They say hindsight is 20/20 but had the New York Giants not parted ways with three players prior to the regular season, they may not be in a 0-2 hole.
For the fifth time in the last six seasons, the New York Giants are starting the season 0-2. While the poor offensive line play has gotten the brunt of the blame, questionable coaching decisions and subpar play from the entire team is why they find themselves at the bottom of the NFC East.
But perhaps if the Giants did not part ways with three players prior to the regular season, they wouldn’t be in a 0-2 hole.
The Giants made several surprising decisions at the end of August and early September. Of those moves, the Giants parting ways with Hunter Sharp, Brett Jones and Jalen Simmons were among the moves that had fans scratching their heads.
The way the first two games panned out, had those players been on the roster, it’s possible the Giants wouldn’t be 0-2.
Sharp had dropped passes in the preseason, but he excelled as a punt returner. In the Giants preseason game against the Jets, he showcased a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown. He also averaged 13 yards per punt return in the Giants 30-17 preseason victory over the Detroit Lions.
But despite showing he can be a valuable returner, the Giants waived Sharp on Sept. 2 and signed Kaelin Clay.
In the season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars with just 54 seconds remaining and the Giants down 20-15, Clay muffed a punt and it was recovered by the Jaguars at the Giants 21-yard-line that ended the game. It was doubtful that the Giants would have been able to come back, but had Sharp been fielding the punt instead of Clay, a different result may have officially gone down.
Despite being beaten out for the starting center position by Jon Halapio, Brett Jones is a quality offensive lineman having started 13 games for the Giants last season. But on Aug. 26, the Giants traded Jones to the Minnesota Vikings for a 2019 seventh-round pick.
Trading away Jones was questioned immediately since the Giants have a lack of quality linemen on the roster. When you factor in how much Patrick Omameh struggled at right tackle against the Jaguars, had Jones still be on the team, they could have moved Halapio to right guard and insert Jones at center.
new post: new #Vikings center Brett Jones was @pff's 4th-highest graded pass blocker last season. That's a significant stat, and more evidence Rick Spielman pulled off an important trade. https://t.co/8mXfhWoAti pic.twitter.com/zsqTdootCN
— RandBall (@RandBall) August 27, 2018
The loss of Jones is felt even more now that Halapio is out for the season with a fractured right ankle. John Greco will start in place of Halapio, but if Jones were still on the team the offensive would be better, had more depth, and would have likely gained more than 35 yards on the ground against the Cowboys in their 20-13 loss on Sunday.
Jones in the meantime has started the first two games at center for the Vikings who are tied with the Green Packers for first in the NFC North.
Saquon Barkley is the obvious workhorse for the Giants, but you can never have too many quality running backs on your roster. Jalen Simmons had an impressive preseason gaining 90 yards on 24 carries. But he was one of the many casualties when the Giants cut down their roster to 53.
Having a lack of quality running backs showed up in the season opener as Wayne Gallman had to leave the game early with a knee injury. That left the Giants with only two running backs Barkley and Jonathan Stewart.
After Barkley’s 68-yard touchdown run, he was obviously gassed but had to stay in the game for the two-point conversion attempt because Pat Shurmur didn’t have confidence in Stewart. As a result, Barkley was stopped at the one-yard line on the two-point try.
While Stewart is a great guy to have in the locker room he has been ineffective on the field. In the preseason, he carried the ball 10 times for minus five yards. So far this season he’s carried the ball four times for nine yards.
Perhaps if Simmons was on the team he could have converted the two-point conversion attempt against the Jags and added to the momentum the Giants were building in their comeback attempt.
Maybe the Giants would still be 0-2 had Sharp, Jones and Simmons been on the team. But at a minimum, they would have added depth and talent at positions that have cost the Giants in their first two games.
Now they’re facing a must-win game this Sunday against the Houston Texans.