‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns
Ernie is the author of “Lombardi and Landry.” He’ll be covering football throughout the season.
Will Beatty is done for the season, on injured reserve with a detached retina.
Osi Umenyiora could be out as long as four weeks with a totally messed-up ankle sprain incurred in the second quarter of Monday’s disaster in New Orleans.
Michael Boley is still iffy with a bad hamstring for Sunday’s potential “Close Encounter of the Worst Kind” against the Packers and their pinball wizard, Aaron Rodgers.
Kind of makes you wonder. Forgetting nebulous subjects like the psychology behind second-half collapses, Giants fans must ask themselves this:
Are the Giants simply too banged up to win?
Not to beat the Packers. That’s pretty much an obvious “No” considering even healthy teams have proven no match for Mike McCarthy’s 11-0 demolition unit. But there are four other games, all in the must-win category, for the 6-5 and fading fast Giants to contend with after Sunday.
As hard as this current stretch have been, Dallas, Washington, the Jets and Dallas again won’t be any picnic. And it will only get harder because of the Giants’ manpower shortage, particularly on defense.
Look at it this way. The Giants haven’t put up a real pass rush since they sacked Alex Smith twice in San Francisco. And even then, those were simply two moments in time, as Smith had plenty of time to find his receivers downfield 19-of-30, 242-yard game.
The pressure the next week on Vince Young was negligible at best. And that was with Umenyiora in the lineup.
The pass rush disappeared completely Monday. It’s arguable that Umenyiora wouldn’t have made a difference, anyway, given the manner in which Philadelphia’s Jason Peters and New Orleans’ Jermon Bushrod turned him invisible his last six quarters of play. But not having at least his sack potential can only hurt.
Especially since Justin Tuck hasn’t come back from the neck and groin injuries that cost him two games. He hasn’t had a sack since he shared one with Mathias Kiwanuka, another non-entity against the Saints, on Oct. 30 against Miami. And just yesterday, he was added to the injury report with a sore ankle.
Once a feared pass rusher, Tuck has struggled with just two sacks this year, as opposed to the 11 he had last season.
The line backing corps is a disaster, and it probably won’t be helped by the return of Chase Blackburn, who was cut after last season. Even his veteran presence, added when Beatty went on IR Wednesday, won’t be enough to balance the youth that populates that position as Boley struggles to rehab his pulled hamstring.
Can Jason Pierre-Paul exert enough single-handed pressure to make a difference down the stretch? Undoubtedly, he’ll see the same double teams Umenyiora and Tuck did in their better days. So don’t count on him. And the inside pass rush of Chris Canty, Linval Joseph, and Rocky Bernard hasn’t been good at all.
That means the Giants could be in for a terrible time, perhaps a winless final month. Despite Eli Manning’s solid second-half play on offense, the defense may be too battered to stop, or even keep pace, with the opposition. A quick 7-0 lead could easily lead a banged-up unit such as the Giants into quit mode.
Tom Coughlin undoubtedly will pull out every stop in an attempt to motivate his team. But given the future with all these injuries, the last three games may have been only the beginning of the ugliness.
Do you think the Giants are too banged-up to be successful? Sound off in the comments below…