Last year, on another blogging site, it seemed clear to me that the defense was going to be superb, but most bloggers seemed oblivious to the injection of talent. It turned out to be better than I thought because I didn't account for the strides Collins would make or the surprising ability of Jenkins.
I keep on inventing standards or measuring means and turn them sidewise or upside down or use any of a different set of parameters and it seems inescapable: this is not just a good team, this might be a team for the ages - (with an emphasis on the word "might").
If I do it by quality players and use some arbitrary standards...we have at least three of the best in the game in Harrison, Collins, and OBJ. That's extraordinary, and while LT, Banks and Bavaro might be marginally better, I don't think we could find any other group going back to the fifties to match that cornocopia of talent.
But it's the next group that really makes the point, because they are right there: Cromartie, Jenkins, Vernon, JPP, Marshall, these are superb players who, if they are not all pros, are more than simply "pro bowl" good. My strong suspicion is that Eli Apple is going to included in that group of dominant players before the year is done.
That's 10 (not counting Apple) extraordinary players from our 22 starters.
Solid NFL starters (only more so)???.. Eli, Shepard, D.Thompson (or Adams who was rated fourth best in the league and won't get to start this year), Pugh, Richenberg, and the much underrated Ellison. that's six more bringing out total to 16. Crazy, because only D. Thompson can be argued with, but the way they've handed him the job over Adams, Pickens and some other worthies puts him in that category.
That 16 compares favourably with a similar number from any Giant team I've ever seen. And, while you can't put him in that group yet, I think Evan Enphram will be counted here by years end.
Do it by unit and I conclude that this is the best secondary we've ever seen (and while I missed Em Tunnel, I saw Barnes, Nolan, Lynch and Patton), and arguably the best in the game right now.
I think OBJ and anyone is a great receiving corp; but OBJ, Marshall, Shepard, Evan and Ellison is (see above) silly good and the best the Giants have ever had - and second isn't close. I think this corp can potentially be classically good and rate with the best of all time. Strong words, but if you try to find a group with that greatness at the bottom I simply can't recall it.
There are remarkably few players that I'd throw Kudos at simply based on a pre-season, but Evan E is one of them. The kid is seamless, huge for a WR, faster than OBJ, Makes adjustments to the ball, there's no such thing as can't miss not named LT, but this kid is close.
Just run over the names again...staggering.
Add in the very explosive and smart Vereen out of the backfield and the abundance of riches is almost numbing. It's like saying a computor is binary and plays chess just based on a series of 1 or 0. My mind can't get around it.
As a pair Vernon and JPP might be the best in the game. Harrison is the best and I think the fourth spot is going to find someone capable. Only that fourth spot stops (at this time) this bunch from being mentioned with some of the best of all time. That may sound like an overstatement but see if you can find 3 starters on a front four who are much better (Deacon, Olson, Brown, Lundy excepted).
We could start another sidebar on Eli, all I'll say is, come playoff time there isn't anyone I'd rather have and I've seen two statistical breakdowns that support that and perhaps show their validity when they have Montana as no.2. All the folks who nitpick his game don't get it. Knocking Eli is a little like saying Celine Deon can't be beautiful because she's not pretty. When she sings, the lady is beautiful. Put the dough on the table and ......!!!
The underrated unit is the linebacking crew. BAnks, LT, Carson they are not, but for all the complaints here this can be a talented and versatile unit. Cassilas is compentent and then some, Goodson stoned people last year (I mean they stopped in their tracks or went backwards on the way down), Kennard is just opening a bucket full of talent and Robinson is a superb athlete, capable of staying wiht most tight ends.
Realistically, the offensive line should be better. We've all heard about the work that Hart and Flowers did, that has to pay off when you'e 22. Second year with the same line coach, and now they're saying Ellison is as good a blocker as there is. Jerry, at 31, seems to surprisingly getting better, Fluker and Jones provide superb back up. Pugh's fragility is a continuing concern and if there's an Achilles heel it's here, but I think at years end they'll be the surprise.
Our great LT, Banks, Bavaro teams, had a less than ordinary defensive backfield with Elvis Toast Patterson and a few modest starters. And that WR corp was competent at best or below average at worst. Maybe the sheer brilliance of LT influences any comparison, but this team has many more superb players throughout.
Lots here for the nitpicking BBI contrarians to find fault with, but overall, it's hard to avoid being optimistic. Eli may suddenly get old, there might be a string of debilitating injuries and Mac might be a man who can't let go of the clipboard; but, generally speaking, this is a team of potential superstars.
I, for one, think it's going to happen, that this team will dominate from start to finish and we're in for a treat.