Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 12-31-21

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he was one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls up until last year. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.


By Dave Klein
First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Giant fans have had to learn, sometimes painfully, that there are other things to bring satisfaction and happiness to their lives besides victories.

At this point, almost anything.

OK, now to the first of the two remaining games of the season, Sunday in Chicago (1 p.m. ET) against the 5-10 Bears. Since the Giants are 4-11, and since they own Chicago's first-round draft pick, it would be in their best interests to win this one.

On the other hand, that has been the case all season, and only four times have they managed to actually achieve that status.

Sunday might be equally difficult. Would you believe the Giants have ONLY ONE healthy wide receiver? That would be Kenny Golladay, and while he was a very expensive veteran free agent, he simply hasn't performed to anyone's expectations.

To date, Golladay has caught 34 passes for 420 yards and ZERO touchdowns. But the bad news is that he might be the only healthy wide receiver available to head coach Joe Judge and whichever quarterback he chooses to start.

The others - Kadarius Toney, John Ross, Collin Johnson, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, C.J. Board and Dante Pettis - are either injured or already on Injured Reserve or recovering from COVID.

This means, in all likelihood, that tight end Evan Engram will be used more as a wide receiver, and that the running backs will get more pass patterns in the game plan, putting Mike Glennon and/or Jake Fromm under additional pressure, given the state of the offensive line (even healthy).

But fear not. Judge has assembled three more wideouts to play if the other guys can't - Alex Bachman, Pharoh Cooper and David Sills. Who? Well, they have been on the practice squad on and off, and all three are healthy, so let's go.

But it's still the quarterback position, which has been virtually non-productive since Daniel Jones was lost for the season with a sprained neck, that has generated the most concern, especially for the head coach.

"Well, I think that's the one position you want to have continuity in," Judge said Friday - on his 40th birthday, no less. "When you had the luxury of having Eli Manning for so long, first off, that comes into the level of play, the consistency and health that he obviously demonstrated by taking care of his body and perfecting his craft.

"And look, it's unfortunate that we lost Daniel (Jones), it really is. But in the meantime, we've had a chance to look at a couple different guys, different packages, and things of that nature. In terms of this weekend, I wouldn't say necessarily that I want to play both guys. I just expect everyone to play. To me, we may have different things for different guys at different times. If that ends up factoring into the game plan, then we'll go ahead and use it."

The Bears, favored by 5 points, will bring a crack defense to face off against the Giants' patch-quilt, hobbling offense.

For instance, there's veteran linebacker/defensive end Robert Quinn, a 6-4, 260-pound veteran of 11 seasons signed as a free agent in 2020 from Dallas. What has he done? Well, for one thing, he has 17 sacks this season for 123 yards. Can you imagine? The Giants' defense has 28 sacks, Chicago has 42.

Other defensive standouts are the two inside linebackers, Roquan Smith and Alec Ogletree (right, the same guy who was with the Giants for 2018 and 2019. Rookie Justin Fields, the No. 1 draft pick, is expected to start, and he has had a strong season while earning a reputation as a dangerous runner, too.

Hey, if there's one good thing to keep in mind, there is only one game remaining after this one - home against Washington next week - and the season will finally end. Hold onto that.

You can subscribe Dave's newsletters which run much more frequently than what is available here. - Team Giants

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