2015 is supposed to be the year the Giants get back into the playoff fray in the NFC. What has kept them from contention the past few years has been not been a lack of talent. Nor has it been poor coaching or preparation or execution.
The problem has been injuries. I know, injuries are not an excuse, but when you look at the amount the Giants have incurred the past two seasons, it's hard to ignore. Just imagine trying to run your business with 60% of your core employees calling in sick. Your business is going to suffer, perhaps even force you to close your doors.
Injuries can be a nightmare, and it has been for the Giants. In 2013, they led the NFL in games missed by starters and their direct replacements by a wide margin. Last season, they led the led the league again, this time by a wider margin.
If the Giants were the sitcom Friends, they would be down to Ross and Monica. How would their ratings be? How about designated for cancellation?
Andy Furman of UltimateNYG has been railing about this for a quite awhile and he has made some valid points, documenting the Giants' recent injury rage. He even has chided the Giants' beat reporters for not focusing more on this issue, stating they may be fearing ramifications from the Giants if they do.
Andy, like myself, comes from a business background and understands how to manage an organization and plan for such dilemmas. In the Giants' case, Andy is pointing more towards prevention, saying the Giants may be introducing new methods, but they are employing the same old strength and conditioning people to oversee them.
So, what's being done about it? Well, the Giants are trying everything short of hiring a shaman to lift the curse of this very unusual rash of injuries.
[sny-accordion title="Management's take on injuries"]
"What disappoints me the most before I try to get to the positive things are that, during the season, we had plenty of chances to win some games. We were in a lot of games and we didn’t close games out. That was the most disappointing thing for me. People like to throw the injury thing in there. Everybody has injuries, that is a part of the league." - GM Jerry Reese, Dec 30, 2014.
"I am very frustrated about the number of injuries that we have had. It has been two years in a row now that we have led the league in putting players on [injured reserve] and number of games lost by starters. We spent so much time last offseason addressing that and talking about how we are going to fix that going forward.
We made adjustments to what was being done in the weight room. We had the GPS tracking system. For some reason, here we are again leading the league in that category. We cut down the number of soft-tissue injuries and then, all of a sudden, we get all these broken bones and torn tendons and torn biceps. I just don’t have an answer for that right now.
Obviously we will spend a lot of time on it this offseason, talking about that and looking at ways that we can improve upon that." - Giants CEO John Mara, Dec 30, 2014
"We depend an awful lot on the strength program and obviously that’s been reduced. The player really, really has to prepare a lot more on his own. We’ve done the science. We’re going to continue to do it. Our medical staff is the best in the league, in our opinion. We have the GPS system. We listen closely to the expert in that area and we do monitor a player accordingly. As John [Mara] mentioned, we have cut down on our soft tissue injuries. However, there are bones and there are tendons and muscles and knees that didn’t listen to the GPS program, so we’ll continue to do our work in that area." - Head coach Tom Coughlin, Dec 30, 2014. [/sny-accordion]
They are not off to a good start here in 2015 with the new plan. Their top offensive lineman, LT Will Beatty tore a pec during the offseason workout program and will miss the first half of the season. DE Jason Pierre-Paul blew off his right index finger and suffered burns and severe damage to his thumb in a July 4th fireworks mishap. His future is still to be determined.
Granted, JPP's injury was non-football related but he's still going to miss games. It still gets tolled in the body count.
Some of last year's injuries are promising to spill over into this season. WR Victor Cruz is still rehabbing from a torn patellar tendon and has yet to run at full speed in a football setting. As of right now, Cruz is not expected to start camp on the PUP list, but there's still week to go to make that decision.
MLB Jon Beason, who played in only two games in 2014, is still not at 100% and the club plans to ease him back into the flow during camp. He's says he's ready. We'll see. He has a history of injuries.
Some other new injuries are concerning. TE Larry Donnell did very little this spring, being held out with a sore Achilles. S Nat Berhe missed a chink of time, too, with an ailing calf muscle. He is expected to compete for a starting role in the Giants' secondary.
And let's not forget the ever-present question regarding WR Odell Beckham Jr.'s tricky hamstring. If he goes down for a stretch this season, the Giants will be without their most explosive weapon in recent memory. That will really hurt.