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NYG 20 Steelers 16

Having had family commitments on a weekend summer evening, I was only able to “steel” away to watch about ~70% of the preseason contest.  Nonetheless, the simple message is that the Giants are a work in progress.  How much progress is being made is the question.  Steve Serby, for one, was blunt about the glass looking half empty. “McAdoo will now need to be in hurry-up mode,” Serby explained, to get the offense ready for the start of the regular season.  Serby is not the arbiter of the Giants fate, but his candid assessment of the great amount of work that lies ahead is  reminder to not get too excited too soon.

Shocking.  Not.  3 weeks ago, on the eve of training camp beginning, we penned our outlook for the NY Giants 2014 season.  We outlined why it would take a lot of time for the offense to come together.  Coughlin, for his part, is no dummy, and he had the 1st string Offensive Line taking snaps well after the rest of the 1st stringers were gone.  Good.

The 2014 season is all about time.  The Giants are short on time.  I contend that the best chance for success in 2014 will be if the Defense can excel and buy the offense time to come together.  The secondary can be very good, but it will only be great if there is a pass rush.  Therefore, the player I keep watching is Jason Pierre-Paul.  JPP, and to an extent Damontre Moore, are the edge rushers that can make a meaningful impact in this regard.  Matthias Kiwanuka is fighting back time as best he can in a determined effort to elevate his impact, but I apologize for not investing in this hope. Sure, Kiwi will be able to occasionally get to the QB with a little bit of pressure here and there.  His typical output is mid single digit sacks.  And that certainly was a helluva lot better than JPP’s (or injured rookie Moore’s) output last year.  So I mean no disrespect to Kiwi.  You have to give the man credit for being the only starter left besides Eli from XLII (DeOssie is special teams).  But this is the status of the pass rush.  We are relying on a “4” replaceable starter (Kiwi), a once “1” dominant star who is now playing like a “4” replaceable starter (JPP) and an ascending 2nd year “5” backup who is ready to become a starter (Moore).  So there are as many question marks as there are potentials.

The one player I watched on defense closely was JPP.  He still does not show that burst that we saw in 2011.  We need to see the unrestrained violence he is able to bring off the edge.  We need to see the explosive knife that cuts through the Left Tackle to get to the QB with lightning speed.  We are still waiting for that.  JPP, for his part, says he is back.  He claims to be excited to put the doubters to rest.  I do not doubt.  I wait.  As a fan, all of us wait.  There was one play we did see last evening where JPP knocked his assignment to the side and then in a second motion swiftly go straight to the QB and put on a good pressure/hit.   That is an uptick, as we did not even see that in 2013.  So that is at least ‘something.’  The JPP of 2011 would have been able to do that in ONE motion, not two.  That difference is the difference between a pressure and a sack, between a completion and loss, the difference between the offense moving the chains or not, and ultimately the difference between touchdowns and turnovers.  Yes, it is THAT big.  And given the time needed to get the offense to come together, it will be the difference in 2014 being a year filled with potential or with one competing for the playoffs and a title.

The prospects for Damontre Moore are limitless.  If you want to talk about potential, read this article by Ed Valentine from Big Blue View.  We tweeted a while back when it first came out how good a piece it was: “MUST READ.”  Because I simply cannot blog the NY Giants on a daily basis anymore (hey, this November will be 8 years) twitter micro-blogging will have to do.  You get the sense from Moore that he wants to be truly great.  He’s got all the pieces.  And I just love his willingness to seek out Strahan as a mentor.  Strahan can give this young man a road map to greatness.  Strahan can explain how much effort and dedication will be required.  The true great ones have a respect for the players that came before them.  They realize that the traditions and experience of those they follow are a source of knowledge and power in getting to their goals.  In short, Valentine captured the portrait of a player that is rapidly maturing.  And since the Giants do not have a lot of time before the 2014 season begins, that is a very good thing.