Giants, Jets, Look For Training Camp Answers
The boys of summer may still be playing, but legends of the fall are not far behind. Both the Giants and Jets are preparing for the 2004 season, and although both teams are coming off of disappointing campaigns, there is hope as training camps begin stirring in Albany and Long Island. What should fans expect from Big Blue and J-E-T-S? Here’s a few nuggets to watch out for as camp plays out in August.
Giants - Coaching
The Tom Coughlin era has begun in New York. A disciple of Bill Parcells, Coughlin will bring his intensity to a team that seemed to lack discipline under Jim Fassel last year. Although the former Jaguars’ coach seems to rub some players the wrong way, no one questions his motivation and desire to win. However, several Giants already complained to the Player’s Association about the number of work out days Coughlin held in the spring resulting in a loss of two such days for Big Blue.
The squad, although good on paper, failed too often to reach the endzone last year. The Giants were among the league leaders in yards per game but among the lowest in points scored. Their 15.2 points per game ranked 31st and the team scored 10 points or less in their final eight games. The returning cast includes Amani Toomer, Tiki Barber, Jeremy Shockey, and Ike Hilliard, as well as the additions of Kurt Warner and Eli Manning. However, Shockey is coming off of foot and knee surgeries and will be watched closely during camp. Barber’s numbers look good until you reach the “Fumble” category.
As for the QB situation, it seems as though Warner will be the starter come September, not first-round pick Manning. The question is though, how long until the future becomes the present? Warner’s recent history forecasts an injury occurring sooner rather than later which may force the Giants to install the youngest Manning into the fire sooner than expected.
The offensive line was a problem last year and may be again this season. Gone are Jeff Hatch and Jeff Roehl and in are the likes of Ed Ellis, Barry Stokes, and Shaun O’Hara. Luke Petitgout returns to anchor the left side while the Giants hope that David Diehl and Rich Seubert continue to develop into front-line players. The line must provide adequate protection for QB if the Giants are going to be successful.
The other side of the ball is even more muddled. The defense will once again be led by Michael Strahan up front and the two Will’s (Petersen and Allen) in the backfield. After those three, the shuffling begins. Gone are Michael Barrow, Cornelius Griffin, Keith Hamiliton, Chris Bober, Brandon Short and Dhani Jones. Replacing them will be Carlos Emmons, Norman Hand, Fred Robbins, and Barrett Green. Again, cohesion, or lack of it, will be something to watch over the next six weeks.
Unlike the Giants, the Jets had a fairly uneventful offseason. No head coaching changes, no Eli Manning-type draft picks. Still, the Jets are coming off a 6-10 campaign that cannot be repeated or heads may roll. Herm Edwards returns with a new contract extension. His boss, GM Terry Bradway, does not enjoy the same security. Is there a power struggle in the works? Stay tuned.
Not much to discuss here as all talk about the offense begins and ends with QB Chad Pennington. The quarterback with the Joe Montana-esque poise played in only 10 games last year after breaking his hand in a preseason game. As Pennington goes, so goes the offense.
Another key for the Jets will be Curtis Martin, who, despite more than 1,000 yards rushing, is showing signs of slowing down. As for the receiving corps, Santana Moss may not be of the same caliber as his namesake Randy, but he has nonetheless turned into a bona fide wideout.
Here is where the Jets needed to make big changes. Inside linebacker John Abraham could be on the move to the outside slot, a maneuver the team hopes will save their star defensive player from injuries. Abraham played in only seven games last season and must stay healthy. Jonathan Vilma was taken with the 12th pick in the first-round, which gives Edwards another potential strong linebacker.
Veteran’s Mo Lewis and Marvin Jones were released up front, and the team also let go of Sam Garnes, Tyrone Carter and Aaron Beasley, meaning a revamped secondary. Focusing on the advancing age of their safeties and corners, the Jets used three of their 10 picks on secondary players.
A little more than three weeks remain until opening day. Three weeks for the Giants and Jets to sort out any questions that need answering or may arise. Sit back and enjoy the preseason, it is only a precursor of things to come.