For this week’s Getting to Know the Giants segment, we turned to Newsday NFL columnist and Pro Football Hall of Fame selector Bob Glauber.
MC: Who can people expect to see step up and fill the massive hole left in this offense with the one-game suspension of Odell Beckham Jr. and how do you expect this team will react to having to play without him?
BG: “There is really no replacing Beckham. He has been such a huge playmaker and difference maker that there really is no one else to step into that role. The Giants are severely handicapped by his absence, and the Vikings will have much easier time defending them. The guy the Giants would like to see step up in Beckham's spot is Rueben Randle, who has been hot and cold throughout his run with the Giants. He can make a big play one minute and drop an easy pass the next. If he’s on his game, then Eli Manning will at least have one reliable target. Hakeem Nicks, who rejoined the team this year after flaming out as a first-round pick, has picked up the offense a bit more the last couple of games, but he still has a long way to go. Dwayne Harris is the other key factor here. He has enjoyed his best season as a receiver, and has been a major boost in the return game. He has been bothered by a shoulder, though, so his availability and effectiveness are in question.”
MC: It seems as though Tom Coughlin is either winning Super Bowls or sitting on hot seats. Do you think he could have or should have pulled Beckham Jr. when it was clear the officials had lost all control of the situation? And, if so, was this really the kind of big blunder that could get Coughlin fired, as some suggest?
MC: “I don't think the Beckham incident itself will be the difference between Coughlin getting fired or not. The guy has won two Super Bowls and might end up in the Hall of Fame, so there will be some latitude here. That said, I personally think he should have pulled Beckham for at least a series. Sit the kid down, get in his face, tell him he’s putting the team in jeopardy because of his individual battle against Josh Norman. The officials should have ejected both players, but once Beckham stayed in the game, Coughlin needed to do more to settle him down and make it clear he had to knock it off.”
MC: Six losses in which the winning points were scored in the final two minutes? An 0-2 record when scoring 35 or more points? Manning is 1-2 when throwing for four or more touchdowns? Is there a common theme to just how poorly this 32nd-ranked defense has played this season and is there any sign they’ll play any differently on Sunday night?
BG: “The defense has been a major disappointment, although the talent level is severely compromised. The Giants won Super Bowls with guys like Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul providing a consistent pass rush. Now, Pierre-Paul is not nearly as effective because of his hand injury, and there is very little talent around him. So there’s really no reason to believe the defense will come up with a performance much better than it has been showing all season. I think defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has actually done a good job with the limited talent he’s been given, but the defense hasn’t gotten the key stops in the fourth quarter all season. That has been a major theme and a major reason why the team has lost so many close games late. Never seen anything like it from one team in one season.”
MC: How has Pierre-Paul looked and what, if anything, is there to watch or like about a pass rush that ranks 32nd in sacks per pass play?
BG: “Given the fact that he missed the entire off-season after not signing his franchise tender and then having three fingers blown off in a July 4 fireworks accident, Pierre-Paul has surprised a lot of people with his recovery. He is the team’s best pass rusher, although he has been inhibited by the use of a "club" to protect his injured right hand. He has normally been a right end, but has been playing primarily on the left side of late. He just can’t get any push off his right hand when he puts it on the ground, so he has been moved to the left side where he's able to get the full use of his left hand. What is there to like about a pass rush that ranks 32nd in sacks per pass play? Nothing. It doesn’t help that the Giants really don’t have an effective blitz because there is no speed on the outside at linebacker. They occasionally blitz safety Craig Dahl.”
MC: What kind of year would you say Manning is having and what is the sense about the team’s future around him as it looks at the probability of missing the playoffs for the fourth straight year for the first time in 35 years?
BG: “Eli Manning is actually having a very good year statistically, and he has been much more comfortable in Year 2 of working in the West Coast offense. He is far less prone to the bad interception – although there have been a few over the course of the season – and he is getting rid of the ball quickly and thus avoiding big hits. He’s not going anywhere for foreseeable future, having signed a four-year extension, which includes a no-trade clause, just before the season started. So any decision about the head coach will have a lot to do with being able to keep Manning playing at a high level and not disrupting his situation by scrapping the entire offense and making him adjust to an entirely new one.”