In the preseason, it isn’t all about results.
But for a team coming off as poor of a season as the New York Giants had last year, playing well certainly doesn’t hurt.
The Giants dropped their preseason finale Thursday night, a 17-12 loss to the New England Patriots. While their 2-2 preseason isn’t anything to write home about, it wasn’t the most important thing to take out of the preseason. For a team that suffered through a slog of a 3-13 campaign a year ago, the fact that the Giants limited mistakes in their games, emerged relatively injury-free and — yes — won a couple of games is good news for this team.
It is enough, perhaps, that the Giants can begin to think about turning the corner from a disastrous season where the locker room — as well as their bodies — simply fell apart.
There is a sense around here that the Giants have a fresh start. This team was bad in nearly every facet a year ago, a major disappointment given that the Giants were a playoff team in 2016 and went into the season as supposed Super Bowl contenders.
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Now under first-year head coach Pat Shurmur, the Giants look and feel like a team that can return to respectability again. Shurmur wasn’t ready to declare his team ready for Week 1, but he sees the building blocks in place as this team went through a rather drastic shake-up this offseason.
“I don’t know about readiness,” he said. “I feel like we’re on the right path with regard to team building, I feel like we’ve got enough information. We played all the players through the preseason, so we’re not going to be guessing as to whether a guy can do it or not.
“We’re in a position now to pick that initial 53-man roster. We’re in a position to keep moving forward, and I feel good about the work we’ve done to this point; but, the ultimate team, you need to keep practicing and you play games in between. Hopefully, you can stay healthy and continue to improve and be in a position to be in the playoffs.”
The Giants are a younger team, a faster team, and a deeper team than a year ago. They are getting contributions from a number of their draft picks and even a couple of undrafted players could end adding to their depth.
Gone are the veteran malcontents. Stepping up are several players to fill the leadership void from last year.
And even the players who remained on the roster from last year’s roster seem to be buying into the new culture around these parts.
A team in clear rebuild mode but one that has enough talent now to, yes, don’t snicker, contend for the playoffs as early as this season.
Now comes the hard part for Shurmur and his staff. The Giants will need to make roster decisions and then practice squad signings. There will be a fair amount of turnover in the coming days, not an easy time for Shurmur certainly even as preseason ends and the mood around the team is positive.
Shurmur will review the film with the coaching staff from Thursday’s loss and then go about the difficult roster decisions this weekend.
“The human element of it is tough. I think we all get used to it, but if you’ve got a heart and you’ve got a soul, you’re talking about guys’ livelihood,” Shurmur said. “It’s a tough situation that way, but it’s real.”
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