Photo: Sports Illustrated
When I looked around for a definition to the commonly used term, “on paper”, this is the best I found:
judging something by how it has been planned rather than how it really works in practice.
On paper is often thrown around at the beginning of a team’s season to describe the “design” of a roster/future, looks good “on paper”. Of course we know games are never played “on paper”. And, you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men, right? They often go awry.
The New York Football Giants opened training camp two weeks ago. From all of the prognosticators who have been in to see them thus far, none have shied away from using the words, Super and Bowl, when describing just how good Big Blue “can” be. A year ago, GM Jerry Reese, spent big money on defensive additions (Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, and Janoris Jenkins) and they jelled with their new teammates, forming a formidable unit.
Photo: CBS New York
This year, Reese brought in some weapons for the other side of the ball, which “on paper”, make Eli Manning and the Giants offense, a possible juggernaut! Brandon Marshall switched locker rooms in MetLife Stadium, and will undoubtedly give Easy a big, strong, veteran pass catcher who should be very productive, especially in the red zone. And after playing for what seemed like many years without a real tight end, the Giants used their first round draft choice on Evan Engram, a tight end from the University of Mississippi. Reese and head coach, Ben McAdoo envision Engram as a Jordan Reed clone, and plan to use him just as the Redskins do.
Throw into the mix Rhett Ellison, a big primarily run blocking tight end signed in March, and Eli has an embarrassment of riches. Remember, he still has the incomparable (just ask him) Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Sharp, who between them caught 166 balls for 2,050 yards and 18 touchdowns. Who is going to shut this high octane aerial assault down?
But wait, their backfield should not be overlooked either. Entering his second year, Paul Perkins will be the starter. The UCLA product bide his time last season behind eventual Mirrorball Trophy winner (DWTS), Rashad Jennings. He came on slow and steady, finishing the year with four straight double digit carry games, including 21 totes for 102 yards against the Skins in game 16. While Perkins will get the start, he will be spelled by a few others who are much more specialists. Orleans Darkwa, who might be an effective every down back if given a chance, will be utilized more as a battering ram short yardage/goal line threat. Shane Vereen, the seven year veteran who was limited to just 44 touches in 2016 due to twice tearing his triceps, returns as Eli’s pass catching threat. The wildcard here might be the rookie from Clemson, Wayne Gallman. In 2015, the Tiger rushed for over 1,500 yards, and last season totaled 1,133 while scoring 17 touchdowns. Gallman has a reputation for being someone who can both run a defender over, and run by them.
Photo: NY Post
So there you have it Giants fans, with the balanced offense referenced above added to one of the game’s top defenses, Sunday, February 4, 2018 might be a big day for you. It is Super Bowl Sunday, and the G-men very well could be the NFC’s representative in Minneapolis for Super Bowl LII (52). Remember though, all of this is based on projections “on paper”. All of what I wrote about means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING if the 36 year-old Manning is running for his life, or worse.
Photo: The Boston Jam
Jerry Reese seemingly addressed every facet of his team, except offensive line. Oh wait, he did draft Adam Bisnowaty (who?), a guard from Pittsburgh in the sixth round, and signed 2013 San Diego Chargers first round (#11) draft pick (bust?), D.J. Fluker. Across the line, conventional wisdom is that center, Weston Richburg and left guard, Justin Pugh, are very good players. The problem is that you still need three more gentlemen to fill out a cohesive O-line, meaning the Giants whole season may depend on whether young tackles, Bobby Hart, and most importantly, Ereck Flowers, can play. Tasked with protecting Eli’s backside, left tackle Flowers’ improvement is crucial. Following his rookie season (2015), Flowers slotted in as the 29th ranked left tackle in the NFL by Bleacher Report.
In the same rankings one year later, he dropped to #30. YIKES! To his credit, Flowers spent this offseason in the weight room with his teammates, and the coaching staff seems cautiously optimistic with his attitude and progress so far. Yet on Wednesday, according to this ESPN article, Big Blue gave undrafted USC rookie, Chad Wheeler some reps at left tackle in place of Flowers. He certainly looks like your prototypical left tackle (6-6, 325 pounds), but something has been missing for Flowers. Unfortunately, if he cannot figure things out, and quickly, the big season predicted for the Giants could end up as a big tease if their quarterback winds up looking like this all too often:
Bottom line is, lofty preseason expectations are always better than the alternative, but often times they are not worth the paper they are printed on. Something the New York Giants just might find out for themselves in 2017.