed to a contract with the team on Tuesday.
The doomsayers haven't gone away completely, but there's definitely a sunnier outlook around the team now than there was at this point last week. In that spirit, we've come up with a few reasons why you shouldn't be ceding the NFC East to those rascals down Philly way just yet.
Eli's Regression - Eli Manning threw a lot of interceptions last season, and concern about his decision-making ability is well-founded as a result. The fact that some of the balls should have been caught by receivers doesn't do much to make Eli's season look any better thanks to a career-long aversion to making the safest play with the ball.
The good news is that Manning is unlikely to repeat those numbers even if he doesn't make substantive changes when it comes to making decisions. Just about every time Manning threw a pass that could have been intercepted, it was intercepted and that's not something that's likely to repeat itself in 2011.
100 Percent of Kenny Phillips - Phillips was coming off of a serious injury last season and clearly wasn't all the way back during the shank of the season. He looks all the way back right now, though, and the Giants defense should benefit greatly from the return of a playmaker in the secondary.
David Diehl, Left Guard - Diehl was a poor left tackle, but his skill set should set him up for a big year leading the rushing attack from his new guard position. This won't help the team much if Will Beatty can't handle left tackle, although practicing daily against Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck should have him ready for anything that comes and it's not like he is trying to replace Jonathan Ogden.
Dodging Matt Dodge - The Giants claim there's a punting competition going on, but Steve Weatherford's foot would have to fall off to lose a battle to Dodge, whose brutal kick against DeSean Jackson was merely one of many unacceptable errors last season. Punting isn't the sexiest job in the game, but you don't win much when your punter gives away as many points as Dodge did in 2010.