Before embarking on any family journey, my father used to have a tradition of saying, "Let’s pray that we all have a safe, sound and sane trip,” the hope being that whatever the occasion -- vacations, college visits, a Georgetown basketball game -- we would all survive in one piece, make good decisions that wouldn’t get him arrested, and be mindful of keeping the crazy hidden from public view.
It’s obvious no one with the Giants made a similar incantation before last season. Their journey was not safe (as evidenced by Jason Pierre-Paul’s missing fingers); sound (as evidebnced by the team’s numerous fourth-quarter meltdowns); or sane (as evidenced by their idiotic decision to fire former head coach Tom Coughlin).
Will 2016 be much different? Well, it certainly can’t be more frustrating. Last year’s 6-10 team had an explosive offense, implosive defense and a penchant for inane late-game decision-making. They were a terrible tease. At one point in the season I actually predicted the Giants would be playing the Jets in the Super Bowl. I’m in a better place these days, please believe me.
Because so much can happen between now and Week One, we’ll wait till later in the preseason to put forth a full team preview. In the meantime, preseason football!
A lot of fans won’t be particularly interested in Friday night’s preseason opener between the Giants and the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. The game doesn’t count in the standings, the starters will probably only play about 15 snaps, and the players who will see the most action probably won’t be with the team come September.
All reasonable reasons points — to casual fans, anyway.
The preseason is also when hungry guys looking to make an impression are flying around the field like rabid animals (unsafe); head coaches such as Ben McAdoo are calling first down plays like, “Sterling Shepard, Hail Mary to the back pylon” (unsound); and certain fans actually gamble on the game’s outcome (insane).
For the most part, the preseason is no time to be safe, sound or sane. It’s a time to let it rip, see what sticks and find out what’s going to work before you button things up for the regular season.
Is it crazy to think this year’s team could be playing on the first Sunday in February? Again, we’ll dive deeper into the team’s fortunes later on, but the short answer is no, it’s not crazy. The offense is still stellar (and now hopefully adds a healthy Victor Cruz); the offensive line returns intact; and the defenseadded three studs in defensive end Olivier Vernon; defensive tackle Snacks Harrison (who will never be referred to as Damon in this space); and cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
Can a team that typically builds through the draft win a Super Bowl by caulking its holes through free agency? I don’t know, did the Giants draft Plaxico Burress, who caught the game-winning touchdown in the team’s first victory over the Patriots in a Super Bowl? Did the Broncos draft Peyton Manning? Did the Packers draft Reggie White?
Sure, teams like the Redskins, Eagles and Cowboys have failed repeatedly at trying to win through free agency. But that’s because their ownership groups don’t know the first thing about how to conduct a safe, sound and sane season.
The Giants’ journey starts Friday. So say the incantation with me (and please, don’t gamble on this game).